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China High-Speed Trains — Popular and Convenient

China Railway High-speed (CRH) trains, or bullet trains, have developed very quickly in China. They are a convenient and fast type of transportation, in ten years they've become one of the most popular ways to travel in China. High-speed trains have G, D, or C before the train number, e.g. G113, D321, and C2205.

High-Speed Train Types — G, D, and C Trains

High-speed trains are designed for speeds of 200 to 350 kph (124 to 217 mph). There are three types of high-speed trains: G, D, or C trains. The facilities and appearance of G/D/C trains are similar in that they are all new and modern. The bullet-shaped trains are white.

facilities and comparison on three types of high speed trains

G Trains — the Fastest Trains with Speed of Over 300 kph

This category of train has a speed of over 300 kph (186 mph). The trains only stop at a few major stations along the way, and the ticket price is the highest among the trains. There are no sleeper cars on G trains.

high-speed trainsHigh-speed trains

D trains — Slower and Cheaper than G-Trains

D trains are more widely used than G trains. D trains are designed with a speed of over 200 kph (124 mph). This type of train is mainly used on the popular rail lines connecting major cities.

C trains — Connect Neighboring Cities

C trains are only between a few neighboring cities, like Beijing–Tianjin, Changchun–Jilin, Guangzhou–Zhuhai/Shenzhen, and Guiyang–Kaiyang. Journeys are short and sleeping cars are not provided.

How to Read A High-Speed Train Ticket

high speed train ticket

New and Modern Facilities on Board

  • A restaurant car and canteen bar are in the middle carriage of a train. You can have a set meal there or buy some snacks to kill time.
  • Free boiling/cold water is available at the end of each carriage.
  • fully air-conditioned: All high-speed trains are fully air-conditioned.
  • Adjustable seats allow you to sit comfortably during the journey.
  • A 220V AC recharge socket is available under your seat, so you don't need to worry about your phone running out of battery.
  • Chinese/Western-style toilets are available on each high-speed train. Toilet paper is available but you'd better take your own toilet paper as well, just in case.
  • A handicapped restroom is available, which can also be used by people with young children.

facilities on high speed trains

4 Seat Classes and Their Prices

There are four kinds of seat classes (all are soft seats):

  • business class seat
  • superior class seat
  • first class seat
  • second class seat

four kinds of seat classes on high speed train

Soft sleepers and deluxe soft sleepers are available on some overnight D trains.

Business class carriages are the most luxurious carriages on high-speed trains, and the price is the highest. They are spacious with two meters (6.6 feet) of space between two rows. There are three seats in a row, and the fully-reclining seats make your journey more comfortable.

Superior class carriages are only available on certain high-speed trains. Each carriage has 16 seats — eight seats at each end. They are in the best positions for sightseeing. Each row has three seats, as found in a business class carriage.

First class carriages are recommended for travelers who want to experience a comfortable journey on a high-speed train, and don't want to pay too much for it. The price is cheaper than business and superior class, and the seats are wider than second class seats. Each row has four seats.

Second class seats are the most common and cheapest ticket class for high-speed trains. It's a good choice if you are planning a low budget China tour.  

See more tips about How to Choose between Train Types and Seat Classes in China.

Big Ticket Price Differences

Ticket prices differ for different seat classes. For example, the price of a second class seat on the Beijing–Xi'an route is $84, a first class seat $133, a superior class seat $159, and a business class seat $262.

ticket price comparison for different seat classes of high speed train from beijing to xian

Sometimes, the ticket price for a business class seat is much more expensive than a ticket for a flight.

How to Buy High-Speed Train Tickets — Online Booking

you need passport to buy train tikcetsValid ID certificates are required to buy train tickets.

A valid ID certificate is required when buying a ticket and boarding a train.

  • Foreign passenger: passport
  • Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan passengers: Mainland Travel Permit

High-speed train tickets are sold on the same platform as tickets for normal speed trains. Online booking is the most convenient way to buy train tickets. You can also go to the train station to buy tickets directly if you are already in China.

China Highlights make train ticket online booking available to you to save you time, inconvenience, and money. All inquiries will be handled by China Highlights' experienced travel advisers to ensure you get the best service. Search for the tickets that you want to buy at China Highlights' Train Ticket Service. Or download our China Train App for a more convenient service on your cell phone.

See more ways about How to Buy Train Tickets in China if you don't want to book your tickets online.

Baggage Allowance — Carry-On Baggage

The maximum carry-on baggage allowance for each passenger is 20 kg. The size may not exceed 60*35*35 cm (24*14*14 in), and the dimension should be less than 130 cm in total (51 in). The length of rod-shaped items cannot exceed 180 cm (71 in). Carry-on baggage in excess of the limit is subject to an excess baggage fee and must be carried on as checked baggage. See China train baggage allowance for more information.  

6 Reasons to Take High-Speed Trains During China Trips (Advantages)

1. Fast Speed

The running speed of high-speed trains is between 200 and 350 kph (124–217 mph). G trains (fastest trains) cut more than half the time off the duration of a journey compared to a normal speed train.

For example, the G3 train from Beijing to Shanghai only takes 4 hours and 48 minutes, D321 takes 11 hours and 49 minutes, and a normal speed train takes more than 15 hours.

2. Flexible

There are many high-speed trains running during the day (especially between popular cities), so you can choose the most suitable one according to your schedule. It's easy to cancel or alter, if necessary.  

3. Less Delay

Unlike the high delay rates of airplanes and normal speed trains, high-speed trains have a high punctuality rate. This type of train is less affected by weather conditions or traffic control. It also has priority when meeting with a normal speed train on the same railway line.

4. Convenient and Comfortable

New and modern facilities on board make your China trip more comfortable. You can enjoy nearly the same service as on an airplane, and you can walk around on a train. What's more, you can use the Internet on a high-speed train without worrying about interfering with the train's signals.

5. Close to Your Hotel

A train station is usually closer to the city center (your hotel) than an airport. Also, the transportation is more convenient to get to a train station.

6. Better Views During the Journey

better views on a train

You can see varied scenery on a train, which you can't on an airplane. Instead of 2 hours of cloud and sky on an airplane, it will be worth spending 2 more hours on a high-speed train to see scenery that includes mountains, rivers, and rice fields. The scenery viewed from a train differs throughout the four seasons, and is different on each railway line.

If the high-speed train journey duration is approximately 4 hours, it's a good way to travel during your China trip. It may take 2–3 hours more than it would if traveling by airplane, but that is one of the points of traveling, to try different things and see more. 

4 Facts You Should Know Before Taking High-Speed Trains (Disadvantages)

second class seats Second class seats may be too small for some passengers.

Although high-speed trains have many advantages, there are some things you need to know before you decide to take one.

1. Seats May Be Too Small for Some Passengers

If you have a large frame, you are recommended to take a first class seat. A second class seat is about 43 cm wide and it may be a bit too small to sit comfortably. Business class is the most comfortable type of seat but the price can sometimes be much more expensive than a flight ticket.

2. No Price Discount

The ticket price is fixed for trains — there are no discounts like there are for flights. But the prices for second and first class seats are usually cheaper than prices for flights.

3. Conductors Don't Speak English — Difficulty with Expressing Your Requirements

conductorA conductor on a high-speed train.

There are conductors on high-speed trains, as on airplanes. However, they usually don't speak English. Therefore, it could be difficult when you need to order a meal or buy some snacks on a train.

4. Lots of Stations — Risk of Getting On/Off at the Wrong Station

Taking an airplane usually only involves two stops, from the departure city to the destination. But when taking a train there are lots of stations and you may run the slight risk of getting on/off at the wrong station, which may ruin your trip. Don't worry; see How to Board and Get Off a Train in China

High-Speed Trains in the Future

train

High-speed trains now run frequently between cities in central and eastern China, and high-speed railways are under construction in western China. After the high-speed trains are in service in western China, it will be more popular for tourists to enjoy other scenery besides that of Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an.

See Tibet and Yunnan for some western China scenery and attractions.

Free Wi-Fi is now being tested on some high-speed trains. It will be more convenient for you to use the Internet and work during the journey.

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Author: Kelly

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