Passengers were able for the first time today to travel the 174 kilometres from 2022 Winter Olympic host cities Beijing and Zhangjiakou in just 47 minutes ©Beijing 2022

The high-speed railway line connecting Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the co-host city of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, officially went into operation today.

It departed from Beijing North Railway Station at around 8:30am. to Zhangjiakou in north China's Hebei Province.

Five venues for the 2022 Winter Olympics are due to be based in Zhangjiakou with the city hosting biathlon, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping, freestyle skiing and snowboarding.

With a maximum design speed of 350 kilometres per hour, it will reduce the 174km journey between Beijing and Zhangjiakou from over three hours to 47 minutes, the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. claimed.

The smart train G8811 has 5G connectivity, wireless charging and intelligent lighting.

Chongli railway, a branch line of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, also went into service today. 

It is 53km long, with a maximum design speed of 250 kph.

Among the celebrities on this historic trip was Yang Yang, a double Olympic gold medallist in short track speed skating and the chair of the Beijing 2022 Athletes' Commission.

"It can improve the efficiency of our work, promote China's winter sports, and boost the ice and snow economy," she told China's official state news agency Xinhua.

Construction of the high-speed railway took four years. 

The railway underwent test runs earlier this month. 

"The Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway is a milestone in China's railway development," Wang Hongyu, chief designer in charge of this railway project with Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co., Ltd,, told Xinhua. 

It is the China's first autonomous high-speed services with trains able to run between the 10 stations along the line, open and close doors and, it is claimed, handle emergencies. 

The original railway linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou, China's first independently designed and built railway, opened in 1909 and the top-speed was 35kph. 

Zhan Xin, the great-granddaughter of Zhan Tianyou, who designed the original line more than a century ago, was among the passengers on today's journey.

"The fast trains reflect China's economic and technological development," she told Xinhua.

"If my great-grandfather could have seen today's high-speed rail network, he would be very proud."