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China High-Speed Rail — 8 Main Routes, Maps , and Development

What is China's High-Speed Rail (HSR)? Generally speaking, a rail network that offers 200–350 kph (124–217 mph) trains is an HSR network. Now, China has the largest high-speed rail network in the world. At the end of 2015, there were about 19,000 kilometers of high-speed rail lines in service.

  • Chinese: 中国高速铁路 Zhōngguó Gāosù Tiělù /jong-gwor gaoww-soo tyeah-loo/
  • Passenger capacity: 80 million people annually (data from 2014)
  • Speed: 200–350 kph (124–217 mph), e.g. Beijing to Shanghai takes 5 hours to travel 1,200 km
  • Facilities on an HSR train: no smoking, adjustable seats, 220V AC socket under each seat, Western/Chinese style toilets, free boiling/cold water, restaurant car, and a canteen bar

8 Popular HSR Routes and Maps

There are "4 vertical lines and 4 horizontal lines" for the main China HSR network. This means there are four north–south high-speed rail lines and four east–west high-speed rail lines. They are the basis for the China high-speed rail network.

The four north–south HSR lines:

  • Beijing–Shanghai route
  • Beijing–Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong route
  • Beijing–Harbin route
  • Hangzhou–Shenzhen route

The four east–west HSR lines:

  • Qingdao–Taiyuan route
  • Shanghai–Wuhan–Chengdu route
  • Xuzhou–Zhengzhou–Lanzhou–Urumqi route
  • Shanghai–Hangzhou–Changsha–Guiyang–Kunming route

Beijing–Shanghai Route (Fully Operational)

  • Chinese: 京沪高速铁路 'Beijing–Shanghai HSR'
  • Length: 1,318 km (819 mi)
  • Design speed: 350 kph (217 mph)
  • Main stops: Beijing Nan, Jinan Xi, Nanjing Nan, Suzhou Bei, Shanghai Hongqiao

beijing to shanghai hsr railway

It connects two popular cities and reduces the journey time from 12 hours to 5 hours (2 hours by air). Beijing and Shanghai are also two of the most popular tourist cities, and travelers often experience China HSR trains on this route for the first time.

Read more about the Beijing–Shanghai HSR Travel Route to get ideas for planning a trip.

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

  • Chinese: 京广深港高速铁路 'Beijing–Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong HSR'
  • Length: 2,240 km (1,392 mi)
  • Design speed: 350 kph (217 mph)
  • Main stops: Beijing Xi, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou East, Wuhan, Changsha South, Hengyang East, Guangzhou South, Shenzhen North, Hong Kong

beijing to hong kong hsr railway

It is the longest passenger dedicated high-speed rail line in the world. The Shenzhen–Hong Kong HSR section is to be opened in 2017. It connects North China, Central China, and South China.

Although Shenzhen–Hong Kong high-speed railway is under construction, conventional trains from Shenzhen to Hong Kong are available. See Guangzhou–Hong Kong Through Trains. Read more about the Beijing–Guangzhou HSR Travel Route to get some trip planning ideas.

Beijing–Harbin Route (Fully Operational)

  • Chinese: 京哈客运专线 'Beijing–Harbin Passenger Dedicated Line (PDL)
  • Length: 1,300 km (808 mi)
  • Design speed: 350 kph (217 mph)
  • Main stops: Beijing Nan, Tianjin Xi, Qinghuangdao, Shenyang Bei, Changchun Xi, Harbin Xi

beijing to harbin hsr

It connects Northeast China with the national capital, Beijing. It cuts the journey time from 12 hours to 6 hours between Beijing and Harbin.

Read more about the Beijing–Harbin HSR Travel Route for trip planning ideas.

Hangzhou–Shenzhen Route (Fully Operational)

  • Chinese: 杭深高铁 'Hangzhou–Shenzhen HSR'
  • Length: 1,600 km (994 mi)
  • Design speed: 250–350 kph (155–217 mph)
  • Main stops: Hangzhou Dong, Ningbo, Fuzhou Nan, Shenzhen Bei

hangzhou to shenzhen hsr

It connects the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. The Hangzhou–Ningbo section is passenger dedicated, with a design speed of 350 kph. The rest is mixed for passenger and cargo utilization, with a design speed of 250 kph. There are only D-trains (running at 180–250 kph) in operation, and the journey takes about 10½ hours.

Read more about the Hangzhou–Shenzhen HSR Travel Route for trip planning ideas.

Qingdao–Taiyuan Route (Partly Operational)

  • Chinese: 青太客运专线 'Qingdao–Taiyuan Passenger Dedicated Line (PDL)'
  • Length: 770 km (478 mi)
  • Design speed: 200–250 kph (124–155 mph)
  • Main stops: Qingdao, Jinan, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan Nan

qingdao to taiyuan pdl

The Qingdao–Taiyuan HSR line consists of the Qingdao–Jinan HRS line, the Jinan–Shijiazhuang HSR line, and the Shijiazhuang–Taiyuan HSR line.

Currently, you can travel from Qingdao to Jinan within 3 hours. Only one HSR train runs from Jinan Xi to Shijiazhuang, taking 3½ hours and departing at 8am. There are many HSR trains running from Shijiazhuang to Taiyuan, taking about 1½ hours.

Read more about the Qingdao–Jinan HSR Travel Route for trip planning ideas.

Shanghai–Wuhan–Chengdu Route (Partly Operational)

  • Chinese: 沪汉蓉高铁 'Shanghai–Wuhan–Chengdu HSR'
  • Length: 1,600 km (994 mi)
  • Design speed: 160–350 kph (99–217 mph)
  • Main stops: Shanghai Hongqiao, Nanjing Nan, Hefei Nan, Hankou, Yichang East, Chongqing Bei, Chengdu Dong

shanghai to chengdu hsr

This HSR is built alongside the Yangtze River. The high-speed trains on most of the route have an average speed of 200 to 250 kph, except on the line from Shanghai to Nanjing (350 kph), and from Yichang to Wanzhou (160 kph) because of the curves in the track that were designed to get around the landforms in the area.

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

Xuzhou–Lanzhou Route (Partly Operational)

  • Chinese: 徐兰客运专线 'Xuzhou–Lanzhou Passenger Dedicated Line (PDL)'
  • Length: 1,400 km (870 mi)
  • Design speed: 250–350 kph (155–217 mph)
  • Main stops: Xuzhou Dong, Lianyungang, Zhengzhou, Xi'an Bei, Baoji, Lanzhou

xuzhou to lanzhou pdl

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

You only need 2 hours to travel from Zhengzhou to Xi'an on the fastest train, G97 (14:41–16:35). The other G and D trains take 2 to 3 hours due to more stops on the journey.

Read more about the Zhengzhou–Xi'an HSR Travel Route for trip planning ideas.

Shanghai–Hangzhou–Changsha–Guiyang–Kunming Route (Partly Operational)

  • Chinese: 沪昆高铁 'Shanghai–Kunming HSR'
  • Length: 2,266 km (1,408 mi)
  • Design speed: 350 kph (217 mph)
  • Main stops: Shanghai Hongqiao, Hangzhou Dong, Nanchang Xi, Changsha Nan, Guiyang Bei, Kunming Nan

shanghai to kunming hsr

The Shanghai–Kunming HSR line is partly operational from the Shanghai to Guiyang line. The Guiyang–Kunming line (opening date: end of 2016) is under construction. It will connect East China and Central China with Southwest China after its completion. It's one of the most beautiful train travel routes in China. Travelers can see modern cities, ethic culture, and natural scenery on this route.

Read more about the Shanghai–Kunming HSR Travel Route for trip planning ideas.

Regional Intercity HSR Lines

Regional 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 35–57min
Shanghai–Nanjing Intercity Railway 301 350 1h 7min–3h 33min
Nanchang–Jiujiang Intercity Railway 131 250 1h–1h 10min
Shanghai–Hangzhou Intercity Railway 169 350 1h
Chengdu–Dujiangyan Intercity Railway 65 220 19–39min
Changchun–Jilin Intercity Railway 111 250 40–50min
Guangzhou–Zhuhai Intercity Railway 117 200 59min–1h 24min
Guiyang–Kaiyang Intercity Railway 62 200 48 min–1h 7min

See more Popular Train Travel Routes.

China High-Speed Rail Development

First China High-Speed Rail Opened in Time for the Beijing 2008 Olympics

The construction of HSR in China began with the building of the Qinhuangdao–Shenyang Passenger Dedicated Line (秦皇岛–沈阳客运专线) in 1999 (it opened in 2003), offering a service of 250 kph (155 mph), although it's not recognized as a China HSR.

china high speed train

The first China HSR offering 350 kph (217 mph) services was the Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway, which has been in service since August 1, 2008.

  • Chinese: 京津城际铁路 'Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway'
  • Length: 120 km (75 mi)
  • Design speed: 350 kph (217 mph)
  • Main stops: Beijing Nan, Yizhuang, Wuqing, Tianjin

This was the first HSR that allowed trains to operate faster than 300 kph. It takes about 30 minutes to get from Beijing to Tianjin.

If you take a cruise from Tianjin, this is a good choice for you to begin your China tour in Beijing, and it's also a very convenient way to catch your cruise in Tianjin when traveling from Beijing. Read more about the Best Ways to Get from Beijing to Tianjin Port.

Ambitious — Larger, Faster, Most Advanced

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 (18,641 mi) when the major rail lines are completed.

China High-Speed Railway Map

High-speed rail networks are more widely covered in central and eastern China than in western China, with the latter region's HSR currently being under construction for economic development.

Most cities have high-speed railways, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Guilin, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Changsha, Harbin, Guiyang, Kunming, Xining, Changchun, Shenyang, Dalian, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Jinan, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Hefei, Nanjing, Nanchang, Wuhan, Lanzhou, Urumqi, Fuzhou, Xiamen, and Nanning. But cities like Lhasa and Shigatze haven't opened high-speed railways yet.

It is handy to know that even if two cities have high-speed railway stations, there may not be a train running between the two cities, e.g. Guilin and Xi'an are two popular tourist cities and both cities have high-speed railway stations, but there are no high-speed trains currently running between these two cities.

Please see the China High-Speed Railway Lines Network Map above to see if there are trains running between the two cities you are planning to visit on your tour, or just search the train schedule at China Highlights Train Ticket Service.

Shanghai Maglev High-Speed Rail

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

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

Big Events for China's High-Speed Rail

Aug. 1, 2008: The first HSR (Beijing–Tianjin route) opened.

Dec. 26, 2009: The longest and most complicated Wuhan–Guangzhou line (part of the Beijing–Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong route) opened.

Feb. 6, 2010: The first HSR built on a collapsible loess area (Zhengzhou—Xi'an route) opened.

Dec. 1, 2012: The first HSR built on a high latitude area (Harbin–Dalian route) opened.

Nov. 25, 2015: Seventeen leaders from 17 countries took an HSR train from Suzhou to Shanghai.

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Author: Kelly

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