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China tests world’s longest high-speed rail line

Beijing, Dec 24 (): China tested its 2,298-kilometre (1,428-mile) high-speed rail line on Saturday, the longest in the world, as it prepares to start passenger service on Dec. 26.

The 2,298-km (1,428-mile) line running along Beijing-Guangzhou, parts of which are already in operation, will begin full service on Wednesday, halving travel time to less than 10 hours on trains which will run at 300 kph (186 mph).

Authorities took journalists for a ride in a test run, ahead of its formal launch, running at an average speed of 300 km per hour; it only took two-and-a-half hours for the train yesterday to cover the 693 km distance from Beijing to Zhengzhou.

During the trial run on the line, director of the Ministry of Railways’ science and technology department, Zhou Li confirmed the new line will be “the world’s longest high-speed railway”,  speaking to local and international media on Saturday.

The train has 35 stops in major cities, including Shijiazhuang, capital of north China’s Hebei Province, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province and Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province.

More than 2,000 tickets were sold for the first Guangzhou-Beijing commercial drive. Second-class fare from Beijing to Guangzhou is 865 yuan ($138 dollars) while the cheapest seat costs only 25 yuan more.

China’s Ministry of Railways has said that it was confident that a string of measures it has taken such as improving control systems and ensuring equipment are property maintained in extreme weather.

Railway authorities assume that new high-speed Beijing-Guangzhou line will enable existing lines to handle an additional 20 million tons of cargo between Beijing and Wuhan annually.

Ministry of railways is confident about the country’s railway technology, but did not reveal either the total cost or the financial performance of its high-speed rail projects.

In 2007, China’s high-speed rail network was established, but has quickly become the world’s largest, with a total of 8358 km of track by the end of 2010.