Trains on the 2,298-kilometre high-speed line will initially run at 300kmh with a total travel time of about eight hours. Before, the fastest time between the two cities by train was more than 20 hours. The line also makes stops in provincial capitals Shijiazhuang, Wuhan and Changsha along the way.
China has massive resources and considerable prestige invested in its showcase high-speed railways programme.
However, it has recently faced high-profile problems: part of a line collapsed in March, while a bullet-train crash in the summer of 2011 killed 40 people.