Record breaker: China's incredible north-south high-speed train line plan

China has the world's largest high-speed rail network, which includes a 2,298-kilometer line linking Beijing and Guangzhou.

Story highlights

  • Proposed high-speed rail would connect Inner Mongolia with Hainan, which are more than 3,000 kilometers apart
  • World's longest high-speed rail line is almost 2,300 kilometers long, connecting Beijing and Guangzhou
  • Train would open access to some of China's remotest areas for tourists

(CNN)Chinese railway experts have begun talks on building a record-breaking high-speed rail that would connect Inner Mongolia in the north to Hainan in the south.

According to the Shaanxi Development and Reform Commission, the proposed line will operate at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour (217 mph).
Beginning in Inner Mongolia's Baotou city and running through southern Shaanxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangxi and Guangdong, its final stop would be in Haikou city on Hainan Island, China's southernmost province.
Though the exact length of the proposed route has not been released, it will likely become the world's longest high-speed rail line -- smashing a record already held by China -- as the journey by road between Baotou and Haikou is approximately 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) long.
Currently, the world's longest high-speed rail line is almost 2,300 kilometers long (1,429 miles), running from Beijing to the southern metropolis of Guangzhou.
The proposed rail is part of China's aim to create a "Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century" and coincides with initiatives to improve the country's comprehensive transportation network while driving land development and urbanization in seven provincial areas.
Minority issues
Many of the provinces through which the high-speed trains will travel are near major bodies of water, such as the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi provinces, the Yangtze River in Hubei and the South China Sea, where the line would end.
It will also take passengers to popular tourist destinations including Zhangjiajie, Xian, Guilin and minority areas in western Hunan and Hubei.
"The country is now shifting its focus and investing in the western regions and economically underdeveloped areas, making up for China's long debt to these areas," Tan Yuzhi, professor of the School of Economics and Management at Hubei University for Nationalities, told local media.
"The project will significantly narrow regional disparities and solve minority issues."
However, Deng Hongbing, director of China University of Geosciences' Center for Regional Economic and Investment Center, said that if the north-to-south railway is to go ahead, there needs to be a sound ecological program in place to ensure the protection of these underdeveloped and ecologically sensitive areas.
Officials say the line will connect with existing high-speed routes such as Xuzhou-Lanzhou, Shanghai-Wuhan-Chengdu, Shanghai-Kunming and Guiyang-Guangzhou.
Proposal participants say they will push for the train project to be included in China's 13th five-year national development plan (2016-2020).