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China opens world’s longest high-speed rail line


Chinese workers unveil the new high-speed train, capable of reaching speeds up to 310 miles an hour, during a ceremony in Qingdao, east China's Shandong province on December 23, 2011. China has built the world's largest high-speed rail system from scratch in less than a decade, but a collision between two high-speed trains in July that killed at least 40 people led it to suspend new projects.



China opened the world’s longest high-speed rail line on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. The line stretches 2,298 kilometers (1,428 miles), to connect the capital of Beijing in the north with the city of Guangzhou in the south.

The journey takes eight hours, versus the 20 it takes to make the trip on the regular-speed track between Beijing and Guangzhou. The regular line is still running, according to the Journal. The new trains will run at 300 kph (186 mph), Reuters reported.

According to Bloomberg News, "The new line, which will eventually connect to Hong Kong, is part of the nation’s plan to build a 16,000-kilometer high-speed rail network by 2015, undeterred by a deadly bullet-train accident last year."

In July 2011, 40 people were killed in a high-speed train crash near Wenzhou, Reuters reported.

More from GlobalPost: Despite crash, China unveils train that can reach 310 miles an hour

"We have developed a full range of effective measures to manage safety," Zhou Li, head of the ministry's science and technology department, told reporters, according to Reuters.

With the lowest price tickets for the high-speed train costing 865 yuan (about $139) — less than the 1,190 yuan it costs to fly to Guangzhou from Beijing – the new bullet train route could push airfares for the same trip down, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The continued development of the high-speed train network will marginalize short-haul domestic air routes,” Barclays analysts Patrick Xu and Jon Windham wrote in a note to clients last week, Bloomberg News reported. It will “exacerbate the competition on long-haul domestic routes and depress margins.”