China Rail Passes

China Rail Passes
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Train Tickets in China

There are now over 53,000 miles of major highways in China, which makes it second only to the US.

But in rail, China has really expanded in recent years, with major investment being prevalent since the early 1990s, and only now easing off following some recent safety and corruption scandals.

China now has the longest High-Speed rail network in the world, with over 6,000 miles of track (with plans to increase that figure to almost 10,000 miles by 2020), of which almost half carries trains that are capable of reaching 190mph. The longest single line is that from Beijing to Guangzhou, which is 1,428 miles long.

Daily High Speed use is now up to around 1.33 Million people / day (2012), which also makes it the busiest High Speed network in the world. It consists of a mix of upgraded conventional lines; newly built designated HS lines and the world’s first ever commercial Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) line. This was the Shanghai Airport to Shanghai line, which opened in 2004, with trains capable of 268mph, which can do the 19 mile journey in under 7.5 minutes.

We are now able, through a network of suppliers to book a range of rail journeys into and within China. If you are interested in travelling through this area please send us a Journey Request form, and we will be happy to get a quote for you.

Please allow 1 – 2 working days to receive a quote, as we are using suppliers based in Asia, so have to make allowances for time zone differences.

Here is some journey information for some of the key routes that we definitely can book;

  • Beijing to Shanghai

Multiple trains every day each way: journey time of 5 to 6 hours (High Speed ‘G’ Trains) / 8 to 12 hours (Regular Trains)

  • Beijing to Guangzhou

Multiple trains every day each way: journey time of 8 to 10 hours

  • Beijing to Xi’an

Several trains per day each way; journey time of 12 to 14 hours (mostly overnight services)

  • Guangzhou to Hong Kong

Around 10 to 12 trains per day each way: journey time of around 2 hours

  • Shanghai to Nanjing

Multiple trains every day each way: journey time of around 1 hour 40 minutes.

We can also book several cross border journeys in and out of Beijing;

Beijing to Pyongyang (North Korea)
- 2 trains per week each way; journey time of around 25 hours

Beijing to Hanoi (Vietnam)
- 2 trains per week each way; journey time of around 52 to 53 hours

Moscow to Beijing (via Ulan Bator)
- Travel on the legendary Trans-Mongolian train, which travels this route with 1 departure each way every week. Journey time of around 5 ½ days (6 nights).

For more information on the types of accommodations typically offered on Chinese trains, please click here.

For more information on the types of trains that run on the Chinese Railway network, please click here.

Beijing Railway Station:

Located in central Beijing next to Jianguomen (one of the old City gates). Trains come in and out by another old city gate (Dongbianmen) on their way to many famous Chinese cities, like Shanghai and Harbin, as well as to some international destinations like Pyongyang (North Korea) and Ulan Bator (Mongolia).

Beijing West Railway Station:

This is located in the western Xuanwu District of Beijing and is one of the largest stations in the whole of Asia. It is able to handle an incredible 300,000 passengers per day! Trains from here go South and West, except for coastal destinations (served by Beijing main station).

Shanghai Railway Station:

The main station is located in the North of the city and generally serves all of the north-south and westward services. It is at one end of the Beijing – Shanghai line, as well as serving many major cities including Nanjing, Xian, Guangzhou, Harbin and Qingdao.

Chinese Train Accommodations:

Rail travel in China can offer a great experience, and on domestic services there are up to seven accommodation levels on offer, depending on the train type you will be travelling on.

Please see below for further information on each class and type of accommodation available:

First Class Seat
– Available on most high-speed trains, usually with 4 seats per row (2 2); similar to a Soft Seat (see below) or a Business Class seat on an aircraft.

Second Class Seat
– Available on most high-speed trains, often similar to a Hard Seat (see below) and usually with 5 to a row (3 2).

Hard Seat
– This is the basic seating level and will usually be the cheapest fare available; it can be likened to the Economy Class on an aircraft, and is generally used when better levels of seating are no longer available.

Soft Seat
– This is a level above the Hard Seats, and they are usually laid out with 4 to a row (2 2) meaning that these are usually nice and comfortable seating areas.

Hard Sleeper – This is the basic accommodation for an overnight journey. It doesn’t sound appealing, but should offer a reasonably comfortable night to anyone under 6ft (1.80m) tall. Bunks are arranged three on each side within a compartment – and would be indicated as top, middle or bottom on a ticket. These compartments do not have doors on them!

Soft Sleeper
– This compartment has wider beds, two on each side, and is enclosed; many of these compartments also have an entertainment system with movie channels available for viewing, and television displays for each bunk.

Luxury Soft Sleeper
– This is the top level of accommodation and is only available on a few services. It is a two bedded compartment, with a toilet in each cabin. Some carriages will also have shared shower facilities.

Chinese Train Types:

The first character of a train route identifier indicates the type and class of the passenger train, and this is usually determined by its speed and the relative number of stops that it makes along its route.

  • G (Gasou – High-Speed) – This is a series for long distance high speed services.
  • C (Chengji – High-Speed Intercity trains) – This series was introduced in 2008 with the Beijing to Tianjin Intercity line; they have a top speed of 350 km/h (218 mph).
  • D (Dongche – High-Speed) – This series was introduced in 2007 and are electrically powered; their top speed is 250 km/h (155 mph).
  • Z (Zhida Direct Express) – This translates roughly as the Chinese for non-stop overnight train, although most will make several stops between the originating and ultimate destination station. Most of these services will have Hard and Soft Sleepers (see our accommodation page), whilst some only have Soft Sleepers. They have a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph).
  • T (Tekuai Express) – This is a limited stopping express service, with stops usually only in principle cities. They have a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph).
  • K (Kuaisu) – This series of trains stop at more stations than a T train, and their top speed is also around 120 km/h (75 mph).

General Fast Trains
– These are slower passenger services that stop at around half of the stations along a given route, and therefore have a longer journey time. Their top speeds can be 120 km/h (75 mph).

General Train
– The slowest of all Chinese trains because they stop at pretty much every station along a route. These are commonly used by the Chinese working classes (particularly rural workers returning home to their families for the weekend) as they have the lowest ticket costs. When schedules are fixed, these services have the lowest priority – they have a top speed of only 100 km/h (63 mph).

Image from Wikipedia