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China opens 1st high speed railway
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Two official ceremonies were held in Beijing and Olympic co-host city Tianjin on Friday to mark the opening of the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, a week before the Games begin.

The first intercity train between Beijng and Tianjin departs from Beijing South Railway Station for Tianjin, Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 1, 2008. The intercity rail line between Beijing and Tianjin is a high-speed rail. The new train service would cut the 120-km journey from the current 70 minutes to about 30 minutes. [Xinhua] 

The ceremony at the cavernous new Beijing South Railway Station was attended by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, BOCOG president and Beijing Party chief Liu Qi, Tianjin Party chief Zhang Gaoli and Railways Minister Liu Zhijun.

Zhang said the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway Company should provide clean, safe, convenient and first-class travel for the Games and beyond.

"The opening of the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway is another milestone in China's history of railway development," Zhang said.

Zhang and other senior officials boarded the first train which left at 10:40 a.m. for Tianjin.

Within minutes, the train accelerated to over 300 km per hour, pulling into Tianjin Railway Station on schedule at 11:10 a.m.

In Tianjin, the first train left at 10:42 a.m. after an opening ceremony, and, 30 minutes later, arrived at Beijing South Railway Station.

The railway is the world's fastest with passenger trains running at 350 km per hour, according to the Ministry of Railways (MOR).

The new service cuts the 120-km journey from 70 minutes to about 30 with five stops at Yizhuang, Yongle and Wuqing.

The service will shuttle spectators, athletes, media people and other passengers between Beijing and Tianjin, which is to host 12 Olympic football matches from Aug. 6 to 15.

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