The myth: Ever notice that Beijing’s subway stations not only have names, but also numbers? Dongzhimen, for example, is 214 (being the 14th station on Line 2), Beijing South is 404, Beixinqiao 511 and so forth. However, Line 1’s numbers actually start from Pingguoyuan (103) and end at Sihui East (125). So where, pray, are 101 and 102? And how come, as some passengers have noticed, there are already people on the train as it shunts into Pingguoyuan? Who are these people and what is going on?
The reality: Subway Line 1 is a line with secrets! Pingguoyuan is not the real starting station – Line 1 was originally built for military purposes. In 1965, with the help of the Soviet Union, Beijing built the subway as a war defense project. There are two stations before 103 Pingguoyuan, namely 101 Gaojing and 102 Fushouling, both located in northwest Beijing, a military sensitive area. Although the two stations are fully equipped like other running stations, they are ruled out from civilian subway use for national security. However, they are not entirely abandoned. Before they were blocked on May 28th 2007, two trains passed Fushouling station everyday, and some students and local villagers would catch the train and enjoy free travel.
Verdict: Because the two stations are located in mountainous areas (Gaojing station is in a military compound), the part of Beijing which is of great strategic importance for defense, the two stations have been blocked for almost 40 years. But being blocked doesn’t mean they can never be used. On special occasions, such as times of war or natural disaster, maybe they will prove to be the most vital channel of all.
[Image via Wikipedia]