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A high-speed rail linking Beijing with Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei Province, starts normal operation at a speed of 350 km/h on June 20, said the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. (China Railway).

With train speed raised from 310 km/h to 350 km/h, the shortest trip between Beijing and Wuhan has been reduced by about half an hour to three hours and 48 minutes, according to the company.

The overall transportation capacity of the section is expected to increase by 7 percent, with an increase of up to 15 trains totaling about 18,000 seats each day, it added.

At present, China boasts nearly 3,200 km of high-speed rails with an operating speed of 350 km/h, at lines such as the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway, the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, and the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-speed Railway.

SAFETY

The Beijing-Wuhan section is a part of the Beijing-Guangzhou High-speed Railway, which was designed to operate between 300 km/h to 350 km/h. The normal operation speed of bullet trains on the line has been kept at 310 km/h since December 2012.

It is a complicated and systematic project to realize the high-standard operation at 350 km/h, which takes factors into consideration such as technologies, market demands, operating costs, and environmental conditions, according to the China Railway.

"Safety is of utmost importance. We have successfully carried out speed tests at about 385 km/h and completely mastered the technology to run bullet trains at 350 km/h," said Fu Hong, director of the maintenance department with the China Railway Beijing Group Co., Ltd.

"Technical staff conduct the maintenance work and check the equipment at midnight and test the wireless communication signal early in the morning," said Qiao Zhuyan, deputy director of the wireless technology department with the Beijing Group. "All this work is to ensure the operation safety."

BENEFITS

As the backbone of the high-speed rail network in central China, the Beijing-Wuhan section is closely connected with 12 high-speed railways in the country. Its speed acceleration has important radiation power to improve the efficiency of high-speed rail networks.

For example, the shortest trips from Beijing West Station to Shijiazhuang Station, Zhengzhou East Station, and Wuhan Station are reduced to one hour and one minute, two hours and 11 minutes, and three hours and 48 minutes, respectively.

"The speed gear-up will better serve economic and social development along the lines," said Nie Yunfeng, with the Beijing Group.