Two bul­let train lines now con­nect southwest to coast

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUO WANGSHU in Kun­ming lu­owang­shu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China opened two ma­jor high-speed rail lines on Wed­nes­day, link­ing the coun­try’s less de­vel­oped southwest with built-up coastal ar­eas.

It also marks Yun­nan prov­ince’s en­try into the na­tion’s high-speed rail­way net­work. The new lines link its cap­i­tal, Kun­ming, with Shang­hai and Guangzhou.

Twenty-nine of 31 provin­cial-level re­gions on the Chi­nese main­land are now served by high-speed rail­ways, ex­clud­ing only the Ti­bet and Ningxia au­ton­o­mous re­gions.

The 2,252-kilo­me­ter Shang­hai-Kun­ming rail line tra­verses five prov­inces — Zhe­jiang, Jiangxi, Hu­nan, Guizhou and Yun­nan — and cuts rail travel time be­tween the two cities from 34 to 11 hours, ac­cord­ing to China Rail­way Corp, the na­tion’s rail ser­vice provider.

It’s the na­tion’s long­est east-west high-speed rail­way. Trains run from 300 to 350 kilo­me­ters per hour, depend­ing on to­pog­ra­phy.

The new Kun­mingGuangzhou line cuts travel time from 16 1/2 hours to 8 hours and 52 min­utes, run­ning at 200 to 250 km/h.

A high-speed grid of four north-south lines and four east-west lines is tak­ing shape. In 2008, China set a tar­get to build the grid by 2020. Only two sec­tions have not opened yet, the Ji­nanShi­ji­azhuang and Bao­jiLanzhou lines.

“The two new high-speed lines and the newly opened trans­porta­tion hub at Kun­ming South Rail­way Sta­tion are im­por­tant ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture to link with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries in South Asia and South­east Asia,” China Rail­way Corp said in a state­ment.

The sys­tem also aims to help erad­i­cate poverty by trans­form­ing the high-speed rail in­dus­try into an eco­nomic driv­ing force.

Peng Wan, a 28-year-old train fan from Kun­ming, took a day off work on Wed­nes­day to catch the first

bul­let train de­par­ture from his home­town.

“In the early 1990s, I took a train from Kun­ming to Guiyang for the first time. It took about 20 hours. The travel time from Kun­ming to Guiyang has been re­duced, to 17 hours and then to 10 hours, and now to only 2 1/2 hours. Guizhou is our neigh­bor and we can travel back and forth in the same day,” he said.

In July, the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion is­sued an up­dated na­tional rail­way de­vel­op­ment plan en­vi­sion­ing 38,000 km of high-speed rail­ways by the end of 2025, up from more than 20,000 km now.

The cur­rent sys­tem ac­counts for 60 per­cent of the world’s high-speed rail­roads, ac­cord­ing to China Rail­way Corp.

“We will ac­cel­er­ate the con­struc­tion of rail­ways in cen­tral and western parts of China. We will also boost the ex­pan­sion of in­ter­city and sub­ur­ban rail links,” Zhang Dawei, deputy head of the Trans­port Min­istry’s plan­ning depart­ment, said in July.

By the end of 2020, plans call for more than 80 per­cent of main­land cities with a pop­u­la­tion of at least 1 mil­lion to be cov­ered by high-speed rail­ways.

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