Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed line to open on December 26
At 300km/h, service will cut journey time to under 8 hours and link four inland provinces
The high-speed railway between Beijing and Guangzhou will open in two weeks' time, the Railways Ministry said yesterday. It will offer the longest bullet-train ride in the world and cut the journey time between the two cities to less than eight hours.
When services begin on December 26 - the 119th anniversary of the birth of late Communist Party patriarch Mao Zedong - the 2,298-kilometre line will eclipse the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai. That 1,318-kilometre route opened in June last year.
It will not only connect the Pearl River Delta to the nation's political centre, but link the capitals of four land-locked provinces - Shijiazhuang , Hebei ; Zhengzhou , Henan ; Wuhan , Hubei ; and Changsha , Hunan , where the pace of economic growth has surpassed that of some coastal regions.
It will eventually allow high-speed trips between Beijing and Hong Kong, after the Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed link's completion, scheduled in 2015.
Trains will run at 300km/h, although they are designed for speeds of up to 350km/h.
The shortest journey time between Beijing and Guangzhou will be less than eight hours, compared to three hours by air. The authorities have not announced pricing for tickets. There is concern that the expansion of high-speed rail will deal a blow to the aviation industry.
The ministry said it would run extra trains during public holidays, such as the upcoming Spring Festival, but it is unclear how many seats will be available each day.
Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University who researches railway economics, predicts the line will be loss-making from day one.
"The more trains they run, the higher the deficit will be," he said.