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China moves key high-speed rail launch by a day

China has announced that they can’t wait much longer to show off its much-anticipated high-speed train link between Beijing and Shanghai. They moved its debut forward by a day to June 30.

According to AFP, the train link has been in operation on a trial basis since mid-May. The link “has passed safety assessment and currently is fully qualified for the launch of service” the railways ministry said in a statement released late Thursday.


Will red-blooded American pundits weep when they see how much more advanced China’s transportation system is?


No reason was given for the change.


Passengers can purchase tickets Friday on www.12306.cn, which is a website run by the ministry. They can also get tickets at railway stations and agencies across the country, the statement said  


A flight between Beijing and Shanghai usually means spending two hours in the air. But getting to the airport is very time-consuming. Also the busy Beijing/Shanghai air route often has delays and cancellations, making train travel a less stressful option.


The construction of the high-speed $33 billion railway began in April 2008.


The price for a one-way ticket will be between 410 yuan and 1,750 yuan depending on further adjustments, vice rail minister Hu Yadong said last week. It costs about 1,300 yuan for a flight. So travelers will be able to save money immediately.


The railway ministry said that the trains would travel between 155-188 miles per hour on the Beijing-Shanghai link, though the line is designed for a maximum speed of 236 mph.


The speed of the train falls in line with a national directive made public in April that stated all high-speed trains must travel at a slower speed than what was announced before — no faster than 186 mph — to make journeys safer.


The former railways minister, Liu Zhijun, was fired in February after he allegedly accepted than 800 million yuan in kickbacks on contracts linked to the high-speed rail network. This of course raised concerns about the safety of the lines.