YICHANG, July 1 -- Bullet train services were launched on Tuesday along a railway touted as the most challenging that China has ever built.
The maiden train left Yichang City of central Hubei Province on Tuesday morning for Wanzhou District in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, traveling a route that cuts through rugged mountains and under hundreds of bridges and tunnels.
Wang Tongliang, an official with the Wuhan Railway Bureau, said the service will cut journey time between Chongqing and Wuhan, capital of Hubei, from over 11 hours to just six hours and 40 minutes.
Travel time from other central or east China cities to southwest China will also be significantly shorter, bringing new opportunities for residents who live in the steep and remote mountains.
The Yichang-Wanzhou Railway stretches 377 km. It is considered a feat of engineering as it runs through a rugged region where the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau meets the Yangtze River Plain.
The railway which started operation at the end of 2010 includes 159 tunnels and 253 bridges, accounting for about 74 percent of the line's total. In the most extreme case, it took nearly six years to drill a tunnel through Qiyue Mountain due to complex and dangerous geological conditions.