Journey through beauty: New high-speed railway paves way for seamless tourism in east China

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This aerial photo taken on Dec. 27, 2023 shows a high-speed train passing a grand bridge at Poyang Lake on Hangzhou-Nanchang high-speed railway in east China. [Photo/Xinhua]

A new high-speed railway connecting a series of popular tourist attractions in east China commenced full operation on Wednesday, which is poised to boost the development of tourism and other industries.

The entire 560-km-long Hangzhou-Nanchang high-speed railway is now operational after the section connecting Huangshan City in Anhui Province and Nanchang City in Jiangxi Province was officially put into use Wednesday following over five years of construction.

The Hangzhou-Huangshan section, which kicked off operation in late 2018, has a designed speed of 250 km per hour, while the Huangshan-Nanchang section boasts a designed speed of 350 km per hour.

A scenic route

The railway route passes through a region rich in tourist attractions featuring scenic lakes, mountains, ancient villages and cultural treasures like porcelain and tea.

In addition to nine top-level national sightseeing spots, such as UNESCO World Heritage sites like the West Lake and Huangshan Mountain, as well as the world-famous "porcelain capital" Jingdezhen, over 70 scenic spots with a 4A-level rating, the second-highest in the country's tourism evaluation system, are located along the railway.

Apart from the well-known sites, some new railway stations designed with architectural elements that blend local natural and cultural features, have become popular attractions themselves.

For instance, the Yixian County East Station in Huangshan City has drawn inspiration from the design of local traditional buildings, resulting in an exterior that resembles a Chinese ink painting, while its interior design features local cultural elements such as the county's stone sculpture craft.

"It's like a one-stop tourism package and a dream route for avid travelers who appreciate the elegance of east China," said Liu Huan, who is among the first batch of passengers on the newly launched railway route.

Railway designers and developers have implemented various measures to minimize environmental impact along the route, including creating a bypass for a venerable tree with a history of over 600 years.

A golden channel

The launch of the Huangshan-Nanchang section has extended high-speed railway access to multiple counties in Anhui and Jiangxi provinces, greatly benefiting local industries through improved transportation infrastructure.

"Many people have heard of Keemun black tea, renowned for its intense aroma as one of the most famous Chinese tea varieties, but have never been to its hometown Qimen County due to inconvenient transportation," said Geng Shuangping, an official from the local government's high-speed railway development office.

"The high-speed railway is expected to give a boost to our tea industry by expanding cultural and trade exchanges," Geng said.

Duan Xiaoting, who lives in Nanchang City, on Wednesday brought her 4-year-old son back to her hometown, Yugan County, which is now connected by the high-speed railway for the first time. The journey to her hometown takes only around 20 minutes.

"I'm just so excited. The high-speed railway has offered me more than just convenience," Duan said.

High-speed railway has become a preferred transportation choice among Chinese travelers. As of the end of November, the total operation mileage of China's high-speed railway network totaled 43,700 km.

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