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Photo gallery: China's Beijing-Shanghai bullet train

By David Flynn     Filed under: Shanghai, intercity-express train, high speed rail, Beijing, high-speed trains

China's 'bullet train' between Beijing and Shanghai is now running – or should we say, rocketing – along a high-speed railway stretching some 1,318 kilometres between the two cites.

Christened 'Harmony', after the "harmonious society" slogan of Chinese President Hu, the sleek train completes the journey in under five hours.

Business class carriages feature airline-inspired touches like reclining seats with in-seat entertainment systems, and are staffed by uniformed 'stewardesses' serving Chinese delicacies. The cost? $260 (1,750 Yuan).

And you can forget about a smoking carriage: the entire train carries a novel no-smoking policy for this nicotine-addicted nation, which results in some passengers stepping out at any of the 24 stations along the route for a fast one-minute puff.

The service runs from the new Beijing South station – just off the south second ring road and with its own station on Beijing's subway line 4 – to Shanghai's new Hongqiao station, with connections to lines 2, 5 and 10 of the Shanghai Metro.

Several changes were made to the train in the months before its official launch.

The top speed has been reduced to 300km/h from the previously-promised 380km/h due to concerns over both safety and cost.

Authorities also dropped plans for a series of luxury 'VIP' carriages in order to keep overall ticket prices down, opting for a simpler set of two-class carriages.

The daily schedule feature three services. The fastest and most expensive has have only one stop along the way, at Nanjing.

A second service stops at seven provincial capital cities for a total travel time of five and a half hours.

The 'slowest' train stops at all 24 stations along the route, travelling at 250km/h instead of 300km/h, but comes with cheaper fares than the super-express service.

The 220.9 billion yuan (A$32 billion) line will be the longest and most expensive high-speed rail connection in the world, and will carry an estimated 160 million passengers a year.


About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 17/5/11 by 777

Do you know what date in late June it will begin operations? I'm travelling between the two cities around the 20th and would love to try it. 

1 on 18/5/11 by David

I've seen one report citing June 20th as the "scheduled" date but nothing more firm than that, sorry.

1 on 23/5/11 by tassie

Hi. Great article. I also will be traveling from Beijing to shanghai 20.6.11 Is it possible to book online safely or should I go to train station in beiijing. When I arrive 18.6. Or to short time period. I am looking at day journey possibly on a D train but fingers crossed on this new service. Cheers

1 on 26/5/11 by 777

I've been here for a while and i haven't found how to book tickets online. Hotel may be able to help or travel agent, but i've found the easiest thing is to go to the station a few days before and grab the tickets from the vending machines. No sign of the Shanghai line when i was there last though. 

2 on 6/6/11 by mahendra

we are 10 passangers travelling from Shanghai to Beinging on 5th of August 2011. Can we book through Internet  our tickets for superfast train ticket stopping at only one place. And what is the cost of each ticket.

1 on 6/6/11 by David

There's a bothersome dearth of specifics about this service! I saw in an SMH/Bloomberg article on the weekend that "the rail ministry declined to comment on fares and timetables" for the train, and there's still no fixed opening date.

However, the article makes a stab at some fares: "Second-class fares from Beijing to Shanghai will likely cost about 600 yuan to 650 yuan, said Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, which specializes in rail engineering and management." Those prices are A$86-$94.


3 on 4/7/11 by jokiin

Beijing to Shanghai airfares are now being heavily discounted as a result of this new train service

4 on 14/7/11 by mattdc

A CNN crew (I think it was a Back|Story crew) tested if catching the train was quicker than flying between the two cities. The crew said that they would rather fly even though it is more expensive. The flight was still faster than the train trip (by around 30 minutes I think they said), and because the system for unloading the checked luggage off the train was not as efficient.


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