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High-speed rail top choice for traveling
| Updated: 2017-05-10 14:41:31 | (chinadaily.com.cn) |

After several route adjustments in the past five years, Tianjin now boasts of a ramified railway network composing of four major high-speed rail lines, namely the Beijing-Tianjin Line, the Beijing-Shanghai Line, the Tianjin-Qinhuangdao Line, and the Tianjin-Baoding Line, as well as their extension lines in all directions, making traveling by train much easier.

Xu Bing, a 38-year-old Tianjin resident working as a printing mechanic at a French company, has to shuttle back and forth between several Chinese cities on business trips. Taking punctuality and convenience into consideration, Xu reckons high-speed rail his first choice for traveling, adding that the rapid expansion of the rail network has greatly facilitated intercity travel. For instance, he said, the launch of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Rail line reduces the travel time to Shanghai from at least 10 hours to about five hours for him, making a daytrip between the two cities a reality.

Thanks to the operation of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Rail Line since 2011, residents in Tianjin are able to enjoy a day trip to southern cities such as Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Ningbo. In 2013, the opening of the Tianjin-Qinhuangdao High-Speed Rail Line has enabled Tianjin residents to arrive at Qinhuangdao in 70 minutes nonstop. In addition, the Tianjin-Qinhuangdao Line is linked to the Beijing-Harbin Rail Line, greatly reducing the travel time from Tianjin to Shenyang, Harbin, Changchun, and other northeastern cities.

In September 2015, the Yujiapu Railway Station in Binhai New Area of Tianjin was put into use. As the terminal station of the extension line of the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Line, the Yujiapu Station helps forge closer ties between Binhai New Area of Tianjin and Beijing. In December 2015, the launch of the Tianjin-Baoding Line has shortened the trips between Tianjin and several places in Hebei, facilitating coordinated development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

With the full operation of commuter trains from central Tianjin to Jizhou district and the Beijing-Jizhou District Intercity Rail Line in 2015, Jizhou district became the "backyard" of Tianjin and Beijing. Statistics show that the occupancy rates of the two lines on weekends and during short holidays remain at 95 or even 100 percent, and the number of visitors to Jizhou district has increased by 30 to 40 percent.

In addition to the expansion of the railway network and ticket fare adjustments, the new ticket change and the cancellation policy started in 2013 has made train travel increasingly favorable. Authorities decided to abolish a decades-long compulsory accident insurance regulation on railway transport in 2013, bringing the ticket fares down by 0.5 to 4 yuan. Under the new tiered ticket refund system, passengers will be charged differentiated cancellation fees depending the train's departure time. For example, ticket cancellation within 24 hours before the departure time incurs a fee of 20 percent of the ticket price. The new ticket refund policy has deterred malicious ticket hoarding and ensured passengers can get a refund in time.

During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period, the railway network in Tianjin will see further expansion as the railway authorities plan to accelerate the construction of Beijing-Binhai New Area and Beijing-Tangshan Intercity Rail Lines, and deliberate on the eastern extension of the Beijing-Shanghai Line, Tianjin-Baoding-Xinzhou Line, and Tianjin-Chengde Line. After Beijing's successful joint bid with Zhangjiakou to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, construction of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-speed Rail Line is stepping up. The line is expected to be put into service in 2017. By then, Tianjin residents can arrive at Zhangjiakou within two hours by transferring from the Beijing-Tianjin Line to the Beijing-Zhangjiakou Line.

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