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China’s High Speed Rail Network

By the end of 2012, China's high-speed railway mileage reached 9,356 kilometers, ranking first in the world and its total railway mileage reached 98,000 kilometers, ranking second in the world, according to the national railway conference held on Thursday.

At nearly 10,000 km, China’s HSR network is already the world’s biggest. Here’s a look at some of the better-known lines in the network. We’ll begin with a look at all lines designed for speeds over 300 km/h.up to 2012, China will own 42 high-speed railways for passenger transport, and then the basic framework of China high-speed railway will be shaped. The total mileage will be 1, 3000 kilometers. Up to 2020, the total length of high-speed railways with a speed over 200 kilometers per hour will be 50, 000 kilometers. The advantages of high-speed railways are obviously shown in the aspect of shortening the journey, facilitating the life and improving the efficiency. In traveling, the most direct merit is visiting more and experiencing more in a certain time, and it can bring the tourists more amazement and less waste of time. Moreover, taking the high-speed train itself is a unique enjoyment as well.

From 2010 to 2040, the major destinations of China will be interlinked and finally formed a national railway network in the 30 years’ development. Considering the reality, the railway lines will be featured of the dense east and sparse west. For giving more benefits to the west, the railways stations in west will be more than they in east. All the railway lines except Beijing-Guangzhou Railway and Beijing-Shanghai Railway will be supported for Maglev trains.

Five Verticals are Harbin-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, Beijing-Hong Kong High-Speed Railway, Jining-Kunming High-Speed Railway and Xian-Zhanjiang High-Speed Railway.
Six Horizontals are Shenyang-Lanzhou High-Speed Railway, Qingdao-Yinchuan High-Speed Railway, Yancheng-Xining High-Speed Railway, Shanghai-Chengdu High-Speed Railway, Shanghai-Kunming High-Speed Railway and Shanghai-Nanning High-Speed Railway.
Eight Integrated Lines are Tianjin-Tangshan High-Speed Railway, Kaifen-Hekou High-Speed Railway, Nanjing-Nantong High-Speed Railway, Nanjing-Ningbo High-Speed Railway, Jinhua-Wenzhou High-Speed Railway, Wuhan-Fuzhou High-Speed Railway, Nanping-Xiamen High-Speed Railway and Hengyang-Nanning High-Speed Railway.

BEIJING-TIANJIN INTERCITY RAILWAY (京津城际铁路)
Length:
120 kilometers
Opened: August 1, 2008
Top speed: 350 kph (The line is now subject to a nationwide temporary speed limit and runs at 300 kph.)
Ticket price: RMB 55-94

This is China’s very first HSR line built for speeds exceeding 300 km/h. It presently runs at this speed, although its designed speed is a bit faster (at 350 km/h). By far one of the most popular intercity HSRs, this route links Beijingers to their fellow neighbours in Tianjin in just about half an hour. Some trains continue the journey down to Tanggu, just by the sea. The route is expected to extend further southeast to Tianjin’s new Yujiapu Finance Hub in the Binhai New Area, and will feature a link to Tianjin’s Binhai International Airport. Completion of this stretch is slated for around 2012.
China’s capital city and the nearby municipal city Tianjin march to very different beats.

In Beijing, the street layout looks like a chessboard, whereas most Tianjinese streets are quite random.

You need to travel east of Beijing’s CBD for some before getting a glimpse of any water, but Tianjin boasts a river slap-bang in the middle of the city.

Perhaps reflecting the city layouts, Beijing residents appear too serious and official while Tianjinese are much more relaxed and easygoing.

Must-sees in Tianjin include shopping streets Binjiang Dao and Nanjing Lu, the ferris wheel called Tianjin Eye, Tianjin TV tower and the Chinese-style "Italian Town

Rail aficionados shouldn’t miss the historic Tianjin West Railway Station, nicknamed the "railway cathedral" for its architecture.

BEIJING-SHANGHAI HIGH SPEED RAILWAY (京沪高速铁路)
Length:
1,463 kilometers
Opened: 1968
Last upgrade: July 1, 2006
Top speed: 250 kph
Temporary speed limit: 160 kph
Ticket price: RMB 311-1,392

China’s showpiece HSR, this crucially important HSR link connects the Chinese capital with the largest and most internationalized metropolis on the Chinese mainland. Designed for speeds up to 380 km/h (which will be reached in a few years), the Beijing-Shanghai HSR finishes the run in less than 5 hours for direct trains (slower trains will just take an extra 30 minutes). This HSR will also feature connections in future to linkage HSR routes to the eventual Beijing-Harbin HSR and the Beijing-Hefei HSR.

First ride on China's historic Shanghai-Beijing high-speed train

BEIJING-HONG KONG HIGH SPEED RAILWAY (BEIJING-SHENZHEN) (京港高速铁路北京-广州段及广深段)
Presently Length:  2,298  kilometers (1,428 miles)
Opened: December 26, 2012
Top speed: 350 kph
Temporary speed limit: 300 kph
Ticket price: RMB  862-1380
Shortest full-length travel time: 7 hours 59 minutes (Beijing West–Guangzhou South)
Train numbers: G71 – G99; G5xx / G8xx / G10xx / G11xx (through services) or G6xxx (services within Hu’nan and Guangdong only)
Termini: Beijing West and Shenzhen North (temporary terminus)


Construction started in 2005. The Wuhan–Guangzhou section opened in December 2009, the Guangzhou–Shenzhen section opened in December 2011, the Zhengzhou–Wuhan section opened in September 2012, and the Beijing–Zhengzhou section was opened in December 2012. The 36-kilometre (22 mi) cross-border Shenzhen–Hong Kong section is expected to open in 2015. The line is the world's longest high-speed rail route.[8] The high speed rail line cuts travel time by more than half.

Besides trains running between Beijing, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the railway also has direct service with other connecting high-speed lines. The direct Xi'an-Zhengzhou-Wuhan-Guangzhou-Shenzhen service started simultaneously with the opening of the Zhengzhou-Wuhan section in September 2012, as well as the direct interline service Xi'an-Zhengzhou–Beijing, Taiyuan–Shijiazhuang–Guangzhou, Taiyuan–Shijiazhuang–Wuhan–Guangzhou.[9][10] Future connections will include Fujian province destinations and possibly Hangzhou with testing of the Hangzhou–Fuzhou–Shenzhen High-Speed Railway commencing and soon to open.

SHANGHAI-NANJING INTERCITY HIGH SPEED RAILWAY (沪宁城际高速铁路)
Length:
301 kilometers
Opened: July 1, 2010
Top speed: 350 kph
Temporary speed limit: 300 kph
Ticket price: RMB 140-438 (Shanghai-Nanjing), 

The Shanghai-Nanjing Intercity HSR is a 300 km/h route linking Shanghai with Nanjing and major cities in the area. Rather than offering nonstop services (which is what the nearby Beijing-Shanghai HSR does), this line focuses more on the cities of Kunshan, Suzhou, Wuxi and Danyang, to list a few metropolises in the vicinity.

Shanghai is in high-speed heaven: it not only boasts a Maglev, but also features direct HSR links to all major cities in the Yangtze River Delta region.

Even with trains making midway stops, Hangzhou is less than an hour away from Shanghai on HSR.

If you're feeling adventurous, head up the nearby hills for some good locally produced tea, or visit the Leifeng Tower.

The Shanghai-Hangzhou HSR route also pulls over at Haining, a Zhejiang city famous for the annual tides which roll in every year around Mid-Autumn Festival.

On the fastest Beijing-Shanghai train, it takes about an hour to go to Nanjing from Shanghai. Slower trains take longer, but they give travelers more chances to see East China with stops including Wuxi (think high tech), Suzhou (think the Grand Canal) and Yangchenghu (think crabs).

Nanjing used to be the capital of the Republic of China, and the city is best enjoyed with a bit of rain when low-lying clouds add a little extra to the view of Xuanwu Lake.

Another must-see is the Nanjing South Railway Station -- it's one of the largest train stations in Asia with enough glitz and glamour for a former imperial capital.

SHANGHAI-HANGZHOU HIGH SPEED RAILWAY (沪杭高速铁路)
Length:
 202 kilometers
Opened: July 1, 2010
Top speed: 350 kph
Temporary speed limit: 300 kph
Ticket price: RMB 93-279

The Shanghai-Hangzhou HSR forms part of the future southeastern coast HSR. This stretch is optimized for speeds up to 350 km/h (present day trains run at 300 km/h) and links Shanghai to Hangzhou within an hour. It also calls at Haining, which is packed just after mid-autumn festival as the waves come rolling in, in an annual event.

Apart from strolling around West Lake, Hangzhou’s most iconic scenic spot, you can also rent a bike to tour the city.

The high-speed rail from Shanghai to Hong Kong is expected to begin service by the end of 2012 or in early 2013. By then, the fastest direct train from Shanghai to Hong Kong will take only 6 hours. Right now, traveling from Shanghai station to Kowloon Station takes nearly 19 hours. The Hong Kong-Shanghai high-speed rail journey is approximately 1,300 kilometers in length. So a transfer to the Shanghai-Beijing line would allow transit between Hong Kong and Beijing in about 10 hours.

ZHENGZHOU-XI’AN HIGH SPEED RAILWAY (郑西高速铁路)
Length:
 466 kilometers
Opened: February 6, 2010
Top speed: 350 kph
Temporary speed limit: 300 kph
Ticket price: RMB 370-230

Western and central China’s first HSR route, this 300+ km/h line links Zhengzhou, seat of government for He’nan province, with Luoyang (one of China’s great ancient capitals) and Xi’an (where it all started in 221 BC, when China became unified under Qin Shihuang’s dynasty). This HSR is slated in the long term to expand to Xuzhou in the east and Lanzhou and ultimately Xinjiang in the west.

COMING SOON…

The following high speed routes (all designed for speeds above 300 km/h) are expected to open by 2015 (latest):

Harbin-Dalian High Speed Railway (哈大高速铁路) (Mid-2012 for Dalian-Shenyang)
Hangzhou-Ningbo High Speed Railway (杭甬高速铁路)
Hangzhou-Nanjing Intercity Railway (杭宁城际铁路) (Mid-2012)
Tianjin-Qinhuangdao High Speed Railway (津秦高速铁路)
Shanghai-Kunming High Speed Railway (沪昆高速铁路)
The following high speed routes (300+ km/h) are projected, and will open later:

Beijing-Shenyang High Speed Railway (京沈高速铁路)
Beijing-Tangshan Intercity Railway (京唐城际铁路)
Note that the Chinese HSR world continues to grow at a breakneck pace. This page is but a sampler of things to come; you are looking at merely a partial list of the bigger map.


4 expert tips for China’s high-speed rail

1. How to buy tickets
HSR tickets can be purchased at any ticket window in Chinese railway stations.

Major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, operate dedicated English-speaking ticket windows at train stations for international travelers.

Telephone and Internet booking systems are in Chinese language only.

Some Chinese HSR lines have adopted digital ticketing, but only people in possession of second-generation P.R.C ID cards can purchase digital tickets. Everyone else needs to stick with paper tickets.

Passports are required to buy HSR train tickets. Full China driver's license or residence permit sticker in your passport or seaman's book will also work.

Residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan must provide the same documents they used to enter mainland China when purchasing HSR tickets.

Be prepared to show your ID along with your ticket in waiting halls and on trains. The same documents are also needed for ticket changes or refunds.

2. Watch out where you point your camera
I've traveled thousands of kilometers on Chinese rails and it has proven to be heaven for photography.

However, some high-speed rail staff might stop you if you want to shoot an empty train compartment -- bad PR, they fear. In addition, if you're shooting older trains, you might get a funny look.

To secure window seat tickets, window seats on the new CRH380 trains are indicated by seat numbers ending either in A or F.

3. Check your station
First-tier Chinese cities also house more than one train station; there are five in Beijing alone -- Beijing, Beijing West, Beijing East, Beijing North and Beijing South.

Pay close attention to which station your train departs. Also, a few HSR-specific stations are located in the middle of nowhere, so be prepared to travel a fair bit for them.

4. Be on time
Leave about five-10 minutes for security check (not as complex as in airports but a big deal nonetheless).

A rule of thumb: ticket gates open 13-15 minutes before departure (some give you 30 minutes) and close five minutes before departure (some close three minutes before, but it's more the exception than the rule).

Hold onto your ticket because you'll need it at the end of the train ride. The ticket has your personal data, so either collect it (like I do) or shred the QR code, your name and ID number after using.

Bullet Train Tickets Are Issued with Identification Since June 1, 2011
Bullet train tickets (including tickets for C trains, D trains, and G trains) require identification. The followings are the detailed policies:

  • When applying for a bullet train ticket, a foreign traveler or a traveler from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan must submit one of the following valid forms of identification: passport, Residence Permit for Foreigners, Entry-Exit Certificate, Diplomat Certificate, Foreigners' ID issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmation of the loss of a passport issued by the Entry-Exit Administration Division, Seaman's Passport, Hong Kong and Macao Residents Traveling to the Mainland Pass, Exit-Entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao, or a Taiwan Residents Traveling to and from Mainland China Permit.
  • A passenger only can purchase one ticket for a bullet train per railway station or train ticket office per day.
    Passengers need to bring with them the original document, which corresponds to the identity information on the ticket, when taking a bullet train. If not, passengers will be denied entry to the station or boarding of the train.
  • The pre-sale period for tickets of bullet trains departing on 1 June is 10 days.
  • An unused ticket can be refunded 10 minutes before the train's departure. However, passengers must show, and 20% of the face value is required as a refund charge.


Buying A Bullet Train Ticket through a Travel Agency
The followings are some tips for passengers who book bullet train tickets with travel agencies:

  • Please request the travel agency to book tickets at least 20 days in advance, and submit a fax, photocopy or scan of the valid identification to be used for booking a bullet train ticket.
  • Passengers are expected to figure out and keep to travel plans that ensure they catch the train.
  • If a traveler changes the travel itinerary such that the traveler would miss the train, the traveler must seek a refund from a ticket office or the railway station, not the travel agent. An unused ticket can be refunded up to 10 minutes before the train's departure, but the original document, which corresponds to the identity information on the ticket, is needed, so a travel agent can not get a refund without the original ID.

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