The world's longest high-speed railway line has begun operations, linking Beijing with Guangzhou.
The 2,298km line, which spans half of China, connects 28 cities including five provincial capitals.
Trains are initially running at up to 300km/h although the line is designed for 350km/h.
Travel time for the full journey is just over eight hours, compared with 20 hours on the conventional line.
A second class ticket costs US$108 while a sleeper on the old line costs $70.
The old line, which runs parallel to the new, will remain in operation, giving those travelling on the route a choice.
The line has been developed in stages and was already operating between Zhengzhou and Guangzhou.
With the opening of the Beijing-Zhengzhou section, China now has 9,300km of high-speed line in operation, with 3,000km added to the network in 2012.
The Government’s 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015) would see 18,000km of high-speed rail lines in operation by the end of the period and 50,000km by 2020, with four running north-south and four east-west as the major routes serving the back-bone of the network.
The Beijing-Guangzhou line is one of the four north-south lines.
Zhao Chunlei, deputy director of transport bureau of the Ministry of Railways, said construction of high-speed lines has increased, though it slowed down after the June 2011 train accident in Wenzhou which killed 40 people.
China will invest $96.2 billion in 2013 for high-speed line development.
At the end of last year there were 16 daily flights between Beijing and Guangzhou.
This number is expected to halve by June.