Passengers take a picture in Lianyungang Railway Station, Jiangsu province, on Monday before boarding a high-speed train to Xuzhou, Jiangsu, as the railway begins service. WANG CHUN/FOR CHINA DAILY
The last leg of an east-west high-speed railway corridor opened on Monday, completing the longest east-west passage in China’s high-speed rail network.
The 3,422-kilometer passage starts from the coastal city of Lianyungang in East China’s Jiangsu province and ends at Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region after passing through the provinces of Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai.
The first section of the decadelong project – from Zhengzhou, Henan province, to Xi’an, Shaanxi province – was put into operation in 2010.
The last section – the 185-km line from Lianyungang to Xuzhou, Jiangsu – opened on Monday.
Passengers can travel from Lianyungang to Xuzhou within an hour, half the previous time, thanks to the new section.
It has a designed speed of 350 km per hour, with the initial operating speed set at 300 km/h.
There is no direct railway service from Lianyungang to Urumqi as China’s direct bullet trains usually travel no more than 2,500 km to ensure safety.
Xuzhou is a transport hub linking up with the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway, and Lianyungang connects with the coastal high-speed rail line.
The passage will provide strong support for the development of the New Eurasian Continental Bridge Economic Corridor and promote the Belt and Road Initiative, China State Railway Group, the national railway operator, said in a statement.
The opening of the new line will greatly facilitate the travel of people along the railway and improve freight capacity, it said.
China’s railway network covered 146,300 km by the end of last year, with 37,900 km of high-speed rail, according to China State Railway Group.