China's fastest cross-sea high-speed rail started operation on Thursday, with trains running at a maximum speed of 350 km/h along the west coast of the Taiwan Strait, APA reports citing Xinhua.
A Fuxing bullet train G9801 departed from Fuzhou, the capital of east China's Fujian Province, at 9:15 a.m., marking the opening of the 277-km Fuzhou-Xiamen-Zhangzhou high-speed railway.
This is China's first cross-sea high-speed railway with a designed speed reaching 350 km/h, according to the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd., the country's railway operator.
With stops in cities of Fuzhou, Putian, Quanzhou, Xiamen and Zhangzhou, the railway is the latest mega infrastructure project launched to boost connectivity in Fujian, whose transport options and efficiency have long been constrained by its mountainous terrain.
The new rail slashes travel time between Fuzhou and Xiamen, an economic hub and tourist hotspot in the province, to just under an hour. The fastest train trip used to take around 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The railway features a breathtaking sea view with 19.9 km of tracks built over the sea. It traverses three coastal bays -- Quanzhou Bay, Meizhou Bay and Anhai Bay -- via bridges that engineers said were extraordinarily hard to build.
"This railway line brings together almost all challenges encountered during the construction of previous high-speed rail projects," said Li Pingzhuo, project manager of China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group Co., Ltd., the company that designed the railway project.
The construction of the three bridges has successfully conquered challenges posed by strong winds, high waves, deep waters and the corrosive nature of the marine environment, Li said, adding that the railway has been fortified against earthquakes as it passes through an area with a high seismic risk.
This railway is the latest major addition to China's sprawling high-speed rail network. By 2022, China had 42,000 km of operational high-speed railway, ranking first in the world, and the length of high-speed rail regularly operating at 350 km per hour neared 3,200 km as of June 2022.