An attendant distributes commemorative brochures to passengers on the Beijing-Tianjin intercity high-speed railway, which celebrated its 15th anniversary on Tuesday. (TONG YU/CHINA NEWS SERVICE)
Bullet train driver Zhang Yan has witnessed not only the evolution of the Beijing-Tianjin High-Speed Railway over the past decade and a half, but also the country's rapid development.
"Fifteen years ago, when the line had just opened, there were bungalows on both sides of the line when the train left the station in Beijing," Zhang said.
"Now, there are tall buildings and green spaces. Beijing and Tianjin are more closely connected and the urban environment has also been greatly improved."
Tuesday marked the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Beijing-Tianjin High-Speed Railway, China's first high-speed railway with a design speed of 350 kilometers per hour.
Over the period, about 340 million passenger trips have been made on the railway.
The 166-km line reduced travel time between Beijing and Tianjin to about half an hour. When it began operations, about 94 bullet trains ran on the line every day. Now, about 256 trains operate daily. At peak travel times, trains depart every three minutes.
The number of daily passenger trips has increased from 48,000 to 73,000, according to China Railway Beijing Group, the line's operator.
Wang Manman, a resident of Wuqing district, Tianjin, takes the bullet train to her job in Beijing every day. The quickest journey takes only about 20 minutes, and there are 11 train trips for her to choose from during the morning rush hour from 6 am to 9 am.
Gui Bin, a bullet train enthusiast, took the line from Tianjin to Beijing on Tuesday.
Fifteen years ago he bought a ticket for the bullet train's maiden journey and posed for a photo at Beijing South Railway Station to mark the special day.
"I lined up at the ticket window to buy the train ticket one day ahead of the line's opening. Tickets sold out very quickly," the 36-year-old recalled.
He said when he was a child it took one to two hours to travel from Tianjin to Beijing.
"I thought the speed of 200 km/h of a bullet train was super fast. I couldn't imagine a speed of 350 km/h," he said, adding that the line has made his life much easier.
He and his friends often take the bullet train to hang out in Beijing and booking tickets online is very convenient.
Over the 15 years, the high-speed railway network in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has increased from 118 km to 2,486 km, covering all major cities.
Passengers can commute between major cities in the area in one to two hours.
The opening of the Beijing-Tianjin intercity high-speed railway in August 2008 also gave strong support to the hosting of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and accelerated regional integration and development.
By 2022, China had 42,000 km of operational high-speed rail, ranking first in the world. The length of high-speed rail in China regularly operating at 350 km/h neared 3,200 km by June 2022.