On December 13th, 2009, the Wuhan-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway Passenger Line Company announced that on December 26th, the Wuhan to Guangzhou high-speed passenger line would officially begin trial operations. The new line is part of the overall Beijing to Guangzhou rail line and is currently the world’s longest line built at once, as well as the world’s fastest. Although the total distance between Wuhan and Guangzhou is 1069 kilometres, the new line enables passengers to reach Guangzhou in just 3 hours. On December 9th, a trial run was conducted between the two cities in which the train reached a speed of 394.2 kilometres per hour, a speed that is likely to increase even further during official operations.
First class train tickets for the Wuhan to Guangzhou stretch will cost 780 RMB, while second class tickets are priced at 490 RMB. When broken down, passengers pay 0.72 yuan per kilometer for 1st class tickets and 0.45 yuan per kilometer for 2nd class tickets. When compared to the price per kilometer of trains between Beijing and Tianjin, Wuhan to Guangzhou ticket prices are notably more expensive. According to official sources, the reason for the higher prices is that the 1st class carriages of the new high speed train line are fitted with the same individual seats as those found in airplanes, each fitted with a personal audio system, electric outlets, cushions, foot rests and a small tea table. Moreover, the seats can rotate 360 degrees. The CRH3 model trains are only fitted with 80 such seats per train, hence the increased prices.
This new and ultra convenient rail line is part of China’s ambitious new project to build 35 high-speed routes by 2012. When the project is completed, China’s railway system will be the most technologically advanced, high-speed railway system in the world. Fortunately, residents in Wuhan can enjoy the perks of this development as early as December 26th, 2009. It seems like the days when train travelling in China was associated with excruciatingly long and uncomfortable train journeys are soon going to be vague memories of an era past.
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