China's 'bullet train' between Beijing and Shanghai is now running – or should we say, rocketing – along a high-speed railway stretching some 1,318 kilometres between the two cites.
Christened 'Harmony', after the "harmonious society" slogan of Chinese President Hu, the sleek train completes the journey in under five hours.
Business class carriages feature airline-inspired touches like reclining seats with in-seat entertainment systems, and are staffed by uniformed 'stewardesses' serving Chinese delicacies. The cost? $260 (1,750 Yuan).
And you can forget about a smoking carriage: the entire train carries a novel no-smoking policy for this nicotine-addicted nation, which results in some passengers stepping out at any of the 24 stations along the route for a fast one-minute puff.
The service runs from the new Beijing South station – just off the south second ring road and with its own station on Beijing's subway line 4 – to Shanghai's new Hongqiao station, with connections to lines 2, 5 and 10 of the Shanghai Metro.
Several changes were made to the train in the months before its official launch.
The top speed has been reduced to 300km/h from the previously-promised 380km/h due to concerns over both safety and cost.
Authorities also dropped plans for a series of luxury 'VIP' carriages in order to keep overall ticket prices down, opting for a simpler set of two-class carriages.
The daily schedule feature three services. The fastest and most expensive has have only one stop along the way, at Nanjing.
A second service stops at seven provincial capital cities for a total travel time of five and a half hours.
The 'slowest' train stops at all 24 stations along the route, travelling at 250km/h instead of 300km/h, but comes with cheaper fares than the super-express service.
The 220.9 billion yuan (A$32 billion) line will be the longest and most expensive high-speed rail connection in the world, and will carry an estimated 160 million passengers a year.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.