The Chongqing Rail Transit (CRT) rapid transit system in China has received a lot of press since opening in 2005. Some eye-popping numbers come from the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2012 the GBoWR certified Line 3 of the CRT to be 34.2 miles (about 55km) long, the longest monorail line in the world.
Since then, the line has expanded, adding another 6.2 miles (10km) of track, pushing the total length, of this one line in the system, to 40.4 miles! Furthermore, not only is it the world’s longest monorail line, Line 3 on the CRT is also the busiest monorail line in the world, which we will discuss below.
Background on CRT and Line 3
The Chongqing province in China is one of the largest in the world with a population of roughly 30 million people and a size of approximately 31,700 square miles. To put that in perspective, the population is roughly the same as the entire state of Texas within an area that is about the size of Maine. The largest urban area in the province is the sprawling city also called Chongqing (formerly called Chunking in the West).
Opening in 2005, the CRT was designed to meet the public transportation needs of the municipality, both downtown and in surrounding suburbs. The system consists of 9 lines, 7 of which use traditional passenger trains while Line 2 and Line 3 use monorails. The hybrid system is necessary as Chongqing is a mountainous city with multiple river valleys. The monorails allow for rapid transit while navigating steep grades and tight curves that would pose difficulties to traditional passenger transportation.
Construction on Line 3 began in April 2007 and the first section opened on September 29, 2011, featuring 11 stations initially. As construction continued, more stations opened as construction allowed and another 12 stations opened before the end of 2011. Construction was finished on Line 3 in late 2012, however more stations opened in early 2013. Once complete, the line covered approximately 55 km. In 2016, a new addition on the line, known as the ‘Konggang Branch’, opened which added approximately 10 km to the length of the line.
Line 3 is BUSY!
As you might expect given the population of Chongqing, the CRT is extremely busy and averages nearly 800 million passengers a year, or more than 2 million per day. Nearly a third of the daily traffic, approximately 675,000 riders, on the CRT comes via Line 3. So, not only is Line 3 the longest monorail line in the world, it is also the busiest.
The line was designed to transport 32,000 passengers per hour – in each direction. However it often transports more. In 2019, the busiest sections of Line 3 saw up to 37,700 passengers per hour in each direction. While many of the trains contain 6 passenger cars, newer ones carrying 8 cars were put into service starting in 2014.
The Future of the CRT and Line 3
While the CRT currently only has 9 lines in operation, it is actively expanding. Construction is ongoing to add to current lines as well as add more. Current plans call for 9 additional lines to be operational by 2050.
While Line 3 remains one of the busiest lines on the CRT, there are no current plans in place to extend it beyond its current length. As ridership continues to grow, focus will likely turn towards increasing capacity on the Line while building new lines and growing other existing ones where service isn’t as easily accessible.
An environmental designer/engineer by vocation, a railfan by avocation.