HEFEI, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Every weekday at 7:12 a.m., Si Dong, a 26-year-old resident of Ma'anshan City in east China's Anhui Province, gets on a high-speed train bound for Nanjing, capital of the neighboring Jiangsu Province. In 18 minutes, he arrives there to start the day's work.
"There are many passengers like me, who commute between the two cities by high-speed rail in the morning and evening," said Si. "Both the frequent runs and the about 20-minute ride make it as convenient as the subway."
Si's experience is echoed by Zhang Xiaochen, a Shanghai citizen who works as a business manager in a company based in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. She often needs to travel among cities along the Yangtze River Delta to negotiate business deals.
Last year, China unveiled an outline for the regional integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta, which is one of the country's most economically active, open and innovative regions, and produces about one-fourth of the country's GDP. Local governments have rolled out a raft of measures to enhance cooperation and communication in the region.
The 358,000-square km expanse, about the size of Germany, encompasses the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Shanghai Municipality.
With the continuously deepening integration of the Yangtze River Delta, people there are experiencing lifestyle changes brought about by the national strategy.
"I often have meetings in Shanghai in the morning and rush to Nanjing in the afternoon. It is very efficient," said Zhang, who lives only 20-plus minutes away from the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station.
Infrastructure connectivity represented by improvement in railway density makes it possible for people to live and work in different cities in the region.
According to plans, in 2020, more than 10 railway projects in the Yangtze River Delta will open or start construction. The entire region's annual railway investment is planned to exceed 80 billion yuan (about 11.73 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for nearly one-sixth of the national total.
Meanwhile, passengers can take the subway in 10 cities in the region, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Hefei, Suzhou and Ningbo, by scanning the QR codes on their local apps.
"The dense transportation network accelerates the integration of two places. With the opening of roads, the cultural exchanges will be closer, administrative exchanges smoother, and economic and trade exchanges more active," said Teng Qing, deputy director of the development and reform commission of Ma'anshan City.
In addition, public services such as medical care, social security, talent support and cultural tourism are being improved in the region.
Chen Ju lives in Taozhuang Township of Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province, which is close to Lili Township, Jiangsu Province. It takes Chen at least 50 minutes to drive to the hospital in Jiashan, but only 20 minutes to the one in Lili, which is a better choice for her.
"Before, we had to pay for inter-provincial medical treatment in advance and then return to the local medical insurance institution with the invoice for reimbursement," said Chen. "After the integration, we can settle the medical expenses directly at the outpatient clinic in other place in the region, which saves us a lot of legwork."
Data from the National Healthcare Security Administration showed that by the end of April, the direct settlement service for inter-provincial outpatient medical expenses covered 41 cities in the Yangtze River Delta, with a total settlement involving more than 1 million people and 240 million yuan.