China’s High Speed Rail is the most extensive HSR network in the world, boasting 16,000 km of track which stitch together 28 of the country’s 33 provinces and autonomous regions. Thanks to generous funding from the Chinese government’s economic stimulus program, over the past decade China has undergone a logistical boom, and since high speed rails were introduced in China in mid-2007 daily ridership has exploded from 240,000 in 2007 to nearly 3 million in 2015, making China’s HSR the most heavily used HSR network in the world by a wide margin. While this network was assembled in a amazingly short amount of time, China’s HSR system is extremely safe and at times more reliable than domestic airlines, which are prone to constant delays and scheduling errors. Initially, Chinese engineers relied on imported technology to set up their HSR network, but since then the country has fully synthesized these technology transfers and elevated logistical engineering to a new level; there are even talks about China’s potential development of a high-speed railway which will cut across Siberia and the Bering Strait all the way to Alaska, meaning that in the future Chinese and Americans may be able to visit each other by train. China’s HSR system is clean, easy to use and relatively frictionless, and tickets for these trains are separated into four classes:
Business seats: The most luxurious but expensive seats, which boast fully reclining seats with a TV, convenient window access and a power outlet.
Superior seats: Spacious and comfortable with clear window access, though not all are recliner seats. Only available on a few high speed trains, and sometimes comes with free tea and snacks.
First class seats: Reasonably comfortable, and equipped with a pillow and footrest.
Second class seats: The most basic of seats, though still clean and comfortable; comes with a power outlet.
Among the most popular HSR routes are:
Beijing to/from Xian: 1,216 km journey which takes around 5.5 hours, with trains departing roughly once every hour between 7am-6pm.
Beijing to/from Shanghai: 1,318 journey which takes around 5.5 hours, with trains departing roughly once every 20 minutes between 7am-6pm.
Xian to/from Luoyang: 387 km journey which takes around 1.5 hours, with trains departing roughly once every 1-2 hours between 7am-6pm.
Datong to/from Xian: 859 km journey which takes around 3 hours, with trains departing roughly once every 1-2 hours between 7am-6pm.