World's longest high-speed railway line set to open
Updated: 2012-12-23 08:10
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
A reporter covering the trial run of the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed rail strikes the "Aircraft Style"pose made popular online during flight trials of China's domestic aircraft carrier the Liaoning. It represents the "all clear" for planes to take off. Zou Hong / China Daily
The world's longest high-speed railway line, from Beijing to Guangzhou, is set to open on Wednesday and extend the country's high-speed rail network to a total length of 9,349 km.
The 2,298 km north-south trunk line between Beijing and Guangdong's provincial capital comprises two sections of the route which have been running for a couple of years, in addition to the newly completed 693 km section between Beijing and Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province.
The new line will be "the world's longest high-speed railway", confirmed Zhou Li, director of the Ministry of Railways' science and technology department, speaking to local and international media on Saturday, during a trial run on the line.
Trains are expected to run at 300 kph, cutting travel time between the two cities from some 20 hours to just eight hours. Tickets went on sale on Thursday.
Significantly, completion of the Beijing-Guangzhou line means a national high-speed rail network "has taken shape", said Zhao Chunlei, deputy head of the transportation bureau of the Ministry of Railways.
For example, Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, was formerly only connected to Zhengzhou by high-speed rail, but will presently be connected to Beijing as well. This means the travel time between Xi'an and Beijing will be cut from 12 hours to about four hours and 40 minutes.
Several other "isolated" high-speed rail lines will be included in the overall network, such as Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan and Wuhan-Yichang.
Zhao said he was confident the new north-south high-speed line would be popular, though it "will take some time".
Previously, travelers between Beijing and Guangzhou have said they would prefer flying to high-speed rail because train tickets are expensive and the travel time is three hours by air rather than eight hours by train.
While Zhao admitted not everyone would travel the whole length of the Beijing-Guangzhou line "we expect plenty of passengers will board mid-way and others will opt to enjoy the scenery along the route".
Zhao said that the high-speed trains would appeal to various demographics.
"Many passengers boarding high-speed trains between Guangzhou and Wuhan are migrant workers. They choose high-speed trains because they have taken into account the cost of travel and their time, food and other factors," he said.
He cited Ministry of Railways figures of an average seating occupancy of 60 to 70 percent on high-speed trains to and from Beijing, which he called "quite good".
Even so, the ministry has retained cheaper and slower train services on the old Beijing-Guangzhou line to ensure passengers have the option of taking these, Zhao added.
Railway authorities expect the new high-speed Beijing-Guangzhou line will enable existing lines to handle an additional 20 million tons of cargo between Beijing and Wuhan annually.
(China Daily 12/23/2012 page1)