Businessman Huang often travels between Shenzhen and Guangzhou but Thursday's ride in a bullet train was a novel experience.
"The new train was more stable than a traditional train, I could hardly feel any bumps," said Huang. "It was less noisy too, more like traveling in a plane."
Huang took the 7:05 a.m. train from boomtown Shenzhen to Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong. He and 260 other passengers on the bullet train arrived in Guangzhou just over an hour later.
"It was a really comfortable journey," said Huang, who noted that the train fare had not been increased.
A pair of bullet trains went into regular service on Thursday on the 139-km-long Guangzhou-Shenzhen line, one of the busiest rail routes on the Chinese mainland.
As bullet trains take over, conventional trains will be decommissioned, according to local officials.
A white train bearing the English letters CRH (China Railway High-speed) left downtown Guangzhou's Eastern Railway Station at 6:54 AM for Shenzhen, with 111 passengers aboard, and arrived in Shenzhen an hour and ten minutes later, said Wu Wei, deputy station head.
The speed of the bullet train is limited to 160 km per hour as some sections of the Shenzhen-Guangzhou Rail Line are still under construction, said Wu Wei. "Train fares have not changed so we anticipate more passengers on the Shenzhen-Guangzhou line."
There are four ticket prices: 85 yuan for a first-class soft seat and 75 yuan for a second-class soft seat on the non-stop service, and 80 yuan for a first-class soft seat and 70 yuan for a second-class soft seat on trains that stop along the route.
China plans to use 15 new high-speed bullet trains to cope with the crush of passengers before and after the traditional Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 18.
Six of the high-speed trains will be used on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen line, said a spokesman with Guangzhou Railway Group.
The trains are 214 meters long, 3.3 meters wide and have eight carriages that can carry 668 people -- 144 in first-class and 524 in economy class.
The trains are more comfortable than traditional trains, with wider aisles, tilting seats, and spacious, handicapped-accessible bathrooms, said the spokesman.
The new bullet trains will begin operating at a top speed of 250 kmh in April, when the Ministry of Railways raises the nationwide speed limit for the sixth time.
A previous rise in 2004 brought most trains to 160 kmh and the fastest to 200 kmh.
For safety reasons, the ministry has temporarily capped the maximum speed of the bullet trains to 160 kmh during the holiday rush, which starts on Feb. 3 and will last for 40 days.
The ministry said Chinese travelers were expected to make 156 million train journeys during the holiday.
Bullet trains also made their debut on Sunday between Shanghai and nearby eastern cities of Ningbo, Nanjing and Hangzhou.
(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2007)