Page last updated at 07:27 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 08:27 UK

China launches high-speed train

A new high-speed train waits at Beijing South station on 1 August 2008
The new rail service is part of wider plans to upgrade China's trains

A week before the Olympic Games, China has launched its first super high-speed intercity rail route.

The 120-km (75-mile) line will shuttle athletes and spectators between Beijing and neighbouring Tianjin, where Olympic football matches will be held.

Trains will reach speeds of 350 km/h, cutting journey times between the cities from 70 to 30 minutes.

The railway is part of the new infrastructure that China has put in place for the Games.

Rail enthusiasts began queuing on Thursday for tickets for the train's inaugural run, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

A tour inside the new super high-speed intercity train

Twin ceremonies were held in Beijing and Tianjin on Friday, with the first trains set to depart shortly afterwards.

The high-tech trains, which feature swivel seats and smart interiors, can accommodate about 600 people.

Construction began on the new line in July 2005. It has cost a total of 21.5bn yuan ($3.1bn, 1.55bn), Railway Minister Wang Zhiguo said.

A first class ticket will cost 69 yuan ($10), while a second-class ticket is 58 yuan.

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