we wanted to experience train riding in China. So, we took an overnite train from Beijing to Shanghai recently. The train itself was clean and comfortable. However, Beijing Train Station is another story. First of all, the entrance to the train station's parking lot was fenced off. So, we had to drag our luggages thru the parking lot. Once inside the train station, it was chaotic, crowded and miserable. The lounge area was no better. People were smoking even though there were no smoking signs everywhere.
Our train was scheduled to leave at 9:15pm . You would think that they would allow different boarding time for different trains. nope, that was not the case. They actually had the same boarding time at 8.55pm for the 9:15pm, 9:30pm and 9:45pm trains all at the same time. Not only that there was only one entrance to get to the platform. The one entrance was probably about 10 feet wide. can u imagine over a thousand people pushing and squeezing their way thru this one entrance? we thought we could wait but after seeing the scenario we had to push thru as well, otherwise we would have missed our train. Once we squeezed thru the entrance, we had to lug our luggages down the stairs to the platform. there were no escalator. The one elevator was not in service. Amid the chaos, my big toenail had cut open and was bleeding. Never again.
I think the city of Beijing has the capapbility to expand their train station or at least have better orderly control. Maybe the locals are used to the chaos of the train station, but for foreign travellers, it's a nightmare. If Beijing wants to be at the level of an international city, they need to do something about their train station.
My hometown is Tianjin, which is 120km from Beijing.
10 years ago, it takes two hours to travel between the two cities by tain.
5 years ago, it takes one hour.
Now, it takes only half hour!
The train runs up to 350km/h. It departs around every 10 or 15 minutes in day time from Beijing South Railway station and Tianjin Railway station. There is no need to buy ticket in advance at all, you can get to the station, buy the ticket, then leave in around 10 minutes.
There are two classes on the train, the first class is 69RMB, the second class is 58RMB.
During the half hour riding, they also give you a small bottle spring water. The most interesting thing about the spring water is, the water is from Tibet!
The high speed railway between Beijing and Tianjin is part of the high speed railway between Beijing, Shanghai, which is scheduled to open by year 2011. By the time, the train speed is also plan to increase from 350km/h to 380km/h.
After travelling in India on 20 hour train rides, I suppose I expected the same in China. I was very wrong! We boarded the train in Hong Kong - it was luxurious! There, and as we soon found out exist on most trains in China, was hot water readily available free and easy for your noodles!
The beds were comfortable and being up high was great because there was ample room to store our luggage.
A catering cart exists, taking both Yuan and HK$, they serve coffee etc etc.
Remember - if you need a Chinese visa this MUST be arranged in HK or elsewhere beforehand, you can't get it at the border.
When I was in Beijing just over 2 years ago on arriving I asked the hotel if they could organise my train tickets to Xian, I wanted Soft Sleeper tickets on the overnight train. I was staying in Beijing for 6 nights and they said it was not a problem and would get it done and it was not a rush, in the end it was done just a couple of days before you wanted to travel, without a hitch. At our hotel the man who organised it for us also got his Wife (who speaks english) to go with us in the taxi and take us to where we needed to be, escort us to the platform and into the train. We were not asked to pay for this service but we gave her the return taxi fare plus extra. We were truly grateful for her help especially after arriving at the station with hundreds of people going in all directions. She took us to a waiting room for foreign tourists. We did get a shock when we were taken to the correct carriage by her to find 2 young men allready there, luckily they spoke quite good english and even though they were there first volunteered to take the top bunks for this we were truly grateful - I was travelling with my girlfriend who is 61 and I was - 55 - so you might understand our gratitude.
The help we received from our hotel was wonderful.
The bunks were very comfortable, however if I do it again, and I hope I can, I would book 4 bunks and leave 2 unused, I forget what we paid but it was not a lot compared to Australian prices.
Another tip would be, if you want to have a meal in the dining section then as soon as you have setteled go to the dining area and grab a table, we went when we heard that you would now be able to have a meal and when we got there had to wait for a spare table. Other tourists who came after us had quite a long wait. There were a couple of tables where the occupants were really setteled in for a good night so the turnover was not as you would expect. You could say that was bad luck that night however they were not tourists and seemed used to taking the train, I had the feeling that it was not a one off and were possibly regular users of the service and found it better than trying to socalise in the compartment.
It was a really good trip.
Dejamos Beijing rumbo a Datong por la estación del E .
Decidimos ir en metro a la estación para evitar el tráfico y no os podéis imaginar la cantidad de escaleras que tuvimos que subir y bajar con las maletas pues en el metro de Beijing hay pocas escaleras mecánicas . Desde el metro a la impresionante estación hay un paseo de diez minutos
En China todo es grande y no iba a ser menos esta estación , pero eso si , es muy cómoda , muy funcional y es fácil de moverse hasta los andenes de los trenes .
Las puertas para acceder a los trenes están siempre cerradas hasta 10 minutos antes de la salida , así que se organizan montones de gentes , algunos en colas y otros desorganizados , que están dispuestos a salir corriendo en cuanto se habran las puertas . Si tienes asiento numerado no te preocupes demasiado pues suelen estar reservados , sino , corre a buscar un siento !!!
We left Beijing en route to Datong by e station.
We decided to go by underground up to the station to avoid the traffic and you can not imagine the number of stairs we had to climb up and down with bags in the subway since in Beijing underground there are few escalators. From the subway to the impressive station there is a ten-minute walk
In China, everything is big and it was not going to be less this train station, but that it is very comfortable, highly functional and it is easy to reach the platforms of the trains.
The doors to access the trains are always closed until 10 minutes before the train departure, so lthere are lots of people , some in queues and other unorganized, who are willing to run as soon as the doors are opened . If you have numbered seats do not worry too much , since they tend to be reserved, but if not , run to get a seat !!
Taking the Tourist Train is a fast, inexpensive and efficient way to go directly to the desired tourist attractions.
Besides, a very important benefit you get is free travel if you purchase your admission tickets for the attractions prior to setting out on your trip.
Train tickets can be purchased in
- Beijing Railway Station,
- Beijing North Railway Station,
- Beijing West Railway Station,
- Beijing South Railway Station,
- Pingguoyuan and Qinghuayuan subway stations and
- other ticket offices authorized by Ministry of Railways.
There is also an interesting advantage: if you are a group of 10 or more tourists, you can buy the tickets by telephone 3 to 10 days ahead of time and enjoy the visiting service.
The ticket booking hot line is 010-6563 6733.
For more detailed information concerning timetables, ticket fare, destinations, etc., you can visit the following website.
We decided that we would take the express overnight train to Beijing from Taiyuan which is about 2 hours by car from Pingyao. As Taiyuan is a major railway station there would be more options in terms of trains to Beijing.
For this reason we made the decision that we would combine this with a visit to the Qiao family residence and so we organised a taxi to Taiyun and thereafter train to Beijing.
The train we caught was the N202 leaving Taiyuan at 9.30pm and arriving Beijing at 8.00am.
This time we waited (waiting area 2) along with the hordes of other people to catch the train rather than in a special waiting area. (Use your ticket number to find out which waiting area to go to).This in itself was an interesting experience. People were quite interested in us and some even crowded over our shoulders to see what we were doing - sudoku. One interesting episode was watching young men try to hop on board trains without paying for a ticket ( they would simply jump over the gates while the rest of the ticket inspectors were busily checking the hordes through the gates).
The 4 berth cabin from Taiyuan seemed to be slightly more upmarket (flower in vase etc see photos) than the train we took from Xian. This time we did book soft seats, one lower and one upper on the same side. We shared with a young female student and a gentleman on his way to India to do business.
The trip was uneventful and we all seemed to agree mutually when the main light would be turned off and when we would all wake in the morning.
We organised the taxi and the train tickets through our hotel.Cost 215 Yuan each.
Oh my goodness.
I took the special train up from Hong Kong for about 600 HKD...A sheer pleasure.
Well, return from Bejing to HK...a sheer terror. I missed my train so I had to ride local (maybe I'll write about that in another tip).
HOWEVER, What I want to say is. THERE ARE LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE. Seriousy, make sure you get to the train station on time. The trains run on schedule, even if the rest of the country may not.
The train station to Hong Kong is located at Beijing Railroad Station WEST. It is the newest and most modern station (with cool Chinese-like architecture), according to the locals.
In traveling by train from Beijing to Xian and you want to travel in comfort, there is a Z train that is comparatively a newer train (operating from 2003) and offers deluxe 2-sleeper cabins and 4-sleeper cabins. We traveled by other trains in China in the past and this Z train is so much more comfortable and the bathrooms were so much more cleaner. The Z train also operates between Beijing and Shanghai. The 2-sleeper was very comfortable and more roomy than the 4 and had a toilet and sink in the cabin, as well as an electrical outlet in the cabin and bathroom. As with the 4-sleeper, they offered tv's in every berth and was a little more roomy and had more storage space than the 4-sleeper. Since it is an overnight train, if you want to take a shower but don't want to get a hotel room an extra night, we found they have pay showers at the Beijing West Train Station. We asked and they said it cost 20 RMB to take a shower there. Since there are only limited 2-sleeper cabins (9 cabins out of the 80+ cabins on the train) , we bought our tickets in advance via www.chinatripadvisor.com. We payed $118/person for the 2-sleeper and $68/person for the 4-sleeper, and it was worth the extra we paid. The only drawback with riding the train was the train was very smokey. Even though the train had comfortable air-conditioning and you closed your cabin door, it seemed the smoke seeped in from the vents and permeated the entire cabin. If you are gong to stay in the 2-sleeper section and don't like the smell of smoke, then it is best to get a 2-sleeper cabin as far away from the dining car since the 2-sleeper car is next to the dining car and the smokers seem to congregate there.
There ar equite a few trainstations in Beijing. The biggests and most important are the Railway Station in the center of Beijing and the West Trainstation, form where the trains to Xi'an for example start.
The Center Station is not far from Wangfujing and Tiananmen. It is still very crowded. In front of the station are Busstops and Taxis. Please be aware of agressive Taxi-drivers, who want to take you where you wnat for a fix price. Those prices are much too high. Be patient and find the taxis, which use their meter. For example, when I wanted to go to Kai Yue Hotel, a driver offered his taxi for 50 Yuan. But i found a taxi with meter and he charged me only 16 Yuan. I was quite surprised that it is now possible to sit in a coffee-shop in front of the station and enjoy the warm sun and the busy quare.
The new West Train Station is a modern building with some towers which ressemble the towers of the old Train Station. I did not see it myself though.
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