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HEFEI -- A new high-speed railway was put into operation in east China on Tuesday, integrating local cities into the country's high-speed rail network that covers developed coastal regions.
Related reading: China to form high-speed railway network by 2015
The 132-km new railway links Hefei and Bengbu, two cities in the inland Anhui province, cutting the journey between them by at least one hour to 38 minutes on train traveling at a maximum speed of 350 km per hour.
The section also connects with the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai, and is part of the special passenger lines that link Shanghai, Wuhan and Chengdu, and connect Beijing and coastal Fuzhou.
The integration greatly shortens trips from the Anhui cities of Hefei, Bengbu and Huainan to the Yangtze Delta in the east, Pearl River Delta in the south and Bohai Sea Rim in the north, all national economic engines.
The shortest trip from Hefei to Beijing has been cut to less than four hours after the new railway entered service. Previously, traveling by train from the capital city of Anhui to Beijing took about 10 hours or more.
Anhui was incorporated into the country's plan of boosting inland central provinces' development in 2006 as China seeks balanced regional development after witnessing rapid growth in the east.
China currently has more than 6,800 km of high-speed railway lines that run at a speed above 200 km per hour. The total length is expected to reach about 18,000 km by 2015, according to the Ministry of Railways.