VOA News / May 10, 2011 19:20 KST A high-speed rail line between the Chinese capital of Beijing and the country's financial hub of Shanghai will begin preliminary operations Wednesday. The $32.5 billion Beijing-to-Shanghai line will begin regular operations on June 9, cutting travel time in half to less than five hours. The 1,300-kilometer line is part of the country's massive investment in a high-speed rail network, expected to reach $115 billion this year. The initiative has been plagued with a $578 million loss in the first quarter of 2011, and a scandal that forced Railways Ministry head Liu Zhijun out of office. Liu is under investigation for "a severe violation of discipline" at the ministry. Published reports have linked Liu to more than $120 million diverted from eight major rail construction projects, including $28.5 million embezzled last year from the Beijing-to-Shanghai project. The central government's current plan calls for completion of 16,000 kilometers of high-speed rail lines by 2020.