(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) China has officially opened the world's longest high-speed rail route, which spans over half of China, linking the capital Beijing with the southern commercial hub of Guangzhou. Two bullet trains departed from stations in Beijing and Guangzhou on Wednesday morning respectively, to mark the opening of the 2,298-kilometer line.
A Chinese official has described the route - parts of which were already in operation - as "one of the most technically advanced in the world".
The 2,298km route will have 35 stops. They include such major cities as Wuhan and Changsha. Running at an average speed of 300 km per hour, the new route cuts the travel time between Beijing and the southern metropolis from more than 20 hours to around eight, China's news agency (Xinhua) reported. A total of 155 pairs of trains will run on the new line each day, and alternative schedules have been made for weekends and peak travel times, according to the Chinese Ministry of Railways (MOR).
"The opening of the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed line shows that China's high-speed railway network has started to take shape," said Zhou Li, director general of science and technology of the MOR. With the opening of the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed line, China now has more than 9,300 km of high-speed railways in operation.
The country aims to create a high-speed railway backbone featuring four east-west lines and four north-south lines with a total operating mileage of more than 120,000 km by 2020, according to government plans.