China has opened another new high-speed rail link.
It used to take 13 hours to reach Xiamen, an important seaport in the eastern province of Fujian, from the country's southern boomtown of Shenzhen by train, but the new 513km route, opened on Saturday, has cut the travel time to four hours, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Both cities are important special economic zones of China – for more on them, click here for Xiamen and here for Shenzhen.
The line runs from Xiamen at 0735 until 1928, with one-way second class fare ranging from RMB140 (US$23.1) to RMB150 (US$24.7) and first class ranging from RMB168 (US$27.7) to RMB181 (US$29.9). The first train leaves Shenzhen at 0700 and the last one departs for Xiamen at 1920. At press time, the cheapest round-trip air ticket between the two cities Business Traveller Asia-Pacific could find online was CNY870 (US$143.5), excluding taxes and surcharges. And although the flight journey is only a little more than an hour, the time needed travelling to and waiting at the airport – not to mention China's notorious air traffic delays because of the restricted airspace – means taking the high-speed train on this route might be more efficient than flying.
Moreover, there are about six flights a day between Shenzhen and Xiamen, but nearly 30 scheduled train departures. The new line is connected to the larger high-speed rail network and has enabled travellers to cut travel time between Shenzhen and Shanghai by six hours, to 12 hours.