Recordbreakers on 9am Beijing to Guangzhou

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China has opened the world’s longest high-speed rail line that more than halves the time required to travel from the country’s capital in the north to Guangzhou, an economic hub in the south.

The first train on the 1,428-mile route left from Beijing for Guangzhou at 9am yesterday, with another train leaving Guangzhou for Beijing an hour later.

Trains on the latest high-speed line will initially run at 186 mph, with a total travel time of about eight hours.

Before, the fastest time between the two cities by train was more than 20 hours.

The line also makes stops in major cities along the way, including provincial capitals Shijiazhuang, Wuhan and Changsha.

More than 150 pairs of high-speed trains will run on the new line every day, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Railway is an essential part in China’s transportation system, and the government plans to build a grid of high-speed railways with four east-west lines and four north-south lines by 2020.

The opening of the new line brings the total distance covered by China’s high-speed railway system to more than 9,300 kilometres – about half its 2015 target of 18,000 km.

China has considerable prestige invested in its showcase high-speed railways programme.

However, it has in recent months faced high-profile embarrassments and problems: part of a line collapsed in central China after heavy rains in March, while a bullet train crash in the summer of 2011 killed 40 people.