Beginning October 21, passengers on China's railways will feel like their traveling at warp speed.
Trains from Beijing to Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province will finish the trip in 23 hours and 58 minutes - a whopping five hours and 50 minutes less than today.
The Ministry of Railways is expected to announce the new railway operation timetable at a news conference on Wednesday. The existing timetable released last year will be largely updated.
Ministry sources said technical preparations had been completed, and they are confident the faster timetable will be realized on time.
Along the artery railways linking Beijing and Shanghai, Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province and Harbin in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, trains will be able to operate at up to 160 kilometers an hour.
Major railways in Northwest and Southwest China will be able to run at up to 140 an hour after the speed-up.
The average speed of passenger trains to and from Beijing will reach 75 kilometers an hour, up significantly from the 48 kilometers an hour in 1997.
And cargo trains will be upgraded to 51 kilometers an hour from 30 kilometers an hour.
The total length of fast-speed railways will increase to 6,700 kilometers. That number is expected to reach 10,000 kilometers by the end of 2003, ministry sources said.
The ministry had been criticized by passengers for its arrogant attitude and poor services in the past.
But the ministry has vowed to improve and said it will offer a 24-hour hot water supply and a clean carriage environment.
The ministry has invested heavily to replace old trains with new, air-conditioned carriages. It also has opened a luxury train route between Beijing and Shanghai with star-level services for passengers.
(China Daily 10/15/2001)