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High-Speed Train in China (Bullet Train)

Written by FabioUpdated Apr. 10, 2024

China's high-speed trains, commonly referred to as bullet trains, boast impressive running speeds ranging from 200 to 350 kilometers per hour (124 to 217 miles per hour). Renowned for their punctuality, comfort, and safety, these high-speed trains have become the most convenient and efficient means of traveling around China.

China's high-speed trains are categorized into three types: G, D, and C-category trains, each with varying running speeds. Despite the differences in speed, the appearance and facilities inside G, D, and C trains are similar, featuring modern and well-maintained amenities.

China High-Speed Rail Network

Currently, 33 of China's 34 provincial-level administrative divisions have high-speed railways, except Macau.

As of the end of 2023, China boasts the world's longest high-speed railway network, with a total length of 45,000 kilometers (27,961 miles). This extensive network constitutes approximately two-thirds of the global high-speed rail tracks in commercial service. Notably, there has been a significant growth compared to 2022, with the total length increasing by 3,000 kilometers (186 miles).

The major newly-constructed high-speed railway sections in 2023 includes Guiyang-Nanning, Guangzhou-Shantou, Fuzhou-Xiamen, the second Shanghai-Nanjing, Shangrila-Lijiang, Gaochuan-Qingbaijiang, Jinan-Zhengzhou, the fourth Beijing-Tianjin, Chengdu-Zigong-Yibin, Shantou-Shanwei, Longyan-Wuping, Hangzhou-Nanchang, and Fangchenggang-Dongxing routes.

There are 16 main high-speed rail lines in the China high-speed rail network, including 7 vertial (north-south) lines and 8 horizontal (east-west) lines, which are the most extensively used high-speed rail lines.

See China High-Speed Railway Network for more information.

China High-Speed Train Ticket Booking

A valid identification document is required when buying a ticket and boarding a train in China.

  • Foreign passengers: Passport or Travel Permit
  • Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan passengers: Chinese mainland Travel Permit
  • Foreign and Taiwan passengers need to apply for Tibet Travel Permit if they plan to take train to Tibet.

Buying China train tickets online with travel agencies like China Highlights is the most convenient. 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. Our ticket delivery service will save you a lot of time and hassle.

What are China's High-Speed Trains Like

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 Buying Train Tickets in China.

Types of High-Speed Train in China

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

facilities and comparison on three types of China high speed trains

G Trains - Exclusive Railway

High-speed G trains in China operate on exclusive railway tracks, a design driven by the fact that the coaches with motive power (containing the train's engines) outnumber those without on a G train. This configuration ensures optimal performance and efficiency. For instance, an eight-coach G train may have five coaches with motive power, while a 16-coach G train could have 10 such coaches. The exclusive railway setup is necessary to accommodate and support the high requirements of high-speed G trains, as a normal railway would be unable to handle the significant number of coaches with motive power.

The average speed for a G train is over 300 kilometers (186 miles) per hour.

D Trains -  Slower than G Trains

D trains in China, with an average speed of around 200 kilometers (125 miles) per hour, are indeed slower than G trains. This speed difference is attributed to the lower number of coaches with motive power for D trains. For example, an eight-coach D train typically has only two coaches with motive power, and a 16-coach D train may have six such coaches. This configuration allows D trains to share railway tracks with ordinary Z, T, and K trains.

Hexiehao High-Speed Train at Guilin North StationHexiehao High-Speed Train at Guilin North Station

C Trains - Connecting Neighboring Cities

C trains are only run 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.

Facilities on a China High-Speed Train

  • A restaurant car and canteen bar are in the middle carriage of a train.
  • Free boiled water is available at the end of each carriage.
  • Air-conditioning: All high-speed trains are fully air-conditioned.
  • Adjustable seats allow you to sit comfortably during the journey.
  • A 220V AC power 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 with a diaper table is available in the 5th carriage, which can also be used by people with young children.

bullet train facilities

Fuxinghao High-Speed Train - Make Your Train Ride more Comfortable

The Fuxinghao is an upgraded version of the Hexiehao high-speed train in China. Out of the 4,000 operational high-speed trains in China in 2023, 1,000 are Fuxinghao trains. This newer model surpasses the Hexiehao in terms of speed, safety, and comfort.

What's special on a "Fuxinghao" high-speed train?

  • The fastest high-speed train in China
  • WIFI covered
  • More space between seats
  • Each seat is equipped with two power sockets
  • Reading light is provided above each seat

Seat Classes on a China Bullet Train

Generally there are four kinds of seat classes:

four kinds of seat classes on high speed train

Business Class

Business class is the most luxurious on China high-speed trains, and the price is the highest. It is spacious, with two meters (6.6 feet) of space between the rows. Seats are arranged as A+F for the first row, and AC+F for the other rows. The comfortable leathered seats can be electrically reclined to a flat position so that you can lie down completely.

Superior Class

Superior class is only available on certain high-speed trains in China. Each carriage has 16 seats - eight seats at each end. It is in the best position for sightseeing. Each row has three seats, as found in a business class carriage.

First Class

First class is 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

Second class is 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.

Soft Sleeper

Soft sleepers and deluxe soft sleepers are available on some overnight D trains, such as Beijing – Shanghai and Shanghai – Xi'an.

Baggage Allowance

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 160 cm in total (63 in). The length of rod-shaped items cannot exceed 200 cm (78 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.

Four Facts You Need to Know Before Taking High-Speed Trains in China

Although China bullet trains have many advantages, there are some things you need to know before you decide to take one.

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

1. Seats may be too small for some passengers

For passengers with a larger frame, it is advisable to consider a first-class seat when traveling on high-speed trains in China. While a second-class seat typically has a width of about 43 cm, which might be slightly snug for individuals with a larger build, first-class seats provide more spacious and comfortable seating. However, it's worth noting that business class offers the most comfort, although the price can sometimes be considerably higher than a flight ticket. The choice of seating class depends on both personal preferences and budget considerations.

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

conductorA conductor on a high-speed train.

Conductors on a high-speed train don't speak English. Therefore, it could be difficult when you need to order a meal or buy some snacks on a train. Those phrases may be helpful to you Top Chinese Phrases for China Train Travel.

4. Smoking is forbidden on all high-speed trains

Anyone who smokes on a high-speed train will be fined RMB500-RMB2000 (USD75-USD299).

Also read Smoking on Chinese Trains.

Useful tips for China High-speed trains

train

1. High-speed trains in China have brief stops at each station, typically lasting only a few minutes. It is crucial for passengers to remain on the train until they reach their designated destination. The short stop times are designed to ensure efficient travel and timely arrivals, so it's important for passengers to adhere to the schedule and avoid disembarking prematurely.

2. High-speed trains in China often depart from specific train stations within a city, and these stations might be located in different parts of the city. It's crucial for passengers to carefully read their tickets and confirm the departure station to ensure they go to the correct one. Being aware of the station details in advance helps avoid confusion and ensures a smooth start to the journey.

3. It might be noisy on the train during peak season, e.g. summer holiday, Chinese New Year and national holiday. Skip second class if you don't like too much noise. It is quieter on first class, superior seat and business class.

4. It is a good idea to bring your own food on board, since the food on the train is expensive and limited in choice.

China Train Travel FAQs

How many days in advance can I book China train tickets?

I cannot find a train for my route, what can I do?

Can you buy international train tickets?

Can I book e-tickets for trains in China?

China Train Travel FAQs

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