Beijing’s multibillion-dollar new airport – with three runways and a futuristic terminal – is arguably the world’s largest single building measured by gross floor area and is set to open by October.
But one lesser known fact is that a large chunk of the site of Beijing’s Daxing International Airport is in the neighboring province of Hebei, and the new aviation hub will also lift the prospects of the Xiong’an New Area.
This is President Xi Jinping’s brainchild to create another Beijing in Hebei for the relocation of people and businesses as the capital city is grappling with overcrowding, pollution and a worsening housing crisis.
Xinhua reported that Hebei would kickstart a slew of ambitious infrastructure development projects such as new high-speed rail links and inter-provincial metro lines linking Xiong’an and neighboring counties with Beijing and the new airport.
These transportation backbones will make trips quicker for commuters traveling between Beijing, Xiong’an and the new airport to form a thriving new interconnected city.
Already, trains have started trial runs on a 41-kilometer purpose-built airport express from downtown Beijing to Daxing’s ground transportation center, where the top speed is 160 kilometers per hour – faster than railway services in many countries.
This means it will only be a 30-minute ride from Beijing’s central business district. The line will extend further southward to reach Xiong’an.
Another dedicated high-speed rail link of the 350km/h class connecting Beijing and Xiong’an is also being built and trains will stop in a cavernous station at the airport which has already been finished beneath the terminal building. Arriving passengers who have just left their planes will not have to go through additional security checks before boarding trains there.
On Beijing’s drawing board for Xiong’an is six new high-speed rail lines running through the area and a 470,000-square-meter station, one of the largest in the nation, will be completed by the end of 2020.
Hebei has also earmarked 100 square kilometers of land in the vicinity of the new airport for aviation-related industries including warehousing and logistics.
Hebei party boss Wang Dongfeng told a recent press conference in Beijing that there would be no local Communist Party committee or government in Xiong’an, as the new area would be directly under the provincial authorities to cut red tape and streamline governance.
He also said an enclave of three counties under the province’s jurisdiction between Beijing and Tianjin would from now on be included in Beijing’s masterplan. He also revealed that more than 2,500 projects worth 430 billion yuan (US$62.2 billion) were launched by Beijing and Tianjin investors in the province in 2018.