The world's longest high-speed rail line began operations in China on Wednesday, with a train departing Beijing for the city of Guangzhou some 1,428 miles away, at 9 a.m. local time, The Associated Press reported. Trains will run at 186 miles-per-hour along the line, more than halving the total previous travel time between the two cities to about 8 hours.
The distance covers an area equal to about that of New York to Key West, Florida, the New York Times noted, while in the U.S., the fastest trains from New York to Miami, a shorter distance, take longer, some 30 hours. Up to 150 trains will run a day on the line and another, parallel one running older, slower trains.
The new high-speed project was controversial within China as well for its costs, up to some $640 billion in construction debt in U.S. dollars since it began in 2009. But by bringing the total amount of high-speed track in the country to 5,809 miles, it puts China closer to its 2015 goal of blanketing its countryside in 11,000 miles of high-speed rail.