China opens world's longest bullet train line

China opens world's longest bullet train line

Between Beijing and Guangzhou, 22 hours is now eight hours. But some say it's still cheaper and faster to fly
China has laid almost 10,000 kilometers of high-speed rail track in recent years, investing billions of yuan in a state of the art train network.

China's Beijing-to-Guangzhou high-speed rail (HSR) link opened on Wednesday, a 2,398-kilometer journey rated the world’s longest HSR train line.

Once a Shenzhen-Hong Kong HSR link is completed in 2015, the line will connect Hong Kong with the Chinese capital.

The new line connecting Guanzhou with Beijing is designed for a maximum speed of 350 kmh, with an average speed of 300 kmh, state media reported. This reduces travel time between the two cities from more than 20 hours to around eight hours.

The connection has up to 35 stops in cities that include 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, according to state-run Xinhua.

China's People's Daily published this gallery of a test run with VIPs, guests and media last weekend.

After the succesful test, state-run China Daily reported that railway authorities had put in place several safety measures, including increased maintenance and improved systems to address issues related to operating in extreme weather.

The measures are expected to disperse safety concerns raised after an HSR train crash last year near the southern city of Wenzhou left 40 people dead, the report added.

Ticket prices range from 865 yuan (US$138) in second class to 1,383 yuan (US$220) in first class and 2,972 yuan (US$472) for the VIP lounge, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

The Post quoted several travelers who expressed shock at the prices, with some saying the train trip was more expensive than many discounted airline tickets and double the travel time.

Also on CNN: Complete guide to China's high-speed rail network