Experiencing The New Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Train
August 2, 2011
As the whole world has been recognizing, China is growing fast. I remembered years ago, it used to take 20 hours to go from Beijing to Shanghai by train. Then the D train was launched, cutting the time down to 10 hours. Now, in June of this year, China has launched the G train which means that the trip between China’s two most vibrant and international cities will again be cut in half to 5 hours. I believe one of the industries that will be most effected will be the airlines, as one can see they have already started to drop their prices for their Shanghai/Beijing flights. However, overall I believe that this new line will positively effect people’s lives in China.
Here is a little bit about my first experience with this new high-speed train line.
I booked my ticket online which is very convenient. Currently in China you can only buy D/G/C train tickets online. I hope soon we will be able to buy all tickets online given how easy it is and how much quicker the process goes.
I got up at 5:00am in the morning in order to catch my train from the Beijing South Train Station at 8:00am. Since, on Monday mornings especially, Beijing is typically covered in traffic jams, I decided to leave home early by around 6:30am to avoid any delays. It takes about 40 minutes by car from my home to the train station as the Beijing South Train Station is between the South 2nd and 3rd ring roads. I also needed some time to print my ticket. There are two ways to do this. One is to go to the ticket office to have the worker print it, and the other way is to go to the kiosk machine at which you can insert your Identity Card which will then show your ticket information automatically.
Thus it is now possible to check in and out at the train station without a paper ticket making the process very easy and fast.
I arrived at the train station a quarter after 7. I had some extra time to tour the train station. It is a new train station and yet still very crowded. However, compared to Shanghai Hongqiao station (my ultimate destination), Bejiing South is relatively small, including less shops and restaurants.
At 8:00am, the train started to move. The fastest it can reach is 308 km/h. The train moves at a steady pace, very evenly, and the seats are very comfortable. The convenience of the train is incomparable to taking a flight: You can have your computer on as long as you like, without having to shut off your electronics at any time. The G train also has outlets on it which can be very convenient particularly for business travelers. This high-speed train project however is definitely a matter of image for China. It is relatively new. They have the best attendants working on the train. The environment is very good very clean. The decorations are much better than on other trains. The washing room is also bigger than on the slower trains. There are still many things that I believe need improving though. For example, they did not have enough lunch prepared on the train. They served lunch in carriage number 9, but there were too many people lined up waiting for lunch. Also once you got the food, it was, only just, satisfactory, particularly compared to other places at a cost of 25RMB/person.
At 13:00, the train arrived at the Shanghai Hongqiao station terminal. Shanghai Hongqiao train station is connected to the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. It can take less than 5 minutes for people arriving at terminal 2 in the airport to get to the train station. An invaluable convenience.
Final thoughts about traveling on the new Beijing-Shanghai high-speed G train:
1) The train needs a cart that goes through the cars to sell snacks, fruits, and drinks.
2) Even though people can leave their cell phone on, the signal on the train is still weak and the signal is often dropped (but maybe that’s just because the train is moving too fast for the signal to keep up!)
3) I really hope they improve their meal offerings as the lunch that was offered on my trip was unappealing even at 25RMB!
- Jane Feng- CPG Sourcing Team Leader