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July 2, 2013

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All aboard bullet trains to Ningbo

THE Shanghai-Ningbo high-speed railway opened yesterday, cutting travel time between the two cities from 180 minutes to 100 minutes.

The line, which has a maximum speed limit of 300 kilometers per hour, is essentially an extension of the Shanghai-Hangzhou line that opened about three years ago.

"The new bullet train lines will help balance economic development in the Yangtze River Delta region," said Sun Zhang, a rail expert with Shanghai Tongji University.

Passengers seemed to agree with Sun's assessment, especially businesspeople.

"Speed is the key," said Zhang Hua, a passenger who boarded G7505, the first bullet train from Shanghai to Ningbo yesterday morning. "The higher ticket prices are not a major concern."

Zhang, who works for a clothing company in Shanghai that has business in Ningbo, said the express service is about 80 minutes faster than previous trains.

Other businessmen told Shanghai Daily yesterday that in the past they would travel a day in advance of meetings, but the bullet trains allow them to travel the same day.

A second class ticket costs 150 yuan (US$24.44) while first class costs 250 yuan per person.

Meanwhile, a Nanjing-Hangzhou high-speed railway also opened yesterday. An express train between the cities takes about 70 minutes, the railway operator said.

The governments of some smaller cities along both lines expect tourism to flourish as they anticipate more Shanghai residents to visit on weekends and holidays since the areas will be more accessible.

Liu Guoxin, a resident of Liyang City in Jiangsu, took a bullet train from there to Nanjing yesterday.

"Liyang had no train stations before and we could only take buses if we wanted to travel," he said. "It was inconvenient. But now we have bullet trains, so my family can to travel to Beijing."

Bullet trains take 60 minutes between Hangzhou and Shanghai. Travel time is 35 minutes from the city to both Suzhou and Wuxi while it takes 100 minutes from Shanghai to Nanjing. Beijing is only 5 hours from Shanghai by bullet train.


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