The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train is now counting down to its formal commercial launch after a month-long trial operation that started on May 11.
The 1,318-kilometer-long high-speed rail line is due to be operational by the end of June, and the travel time between the two metropolises for the 90 pairs of bullet trains is expected to be about five hours. The trains will run at two speeds - 300 and 250 kilometers per hour - and ticket prices will vary between 410 yuan ($63.21) to 1,750 yuan, depending on the speed and cabin grade.
As an important part of China's high-speed railway network, the Beijing-Shanghai line is said to be the world's longest high-speed rail line completed in one go and is equipped with top-level technology and safety standards .
An examination of its communications, tractive power supply, operational controls and other safety indicators, conducted by a team of 30 Chinese engineering academicians and experts in late May, confirmed that the eye-catching Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail line is safe to open. The new line also meets national energy-saving and environmental protection standards.
As a line that traverses an expanse of the country's most developed eastern areas, the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail line, after it becomes fully operational, is expected to ease traffic pressure on Beijing and Shanghai - China's largest economic and commercial hub in the east - as well as other traffic axes along the line.
Undoubtedly, the high-speed rail line will facilitate better travel, as well as the better distribution of commodities and resources among cities in the Bohai Sea economic circle and the Yangtze River Delta economic ring and will help further drive their economic development.
Given the shorter travel time than non-high-speed trains, the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail will also pose a big challenge to domestic airlines that operate between the two cities.
Indeed, the high-speed rail network, due to its competing speed and price advantages, is expected to ignite a fierce competition to attract passengers, especially those traveling less than 1,000 km. Without any price advantage or better services, the airlines will encounter an immediate problem and they will have to determine new ways to attract passengers.
According to the Ministry of Railways, China is due to invest 2.8 trillion yuan ($431.7 billion) to build about 30,000 kilometers of new rail lines over the next five years.
The ever-growing competition between high-speed trains and airlines is expected to promote the development of a better domestic traffic network and push it to a higher level.