China / Society

Full speed ahead for China's northern-most line

By Zhou Huiying in Harbin ( Updated: 2015-08-17 20:29

Train No D7989 left Harbin, Heilongjiang province on Monday, to begin service on China's northern-most high-speed rail line after passing a one-month test.

After nearly six years under construction, the 281-kilometer line with eight stops linking Harbin, the provincial capital, with Daqing and Qiqihar, welcomed its first passengers.

"All tickets for D7989, the first train in service were sold out within a day," said Xu Feng, an official with Harbin Railway Bureau. "By early morning Monday, more than 8,000 tickets for the 21 trains running had been sold, 70 percent of the total".

Lu Tong, 18, has been obsessed by everything about trains since he was a little boy.

"Besides traveling by train, I like collecting things about trains, such as tickets, models and souvenirs," said Lu. "As soon as I knew the northern-most high-speed rail line would go into service, I bought a ticket of the first train on the Internet".

Lu told China Daily that he arrived at Harbin in the early morning from his home in Daqing.

The new line, designed for trains running at up to 250 km/h, will cut the travel time between Harbin and Qiqihar to about 1 hour 25 minutes from the old three hours.

Wang Lixin, 33, who manages a small company in Harbin, was excited when he heard the news.

"My hometown is Qiqihar and I have lots of business with the city, so I have to return to Qiqihar regularly," said Wang. "The new line makes my trip much easier".

The line is expected to carry about 8 million passengers annually, and 20 pairs of trains will operate every day, according to Harbin railway authorities.

It is expected to greatly improve transportation in Harbin, Daqing, Qiqihar and surrounding cities and boost the tourism industry in Harbin and Qiqihar, which is renowned for the Zhalong National Nature Reserve.

A first-class ticket between Harbin and Qiqihar is likely to cost 117 yuan ($18.30) and a second-class ticket 98 yuan.

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