This is the official national railway newspaper for China.
The Sichuan part of the Xi’an-Chengdu HSR is now well on its way to being reality, with track-laying begun on this stretch. With works beginning in March 2013 and scheduled to last for 4 years and 9 months, the new line, 509.4 km (318⅓ mi) in length, should be ready and open to the public in late 2017. Part of the new route is the Mianyang-Chengdu-Leshan HSR, which has already opened to public rail traffic.
This means that, along with the Shaanxi part beginning track-laying as early as September 2016, this line should be opened to the public in the not too distant future. The route goes through the greater Qinling Mountain Range, thus it travels through relatively mountainous terrain. Maximum speeds were originally planned at 350 km/h (217 mph), but have since been downgraded, unfortunately, to 250 km/h (157 mph).
However, the new line will still be a major “speedbump” for rail traffic between Chengdu, southwestern central China, and the capital, Beijing. Right now, the fastest regular rail train service, Train Z50, takes 22 hours and 19 minutes; when overnight sleeper HSR services were briefly available around 2011, travel times were 16 hours or so. Currently, the fastest HSR services take 14 hours and 23 minutes to go between the two cities. With the new HSR line in operation, trains will travel from Chengdu via Xi’an, using only approximately 8 hours — almost twice as fast as today’s fastest trains. Regional traffic will also see a boost: HSR will mean that travel between Chengdu and Xi’an will only take 3 hours.