South China's island province Hainan began a trial run on Thursday of a new stretch of track that completes the world's first high-speed train line circling an island. Up to 20 empty trains will run on the 345-km Western Ring Railway per day in the trial period. Exercises will test responses to emergency situations.
The western stretch will be officially put into operation at the end of this year with a designed speed of 200 km per hour, according to its operator, the Guangzhou Railway Corporation. The western stretch has 16 stops in six cities and counties, linking provincial capital Haikou with Sanya, a tropical tourist spot. It began construction in Sept. 2013 with an investment of 27 billion yuan (4.23 billion U.S. dollars).
The 308-km eastern ring also from Haikou to Sanya, was put into operation at the end of 2010 with a designed speed of up to 250 km per hour. It passes Boao, a scenic town where the Boao Forum for Asia is held annually.
With a land area of 35,400 square km, Hainan is slightly larger than Belgium. A popular destination for beach lovers, it is expected to receive 47 million visitors this year.