Curently, there are both regular trains and hi-speed CRH trains (bullet trains) running between Shanghai and Beijing. Tourists will probably want to take either the direct T-series regular trains that offer direct travel between Beijing and Shanghai on berths and in second-class seats or the D-series hi-speed trains that offer soft beds in two or four room compartments and hard beds in six berth compartments. A new very hi-speed bullet train that is designed to travel about 380 kilometers an hour is being constructed. It will travel on a newly laid route that is less circuitous than the present line on which the older hi-speed trains travel. It may open in October of 2011. When it is available, travel time between Beijing and Shanghai will be about four hours, so beds won't be necessary. So at present, there are regular "D" trains and hi-speed "T" trains, and in 2011 there will be very hi-speed "G" trains available.
There are currently 18 D-series hi-speed CRH trains running between Shanghai and Beijing each day. The D-trains arrive and depart from the Shanghai Hongqiao Station (上海虹桥). The station is popular because it is next to Shanghai's International Airport, and it is on Shanghai's Subway Line 2. The trip takes about 10 hours. There are both two-person and four-person cabins. In the cabins with four berths, the upper bunks cost about 655 RMB or 100 USD and the lower berths cost about 730 RMB. The reason the lower berths are more expensive is because they are easier to get into and out of. There are also cabins with two beds. The price for a ticket in the upper bed is 1,470 RMB, and a ticket for a lower bunk is about 1,300 RMB or about 200 USD.
The regular T-series trains travel the same distance in about 13 hours. The tickets cost between 300 and 350 RMB or 45 and 52 USD for a six-bunk compartment and between 450 RMB and 500 RMB for a "soft bed" in a cabin with four beds. The popular and hard to get two-bed cabins have a private bathroom and a sofa. The top bed tickets cost about 880 RMB or 133 USD, and the bottom bed tickets cost about 920 RMB. There are also seats available on these trains. For D-series trains between Beijing and Shanghai, the first-class seat tickets on the day trains cost about 400 RMB or 60 USD. The second-class seats on the day and overnight trains cost 330 RMB or about 50 USD. The regular D-series trains go to the Shanghai Station (上海站).
After October 2011
To provide quicker transportation and to allow more people to travel on hi-speed trains, an even faster bullet train system is being constructed between Shanghai Hongqiao Station and Beijing South Station. It is expected to open in late 2011. The trains are expected to reach a speed of 380 kilometers or 236 miles an hour. Non-stop trains from Beijing South to Shanghai Hongqiao are expected to finish the 1305 kilometer journey in four hours and average about 329 kilometers an hour. In a test in December of 2010, a test train running on part of this new line between Beijing and Shanghai traveled at a speed of 486 kilometers or 300 miles an hour and broke a world speed record.
There will be many intermediate stops on this new line including stops at Jinan West, Suzhou East, Nanjing South, and Wuxi East. The new line is expected to cut travel time between Nanjing and Shanghai to under an hour. These trains are designated G-series trains.
Currently, taking a train between Beijing and Shanghai saves you a lot of money compared to taking a plane. The distance from Beijing to Shanghai is about 1,400 kilometers (900 miles) on the regular tracks.
D305, D301, D307, D313, and D321
These are the top-quality high-speed sleeper trains that can travel at a speed of about 200 km/h. There are 4-berth soft sleeper cabins, a restaurant, a bar, and "hard-seat" class seats. There is a TV screen and a power socket for laptops and mobile phones available in the soft sleeper berths.
All these trains depart Beijing about 9 pm or so and arrive in Shanghai at 7 am or so in the morning.
All these trains depart Beijing at 9 pm or so and arrive in Shanghai 7 am or so in the morning.
Trains D31 and D 231
These are new D-category 200-250 km/h electric trains that were introduced in 2007. They have first-class and second-class seats and a bar and restaurant car. The are two seats on each side of the aisle in the first-class seat car, and three seats on one side and two seats on the other in the second-class seat car. Read more information on the D-train.
All the D trains heading from Beijing to Shanghai use Beijing South Railway Station, while most of the T trains use the Beijing Railway Station, except trains T284/281 which leave Beijing West Station.
If you are on a tight budget and want to save money, try the T-category trains. T103 and T109 have soft and hard sleepers.
Most of the T-series trains use the Beijing Railway Station. The trains T284/281 that leave Beijing West Station are the exception.