China is taking one more step toward making airplanes obsolete with a new high-speed rail line that is set to open late next month which will whisk travelers from Shanghai to Kunming, covering the 2,300 kilometers in just 9 hours by traveling at 350 km/h.
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.
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.
The full ticket fare is reported to cost from 700-750 yuan.
According to People’s Daily, Kunming tourism authorities are expecting to see the number of tourists visiting the city to rise by 10-20% thanks to the new high-speed line. 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.
Earlier this month, China unveiled a new series of overnight high-speed trains with cabins that come complete with fold-out beds and wifi.
[Images via Xinhua]