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China's Shanghai-Nanjing intercity railway starts operation

A new high-speed rail service intended to boost development in one of China's major economic zones opened to passengers today.

The new service, with trains running at up to 350 km an hour, will more than halve the traveling time between Shanghai and Nanjing, capital of neighboring Jiangsu Province.

The service will cover the 301-km route in just 73 minutes, carving 80 minutes of the previous time. Its 21 stops include the eight most prosperous cities in the Yangtze Delta region, including Suzhou and Wuxi.

In the initial operation phase, 92 pairs of high-speed trains will operate on the route. The Ministry of Railways plans to raise the number to 120, but no timetable has been set.

Ministry spokeman Wang Yongping said the new line would "definitely boost regional modernization" and the number of rail travelers in the region.

The line was approved by the State Council as part of the plan for railway construction in the Yangtze Delta in 2005, and construction began in 2008.

Government data shows the region, covering 2.1 percent of the country's territory, contributed more than 21.4 percent of China's gross domestic product last year.


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