Taking from the official release announcement:
Python 3.1 focuses on the stabilization and optimization of the features and changes that Python 3.0 introduced. For example, the new I/O system has been rewritten in C for speed. File system APIs that use unicode strings now handle paths with undecodable bytes in them. Other features include an ordered dictionary implementation, a condensed syntax for nested with statements, and support for ttk Tile in Tkinter.