China is on the way to achieving the world’s largest high-speed rail network. Hainan Island took a major step into the future with the official opening of the east ring railway service on 25 October in Haikou. The east ring is part of China’s long-term plan to “add around 10,000 km of high-speed railway, which will make the network the largest and fastest in the world”, according to representative Alice Chong. With a journey from the northern capital of Haikou to the southern tourism mecca of Sanya taking only 80 minutes, as opposed to the usual 4 hours by car, Sanya is set to become more accessible than ever.

Construction on the project began in September 2007 and after three years it is finally ready for high-speed journeys down the eastern coast of Hainan. Anticipating to carry around 18 million passengers a year by 2020, the line represents infrastructure that will revolutionise the way people travel.

The development of the project is going to “greatly benefit the construction and property sectors, and open up remote areas” explains Rebecca Tang, representative for CIMB, the company in charge of high speed train projects in China. It will also play a major role in the development of sustainable tourism, which is one of the Island’s primary focuses over the next five years.

The train technology, adopted from the Japanese bullet trains, will have a maximum speed of around 280km/h, which represents some of the most advanced train technology in Asia. The line will have 14 different stops along 300km of the eastern coast, serving all major tourist attractions including Lingshui and Wanning – two of the Island’s most popular and beautiful areas.

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