An attendant hands a commemorative envelope to passengers on the maiden trip of the Qingdao-Rongcheng high-speed rail in Shandong province on Nov 16, 2016.[Photo/China Daily]
Travel times between three of Shandong province’s major cities are set to be cut dramatically, as the province’s first high-speed intercity railway began operation on Nov 16.
The 303-kilometer high-speed line connects coastal Qingdao, Yantai, Weihai and Rongcheng on the eastern Shandong Peninsula. Its construction started in October 2011 with an investment of 37 billion yuan ($5.5 billion).
According to Liu Qing, deputy director of Qingdao Railway Station, trains will travel at an average 250 km per hour, with a top speed of 300 km/h.
“Stopping at 14 stations along the way, the line will reduce travel times between Qingdao and Yantai from four and a half hours to just one hour, and between Qingdao and Weihai to less than two hours,” he said.
Passengers take a selfie on the train C6502 from Qingdao to Rongcheng in east China’s Shandong province, Nov 16, 2016. The first intercity railway line in Shandong, with total length of 302.757 kilometers, was put into operation on Nov 16, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
Nearly 20 million people will benefit from the new service.
Experts said it will also eliminate transportation bottlenecks in the northeastern area of Shandong Peninsula, helping to promote regional communication and cooperation.
Speed of transportation is key to allowing labor markets to function effectively in ever-expanding cities.
“The highly developed transportation network will support commuting between neighboring cities, and the frequent flow of people across the region will further promote the development of local industries, markets, management, education, transportation and communications,” said Liu Yonggang, a senior official with the Qingdao Section of Shanghai Speed Train Team.
“In this case, the intercity railway will help to implement Shandong’s urbanization strategy and the formation of a city cluster, as Qingdao, Yantai and Weihai already share close cultural ties and a high-degree of integration,” Liu said.
A passenger shows a souvenir on the train C6502 from Qingdao to Rongcheng in east China’s Shandong province, Nov. 16, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
Tourism in towns along the railway will also be boosted as it traverses the country’s sailing capital of Qingdao, leisure destination Yantai and the picturesque city of Weihai.
Li Xiaoyan, who works for a Qingdao-based company, said she is excited about the new railway.
“We have been waiting for the line for more than 10 years,” she told China Daily. “It took me a four-hour drive, or more than a six-hour bus ride, to visit my parents in Yantai, and it was even harder for my parents to come to see me. Now, it is only a half-day trip. I can’t wait to ride it.”
Stewards of the train C6502 from Qingdao to Rongcheng pose for a group photo in east China’s Shandong province, Nov 16, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]