Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail trials begin

SHANGHAI – Trial runs began Wednesday on a highly anticipated high-speed rail line between Beijing and Shanghai, one month before the link is due to go into commercial service, state media reported.

The high-speed line will halve the journey time to under five hours from the current 10 hours, the Shanghai government-run news portal reported, adding the first train left at 8:45 am on Wednesday.

The trains will run at speeds up to 300 kilometers (185 miles) per hour depending on the time of day, and will not carry passengers during the trial period, the state-run China News Agency reported.

The new trains will not run at the originally-planned top speed of 350 kph in order to make journeys safer and more affordable, China’s new rail minister Sheng Guangzu said last month.

China’s top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, has yet to approve a ticket price scale for the new line.

In February, Sheng’s predecessor Liu Zhijun was stripped of his post after allegedly taking more than 800 million yuan ($122 million) in kickbacks on contracts linked to expanding China’s high-speed rail network.

Sheng said China was spending 2.8 trillion yuan between 2011 and 2015 on the construction of new railway lines.

China has invested heavily in its high-speed rail network, which reached 8,358 kilometers at the end of 2010 and is expected to exceed 16,000 kilometers by 2020.

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