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China – Rail Travel

China has one of the most extensive and efficient rail networks in the world, with a total length of more than 146,000 km. It is also home to the world’s fastest commercially operated train, the Shanghai Maglev. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of rail travel in China, including the standard of travel, ticketing, discounts, accessibility, and metro systems.

Standard of Rail Travel in China

China’s rail network is known for its punctuality, cleanliness, and modernity. The trains are equipped with air-conditioning, comfortable seats, and ample space for luggage. There are several classes of travel available on trains in China, including:

Second Class

Second Class is the most common class of travel on Chinese trains. It is relatively affordable and comfortable, with soft seats and air conditioning.

First Class

First Class provides passengers with a more spacious and luxurious experience, with larger seats, more legroom, and more amenities.


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Business Class

Business Class is the most expensive class of travel on Chinese trains. It offers passengers the most luxurious experience, with wider seats, more legroom, and various amenities such as power outlets and complimentary meals.

Finding Rail Timetables and Ticket Prices in China

The easiest way to find information on rail timetables and ticket prices in China is through the official website of China Railway. On the website, users can search for trains by destination, departure time, and train type. The website also provides information on ticket prices, travel times, and seat availability.

In addition to the official China Railway website, other third-party websites such as Ctrip and Qunar can also be used to find information on rail travel in China.

Buying Rail Tickets and Making Reservations in China

Tickets for Chinese trains can be purchased online, at train stations, or through travel agencies. Online bookings can be made through the official China Railway website, as well as through third-party travel websites. At train stations, tickets can be purchased from ticket counters or ticket vending machines.

Passengers are advised to book their tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, as trains tend to sell out quickly.

Types of Rail Tickets Available in China

There are several types of rail tickets available in China, including:

First Class Seat

This ticket provides passengers with a seat in the First Class carriage.

Second Class Seat

This ticket provides passengers with a seat in the Second Class carriage.

Soft Sleeper

This ticket provides passengers with a bed in a cabin with four or six beds. Soft Sleeper cabins are equipped with air conditioning, power outlets, and reading lights.

Hard Sleeper

This ticket provides passengers with a bed in a cabin with six beds. Hard Sleeper cabins are equipped with air conditioning, but passengers should bring their bedding.

High-Speed Rail

This ticket provides passengers with a seat on a high-speed train. High-speed trains are faster and more expensive than conventional trains.

Rail Ticket Discounts in China

Rail ticket discounts are available for certain groups in China, including students, the elderly, and military personnel. Students can enjoy a discount of up to 50% on train tickets, while the elderly can enjoy a discount of up to 60%.

Accessibility of China’s Rail Network for Disabled Passengers

China’s rail network is generally accessible for disabled passengers, with most trains equipped with wheelchair ramps and designated spaces for wheelchair users. Passengers with disabilities are advised to inform the train staff in advance of their travel needs.

Underground Trains or Metros in Urban Areas in China

China has an extensive metro system in many of its major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. These systems are modern, efficient, and convenient for getting around urban areas. In recent years, China has invested heavily in expanding its metro system in urban areas. Currently, there are 40 cities in China with metro systems, and the total length of the tracks exceeds 7,000 kilometers.

The metro systems in Chinese cities are generally well-maintained and efficient, with modern trains and stations equipped with various amenities such as Wi-Fi, vending machines, and public restrooms. Most metro systems operate between 5 am and 11 pm, with frequency depending on the time of day and the specific line.

As with rail travel in China generally, the metro systems are relatively affordable, with fares varying based on the distance traveled. Passengers can purchase tickets at automated vending machines or manned ticket booths located in metro stations. Some metro systems also offer rechargeable smart cards that allow passengers to avoid the hassle of buying individual tickets for each trip.

Regarding accessibility, the metro systems in Chinese cities generally have good facilities for disabled passengers, including barrier-free access to stations, elevators, and designated seating areas. Some stations also have tactile guide paths to help visually impaired passengers navigate the station.

In conclusion, rail travel in China offers a wide range of options for passengers, from the high-speed trains connecting major cities to the metro systems in urban areas. While there are differences in the quality and comfort of each type of rail travel, all offer affordable and convenient transportation options for both domestic and international travelers.


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