The Great Train of China: Longest high-speed rail line in the world is launched – and it runs for a bottom-aching 1,400 milesThe high speed rail line links Beijing and economic hub GuangzhouThe first trains set off from the Chinese capital this morning
Journey times will be cut from more than 20 hours to just eight hours
17:54 GMT, 26 December 2012
02:50 GMT, 27 December 2012
The first trains have taken to the track on the world's longest high-speed rail line which stretches a staggering 1,400 miles across China.
The line, which runs roughly the equivalent distance of a journey between London and Gibraltar, will halve the travelling time from the country's capital Beijing to Guangzhou, an economic hub in the south.
The first train along the 2,298km track set off from Beijing at 9am with a train heading in the opposite direction an hour later.
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All aboard: A bullet train which reaches speeds of 182 mph on the newly opened 1,400 mile high speed rail line which stretches south from the Chinese capital Beijing
Quick journey: Passengers board a high-speed train at Changsha South Railway Station today on the first train between Beijing and Guangzhou
Ready to go: Stewardesses stand beside a high-speed train at Beijing West Railway Station today
Trains on the line will travel at 186mph with the journey taking around eight hours.
The fastest journey time between the two cities had been more than 20 hours before the line opened.
There are stops in other major cities including provincial capitals Shijiazhuang, Wuhan and Changsha, along the route.
The line is the latest development in the country's expensive high speed railways program.
The line, which runs roughly the equivalent distance of a journey between London and Gibraltar, will halve the travelling time from the country's capital Beijing to Guangzhou
Greeting: A stewardess waits to greet passengers at a doorway of a high-speed train at Changsha South Railway Station
Peeking: A stewardess stands at a doorway of a CRH high-speed train at Guangzhou South Railway Station as the line opened for the first time today
Speedy: Running at an average speed of 300 kilometers per hour, the 2,298-kilometer new route will cut the travel time between Beijing and Guangzhou from more than 20 hours to around eight
But the project has hit the buffers somewhat in recent months with part of a line collapsing after heavy rain in March.
A bullet train also crashed in the summer of 2011 killing 40 people.
The former railway minister, who spearheaded the bullet train's construction, and the ministry's chief engineer, were detained in an unrelated corruption investigation months before the crash.
More than 150 trains will run on the line each day according to the Xinhua News Agency which cites the Ministry of Railways.
Railway is an essential part of 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 km (5,800 miles) – about half its 2015 target of 18,000 km.
The longest line had previously been the Beijing to Shanghai route which is 1,318km or 819 miles in length.
Smart: A passenger peers out of the window at stewardesses lined up outside a high speed train in China
Brand new: A high speed train sits on the platform of the new rail link between capital city Beijing and Guangzhou in the south
VIDEO Watch trains on the world's longest high speed rail line
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