Beijing Subway

The Beijing subway is the world's second largest metro system with 465 kilometres of track. Opened in 1969, it now consists of 17 lines with more than 232 stations and an average of 9.5 million daily commuters.

Largely funded by the Beijing Municipal Government, its low flat fare of 2.00 Renminbi makes it the cheapest of any municipal metro system in China and a hugely popular means of transportation in the crowded and frenetic metropolis. To accommodate the growing number of users, expansion plans are set to more than double the network by 2020.

"The subway is the pride of Beijing. It’s the only reason to live in this city," says Liu Jinchang, a sales director. He owns a car, still a relative luxury in China, but prefers to commute by metro. As an example of state led development unconstrained by profit imperatives, Beijing's metro is a fascinating case study in how cities can try to cope with ever expanding populations and the imperative to keep people moving. 

  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 4.5, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 3200)

    Passengers ride the Beijing Subway in Beijing, China in October 2014.

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  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/800, ISO: 2500)

    Passengers change platform at an interchange station on the Beijing Subway in Beijing, China in October 2014.

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  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/500, ISO: 2500)

    Commuters walk through a tunnel in a subway station on the Beijing Subway in Beijing, China in October 2014

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  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 6.3, Shutter: 1/1000, ISO: 400)

    Passengers exit a station on the Beijing Subway in Beijing, China in October 2014.

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  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 13, Shutter: 1/250, ISO: 400)

    Commuters stand in front of one of the exits of the Beijing Railway Station, Beijing, China. October 2014.

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  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/200, ISO: 2000)

    Passengers ride the Beijing Subway in Beijing, China in October 2014.

    Open fullscreen
  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/80, ISO: 2000)

    Passengers, reflected in the window, ride the Beijing Subway in Beijing, China in October 2014.

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  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 3.2, Shutter: 1/250, ISO: 2000)

    Passengers ride the Beijing Subway in Beijing, China in October 2014.

    Open fullscreen
  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/250, ISO: 4000)

    A Beijing Subway train passes through the suburbs of Beijing, China in October 2014

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  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R (F-Stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 4000)

    Commuters stand in front of the Shaoyaoju station of the Beijing Subway. Beijing, China. October 2014.

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  • Adam Dean Beijing

    Adam Dean

    #FutureofCities - Beijing Subway

    Sony α7R, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 4000)

    Passengers enter a station on the Beijing Subway in Beijing, China in October 2014.

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About Adam Dean

Adam Dean is a freelance photographer based in Beijing, China represented by Panos Pictures. 

Editorial clients include The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Rolling Stone Magazine, Stern, Smithsonian magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine and The Telegraph Magazine. In 2011 he was selected as one of PDN's 30 emerging photographers and was the recipient of The Sony Emerging Photographer Award. He has won first place prizes from Pictures of the Year International (POYI), NPPA Best of Photojournalism, Prix International de la Photographie as well as multiple awards from Days Japan Photojournalism Award, Sony World Photography Award, PDN Annual and The Press Photographer's Year. His work has been shown at Visa pour l'Image festival in Perpignan and exhibited worldwide.

He is also a regular lecturer on the MA International Multimedia Journalism run jointly by Bolton University and Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Interview

Why a project on the Beijing Subway?
Beijing is infamous for its terrible pollution, high volume of traffic and huge and ever expanding population. The subway is already one of the largest in the world at over 450KM of track and will more than double in size by 2020 so the future and sustainability of this city is dependent on the governments ability to provide a mass transport solution for its residents that will hopefully ease the pollution and traffic on the roads.

What do you hope to achieve with the project?
I want to show the realities of one of the largest and fastest growing transport networks in the world.

With so many commuters traveling on this subway, it must be a paradise for people enjoying ‘people-watching’ and for photographers interested n humans and human emotions. Have you had any exceptional experiences on the Beijing subway you would like to tell us about?
Personally I don't use the subway much in Beijing because it is so crowded and generally unpleasant - I cycle around Beijing instead. So shooting this project really gave me a another view of this city I live in. It is great for people watching and photographing in but one of the biggest challenges was trying to catch peoples faces as most passengers spend their journey head down, staring at their smart phones which I guess would not have been a problem a few years ago.

Could you describe the Beijing subway in 3 words?
Big, busy, bustling.

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