Beijing began test runs of its first driverless subway line on Monday (12 June), aiming to launch the service by the end of this year.

The Yanfang line will be the first domestically developed automated subway on mainland China, according to First Engineering of China Railway Electrification Bureau Group, which built the subway, reports China's state-run news agency Xinhuanet.

The 16.6km line will serve the city's southwestern suburb of Fangshan. The maximum speed on the subway line will be 80km per hour and the self-driving trains will have a passenger capacity of 1,262.

By 2020, the length of the rail across the city will exceed 900km.

Approximately 90% of the city will have at least one subway station within 750 metres, and all the 16 urban and rural districts in Beijing will have rail access.

In March, a spokesperson for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development revealed the plan about the first driverless subway line.

Beijing currently has 19 subway lines covering 574km. As many as 20 more subway lines spanning over 350km will be built by the end of this year.

Driverless trains are also planned for an express line to the new airport in Daxing district.