China Train China Train Travel Tips High-Speed Rail in China

High-Speed Rail in China

The construction of high-speed railways in China began with the building of the Qinhuangdao–Shenyang High-Speed Railway in 1999. Now the high-speed rail network in China is the largest in the world. As of the end of 2012, there are about 17,000 kilometers of high-speed rail in service, accommodating trains of an average speed of 200 km/h or higher.

China's high-speed rail plans are ambitious, planning to invest $300 billion to construct the largest, fastest, and most technologically advanced high-speed railway system in the world by 2020. It is predicted that the HSR (High-Speed Railway) network will reach 30,000 kilometers when the major rail lines are completed. China's high-speed railway network is made up of four components: upgraded pre-existing rail lines that can accommodate high-speed trains, a national grid of mostly passenger dedicated HSR lines (PDLs), certain regional intercity HSR lines, and the Maglev High-Speed Line.

Mostly-Passenger-Dedicated High-Speed Rail Grid

The main high-speed rail network in China is like a grid, which mainly consists of 8 long-distance high-speed rail lines: four north–south HSR lines and four east–west HSR lines. Except for the Qingdao–Taiyuan HSR, all HSR lines of the rail grid are longer than 1,000 kilometers. In 2012 the total length of HSR lines in the main grid reached 12,000 kilometers. The PDLs accommodate trains of a speed of up to 300 km/h; and mixed passenger and cargo lines serve trains of a speed of between 200 and 250 km/h.

The Four Main North–South HSR Lines

Beijing–Shanghai (Fully Operational)

Beijing-Shanghai Rail RouteDistance: 1,433 kilometers
Design Speed: 350 km/h

Stations on the Route (vary between services): Beijing South, Langfang, Tianjin West, Cangzhou West, Dezhou East, Jinan West, Taian, Tengzhou East, Zaozhuang, Xuzhou East, Bangbu South, Dingyuan, Chuzhou, Nanjing South, Zhenjiang South, Danyang North, Changzhou North, Wuxi East, Kunshan South and Shanghai Hongqiao.

D317 stops at all stations, and most G trains stop at several of them, taking 8 hours and 50 minutes. The fastest train G3 takes 4 hours and 48 minutes, with one stop at Nanjing South.

Beijing–Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong (Partly Operational)

Beijing-Hongkong Rail RouteDistance: 2,260 kilometers
Design Speed: 350 km/h

It is the longest passenger dedicated high-speed rail line in the world, consisting of the Beijing–Shijiazhuang HSR line, the Shijiazhuang–Wuhan HSR line, the Wuhan–Guangzhou HSR line, the Guangzhou–Shenzhen HSR line, and the Shenzhen–Hong Kong HSR line (to be opened in 2016). It is a main north–south high-speed rail line, connecting North China, Central China, and South China.

Stations on the Route (vary between services): Beijing West, Baoding East, Shijiazhuang, Handan East, Hebi East, Zhengzhou East, Zhumadian West, Xiaogan North, Wuhan, Yueyang East, Changsha South, Heng Mountain West, Hengyang East, Laiyang West, Chenzhou West, Guangzhou South, and Shenzhen North.

Three G trains service the route: G71, G79, and G81. G71 stops at all the stations. The latter two trains only go as far as Guangzhou South. The fastest train G79, traveling from Beijing to Guangzhou, takes 8 hours, with stops at Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou East, Wuhan, and Changsha South.

Though Shenzhen–Hong Kong high-speed railway is under construction, conventional trains from Shenzhen to Hong Kong are available. Online schedule search and booking for trains to Hong Kong is not available in China. It is exclusive to train ticket offices. Though it is much harder to buy train tickets to Hong Kong, we at China Highlights will do our best to purchase the tickets for you. You only need to email us with the travel date and passengers’ information, and we will do the rest.

Beijing–Harbin (fully operational)

Beijing-Harbin Rail RouteDistance: 1,700 kilometers
Design Speed: 350km/h

It connects Northeast China with the national capital Beijing. The railway has two branch lines: from Shenyang to Dalian and from Panjin to Yingkou.

Stations on the Main Line (vary between services): Beijing, Tangshan North, Beidaihe, Shanhaiguan, Suizhong North, Jinzhou South, Shenyang North, Tieling West, Kaiyuan West, Siping East, Changchun West, Shuangcheng North and Harbin West.

D25 stops at all stations, taking 8 hours and 12 minutes. The other three high-speed trains traveling on the route are D29, D101, and D27, which stop at 11 stations, taking 7 hours and 50 minutes.

Hangzhou–Fuzhou–Shenzhen (Partly Operational)

Hangzhou-Shenzhen Rail RouteDistance: 1,600 kilometers

It consists of the Hangzhou–Ningbo HSR line, the Ningbo–Taizhou–Wenzhou HSR line, the Wenzhou–Fuzhou HSR line, the Fuzhou–Xiamen HSR line, and the Xiamen–Shenzhen HSR line (to be in service in 2013), connecting the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. The Hangzhou–Ningbo section is passenger dedicated, with a design speed of 350 km/h. The rest is for passenger and cargo mixed utilization, with a design speed of 250 km/h.

Stations on the Route (vary between services): Hangzhou East, Shangyu North, Ningbo East, Ninghai, Linhai, Taizhou, Wenling, Yandangshan, Wenzhou South, Ruian, Aojiang, Cangnan, Fuding, Tailaoshan, Xiapu, Ningde, Fuzhou South, Fuqing, Putian, Quanzhou, Jinjiang, and Xiamen North.

D3209 stops at all the stations and the journey is 7 hours and 29 minutes. The fastest train D3117 stops at 5 stations less than D3209, and takes 6 hours and 53 minutes. Other D trains travelling on the route stop 1 to 5 stations less, and take about 7 hours. 

The Four East–West HSR Lines

Qingdao–Taiyuan (Partly Operational)

Distance: 770 kilometers
Design Speed: 200 to 250 km/h

Qingdao–Taiyuan HSR line consists of the Qingdao–Jinan HRS line , the Jinan–Shijiazhuang HSR line (opening 2016), and the Shijiazhuang–Taiyuan HSR line.

Currently you can travel from Qingdao to Jinan in one and a half hours by the fastest train G196 with a stop at Weifang. Non-stop trains from Shijiazhuang to Taiyuan G91 and D2009 only take 1 hour and 17 minutes to complete the journey.

Shanghai–Wuhan–Chengdu (Partly Operational)

Distance: 1,600 kilometers

The Shanghai–Chengdu HSR line consists of the Shanghai–Nanjing HSR line, the Nanjing–Hefei HSR line, the Hefei–Wuhan HSR line, the Wuhan (Hankou)–Yichang HSR line, the Yichang–Wanzhou HSR line, the Lichuan–Chongqing HSR line, the Chongqing–Suining HSR line, and the Suining–Chengdu HSR line.

Shanghai-Chengdu Rail Route

High-speed trains on most of the route have an average speed of 200 to 250 km/h, except on the line from Yichang to Wanzhou (160 km/h), because of the curves in the track needed to get around the landforms in the area.

Until the line from Lichuan to Chongqing is in service you can travel from Shanghai to Yichang, from Yichang to Wanzhou, and from Chongqing to Chengdu by high-speed trains. Taking a Three Gorges Yangtze cruise between Chongqing and Yichang would be a nice way to break up a high speed journey if you have time to take in the scenery.

There are 18 stations on the ShanghaiYichang route: Shanghai Hongqiao, Kunshan South, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Danyang, Zhenjiang, Nanjing South, Quanjiao, Hefei, Liuan, Jinzhai, Macheng North, Hankou (Wuhan), Tianmen South, Qianjiang, Jingzhou, and Yichang East.

Two high-speed trains travel between Shanghai and Yichang every day: D3072 (stopping at all stations, and taking 8 hours and 15 minutes) and D3006 (stopping at 13 stations, and taking 7 hours and 48 minute).

In only two hours, you can travel from Chongqing to Chengdu. There are 17 high-speed train services on the route, at intervals of one to two hours.

Xuzhou–Lanzhou (Partly Operational)

Distance: 1,400 kilometers

Only one part of the route is in service: the line from Zhengzhou to Xi’an. The rest is under construction: Xuzhou–Zhengzhou (open date: December 2016), Xi’an–Baoji, and Baoji–Lanzhou (open date: 2017).

It provides 26 G train and D train services every day at intervals of one hour. You only need 2 hours to travel from Zhengzhou to Xi’an by the fastest non-stop train G97. The other G trains and D trains take 2½ to 3 hours.

Shanghai–Kunming (Partly Operational)

Distance: 2,080 kilometers
Design Speed: 350 km/h

The Shanghai–Kunming HSR line is partly operational from Shanghai to Hangzhou. The Hangzhou–Changsha line (open date: 2014) and Changsha–Kunming line (open date: 2017) are under construction. It will connect East China and Central China with Southwest China after its completion.

Shanghai-Kunming Rail Route

66 G train and D train services travel between Shanghai and Hangzhou every day at intervals of 10 minutes to one hour. The journey is 47 minutes by the fastest G trains: G7535 and G7509 have one stop at Jiaxing South, and G7555 has one stop at Haining West.

Regional Intercity HSR LinesRegional intercity HSR lines are short-distance, passenger-dedicated high-speed lines connecting cities in the same province, area, or regional. They are independent from the national high-speed rail grid, with an average speed of 200 to 250 km/h, sometimes up to 300km/h. Operational intercity HSR lines in China are listed below:

HSR Line Distance Design Speed Duration
Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway 115 350 33 minutes
Chengdu–Dujiangyan Intercity Railway 65 220 35 minutes
Shanghai–Nanjing Intercity Railway 301 350 1 hour and 35 minutes
Nanchang–Jiujiang Intercity Railway 131 250 1 hour
Hainan Eastern Ring Railway 308 250 1 hour and 34 minutes
Changchun–Jilin Intercity Railway 111 250 40 minutes
Guangzhou–Zhuhai Intercity Railway 117 200 59 minutes
Nanjing–Hangzhou Intercity Railway 251 350 1 hour and 35 minutes

Maglev High Speed Rail

Shanghai's Maglev Train was the first magnetically levitated high-speed train line in operation the world. It is owned and operated by Shanghai's city government. All other high-speed trains in China are owned and operated by the China Railway Corporation.

Shanghai's Maglev Train, launched in 2004, has the maximum speed of 431 km/h. It runs between Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Shanghai's Longyang Road Metro Station at intervals of 15 to 20 minutes. The journey is only about 8 minutes, and a one-way ticket is RMB 50.