A new high-speed railway linking more than 50 scenic spots in the Yangtze River Delta opened on Tuesday, and experts said it will provide a new engine for the region's economy.
The railway linking tourist hot spots such as Zhejiang province's Hangzhou, Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in Anhui province, West Lake and the ancient village of Hongcun-all UNESCO World Heritage Sites-welcomed its first passengers, China Railway Corp said.
The line will serve as a key tourism route and boost visitor numbers as there are seven 5A-level scenic spots and over 50 4A-level tourist attractions along the route, the company said.
China's tourist attractions are graded based on a rating scale from 1A to 5A by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, with 5A being the highest.
With the railway providing more convenient access for people to visit attractions along the route, many travel agencies have begun promoting their high-speed train travel products to Huangshan and its surrounding scenic spots.
"We have had a great number of tourists consulting about our threeday travel package," said Li Qiuyan, general manager of the brand development department of Lvmama, an online travel agency headquartered in Shanghai.
The delta region received about 1.8 billion visits last year, earning total revenue of 3.16 trillion yuan ($458.2 billion). With the opening of the route and the popularity of the high-speed train, the tourism industry along the rail line will surely witness a huge increase, Li added.
The 265-kilometer line has 10 stations, and trains travel at a designated top speed of 250 kilometers per hour. Travel time from Shanghai to Huangshan is only 2.5 hours.
Li Jinbo, a 43-year-old man from Hangzhou, said he was excited to see the rapid development of the high-speed train and has looked forward to taking it since construction began in 2014.
"I saw the news that the Hangzhou-Huangshan line began to sell tickets yesterday and I booked some immediately. What a rare experience to see many beautiful sites in just 90 minutes, and it only costs 115 yuan for a second-class seat," Li said.
Another high-speed railway line also opened on Tuesday in northeastern China, linking the cities of Harbin and Mudanjiang in Heilongjiang province.
The 293-km line, built in a region where temperatures can fall as low as -40 C in winter, allows trains to run at 250 km/h, cutting travel time in half to just 2 hours, according to the China Railway Corp.
Zhou Huiying in Harbin contributed to this story.