Category Archives: By Train

High-speed Train Crash, 33 Died

I wrote a lot about high-speed train.

Shanghai to Hangzhou Highspeed Train

Faster Bullet Trains in China

Not to mentions the tens of articles on Maglev.

When I dreamed about going to Beijing via high-speed train, and thought highly about the mega-project, the train crash last night which killed 33 people really put me into deep thoughts – another type of thoughts.

(If you are not aware of the accident, see the photos here)

China has been pursuing speed. Faster, the better. It hold true for train speed, car speed, economic growth, accumulation of wealth. The society is just running at top speed with no safety measures. It may crash at any time. Not just train, but the whole society. It is the time to slow down a little bit.

Shanghai-Hangzhou Express Train

Breaking news. The Shanghai-Hangzhou Express Train will start operation officially on Oct 26, 2010, according to this news report. The ticket selling will start from October 22.

The first train G7401 will start from Shanghai Hongqiao Train Station at 6:32 am, and arrive at Hangzhou at 7:32, with duration of 1 hour.

When the operation passes the trail period, the single way will be 38 km, at 350 km/hour. The interval of trains will be 3 minutes (shorter many metro carts).

The price range from 82 to 156 RMB single way, depending on the class of seats, and departure stations.

Interestingly, the seating numbering follows airlines – from A to F with A as window seat, and C as aisle seats. It is said that passenger can choose their seat (well, I just feel it is over-designed feature for a trip less than one hour).

Looking forward to take it soon.

Train from Shenzhen to Guangzhou

In this Shenzhen, Guangzhou trip, I was impressed by the CRH train between Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The train is the same, but the schedule, and the train station, and the process are very different.

Schedule

Look at this schedule! There are train from Guangzhou to Shenzhen every few minutes from as early as 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

D7001 06:08 -07:26

D7013 06:40 -07:46

D7069 06:41 -08:01

D7091 07:10 -08:16

D7047 07:12 -08:31

D7135 07:40 -08:52

D7025 07:46 -09:06

D7113 07:50 -08:42

D7157 08:10 -09:16

D7037 08:25 -09:31

D7059 08:32 -09:51

D7081 08:35 -09:41

D7103 08:55 -10:01

D7125 09:05 -10:11

D7003 09:18 -10:24

D7147 09:30 -10:36

D7071 09:40 -10:46

D7015 09:46 -11:11

D7169 09:50 -10:56

D7093 10:15 -11:21

D7049 10:25 -11:31

D7115 10:35 -12:01

D7137 10:35 -11:41

D7027 10:45 -11:51

D7159 11:05 -12:11

D7039 11:18 -12:36

D7083 11:20 -12:26

D7061 11:40 -12:46

D7105 11:47 -13:06

D7127 11:50 -12:56

D7149 12:10 -13:16

D7005 12:16 -13:36

D7073 12:20 -13:26

D7171 12:45 -13:51

D7017 12:55 -14:01

D7095 13:05 -14:11

D7139 13:15 -14:21

D7051 13:19 -14:41

D7029 13:25 -14:31

D7117 13:45 -14:51

D7161 13:55 -15:16

D7085 14:00 -15:06

D7063 14:20 -15:26

D7041 14:23 -15:46

D7129 14:30 -15:36

D7151 14:50 -15:56

D7107 14:57 -16:16

D7075 15:00 -16:06

D7007 15:23 -16:41

D7173 15:25 -16:31

D7097 15:45 -16:51

D7019 15:52 -17:11

D7141 15:55 -17:01

D7031 16:15 -17:21

D7119 16:25 -17:31

D7053 16:27 -17:46

D7087 16:50 -18:02

D7065 17:00 -17:52

D7163 17:03 -18:26

D7131 17:10 -18:16

D7153 17:30 -18:36

D7043 17:32 -18:56

D7077 17:40 -18:46

D7109 18:00 -19:06

D7175 18:15 -19:21

D7009 18:20 -19:41

D7099 18:25 -19:31

D7143 18:45 -19:51

D7021 18:55 -20:01

D7121 19:05 -20:11

D7033 19:08 -20:26

D7055 19:30 -20:36

D7089 19:57 -21:16

D7165 20:00 -21:06

D7079 20:30 -21:36

D7111 20:40 -21:46

D7045 20:42 -22:01

D7101 21:15 -22:21

D7011 21:25 -22:31

D7145 21:35 -22:41

D7123 21:45 -22:51

D7023 21:47 -23:06

D7057 22:20 -23:26

D7035 22:22 -23:41

D7167 22:50 -23:56

Ticket

At the Guangzhou East Railway Station, they have separate ticket purchasing process. Passengers just need to go into the station without buying ticket. There are many automatic ticket vendor machines lining up. At the machine, you can buy train tickets of any future train of the day. The machine automatically assign the nearest train to you. The idea is, it is almost for sure that you can catch up a train in the next 10-20 minutes – something very like the metro system in Shanghai.

Shenzhen Station

At the Shenzhen train station, you can directly transit to the Hong Kong metro system, and the Shenzhen metro system.

Wow. I love this experience. Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou are not that connected, yet.

Shanghai Bejiing Express Railway Photos

Only seeing is believing. Although I know the Shanghai Beijing Express Railway started construction on April 18, 2008, I didn’t realized that there is big progress there. On March 17, 2009, Wendy and I drove to Suzhou, and along the Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway (A11), you see the poles of the tracks are already completed.

The 1318 km high-speed railway will enable specialized CRH trains to run at 350 km/h, that cut the total travel time to Beijing to 5 hours, from current 10.

Below are two photos of the poles completed. It is very long – I saw at least 5 km of track like this.

Photograph by Wenfy Fan

Photograph by Wenfy Fan

According to reports, 80% of the 1318 km will be constructed like shown on the photos: elevated to save land, and reduce noises.

Which Train Station to Use in Shanghai?

I received an email today regarding the two confusing train stations in Shanghai. He/she is definitely not the first one to ask the question.

by the way, i would like to ask you because i checked online and wanted to buy a train ticket from shanghai to beijing. my question is i want to ride the T104 train and where is that located? i mean there are three (3) railway stations in shanghai so im a little confused. and maybe you could also give me a chinese address of the station so we can show it to the taxi when we go there. thank you. I’ll wait for your reply pls.

Let me try to help.

How Many Train Stations in Shanghai?

There are two major stations in Shanghai, with some much smaller additional stations: Shanghai Railway Station, and Shanghai South Railway Station are the two biggest.

Shanghai Railway Station

Shanghai Railway Station 上海火车站, is the biggest railway station so far. It has other name called Xin Ke Zhan 新客站, or directly translation: New Passenger Station. It is “new” relative to the old North Station, which has almost been abondorned. However, it is now the “old” station, compared to the new Shanghai South Railway Station.

It is accessible via Metro Line #1, Metro Line #4, and Metro Line #3. Many buses also go there, but it is highly suggested for visitors to the city to use Metro or taxi to get there.

If you only see Shanghai, or 上海 on the train ticket without any other additional character on your train ticket, it is Shanghai Railway Station.

Shanghai South Railway Station

Shanghai South Railway Station, or 上海南站, is at the south side of the city. It is also accessible by Metro Line #1, but about 10 stops southward of Shanghai Railway Station.

On the train ticket, it is shown as Shanghai South 上海南.

In my train schedule page, for example, if you see Shanghai, it refers to Shanghai Railway Station. If you see Shanghai South, it refers to Shanghai South Railway Station.

Other Stations?

There are Shanghai West Train Station (or Zhenru Station as some people call it 真如站), and Meilong Station (I am not sure whether it still operates after the South Station started to use).

Recently, the Shanghai Pudong Railway Station just opened, but with only very limited cargo and passenger train. I hope it can grow big soon.

How to Get to the Stations?

I would highly recommend you to take metro if you don’t have large luggage. If you do, take taxi. Tell the driver exactly which stations to go. I agree it is confusing for visitors, but do let your driver clearly understand which station you going – south, or the main station. Better, show your ticket, and most taxi drivers are experienced with this – and many of them may have experience to take passenger to the wrong station before. :-)

Hope it helps.

P.S. Definitely avoid train stations during rush days (today, tomorrow,and the day after tomorrow) – three days before the Spring Festival. There are “people mountain and people sea” there.

P.S.2

j commented about the question itself. I didn’t tell him/her the answer yet. Let me complete the article here, although I have emailed back with exact answer.

Train T104 starts from Shanghai Railway Station. Here is the schedule.

Train # Seq Station Name Arrive Depart Distance

T104 1 Shanghai – 2002 0

T104 2 Wuxi 2109 2112 126

T104 3 Zhenjiang 2214 2217 238

T104 4 Xuzhou 0208 0216 649

T104 5 Beijing 0934 – 1463

Shanghai to Beijing? Train is Better than Air

kTonight, I am going to Beijing, and will be back on Wednesday night. Previously, my trip was all via flights. After I tried train the last time, I decided to switch all my trip to Beijing to train in the future. Why?

Time Efficiency

Although train takes much longer than flight – 12 hours vs 2 hours, the biggest advantage of train is, it wasted your time at night, especially deep night, instead of train.

Most fast trains between Shanghai and Beijing travel between something like 19:44 PM at night, and arrive at the other city at around 7:00 AM the other day. For busy business persons, it is ideal.

By Air

I, for example, have to plan for a night or morning to take flight. My typical schedule by air looks like:

1. Flight from PVG to PEK at 9:00 AM, arrives at 12:00 PM. Have a meeting in the afternoon, and night, and fly back the next afternoon at 7:00 PM, and arrive at around 10:00 PM (tired day).

– or –

2. Flight from PVG to PEK at 7:00 PM, arrives at late night (tired and taking taxi to hotel), spend the night at hotel and have meeting the other day.

For a 1 hour meeting in Beijing, typically you need to take two day off from work.

By Train

For train, it is different. My new schedule is:

1. Work full day on Monday, and have my last meeting at 6:00 PM. I even have dinner with others before I go to train station at 7:00 PM

2. Get on train before 7:44 PM, and sleep on the train – maybe talk a little bit on the train with travel partnres.

3. Wake up in the morning at 7:00 AM, and take metro to where my first meeting is.

4. If I don’t have other things, I can travel back at around 7:00 PM in Beijing, and arrive in Shanghai the third day morning.

5. I can directly come to work on Wed morning (this trip has more things to do, so I stay two days, and get back to Shanghai on Thursday).

In that typical trip, it seems there is no travel cost – if you count in terms of work hours. It is just like three continous working day in the same city.

Besides that, you saved all your hotel cost.

I will try my first travel like this and report back about how well it works.

Buy Train Ticket After On Board

My reader asked me whether it is possible to buy D train or CRH train ticket after getting on board.

My answer is, generally, no.

Checkpoints before you get on board

In Shanghai Railway Stations, for example, you have to have a valid train ticket before you get even close to the door of the train. Here are the possible places you need to show your ticket.

1. The Station.

The rule is, you can enter the train station only 2 hours before the train departs. You need to line up and show your ticket to an officer outside the train station. it is the same for the South Railway Station. The reason is, with too much people, without the check, many people may use the train station as a temp home, and enjoy the free air conditioning system. It is fine to have just a few, but as any train station in China, there are many people sitting or sleeping outside the train station, just wait for the 2 hour time to come.

2. The Platform.

After you wait in the waiting room in the train station, you need to line up to show to the person at the checkpoint before the platform to enter the platform. This is to avoid people holding other train ticket to get onto the departing train. This is gate opens 30 minutes before the train departs, and closes 5 minutes in advance.

3. The Train Cart.

Before you enter the train, you need to show the ticket to the train conductor before you enter the train. This is also to avoid people holding normal seat ticket to get into a better class of train cart. They can move freely after the train starts to move, but this check helps to keep the order of the train at the very beginning.

4. On the Train

The train conductor will check train ticket on board to find people who don’t have the ticket. This is routine check, and it is not easy to skip. Actually, this is the real check that prevent ticket slipping. If you are caught, you need to pay for the ticket.

So, if you don’t have a train ticket, it is not easy to get on to the train.

However, There Are Still Ways To Get On Board

Generally, you need to buy a ticket before you get on board, but there are other ways to work around it. The secret is, the Platform Ticket!

You can buy a platform ticket to gain access to the platform. Platform tickets are used for people to accompany their family, friends to get onto the train or those who pick up their friends on the train. The ticket is not valid for travel, just for a short period of time before the train departs, or arrives.

It costs 2 RMB in Shanghai.

If you have a Platform Ticket, you can pass check #1, and #2. For checkpoint #3, you can tell him/her that you can getting back very soon. When you are in the train, stay there until the train moves.

Then either wait for the train conductor to come to you to pay the full amount of the ticket, or you go to the train conductor (who often have office in the middle of the train) to buy a ticket. That is normally what people do.

Do you have any more tips about how to be able to buy ticket on board?

Beijing to Shanghai CRH Train

I wrote a blog about Train from Beijing to Shanghai, and it became a very popular blog on the Internet. (Searching Beijing Shanghai in Google will lead to this page). After 3 years later, many reader asks me about whether the information is still accurate, and continue to ask about the Z train.

In this article, I would like to highlight the availability of a better train than the Z train, it is CHR train, or what the government calls it: the Train of Harmony. The train number is D31 from Beijing to Shanghai.

Schedule

Train Number: D31

Running time: 9 hours and 59 minutes (why did they just delay it by one minute so it is 10 hours?)

From Beijing to Shanghai

Leaving Beijing at 10:50 every day,

and arrives in Shanghai on 20:49

The distance is 1463 km.

Here is the stations in between:

D31 1 Beijing 10:50

D31 2 Tianjin West 天津西 11:53 11:54

D31 3 Taishan (Tai Mountain) 泰山 14:32 14:33

D31 4 Xuzhou 徐州 16:30 16:31

D31 5 Bengbu 蚌埠 17:32 17:33

D31 6 Nanjing 南京 18:50 18:52

D31 7 Shanghai 20:49

Comparation between Z Train and CRH (D) Train

The train runs much faster, and although it has more stops than the Z train, it arrives fasters than the Z train.

The other notable difference is, Z train runs during the night – you get on the train at night, and arrives the next morning – perfect for travellers.

D train runs during the day. Get on to the train in the morning and arrives at night.

Pictures of The Train

To be honest, I didn’t personally take the train myself – as a rule of this blog, I don’t take photos from other people to tell you the story.

However, I did have some photos of the CRH running from Shanghai to Nanjing. The train should be exactly the same for the D31 train.

For more photos, keep reading this entry:

Traveler Tide in Spring Festival

In the next half an month or so, we will experience the largest transportation tide. It is maybe the largest scale of people move in the planet. It is because of the Spring Festival.

Why So Many People Need to Go Home

Although people do not treat spring festival as serious as the previous generations (some may ignore the Chunlian, or couplet, some may ignore the traditional events during the festival), most of people still keep the tradition of going back home during the Spring Festival.

Spring Festival is the biggest holiday in China. For many people, it is maybe the only holiday for them to have a chance to leave where they work or study and get back to home. No matter where you are, most of the people will try to get back home.

How Many People

I don’t need to mention the population of China: 1.3 billion or 1.6 billion (depends on which source you get the information). The change in the recent few years is clear, more and more people are mobile. They move out of their home town and move to larger cities, like Shanghai, Beijing or move from smaller village to cities nearby. This adds to the demand to transportation capacity during the Spring Festival. During this peak time, many train stations are sending more than 200K passengers per day.

No Way to Get Ticket

Every year, during this period of time, it is extremely hard, if not impossible, to get a train ticket. People have to wait in cold for hours, or days, just to hear the person in the ticket counter to say “no” with their own ears.

Let’s just imagine this scenario. If I decide to go back to Luoyang, my choices will be:

  • Go to Train station to get ticket. Definitely no way. There are no train tickets, and even the tickets without seat (standing there for 19 hours) are sold out. For every ticket, there are at least thousands of people there waiting for it.
  • Pay high price – even those resellers who charge double to triple the price cannot help you. You have money, but you cannot get the ticket.
  • By Air? No way. All tickets are booked long time ago.
  • By Bus? All bus tickets are sold out. No way to get more. Don’t dream about cheaper price. Full price tickets already disappeared.

Snow and Bad Weather Cause Bigger Problem

I just read the news. Due to snow, there are already 0.6 million people jammed in the train station. More and more people are coming. The Metro Station in Guangzhou has been used to hold these passengers.

I just talked with some people who decided to go back home, but don’t have a ticket. All the door closed to them. It seems there is only one door left for them: walk.

I run into the same problem before, but this time, we decided not to go back home. My parents visited us before the festival, just to avoid the rush hours.

More Transportation Capacity Seriously Needed

The huge demand for transportation and the relative weak supply caused the big problem. In the future, I do want to see the government put more money form the huge tax dollars into transportation, and do something to help the people to get the ticket they need, and help them to get back home (including me).

Train Ticket Office at Maglev Station

Many people arrives in Shanghai Pudong airport empty handed – I mean without the train ticket to the next city. Typically, they just arrives, and want to get train ticket, and then directly take a train to nearby cities, like Hangzhou, or Suzhou.

There is a train ticket office at the Longyang Road Station of Maglev (Maglev only have two stations, Pudong Airport and Longyang Road). It can be very helpful if you know its location to plan your trip.

Location of the Train Station

You should be able to find many pictures I took about the train station. Here are more detailed map from Google Earth:

image

The silver roof building at the south is the Maglev Station, and the more ugly square building on the north is Metro Line #2 Longyang Road Station. The Train Ticket Office is just inside this building.

Photos of the Train Ticket Office

Be prepared that this ticket office is not a fancy place – it hides in a small door with a very small window – it reminds me of scene of a jail.

DSC02096

This is the "jail" window. There is only one lady behind these bars. Also be prepared that the service is really bad, since this lady must be very badly paid (I guess)

DSC02090 

DSC02092

This is outside ticket office. It reads: Railway Ticket Office. It is at the gate #2 of Long Yang Road Metro Station.

DSC02093

I hope the view north of the ticket office helps you to find it. It is a metro station (of future Metro #7). Typically, you will leave the Maglev from the south side, and you will only see a nice parking lot area. If that is the case, you need to turn to north to find the Metro Station building.

DSC02094

This is the view FROM the gate of the Ticket office looking south. At the end of this hallway is the Maglev Longyang Road Station. I hope this picture gives you a little bit idea about the relative locations of this small office. The reason I show you so many duplicated photos is, the office is so small and is really hard to find.

DSC02095

Train from Shanghai to Nanjing – CRH (D)

They have a nice handle that you can use your foot to press, and the foot holder will restore to the original position. That is very helpful if you want to lay down and relax your feet.

This is the other side of the foot holder. Use your foot to press this handle, and the foot holder will release and you can relax your feet.

This is exactly what is before you – a big bag at the back of the previous seat – there are some free magzine there – full of advertisement, just like airplane. At the bottom are the place to put your foot on.

There are four seats in a row. So do your calculation to buy the tickets if you prefer a Aisle or Window seat. For example, window seats are number 36, 39, 40, 43…

On top of the window, the wind comes out. You an choose to close it or open it by using this switch.

This is the curtain! It is more fancy than those on the airplane. You can pull it down to any position, or completely seperate yourself from the outside world.

On the right side (or the left side if you take the Aisel seat), there is a small black button. Pressing it will release the back of your seat, and you can lean backward – just like the seats on an airplane. Very comfortable indeed.

On the right (or left if you take the aisle seat), you can find the small table hidden under the leather cover. The instructions show how you can unfold it.

This is the table, inside its rack.

This small thing is for hanging your personal light stuff – your coat, or hand bag.

Like this.

On the train, there is a mini bar with all kinds of drinks – strange that they don’t have coke. The price is relatively reasonable – 5 RMB for drink that is 3 RMB off the train. More expensive, but it makes sense.

The information of the compartment. As you can see, there are 8 compartment each train. It is numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 — 8. In most trains, like the one from Shanghai to Nanjing, they have two indentical trains, hooked up together, so they have 9, 10, … 16. Two out of the 8 are first class, and the rest are normal seats.

They have water. On the right is warm water – suitable for drink immediately, and on the left, is hot water – good for a cup of instant noodle.

It gave me the impression that everything is very decent. Look at the decoration above the water supply station.

?Water Tumed on by Senor?.

They have automatical Soap Dispenser on the left.

The most interesting thing I found out in the water closet is, they have the warm wind blowing from where you stand forward to your hand to dry them. Nice design

They do have electricity, but it is for Electric Razor only. I didn’t find any power supply throught out the cart anyway.

This was me.

This is a little bit surprise for me. They have curtains for the sink.

You can pull it over to cover it,

and the cubicle looks like this. You have the privacy to wash your hands or brush your teeth – by yourself.

There are two locations for you to put your really big stuff at the entrance. Most of people should put their luggage on the overhead cubine.

This is the standard class seats – three on the left and two on the right. As you can see, there are not so many people from Shanghai to Nanjing.

Another one.

This is the water station.

This is inside the Men’s toilet.

Push to exit – there is no lock inside – strange.

Another photo of the almost empty standard car.

They are very considerate to have Diaper Changing table for infants.

The toilet. Looks like clear.

The equipment in the toilet.

This is the first class – almost completely empty. Two on the left and two on the right.

This is the seat. Look at the place to put your feet on, and the pillow.

Everything is electronic – the LED displaying the cart number.

Along the trip, it showed the current train speed – 139 km/h.

This is the unfolded table.

Outside the train.

The train arrives at the Nanjing Station.

This is the head of the train.

At Nanjing station, you can take Bus, Metro, or taxi to leave the station. BTW, the taxi line was so long that we gave up and hired the illegal taxi (basically those people who came to pick up passengers but they are not taxi)

This is the entrance to Nanjing Metro – I have never take it before.

Hangzhou to Shanghai D Train Schedule

Today, Wendy and I went to the Shanghai South Railway Station to pickup my parents-in-law. They took train D680 from Hangzhou to Shanghai South Station. I still haven’t try any of D train so far, but from their description, it is a wonderful train.

D Trains

D Trains are the best trains in China, and are of the first level in almost all aspects:

  • Hardware is cutting-edge, and most advanced
  • Railway resources are given to D trains with highest priorities. Other trains, like Z, T, K, or those without a letter in their name, all give ways to D trains. It has the right of road most of the time when there is a schedule conflict.
  • Their ticket prices are also the highest among all trains

Hangzhou to Shanghai South D Train Schedule

Train#, Departure, Destination, Departure Time, Arrival Time, Distance

D680 Hangzhou to Shanghai South 18:18 19:36 173

D672 Hangzhou to Shanghai South 20:41 21:59 173

D670 Hangzhou to Shanghai South 14:55 16:18 173

D668 Hangzhou to Shanghai South 13:23 14:41 173

D660 Hangzhou to Shanghai South 11:32 12:50 173

D658 Hangzhou to Shanghai South 09:55 11:13 173

D654 Hangzhou to Shanghai South 07:40 09:03 173

Shanghai South to Hangzhou D Train Schedule

Train#, Departure, Destination, Departure Time, Arrival Time, Distance

D683 Shanghai South to Hangzhou 20:01 21:19 173

D681 Shanghai South to Hangzhou 19:03 20:21 173

D675 Shanghai South to Hangzhou 16:40 17:58 173

D667 Shanghai South to Hangzhou 13:07 14:25 173

D663 Shanghai South to Hangzhou 11:45 13:03 173

D657 Shanghai South to Hangzhou 09:30 10:48 173

D653 Shanghai South to Hangzhou 07:50 09:08 173

Above information was last updated and verified on Oct 7, 2007.

D Train in China

I didn’t have the chance to take D Train yet. Well. Although I wrote a lot about Shanghai, I am still not a full time report so I can try every new thing and report the first hand experience on my blog. So let me quote China Mike’s experience. This is the first detailed note about D Training on my blog.

Hi Jian Shuo,

First of all, I love your site! I remember the first time I discovered it when I was trying to find out information about the Maglev train to the Shanghai airport. Your site was very helpful.

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the D Train from Tianjin to Beijing last week. It was very comfortable, and the inside of the train was very different than the other trains. Actually, it looked like the inside of the maglev. It was very clean, all the seat were facing the same way, there were tray tables for each seat, and there was a screen that showed how fast we were going. On the outside of the train, it said that the top speed was 200 Km/hr, but we only got to 163 km/hr. But I noticed that they were building new tracks, so I suspect that they may be for the D train in the future. The trip used to take 1hr 25min, but now it’s 1hr 9min, and I was told that once the new tracks are done, it will only be 40 min. that’s terrific!

Posted by: China Mike on August 20, 2007 11:37 PM

Shanghai South Railway Statoin – Part II

To read the first part of this article, check Shanghai South Railway Station

This time, let me post some real photos of the station.

The photos are being uploaded, and it takes some time. When finished, you can view it at Shanghai Railway Station Album.

The entrance to the garage of the Shanghai South Railway Station – at the north west side of the “big circle”.

The grass wave outside the station.

The platform of the Shanghai South Railway Station

How the railway and the big “circle” interchange with each other

All trains from Hangzhou direction come in from these rails facing southwest

The roof of the platform in Shanghai South Railway Station

This is the famous big roof of the station

The roof, again!

This is the waiting area of the station – much better design than the current Shanghai Railway Station since it is really easy to balance the traffic – if there are too many people for one train, they can move to the nearby area to wait for the train

People get into the waiting area from the slop

Again, the big roof – the landmark of the station

Google Picasa Flash

Here is the flash generated by Picasa.

Power Plugs on Train?

Traveling in China via train is a good idea to experience the scenary of China and to form an idea about the relative locations and difference between the cities. But the problem is the Power Plugs. The common questions are: do they have power plugs on trains.

I don’t know about all trains, because it varies from train to train and the facilities changes quickly. I don’t want to mislead you with wrong information. Here is what I know.

1. Z trains have plugs.

Wendy confirmed that the Z-series train from Beijing to Shanghai has power plugs on it. She used to charge their mobile phone on that train (just as show in the picture. I assume the recent more expensive D-series trains should also have it, but I never take it and didn’t check about it yet. I just guess.

2. Most of the traditional trains don’t have power plugs.

Since I don’t have the information, my guess (can be completely wrong) is Z, D trains have plugs, and all others (especially those with 4 letters train no.) don’t have plugs.

Correct me if I am wrong here.

Faster Bullet Trains in China

I am too slow to react to this news. The 6th national wide train speed increase has been completed. Since I didn’t try the new train, it still didn’t impact my life yet. (The basic rule in this blog is to write about ‘events in Shanghai that affects my life and others. I tend to write only on something that makes an impact to me).

I know there must be some very good side about this speed-up. I will talk about it after I take the train. I just want to start the discussion about how it may change the landscape of city distribution in China.

Luoyang v.s. Zhengzhou

I remember when I was in university, I took train #1658 from Shanghai to Luoyang.

According to the old schedule, it took about 16 hours (16:32 – 08:14+1) to arrive in Zhengzhou, and about 20 (16:32 – 10:17+1) hours to arrive in Luoyang.

After the D-series train appears, the D82/D83 train leave Shanghai at 15:30 and arrives in Zhengzhou at 21:45. The same 998 km trip only costs 6 hour and 15 minutes – about 1/3 of the original time.

The bad thing, though, is the train to Luoyang is the same – or even slower. The gap between Zhengzhou and Luoyang jumped from 2 hour to almost 10 hours.

What does it mean to the second level city – Luoyang? Does it mean all people in Luoyang and other smaller cities should all migrate to bigger cities like Zhengzhou? Anyway, Luoyang is not too small – a city of 6 million population. There are must be many “smaller” city like Luoyang got left far behind during this railway speed up.

Nanjing to Shanghai

A side note: My first trip to Nanjing in 1996 took me 13 hours – the train of 6 hours delayed. 6 hours in 1996 are still OK, compared to the 18 hours to Luoyang at that time (even at that time, Luoyang was 18 hours away, instead of 19). The current D train arrives in Nanjing in just 1 hour and 58 minutes.

High Speed Train or Maglev?

Running at 200 km/h to 250 km/h, the new train on the existing system seems reasonably good compared to the 430 km/h Maglev. What is the fate of the Hangzhou-Shanghai Maglev train? Will it relally start construction or not?

Price?

The D train made a bigger jump in ticket price. For some trains, speed went up by 50%, and price went up by 400% or higher.

Questions after Questions

There must be a lot of questions and impact of the high-speed train in China. What are the impacts? How it further transforms China? There are many questions to be answered. Anyway, the trains have been running on the rail for some time, and it takes longer for people to really get ready to use these high-speed trains and see the impact it does to normal people’s life, or the future of cities in China.

Checking-in Luggage for the Train?

After my previous post about train, JC asked the following question:

Hi Jian Shuo,

I love train travel, specially after reading your blog about Z train report from Beijing to Shanghai. I did train travel in Europe for my honeymoon back in 1999: Leaving from flight SFO to Paris, then took train for the rest of the trip. Paris->Milan->Lausanne->Rome->Barcelona->Paris, then flew back to SFO. We will do again in 2009 to celebrate our 10 years anniversary.

My family and I are traveling to China(Shanghai and Beijing) for vacation. Arriving PVG from SFO(UA857) on May 11,2007, leaving from PEK for SFO(UA888) on May 26. Planning to take Z14 train from Shanghai to Beijing on May 18, can we check our luggage in Shanghai train station for the train we are taking? So, I don’t have to carry luggage and attending the youngsters(4 and 2 year old) at the same time while boarding the train? Is ‘Z’ train still holding up its standard? Thinking about doing day trip to Hangzhou via CHR train, any recommendation for transportation, place to visit and eat in Hangzhou?

We will be staying at service apartment ‘Regalia’ in Shanghai, any comment on this place?

Also, worth to mention that the adult air ticket is only $887.81, purchase on March 7 as multi-city SFO-PVG(outbound) and PEK-SFO(inbound), which is $200+ cheaper as to SFO-PVG-SFO!! Bought thru UAL website directly.

Cheers,

JC

Posted by: JC on May 5, 2007 08:16 AM

This is a typical question: checking-in luggage for the train.

At Least, I Never Had the Experience to Check-in Luggage on Train

In my last 20 years of train experience, I never checked-in any luggage. The previous trains didn’t really provide the same kind of service like checking-in luggage. The best (and maybe the only solution) you have is to bring the luggage with you on to the train.

There ARE luggage service, it is completely separate from the passenger service. If you check-in your luggage, it is like the cargo service that you go to difference location than the railway station, and pay for posting the luggage (or cargo in their term). When the train arrives, you should go to another cargo pickup location – different that the passenger building, and wait for 4 hours (I heard) for the luggage to be cleared.

In short, in my past experience, there is no such a thing to check-in luggage when you travel with train in China. It is completely different from airline or U.S.

Again, this is just my previous experience. I don’t take long train trip as much as before, and I don’t have any luggage when I travel. The recent D-series, or Z-series train may offer something different.

So, bring the luggage with you. The recent Z and D trains are very clear and comfortable, and the entrances of the train is at the same ground level as the platform, so it is pretty easy for you to get on board with luggage. Also, there are plenty of time – 30 minutes – at the origination station, so take your time to take care of the luggage and the kids.

Safe traveling!

Where are the Train Tickets?

Remember about how tough it was to buy train ticket?

Well. The question is, even if you WANT to stand on the train, you don’t have the chance, since there are so many people standing there already. Standing tickets were sold out.

Wendy asked: “How about tickets after 11 days?”

She asked because all tickets are sold 11 days in advance.

The person said: “No. Don’t try that.”

Wendy was upset: “Then where are the tickets?”

The person replied: “If I tell you, I put all the ticket in my own pocket, do you believe it? Next!”

We tried every ticket office and there is nothing for the next 11 days or even after.

The Real Secret

Finally, we were approached by someone (not one, there are so many of them everywhere) who claim to be able to provide us with any ticket we want. Wendy decided to buy two tickets from them. We call them “yellow cow” (Huang niu, or 黄牛).

They charge 50 RMB more for each ticket as service fee.

A traditional “yellow cow” is a person who takes the time either to line up to buy the ticket and resell it at higher price, or buy back tickets from ticket owner at lower price and sell it at higher price.

But for the railway tickets, it SEEMS that they even didn’t bother to line up in the ticket window. The amount of the ticket they have seems not to be bought at “retail” window.

Reports say many of them have been directly or indirectly affiliated with the “insider” of the railway ticket system.

The Result. Aha!

No matter how terrible the ticket availability seems to be, we find out the real situation.

Yesterday night, when Wendy and I sent our parents to the railways station, and to the train cart, we found the train was only half full.

On the sleeper train No. 3 of K282 from Shanghai to Chengdu, the first 4 sleeper section only have to passengers – our parents.

There are three deck of beds for each number. All of them are empty. That means, in the first 4 rows, 2 out of 12 beds were occupied. The rest 10 are completely empty.

Bad System Brings Bad People Together

Well. Spring Festival is the time most people will go back home. It is for sure that tickets are hard to get. On one hand, all tickets were sold out, and many people cannot go home. On the other hand, trains ARE EMPTY!

Who gets the benefit? Thousands of “yellow cows” who gets 50 RMB each ticket (1/6 of the ticket price). It is for sure that they need to share the revenue to those in the railway system who control the source of the ticket. But who cares.

When we are back, we past by the ticket window. There are still thousands of people lining up to get a ticket. I am sure many of them will find their effort to stand in cold for hours in Vail. No ticket at all! There is no tickets! It is not because there are too many people there, and too few seat, it is just because of the corruption of the railway system.

I realize the current problem of railway system is no longer the problem we faced 10 years ago, when I can still find a standing place on the crowded train.

Standing in a Train? No…

Today, Wendy and I went to buy train tickets. It is spring festival, and train tickets are not easy to get.

We asked for train #282, from Shanghai to Chendong.

The person inside the counter said: “There is nothing for this train in the next 11 days now. No sleeper ticket, no soft seats, no hard seats, and even standing tickets were sold out”.

In rush time like the Spring Festival, people buy “Standing Tickets”. Every square meter of free space on the train will be full of people with “standing tickets”. It is the same price as the ticket with seat. The different is, you have to stand there all they way, 30 hours or longer. I used to buy that kind of tickets when I was a student. I stood for 18 hours from Shanghai to Luoyang. That itself is OK, but the hard part is, if your standing place is far from the WC, you will have trouble.

But now it is out of my consideration to stand on a train for many days.

Well. The question is, even if you WANT to stand on the train, you don’t have the chance, since there are so many people standing there already. Standing tickets were sold out.

Wendy asked: “How about tickets after 11 days?”

She asked because all tickets are sold 11 days in advance.

The person said: “No. Don’t try that.”

Wendy was upset: “Then where are the tickets?”

The person replied: “If I tell you, I put all the ticket in my own pocket, do you believe it? Next!”

Good answer. It seems to me that thousands of tickets for that train didn’t go to her pocket, but where are the train tickets?

Z Series Train in China

Z-Series of trains are fastest and among the best trains in China. Z means “Zhida” in Chinese, or “Direct Express”. Typically they don’t stop in the middle, and is very effecient to travel for long distance, like from Shanghai to Beijing, without stopping in the middle.

These are all Z Trains in China (data is updated on July 2006)

Train # Seq Station Name Arrive Depart Distance
Z1 1 Beijing 1935 0
Z1 2 Wuxi 0638 0649 1337
Z1 3 Shanghai 0747 1463
Z10 1 Hangzhou 1803 0
Z10 2 Beijing 0733 1664
Z11 1 Beijing West 2049 0
Z11 2 Wuchang 0714 1225
Z12 1 Wuchang 2049 0
Z12 2 Beijing West 0714 1225
Z13 1 Beijing 1907 0
Z13 2 Shanghai 0705 1463
Z14 1 Shanghai 1900 0
Z14 2 Beijing 0658 1463
Z15 1 Beijing 2030 0
Z15 2 Harbin 0710 1248
Z16 1 Harbin 2032 0
Z16 2 Beijing 0707 1248
Z17 1 Beijing West 1800 0
Z17 2 Changsha 0740 1587
Z18 1 Changsha 1748 0
Z18 2 Beijing West 0728 1587
Z19 1 Beijing West 2028 0
Z19 2 Xian 0758 1200
Z2 1 Shanghai 1847 0
Z2 2 Wuxi 1946 1949 126
Z2 3 Beijing 0651 1463
Z20 1 Xian 1923 0
Z20 2 Beijing West 0653 1200
Z21 1 Beijing 1900 0
Z21 2 Shanghai 0658 1463
Z22 1 Shanghai 1907 0
Z22 2 Beijing 0705 1463
Z29 1 Beijing 2137 0
Z29 2 Yangzhou 0804 1227
Z3 1 Beijing West 2042 0
Z3 2 Hankou 0652 1205
Z30 1 Yangzhou 2010 0
Z30 2 Beijing 0620 1227
Z37 1 Beijing West 2035 0
Z37 2 Wuchang 0700 1225
Z38 1 Wuchang 2035 0
Z38 2 Beijing West 0700 1225
Z4 1 Hankou 2111 0
Z4 2 Beijing West 0721 1205
Z41 1 Tianjin 2040 0
Z41 2 Shanghai 0740 1326
Z42 1 Shanghai 1942 0
Z42 2 Tianjin 0641 1326
Z49 1 Beijing 2144 0
Z49 2 Nanjing 0722 1160
Z5 1 Beijing 1914 0
Z5 2 Shanghai 0712 1463
Z50 1 Nanjing 2106 0
Z50 2 Beijing 0644 1160
Z6 1 Shanghai 1914 0
Z6 2 Beijing 0712 1463
Z61 1 Beijing 2240 0
Z61 2 Changchun 0702 1006
Z62 1 Changchun 2235 0
Z62 2 Beijing 0700 1006
Z7 1 Beijing 1921 0
Z7 2 Shanghai 0719 1463
Z73 1 Beijing 2130 0
Z73 2 Hefei 0725 1110
Z74 1 Hefei 2035 0
Z74 2 Beijing 0630 1110
Z77 1 Beijing West 2056 0
Z77 2 Luohe 0342 0344 829
Z77 3 Xingyang 0501 0503 991
Z77 4 Xiaogan 0640 0642 1135
Z77 5 Hankou 0721 1205
Z78 1 Hankou 2029 0
Z78 2 Xiaogan 2110 2112 70
Z78 3 Xingyang 2251 2253 214
Z78 4 Luohe 0010 0020 376
Z78 5 Beijing West 0707 1205
Z8 1 Shanghai 1928 0
Z8 2 Beijing 0726 1463
Z85 1 Beijing 1928 0
Z85 2 Suzhou 0648 1379
Z86 1 Suzhou 2000 0
Z86 2 Beijing 0719 1379
Z9 1 Beijing 1853 0
Z9 2 Hangzhou 0823 1664

It may be a little bit hard to read, since if a train passes two stations, there will be two rows in this table, and the return train has a different number as the other way train.

Look at this page to check out some pictures of one of the Z-train:

To answer Amanda’s question at October 11, 2006 11:17 PM:

First, Jian Shuo Wang, this is a great source of information! Thank you for keeping this up!!!

My family and I (4 people) are hoping to travel from Suzhou or Shanghai to Beijing on 10/26 and return to Suzhou or Shanghai on 10/30.

My main questions are:

1. We want to get on the Z trains (cleaner, newer, more comfort–we will have our 3 1/2 yr. old son) what is the best Z train to book for Suzhou/Shanghai to Beijing and Beijing back to Suzhou/Shangai?

2. We need a 4 bunk room, do the 4 bunks have doors that lock?

3. Do all 4 bunk cars share a communal bathroom? Or do the 4 bunks have private baths?

4. Another person on another forum suggested bringing bed bug spray…honestly that suggestion freaked me out!! Are the trains clean….are bed bugs something we should be concerned about?

5. Is it best to buy tickets in China or online through a website?

Also, if you have other suggestions please feel free to share!

Thank you!

Amanda

Here are my answers:

Z86

goes from Suzhou to Beijing (the only Z train in Suzhou) and there are many Z train from Shanghai to Beijng. It is easy.

There are 4 beds in a cub, and they have door, so leave it private room perfectly for a family. But check with the people selling the ticket to you, and make sure you are in the same room.

They have public bath room – shared by the same train cart, but it is as clean as hotel – at least by my standard.

Personally, I don’t think a sleeping bag is neccessary for a Z train. It MAY be needed for other very old style train, but not on Z train. Check out the picture thought to see if your standards need a bag.

You can buy the ticket either online or in China. Online price typically are more expensive (since they typically are travel agents and there is no website for the train company), and if you can get a ticket, the ticket price is the same everywhere in China. There is no discount, no different whether you buy it one month in advance or just buy it the same day.

Have a good trip.