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Monday, February 13, 2012

Beijing to Shanghai by train

     Without a doubt, the best way to travel between Beijing & Shanghai is by train.  A new Beijing-Shanghai     
          high speed line opened on 1 July 2011, speeding up the journey to as little as 4 hours 48 minutes.  And  
          of course a train ride in China is a genuine Chinese experience in itself.  In addition, the trains are 
          generally very punctual and reliable, avoiding the many delays that affect flights on the Shanghai-Beijing 

New high-speed service from 1 July 2011... 

As of 1 July 2011, brand-new CRH380 'G' category trains with a distinctive pointed nose-cone link Beijing South and Shanghai Hongqiao at up to 300km/h (186 mph) in as little as 4 hours 48 minutes, as fast as a flight once check-in and airport travel times are added (and likely to be far more reliable than a flight, too!).  Beijing to Shanghai via the new high-speed line is 1,318 km (819 miles), a little shorter than the classic route, which is 1,454 km (909 miles).
All the 'G' category high-speed trains have 2nd class, 1st class, VIP class seats, and a dining car.  VIP class has individual reclining seats with footrests.  1st class seats (sometimes referred to as 'business class') are 2-abreast each side of the aisle, 2nd class ('economy') seats are 3-abreast one side, 2 abreast the other.
Other 'D' & 'T' category trains:  Several 'D' trains taking 7 hours also use the high-speed line, with cheaper fares.  However, they are not shown here.  One or two sleeper trains remain:  Trains T109/T110 have soft and hard sleepers and hard seats.  Train D302 has 2nd class seats and soft sleepers.

 Beijing ► Shanghai  (New high-speed service from 1 July 2011)

 Train number:
 Beijing (South station) depart
 Shanghai (Hongqiao) arrive

 Beijing ► Shanghai  (continued...)

 Train number:G3G37G141G143G17G149G19G153G155G39G21G159G161G163G165T109D311D321D313
 Beijing (South station) depart14:0014:0514:1614:2215:0015:2016:0016:1016:1516:2617:0017:0517:2517:3917:57   19:28**   20:52**   20:58**21:11
 Shanghai (Hongqiao) arrive18:4819:3319:3919:5019:5520:5020:5521:4021:4521:5021:5522:3522:4723:0123:27  10:25*  08:40*  08:46* 08:52*

 Shanghai  Beijing  (New high-speed service from 1 July 2011)

 Train number:
 Shanghai (Hongqiao) depart07:0007:1007:2008:0008:0508:1509:0009:0509:1509:2710:0010:1010:1511:0011:0511:2011:40
 Beijing (South station) arrive12:2012:4012:5012:5513:2813:4113:4014:2614:4414:4914:5515:3315:4215:5516:3516:4517:04

 Shanghai ► Beijing  (continued...)

 Train number:
 Shanghai (Hongqiao) depart12:1012:4313:0013:2014:0014:1915:0015:0515:2016:0016:0516:2117:0017:0517:1717:5017:5518:14*20:01*20:07* 20:13*
 Beijing (South station) arrive17:4018:1218:3018:4318:4819:4919:5520:3520:4820:5521:2921:4421:5522:2822:4523:2023:25  09:23**  07:46**  07:52**07:52
Trains on a darker shaded background = overnight sleeper trains.  Trains on a light background are high-speed daytime trains.
* These trains arrive/depart Shanghai main station in central Shanghai, not Hongqiao.  ** These trains arrive/depart Beijing main station, not Beijing South.
In fact, there are more trains in addition to those shown here, but as these are slower and/or overtaken by faster trains, they aren't shown.  You can confirm the times for all trains using the online Chinese timetable websites listed here

What are the new high-speed 'G' category trains like?

High-speed CRH380 trains run on the new Beijing to Shanghai lineVIP sightseeing seats on a CRH380 train from Beijing to Shanghai
High-speed trains:  The 'G' category trains on the new Beijing-Shanghai line are operated by sleek CRH380 high-speed trains.  Photo courtesy of Rick Wong.
VIP sightseeing class seats on a high-speed CRH380 'G' train from Beijing to Shanghai.  Photo courtesy of Rick Wong.
The video shows a journey from Beijing South to Shanghai Hongqiao aboard train G2.

Which train should you take?

New G category 300 km/h (186 mph) trains:  These started running on 1 July 2011, fastest journey time 4 hours 48 minutes.  Some slower D-category trains will also use the new line at up to 250 km/h, taking 7 hours 56 minutes.
Trains D311-D322 are top-quality high-speed sleeper trains, see the photos below.  It's an immaculate 200km/h sleeper train introduced in December 2008, with 4-berth soft sleepers, restaurant/bar car & hard class seats.  Fully air-conditioned, each sleeper berth even has its own TV screen & there are power sockets for laptops or mobiles.  Expect the train to be very punctual.
Trains T109 & T110 are cheaper overnight sleeper trains with soft & hard sleepers plus a few deluxe 2-berth sleepers with private toilet & washroom.  If you are on a tight budget and want to save money, travel hard sleeper on one of these slower 'T' category trains.  Hard sleeper is still a comfortable and safe way to travel.  See the T category train photos above.  They'll save a hotel bill, too.

How much does it cost?

 Fares for high-speed daytime trains

 Beijing-Shanghai one-way per person
By 'G' category 300km/h train (from late June 2011)By 'D' category day train
2nd class seat1st class seatVIP seat2nd class seat1st class seat
 Bought at reservations office in China:RMB 555 ($81)RMB 935 ($138)RMB 1,750 ($257)RMB 450 ($66)RMB 540 ($79)
 Booked at$69$81
 Booked at

 Fares for overnight sleeper trains

 Beijing-Shanghai one-way per person
By 'T' category sleeper trainBy 'D' category sleeper train
Hard sleeperSoft sleeperDeluxe sleeper2nd class seat4-berth soft sleeper2-berth soft sleeper
 Bought at reservations office in China:RMB 327 ($51)RMB 499 ($73)RMB 921 ($135)RMB 327 ($48)RMB 730 ($107)RMB 1,470 ($215)
 Booked at$65$95$165?$128?
 Booked at$100$130$195???
Children under 120cm tall travel free, 120-150cm tall travel for half fare, over 150cm tall pay full fare (140cm was changed to 150cm in Dec 2008, and 110cm to 120cm in Dec 2010)
The sleeper fares shown here are for lower berths.  Upper berths (and middle berths in hard sleeper) are a fraction cheaper.

How to buy tickets...

See the how to buy tickets section above.  Tickets cannot be bought online, at least not in English, so you will need to buy from a station ticket counter or pre-book through a recommended Chinese train ticketing agency, see the advice here.  Don't leave it until the last minute to buy a ticket, as the trains are often busy - A typical report said "I went to Beijing ticket office on Wednesday to buy Beijing-Shanghai tickets for the following Saturday.  The first 3 departures from Beijing were full, but there were tickets available for later trains."  There are self-service ticket machines at major stations with an English language facility, but they can no longer be used by visitors as new regulations introduced in June 2011 require ID to be shown to buy tickets for C, D and G category trains.  The machines will accept Chinese citizens ID cards, but not passports.

Which station in Shanghai? 

Almost all Beijing-Shanghai trains now use Shanghai's new Hongqiao station, some way out of central Shanghai near the old airport.  One or two trains are still using Shanghai's more convenient main central station (Shanghai Zhan).  Please make sure you know which station your departure from Shanghai will use.

What is the Beijing-Shanghai D-category sleeper trains like?

Train D302 from Shanghai to Beijing about to leave.Soft sleeper on train D302 from Shanghai to Beijing
A 'D' category sleeper train about to leave Shanghai.  Even if you can't read Chinese, the indicator clearly shows the train number & departure time.  Courtesy of James Fletcher
A 4-berth soft sleeper on a 'D' category sleeper train.  Each berth has a TV and all bedding is supplied.  There are power sockets for laptop & mobiles.  Clean western-style toilets at the end of the corridor.  Courtesy of James Fletcher
Restaurant car on Beijing-Shanghai train.Bar on Beijing-Shanghai train
The restaurant car on a 'D' category sleeper train. Photo courtesy of James FletcherThe bar on a 'D' category sleeper train.  Photo courtesy of James Fletcher

What are the Beijing-Shanghai D-category daytime trains like?

Beijing to Shanghai D category high-speed trainSoft seats on Beijing-Shanghai D category trainSoft seats on Beijing-Shanghai D category train
Train D32 at Beijing South. 
Photo courtesy of Ben Low.
Soft (business) class.Courtesy of Ben Low.Hard (2nd) class... 
Photo courtesy of Ben Low.

1 comment:

Usama Azeem said...

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