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China Opens Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway
    2008-08-01 11:12:19     Xinhua

A stewardess stands in front of intercity trains between Beijing and Tianjin at the Tianjin Railway Station on Friday, August 1, 2008. [Photo: Xinhua]

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Two official ceremonies were held respectively in Beijing and Olympic co-host city Tianjin on Friday to mark the opening of the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, a week before the Games begin.

Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, BOCOG president and Beijing Party chief Liu Qi, Tianjin Party chief Zhang Gaoli and Railways Minister Liu Zhijun attended the ceremony at the cavernous new Beijing South Railway Station.

Zhang said the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway Company should provide clean, safe, convenient and first-class travel for the Games and beyond.

"The opening of the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway is another milestone in China's history of railway development," Zhang said.

Zhang and other senior officials boarded the first train which left at 10:40 a.m. for Tianjin. Within minutes, it accelerated to over 300 km per hour, pulling into Tianjin Railway Station at 11:10 a.m. on schedule.

In Tianjin, the first train left at 10:42 a.m. after an opening ceremony, and, 30 minutes later, arrived at Beijing South Railway Station.

The railway is the world's fastest with passenger trains running at an operational speed of 350 km per hour, according to the Ministry of Railways (MOR), which claims high-speed trains in Japan and Spain run at 320 km per hour, and those in France and Germany at 300 km per hour.

The new service cuts the 120-km journey from 70 minutes to about 30 with five stops at Yizhuang, Yongle and Wuqing.

The service will shuttle spectators, athletes, media people and other passengers between Beijing and Tianjin, which is to host 12 Olympic football matches from Aug. 6 to 15.

The regular service is to start on Saturday, with the first train scheduled to leave Beijing at 6:15 a.m. and the first train departing from Tianjin 20 minutes later.

The last trains are to leave Beijing at 10:10 p.m. and Tianjin at 10:06 p.m..

Forty-seven trains are scheduled to run daily from each city. Trains for Tianjin would leave at intervals of 15, 20 and 30 minutes.

A first-class ticket costs 69 yuan and a second-class fare is 58 yuan. Fares would be frozen for the first year of operation.

Ten eight-car trains are already in service, each equipped with aircraft-like cabins, swivel seats, spacious interiors and rooftop solar panels. Every train carries 600 passengers.

Four of the trains are CRH3 (China Railway High-speed) manufactured by the Tangshan Locomotive and Rolling Stock Works, one of which achieved the maximum speed of 394.3 km per hour during a June 24 test run.

These trains would be used on the planned Beijing-Shanghai and the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway lines, and the operational speeds would be raised to 380 km per hour, said MOR deputy chief engineer Zhang Shuguang.

The other six were CRH2-300 trains built by the Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company, and could travel at an operational speed of 300 km per hour, Zhang said.

About 26 million people travel between the two cities annually. The MOR predicts the new line will help raise the figure to 32 million this year.

Wang said more trains would be put into service as the signal system allowed trains at minimum intervals of three minutes at peak hours.

At least three kinds of trains already run between the two cities.

D-category trains run at 200 to 250 km per hour and take 70 minutes. Passengers pay 51 yuan for first-class and 42 yuan for a second-class.

K-category trains take 100 minutes and the maximum fare is 20 yuan.

A third category runs only during major holidays, such as the Lunar New Year, and supplements regular services.  

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