China launches world’s longest high-speed rail

BEIJING: China launched service on the world’s longest high-speed railway on Wednesday with trains scheduled to run 2,298 kilometres between Beijing and Guangzhou in about eight hours.

The first “bullet” train left the Chinese capital for Guangzhou, a major city in southern China, early Wednesday morning.

Travelling at an average speed of about 300 kilometres per hour, the service would cut the journey time from more than 20 hours by conventional trains, state media said.

The opening of the Beijing-Guangzhou line brought China’s total length of operational high-speed railways to more than 9,300 kilometres, reports said.

Trains on the new line were scheduled to stop at 35 stations in inland cities to spur economic growth in less-developed regions.

The government’s Xinhua news agency quoted railway officials as saying 155 pairs of trains would eventually run on the line daily, giving roughly one train every 10 minutes in each direction.

“The opening of the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed line shows that China’s high-speed railway network has started to take shape,” the agency quoted Zhou Li, director of science and technology at the
Ministry of Railways, as saying.

It said the country planned to expand the high-speed network to about 120,000 kilometres by 2020, including four major east-west lines and four north-south lines.

China has continued rapid development of high-speed lines despite a crash between two high-speed trains that killed 40 people and injured 190 near the eastern city of Wenzhou in July 2011.