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December 19, 2009

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Tickets go on sale for newest bullet train

CHINA'S railway stations yesterday began selling passenger tickets for the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which boasts the world's fastest train journey with an average speed of 350 kilometers per hour.

The service between Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province and the largest city in central China, and Guangzhou City, a business hub in the southern China's Guangdong Province, was scheduled to start on December 26.

The journey of 1,068.6 kilometers would take three hours, compared with the previous 10 and a half hours, said an official with the Wuhan railway bureau.

Tickets from Wuhan to Guangzhou ranged from 490 yuan (US$72) to 780 yuan, almost the same as airline tickets.

The China-made bullet trains reached a maximum speed of 394.2km per hour in trial operations on December 9, said Sun Bangcheng, general engineer of the manufacturing company.

China's government has launched a major upgrading of the nation's overstretched railway system. It will build 42 high-speed passenger rail lines with a total length of 13,000 kilometers in the next three years.

The country opened the first high-speed railway between Beijing and Tianjin last year.

With the expanding network of highways, bullet trains could further open up travel to millions of Chinese, while putting pressure on airlines.

To attract passengers, China Southern Airlines on Thursday announced an express service with 30 flights between Guangzhou, Wuhan and Changsha every day.

The airfare from Wuhan to Guangzhou dived to 190 yuan at the lowest, compared with about 1,000 yuan before.


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