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New high-speed rail link cuts travel time between Hangzhou and Huangshan

Hangzhou--Huangshan Bullet Train

A new 265-kilometer high-speed railway opens this month connecting Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province and Huangshan in Anhui Province.

The 35 billion yuan (US$5 billion) Z-shaped Hangzhou-Huangshan intercity line, announced in 2014, will be able to accommodate trains traveling up to 250 kilometers per hour.

The line travels west through south Hangzhou, Fuyang, Tonglu, Jiande and Chun’an counties in west Zhejiang Province and northwest to Sanyang Village, Jixi, Shexian counties and Huangshan City in Anhui Province.

Zhu Jie, from the Hangzhou-Huangshan Railway Co Ltd, told Shanghai Daily the line has been in trial operation since November 3. It is expected to open by the end of this year but the exact date has not been announced.

Once opened, the travel time by train from Hangzhou to Huangshan will be cut from 3.5 hours to 1.5 hours, making it a more efficient choice for commuters and tourists than the present Hefei-Fuzhou Railway, which was introduced in 2015.

Huangshan and its neighboring counties are known as the ancient Huizhou region and have a very strong connection with Hangzhou.

The Xin’an River, which rises in Xiuning County of Huangshan City, is the upper stretch of the Qiantang River running through most of Zhejiang Province and Hangzhou.

The Xin’an-Qiantang river course was also once the main transportation route for merchants coming from the Huizhou area, known as huishang who carried locally produced timber, lacquer ware and tea to the well-off Jiangnan region in the lower stretch of the Yangtze River and the rest of the country.

A round trip from Huizhou to Hangzhou by water took about 13 days back then while traveling amid the steep mountain peaks along the way was even more difficult and longer.

The first highway between the two cities was completed in 1933 with funds raised and offered by two Huizhou businesspeople, Cao Tingsheng and Cao Jiuru. It was not replaced until 2006 when a new highway was built, reducing travel time on the road to around 3.5 hours.

The express train therefore marks a new beginning for both cities and will possibly bring more collaboration in trade, culture and most importantly tourism.

The decline of Huizhou commerce came with the opening of Shanghai as a commercial port and the rise of machinery in manufacturing.

But the slow-paced village life in the region, together with its landscape and traditional architecture survives.

Today it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in China.

Statistics show that in the past National Day holiday from October 1 to 7, Huangshan has received 6.05 million visitors with total tourism revenue reaching 3.85 billion yuan — 16.5 and 17.9 percent up, respectively, from last year.

Wang Wei, deputy director of the tourism commission of Xiuning County, told Shanghai Daily that there are more than 500 local guesthouses and about 20 boutique family inns.

“From October 2 to 5, over 90 percent of these lodgings were sold out,” said Wang. On his rough estimate between 70 and 80 percent of the visitors came from the Yangtze River Delta.

The local government is quick to release incentives to attract more tourists from the region.

On November 2, at a promotional roadshow in Shanghai, the Huangshan City tourism commission announced that from January to February, visitors traveling by train from Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Nanjing and seven other cities in the region may enjoy a 50 percent discount on entrance fees in all its A-level scenic spots.

Huangshan is also seeking to integrate into the whole development of the Yangtze River Delta region.

In October at a regional mayors’ meeting, the authorities announced that the cities of Huangshan and Quzhou had joined the “Greater Hangzhou Area,” which formerly encircled the urban area of Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Huzhou and Shaoxing.

Kong Xiaohong, mayor of Huangshan, said at the meeting that the two cities had long been benefiting from close economic and trade ties. Investors from the Greater Hangzhou Area have established nearly 300 enterprises in Huangshan, contributing over 50,000 jobs while more than 40,000 Huangshan natives presently work and live in the area.

The discussion of a more integrated Yangtze River Delta region has been in the spotlight in recent years. In his opening speech at the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November, President Xi Jinping told the world that the integration of the region had been made a national level strategy to further accentuate importance of the area to the nation.

Apart from the Hangzhou-Huangshan intercity railway, several other regional railways are being planned or under construction, including the Nantong-Suzhou-Jiaxing-Ningbo railway connecting the coastal areas of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, a railway along the north bank of the Yangtze River linking parts of Anhui and Jiangsu provinces with Shanghai, and also a Shangqiu-Hefei-Hangzhou railway joining the capitals of Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.

                                                                                                                              Essay from Shanghai Daily

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