The Zhanjiang-Hai'an section of a north-south railway project that will link Guangdong province on China's mainland and Hainan Island started operation on Monday.
The Chinese mainland and Hainan Island are separated by the Qiongzhou Straits. Previously, people traveling to Hainan Island would have to take ferries or planes.
The Guangdong-Hainan railway, the first of its kind in the country, will cross the straits. The line begins in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, in the north, cutting through Leizhou Peninsula, extending across the Qiongzhou Straits to join up with an existing railway line in western Hainan Island at Chahe, and finally terminating in Sanya at the southern tip of the island.
The 138-km long Zhanjiang-Hai'an section is an important section of the Guangdong-Hainan railway, which is expected to help develop the local economy.
With a length of 568.3 km, the Guangdong-Hainan railway is jointly invested by the Chinese Ministry of Railways, Hainan province and Guangdong province at a cost of 4.5 billion yuan (about US$ 542 million). It is expected to be completed in 2003.
(People's Daily January 29, 2002)