Beijing: China on Thursday flagged off its much talked about high-speed bullet train linking Beijing and Shanghai ahead of Thursday’s 90th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).
   
Previously, the train journey between Beijing and Shanghai situated at a distance of 1,318 km took a time of 10 hours, but the bullet train can cover the distance in five hours only.
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao travelled by the first train to Shanghai after formally flagging it off from here.
   
The train links China's prosperous Pan-Bohai and Yangtze River Delta economic zones, cutting the train-travel time between the two cities to under five hours.
   
The bullet trains were currently being operated between several Chinese cities. However, Beijing-Shanghai covers the longest distance.
   
The Beijing-Shanghai train track was laid at the cost 215 billion yuan (USD 32.5 billion). The train travels at a maximum operating speed of about 300 kph (185 mph) instead of originally targeted 350 kph (216 mph) for safety reasons.
   
The train was also launched amid reports that the costs involved in running high speed trains, which also needed special tracks were driving the railway into heavy debt.
   
Write ups in official media here quoted the National Audit Office, as saying that the Railway Ministry was burdened with 1.3 trillion yuan (USD 200 billion) in debt in 2009 due to expenditure being incurred on the high speed tracks.
   
The Chinese government is going ahead with massive expansion of the high speed trains with new plans to expand the network to 13,000 km of track this year and 16,000 km by 2020.
   
The trains are also putting pressure on country's domestic airlines forcing to radically slash their ticket fares.

(Agencies)