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The new train lines that could transform how you travel

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It's been a good year for fans of rail travel, with speedy new train services opening around the world, linking major cities and slashing rail journey times.

Whether travelers are looking for an alternative to flying, or just want a faster train ride, these services are offering new travel opportunities.

Also known as the XRL, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link opened in September.
The 26-kilometer (16-mile) service connects the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong with mainland China's extensive high-speed rail network.
Read: What to expect from Hong Kong's new bullet trains
Bullet trains run from Hong Kong's newly opened West Kowloon station to 44 destinations. The journey between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, previously two hours by train, takes just 47 minutes. Trips to Shenzhen take 14 minutes.
Direct trains from Hong Kong to Beijing take nine hours and to Shanghai, eight hours. They each run once a day.
Read: 40 beautiful places to visit in China
In an unprecedented arrangement, West Kowloon station is divided into Hong Kong and Chinese immigration controls -- which means passengers can avoid an additional check when traveling in and out of Hong Kong.
The move has not been without controversy: part of the station is governed by Chinese authorities and patrolled by mainland police. Travelers from Hong Kong still need to have a valid Chinese visa or travel document to ride the train.

The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway -- Israel's first electric train line -- partially opened in September.
It currently links Ben Gurion Airport, 13 miles (20 kilometers) southeast of Tel Aviv, to the Jerusalem-Yitzhak Navon railway station. The journey takes around 20 minutes.
Once completed, the direct link between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem will reduce travel between the two to less than 30 minutes, with trains that run at a top speed of 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour. It will be an alternative to the existing train route between Jerusalem and the ancient town of Jaffa, 6 kilometers from downtown Tel Aviv, which takes one hour and 40 minutes.
Read: Guide to Israel, West Bank and Gaza
Originally slated to open in 2008, the project has been plagued by delays and no completion date has been announced. It's another controversial project: two sections of the line -- largely underground -- run through the West Bank, which is considered occupied Palestinian land by the international community.

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