A bullet train departed from Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi province, for Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia autonomous region on July 1, according to local rail officials.
They said it was the first time that a direct electric multiple units (EMU) train between the two cities had been launched.
It also marked the point where Taiyuan has now realized round trips of EMU trains with the capitals of three neighboring provinces and an autonomous region, namely Shaanxi, Henan, Hebei and Inner Mongolia.
The travel time between Taiyuan and Hohhot has thus been greatly reduced to around five hours from over 10 hours before with conventional-speed trains.
Shanxi and neighboring Inner Mongolia have a long and deep relationship, particularly during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Generations of Shanxi merchants then left home each year for Inner Mongolia for work and business, which furthered economic and cultural communications between two regions.
Officials said the launch of the direct EMU train service has opened up a quick communications channel between Taiyuan and Hohhot. It will greatly facilitate regional economic cooperation, people's contacts and cultural communications and promote the integrated development of urban agglomeration with Taiyuan and Hohhot as the centers.
In addition, the train operating route connects many cultural and natural landscapes of Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, according to the train's conductor, Kong Lingnan.
Together with the existing Datong-Xi'an High-speed Railway -- and the Taiyuan-Jiaozuo High-speed Railway to be open at the end of this year -- the newly launched train service will have a major impact on Shanxi in growing into a national all-for-one tourism demonstration zone.
Moving forwards, it will also help the high-quality transformation and development of Shanxi and Inner Mongolia.