The Jinan - Shijazhuang high-speed line provides an east-west link between the Beijing - Guangzhou and Beijing - Shanghai high-speed lines, while reducing the journey time between the capitals of Shandong and Hebei provinces from 3h 47min to 2h 9min. Construction began in August 2013 and the 319km line has a design speed of 250km/h.

Further south, another east-west high-speed artery has been completed with the opening of the 334km Quzhou - Jingdezhen - Jiujiang line. Construction began in January 2014 and the 10-station line has a design speed of 250km/h.

In Anhui province, commercial operations began on the short connection between Xiaoxianbei and Huaibei. The 27.1km line is designed for 250km/h operation.

China Railway Corporation (CRC) said on January 2 that its high-speed network now exceeds 25,000km - around 66% of the global total - and is set to reach 38,000km by 2025. Around 3500km of new high-speed lines are expected to open in 2018.

• The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning authority, has granted approval for the 286km Nanchang - Huangshan high-speed line. The Yuan 48.6bn ($US 7.47bn) railway will take four years to build and will have a design speed of 350km/h.