BEIJING, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) - China's first high-speed (HS) rail line, the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity High-Speed Rail, has carried 40.96 million passengers since it began operating two years ago, a statement from the Ministry of Railways said Monday.
The HS line, launched on Aug. 1, 2008, is capable of transporting up to 125,000 passengers per day between the two cities in north China, the statement said.
Designed with a maximum running speed of 350 km/h, the bullet trains reduce travel time between Beijing and Tianjin to only 30 minutes, compared to the normal 3-hour journey by road.
The fast track has also brought Tianjin city more visitors from Beijing and neighboring areas during the past two years, providing a boost to local commerce, trade, tourism, and services industries, the statement said.
A survey by the Tianjin Commission of Commerce showed shopping accounted for almost 34 percent of the total spending by passengers who are traveling on the rail line to Tianjin.
Retail sales in Tianjin soared 21.5 percent in 2009 year on year to 243 billion yuan. Retail sales in the first half of the year also expanded by 19 percent over the same period of last year to reach 139.4 billion yuan.
Further, boosted by the rail link, foreign investment already spent by Tianjin jumped 20 percent in the first half, reaching 5.9 billion U.S. dollars, the statement said.
Passengers on the line have also diversified to include businessmen, tourists, students, and others who want to experience traveling by high speed train.