BEIJING - Those traveling by train used to have to spend almost an entire day or night in crammed compartments to get from Beijing to Shanghai, a distance equivalent to traveling from New York to Atlanta.
The then-grumbling travelers may never have imagined that a decade later an express railway would shorten the journey to less than five hours, even forcing airlines to cut flights between the two cities due to passenger losses after it was put into operation on June 20, 2011.
The 1,318-km Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, linking the nation's capital and its financial center, carries tens of thousands of passengers every day with high-speed trains travelling at some 300 km an hour.
The express trains offer a glimpse into the development of China's high-end equipment manufacturing industries that have boomed in the past decade, led by high-speed railways, a satellite navigation system and a massive aircraft project, according to China Economic Weekly.
China currently has more than 6,800 km of high-speed railway lines operating at speeds of over 200 km per hour. The total length is expected to reach about 18,000 km by 2015, according to the Ministry of Railways (MOR), the report said.
After the first railway of this kind in northern China was put into operation in 2002, the country has twice raised its railway speed nationwide, in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
The high-speed railways have provided enormous impetus to the economy, the MOR said, citing the 2 million job opportunities created in regions along the Beijing-Shanghai express railway lines.
Experts estimate that the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway has boosted domestic demand up by nearly 1.2 trillion yuan ($191.9 million) in the first two years of the construction period.
Analysts said that large-scale high-speed railway construction will be the engine for rapid growth in China's economy amid the global financial crisis and economic recession.
Apart from the rapid development of high-speed railways, the past decade has also seen the country's ambitions in high-end manufacturing reach into the aerospace sector.
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