China / Society

Longest high-speed rail line takes smooth test run

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-12-23 01:11

BEIJING - China put the 2,298-km Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed railway, the world's longest, into a test operation on Saturday.

Running at an average speed of 300 km per hour, it only took two and a half hours for the train to cover the 693 km distance from Beijing to Zhengzhou, the northern section of the whole route that links the country's capital and the southern economic hub.

Aboard the new train, more than 100 domestic and foreign reporters were invited to test run the rail line.

Zhou Li, director general of science and technology with the Ministry of Railways (MOR), also aboard, told passengers that he was confident in the country's railway technologies.

"We will keep tracking the condition of equipment in real time and report potential risks immediately," Zhou said to reporters.

The railway authorities have taken a string of targeted measures to guarantee a safe trip, such as intensifying the maintenance of fixed equipment and mobile devices on board and improving the control system to address possible problems under extreme weather, he added.

The measures are expected to disperse the safety concerns raised after a bullet train crash last year near the southern city of Wenzhou left 40 people dead.

According to an earlier announcement of the MOR, the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed railway will open on December 26 and is expected to cut the travel time to about 8 hours from the current 20-odd hours by traditional lines.

Designed with a maximum speed of 350 km per hour, the railway has 35 stops in major cities, including Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Changsha.

More than 2,000 tickets were sold for the Guangzhou-Beijing high-speed journey for December 26 on Thursday, the first day passengers could book tickets.

However, some passengers are still hesitant to take the new rail for relatively higher fares that can nearly rival their flying counterparts.

A second-class coach fare from Beijing to Guangzhou is 865 yuan (138 U.S. dollars), and the cheapest air ticket for December 26 costs only 25 yuan more, 493 yuan lower than first-class coach tickets.

Zhao Chunlei, a senior official in charge of transportation of the MOR, said tickets are priced to meet the demands of different people, and fares will fluctuate under market forces.

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