A new high-speed railway, which connects the capital cities of Henan and Hubei provinces in Central China, was put into service 10 days ago, creating a new north-south corridor in the national high-speed rail grid.
The new line cuts travel time between the two cities to two hours, down from four and a half hours.
Construction began on the 536-km line, with a total investment of 57 billion yuan ($9 billion), in 2008, with a top design speed of 350 km/h.
For now, the new line will carry 24 pairs of trains every day, with a speed limit of 300 km/h, railway authorities said.
The line is a major part of the 2,300-km Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed railway, China’s longest high-speed line in planning, which is expected to open by the end of the year.
The Zhengzhou Railway Bureau said in a statement that every effort has been made to ensure safe travel on the new line, which has set high standards on its building process, operational system and overhaul.
“Drivers are a crucial part to guarantee our bullet trains travel safely on track,” the bureau said.
According to the statement, high-speed train drivers were selected from among thousands of drivers of regular trains, who can get a license with a safe driving record of no less than 500,000 km on rails.
Eligible candidates then have to pass exams and receive one month of intensive training.
In addition, the bureau said every night, workers will spend at least four hours inspecting the track and related facilities for maintenance. A pair of trains without passengers will take a test run in the early morning to confirm road safety.
The line is one more piece of the jigsaw that is China’s grid-shaped high-speed railway network which underlines Wuhan, a port city on the Yangtze River, as an important traffic hub, experts said.
And the new railway path will link the city to the north region — even to Beijing by the end of the year — making Wuhan the meeting point of the planned north-south Beijing-Guangzhou line and the east-west Shanghai-Wuhan-Chengdu line, Hu said.