Just a bit behind schedule, the new high-speed rail link between Shanghai and Kunming will open to travelers next Thursday.
Currently, the only way to get from Shanghai to Kunming directly by rail is to hop on a hellishly slow train that takes 35-40 hours to make the journey to the capital of Yunnan province. But that will all change next week with trains being able to whisk travelers the 2,252 kilometers in just 10 hours and 36 minutes.
Not quite the 9 hours that had been promised before. Still, not bad.
The Shanghai-Kunming high-speed rail line is already open as far as Guizhou. On its way to the west, it passes through major cities like Hangzhou, Yiwu, Nanchang and Changsha. The hope is that someday the line will even extend down into Southeast Asia.
Ticket sales were launched last night and prices are a bit steep — 879 yuan for a second-class seat and 1,475 yuan for a first-class seat. The fact that you can easily find plane tickets between the two cities at those prices might mean trouble for this rail line.
But Kunming tourism authorities aren’t worried. In fact, they are expecting to see the number of tourists visiting the city to rise by 10-20% thanks to the new high-speed line, according to People’s Daily. To encourage that growth, scenic areas and some hotels in the city will be discounted if you present a Shanghai-Kunming high-speed rail ticket in the month after the new railway opens.
The new line is just the latest part in China’s master plan to cover the earth’s surface in high-speed train tracks. Currently, China leads the world with over 20,000 kilometers of high-speed track. That is projected to expand to 30,000 km by 2020 and then grow to 45,000 km by 2030.
[Images via Xinhua]