The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which begins service Dec. 26, will travel the route's 664 miles in three hours, compared with more than 10 hours previous trains took, the news agency Xinhua reported Friday.
Tickets for the journey range from about $72 to $114, close to the price of airline tickets, Xinhua said.
"The price for the Wuhan-Guangzhou line is reasonable, although it is a little bit higher than discounted flight price," said a businessman who traveled between the cities frequently. "The time of the rail journey is even shorter than by air, because I can avoid security checks as well as long trips between the airports and city centers."
Officials expect a network of high-speed passenger rail lines covering most major cities in China to be operational by 2012, Xinhua reported.
"We can only survive the competition by reducing costs and improving services," said Si Xianmin, general manager of China Southern Airlines.