Terminal velocity: China tests world's longest high-speed rail line
More than 100 reporters had the chance to experience the top speed of over 300 km an hour on the northern segment of the 2,298 kilometer Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed railway line. Their 693 km test drive from Beijing to Zhengzhou took only two and a half hours to complete.
The entire route is expected to open on December 26 and is designed to reduce the travel time to about 8 hours from the current 20 plus hours by the existing lines. The railway has 35 stops and is designed to hit speeds of 350 km per hour.
More than 2,000 tickets were sold for the first Guangzhou-Beijing commercial journey. A second-class fare from Beijing to Guangzhou is 865 yuan ($138 dollars) while the cheapest plane seat costs only 25 yuan more.
The aerodynamic bullet train makes little noise and offers reclining seats and a stainless steel toilet with slightly more bathroom space than would usually be found on an airliner.
China's high-speed rail network was only established in 2007, by 2010 it already covered 8,358 kilometers of track. China aims to increase that number to 16,000 kilometers by 2020.
A train employee walks past a CRH (China Railway High-speed) Harmony 380BL bullet train (bottom) at Beijing South Railway Station (Reuters/Jason Lee)