AN, Feb. 6, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- A high-speed railway linking central China city Zhengzhou and northwestern city Xi'an, went into operation Saturday.
The 505-km Zhengzhou-Xi'an high-speed railway, the first of its kind in central and western China, cut the travel time between the two cities from former more than six hours to less than two hours, said local railway authorities Saturday.
The first train left Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province, at 10:50 a.m. and arrived at Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, at 1:15 p.m., said Long Jing, head of the Xi'an Railway Bureau.
The train traveled at 350 kilometers per hour, said Long. A total of 14 trains would be traveling between Zhengzhou and Xi'an everyday, said Long.
The first train from Zhengzhou to Xi'an departed from Zhengzhou at 11:25 a.m. and arrived at Xi'an at 2:01 p.m., said Niu Jianfeng, spokesman of the Zhengzhou Railway Bureau.
The Zhengzhou-Xi'an high-speed railway, included in the country's "Mid- and long-term railway network plan", has been built since Sept. 25, 2005, with a total investment of about 35.31 billion yuan (5.17 billion U.S. dollars), said Niu.
"The Zhengzhou-Xi'an high-speed railway will meet the growing demand of of passenger and cargo transportation in central and western China, and help promote local development," said Wang Yongping, spokesman of the Ministry of Railways.
Henan is one of the major grain producers of China and an emerging economic and industrial powerhouse. This most populous province in China is also a major tourist attraction with a great number of sites of historical and cultural interests. Shaanxi boasts rich cultural resources and is endowed with rich natural resources such as coal, petroluem, and natural gas.
The country's total railway coverage will be more than 110,000 kilometers by 2012 and 120,000 kilometers by 2020, according to the "Mid- and long-term railway network plan".
"By 2012, it will take less than eight hours to travel by train from Beijing to most provincial capitals in China," said Long.