Travel on the Beijing Shanghai High Speed Railway Bullet Train

Getting Around — By on 08/07/2012 10:26 am

Travel on the Beijing Shanghai High Speed Railway Bullet Train

With a potential top speed of 380kn/h, the high speed bullet train between Beijing and Shanghai is the world’s fastest scheduled train, the stuff of legends and the holy grail of train travel in China. I’ve wanted to travel on this train ever since the line opened on the 30th of June 2011 and finally experienced it first hand during a recent trip to Shanghai. The train is immaculate, the service excellent, the speed blistering and (in my humble opinion) the best way to travel between China’s two most important cities.

Background
Costing 221 billion yuan, construction on the line began in April 2008 and the trains were open to the public on the 30th of June 2011. The train technically has an average speed of 329 km/h and can complete the 1,318 kilometer journey in 3 hours and 58 minutes. Due to politics, mismanagement and budget constraints, the trains have a reduced maximum speed of around 300 km/h and take at least 4 hours and 50 minutes.

Trains, classes and fares
G & D Trains – The two types of trains running between Shanghai and Beijing are the fast G trains and the slower D trains.  The G trains run at 300 km/h with only one scheduled stop for Nanjing South, several intermediate stops and takes around 5 hours and 30 minutes.  The D trains run at 250 km/h, stop at all 24 stations on the line and takes between 8 and 9 hours.

Classes – The G trains have business class, first class and economy class carriages.

The business class carriages seat 24 people in red leather wrapped chairs that can rotate 180 degrees and give perfect views through the large windows. The toilets on the business class carriages are (so I’ve heard) 5 star hotel standard to meet the needs of business people who are particular about their lavatories.

First class carriages seat 56 people in two rows of two on either side of a central aisle and each chair has a reading lamp and a power point.

Economy class carriages seat 72 people in a row of two seats and row of three seats on either side of a central aisle. Entertainment is provided by six TV screens attached to the roof of the carriage and spread out down the aisle.  Jacky Chan’s Spy Next Door was shown twice during my trip.

The D trains have one basic seat class, a hard sleeper bed and a soft sleeper bed.

Fares
G Trains
-Business class 1400/1750rmb
-First class 935rmb
-Economy class 555rmb

D Trains
-seat 158/179/410/650rmb
-hard sleeper 285/296306/317/327rmb
-soft sleeper 478/499/617/698/784/1045/1175rmb

Schedules
Beijing to Shanghai

G Trains
-First train leaves Beijing at 7:00am and the last train leaves at 5:55pm
-Travel time ranges from 4 hours and 48 minutes to 5 hours and 30 minutes
-Trains leave every 5 to 30 minutes

D Trains
-First train leaves Beijing at 7:50am and the last train leaves at 10:30pm
-Travel time ranges from 7 hours and 52 minutes to 20 hours and 12 minutes
-5 trains between 7:50am and 11:58am and 5 trains between 7:32pm and 10:30pm

Shanghai To Beijing
G Trains
-First train leaves Shanghai at 7:00am and the last train leaves at 5:55pm
-Travel time ranges from 4 hours and 48 minutes to 5 hours and 30 minutes
-Trains leave every 5 to 30 minutes

D Trains
-First train leaves Beijing at 7:25am and the last train leaves at 9:18pm
-Travel time ranges from 7 hours and 56 minutes to 20 hours and 12 minutes
-5 trains between 7:50am and 1:31pm am and 5 trains between 6:14pm and 9:18pm

Getting there
Beijing – The trains depart from and arrive at Beijing South Train Station. The easiest way to get to the train station is to catch the subway on line four to the subway stop called “Beijing South Railway Station”

Shanghai – Trains depart from and arrive at Shanghai Hongqiao Train station. The easiest way to the train station is catch the subway on line 10 or line 4 to the Hongqiao Road subway station which exits directly to the train station.

The stations
Both train stations new and built from the ground up to service China’s network of high speed trains. From the inside both train stations resemble airports with high security, cavernous waiting rooms, extremely clean and have a modern minimalist design. Boarding the trains is like boarding planes. You need to present both your passport and your ticket at the boarding gate.

The facilities at the train stations are good with plenty of restaurants such as McDonalds and KFC, plenty of minimarts, at least one book shop and clean toilets.

The Trip
For a ride on one of the world’s fastest trains, the trip to Shanghai was extremely uneventful. The trains are so quiet that you barely even notice the speed unless you look outside at the scenery flashing past. The sound does not exceed 68 decibels and you can easily talk at a normal conversational level. I’d already seen The Spy Next Door so in train entertainment was a non event and watching the digital display of the train’s speed was much more exciting.

The dining car served lunch which was micro waved Chicken on rice so I gave it a miss and finished off a packet of dried Kiwi fruit. Even the economy class is comfortable with reclining chairs and very quiet so at least half the carriage spent the trip sleeping. One thing that never changes in China no matter how high tech the trains are is the mad rush for the exit that I joined the second the train stopped and the doors opened at Shanghai’s Hongqiao Station.

pixel Travel on the Beijing Shanghai High Speed Railway Bullet Train
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