After years of promises, travel times on China's busiest rail corridor between Beijing and Shanghai are finally getting close to – but not quite – four hours.
Beginning Apr 10, six "Revival" model high-speed trains will start operating between Beijing and Hangzhou at speeds of 350 kilometers per hour, allowing passengers to travel between the two cities in under four and a half hours.
Out of all the trains, those that depart after dusk will feature the fastest times. The G40 train that departs Hangzhou East Railway station for Beijing at 7pm will clock in with a time of 4 hours 23 minutes, while its counterpart in Beijing will have the fastest time of all at 4 hours 18 minutes.
No change in ticket price has been announced for new trains, listed as G19, G31, and G39 (depart Beijing South Railway Station for Hangzhou East Railway) and G20, G32, and G40 (depart Hangzhou East Railway for Beijing South Railway Station). According to this site, a second class ticket on the G39 costs RMB 631 while a first class ticket is priced at RMB 1,058.
According to ECNS, the fastest train on this route up to this point required an operating time of five hours and two minutes.
The promise of a 4-hour-long Beijing-Shanghai express train has long been touted by China's press.
Last July, China Daily reported that the 4-hour Beijing-Shanghai rail corridor will become a reality by November, but not only did this not happen, this same claim has been repeated by China Daily since 2010 when the railway was first built.
The desire for faster times has been so great that when the Revival train debuted last year with test speeds reaching 400 kilometers per hour, Chinese media reported that travel times on the Beijing-Shanghai railway corridor would fall to just three hours, which, so far, have not come to light.
If reports are true and Chinese high-speed trains will in fact finally start traveling at top speeds of 350 kilometers per hour, it will mark a return to form for China's railway industry. High-speed train speeds were reduced to below 300 kilometers per hour in the wake of the 2011 Wenzhou high-speed train accident that officially caused 40 deaths.
The Revival represents a substantial upgrade over the older "Harmony" model not just for its smart technology and onboard WiFi service, but for being wholly Chinese-made.
At the unveiling of the Revival last July, chief researcher at China's Academy of Railway Science Wang Yueming described the country's railway system as having "developed from its original foreign genes to a total pure Chinese product."
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