China has officially opened a 1,428-mile high-speed rail line between the capital of Beijing and Guangzhou.
The massive rail line is the world’s longest and spans more than half the country, cementing the country’s high development ambitions for high-speed rail lines, reports United Press International.
The country’s official news agency, Xinhua, reported that the rail line’s opening was supplemented with pictures of the brand new luxury trains on the line. Two trains left the station in Beijing on Wednesday.
They traveled at speeds that averaged 186 miles per hour, cutting a trip that normally takes 20 hours down to eight. The country plans to have 35 stops along the line, which will eventually serve 155 trains per day. Zhou Li, director general of science and technology at the Ministry of Railways, stated of the project:
“The opening of the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed line shows that China’s high-speed railway network has started to take shape.”
Parts of the 1,428-mile rail line were already in operation before Wednesday’s inaugural trip, but the entire rail operation is now working, notes Yahoo! News. The new route also marks a new chance for the country’s railway ministry, which has been plagued by missteps and scandals.
This includes a July 2011 crash that killed 40 people and raised concerns and critics who questioned the safety of the country’s high-speed rail lines. Zhou added of the new line, “We have developed a full range of effective measures to manage safety. We can control safety management.”
Investment in China’s high-speed railway system slowed after the crash last year, but the ministry is still planning on spending money to grow the operation, including the recent opening of the world’s longest high-speed rail line.