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China launches new high-speed rail

07-01-2011 15:14 BJT Special Report:Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Rail |

By Zheng Zhi

The much-anticipated Beijing to Shanghai high-speed rail line has begun operating Thursday in Beijing.

The first train, leaving at 3 p.m. from the South Railway Station is expected to arrive at Hongqiao Railway Station in Shanghai at around 8 p.m.

The new rail service has cut travel time on the 1,318-km route between China's top two cities in half to less than five hours.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R, Front) attends the launching ceremony of Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway in Beijing, capital of China, June 30, 2011. The 1,318-kilometer railway, starting from Beijing and ending at Shanghai, opened to traffic on Thursday, cutting the single-way time between the two cities to under five hours.

At a launching ceremony held before the departure of the first train, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao praised the high-speed railway.

"The building of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway is of great significance to improving a modern traffic network, promoting economic and social development and satisfying people's need to travel. The railway workers spent only 38 months to complete this whole project, and it has recorded a new chapter in China's rail construction history."

Wang Qianzhong is a freshman at Beijing-based Renmin University. He bought a ticket for the maiden voyage to return to his hometown, Nanjing, for his summer holiday.

Nanjing is one of the 24 stops along the route.

Wang says he's looking forward to enjoying the new service.

A commercial bullet train left the Beijing South Railway Station at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 30, 2011, marking the beginning of the service on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway.

"As I can have electricity and internet access in this high-speed rail, I play the computer and several hours pass by quickly.This is what I can't do on planes."

China's Ministry of Railways says there will be 90 pairs of trains running at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour and 250 kilometers per hour every day.

With such a high number and frequency of trains running along the line at unprecedented speeds, questions about safety have cropped up in recent months.

But passengers at the waiting room do not seem bothered by this issue.

A passenger surnamed, Tao, who is from Shanghai, says safety concerns should not prevent technological progress.

"I think safety is what we must take into consideration. But it's not right if we suppress technological development out of fear of safety. We should use it since it has been fully-tested and proven-qualified."

Hugo Ortiz is a businessman from the United States. Although he failed to obtain a ticket for the very first train, he is excited to ride on the first day of operations.

When it comes to the safety of the high-speed trains, Ortiz says he feels quite confident as he has learned that all the testing and efforts conducted by Chinese rail authorities.

Earlier, China's Ministry of Railways said more than 1,500 test trains have been operated on a total journey of 2 million kilometers along the entire route since May 11, following the train schedule. Tests performed, include train schedule parameter tests, failure simulation and emergency exercises.

Tickets between the two cities range from 410 yuan to 1,750 yuan, or 63 to 270 U.S. dollars, depending on the train's designated speed and seat category, while an economy-class air ticket between the two cities costs around 1,250 yuan.

Previous media reports say airlines linking Beijing, Shanghai and cities between the two points have been searching for ways to prevent passengers from flocking to the new high-speed line.

Measures include more discounts as well as free train rides and shuttle buses to and from airports.

The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail is expected to boost passenger transportation capability with 97,000 people traveling between the two metropolises every day.

Commercial bullet train left the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station on Thursday afternoon,
June 30, 2011, marking the beginning of the service on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed

Editor:Zhang Ning |Source: CRI

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