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First high-speed train runs through China's Three Gorges region

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The first high-speed railway (HSR) to pass through the region best known for the Three Gorges reservoir started operation Monday.

At 7:06 a.m., the train left Chongqing North Station on a 247-km journey to Wanzhou City, where the Three Gorges is located, and Chongqing Municipality.

Currently, 21 pairs of trains will undertake the journey every day.

With a designed speed of 250 km per hour, HSR travel cuts the journey from Wanzhou to Chongqing from four hours to one and half hours. Travel between Wanzhou and Chengdu is halved to three and half hours as the new line is connected to the section between Chengdu and Chongqing.

Construction of the railway started in 2013. It has seven stations, and bridges and tunnels account for 71 percent of the railway's total length

Liu Zheng, an official with Chengdu Railway Bureau, said the Chongqing-Wanzhou high-speed will help development in the Three Gorges region as well as the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

Onboard the train, He Chuanyou, 45, is on his way to work in Wanzhou.

He usually goes home to downtown Chongqing every weekend, and the three-and-half-hour drive costs him 700 yuan (101 U.S. dollars), including gas and highway toll.

"Now, I can arrive home in one and half hours for only 100-odd yuan," he said.

Yi Xiaoguang, head of Chongqing Academy of Macroeconomic Research, said the HSR line has injected energy into development of the Three Gorges reservoir area, which is one of the nation's poorest regions.

Last month, a Hong Kong-headquartered watch makers announced it was going to establish a factory in Dianjiang County, Chongqing, with planned production capacity of 10 million high-end watches annually. Sales are expected to generate 1 billion yuan every year.

"The HSR line is a key reason why firms choose our county," said Yao Hong, a planning official with the county government.

According to Yao, the county has welcomed projects valued at more than 5 billion yuan this year thanks to the upcoming operation of the railway.

HSR is also a hit with tourists, as it passes Changshou Lake, Wanzhou Waterfall and the Three Gorges.

According to railway authorities, another high-speed railway line, which is being built between Wanzhou and Henan's provincial capital Zhengzhou, will be connected to the current Wanzhou-Chongqing line after operation, with more in the pipeline, such as the one between Chongqing and Xi'an, to be interconnected.


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