The new Xuzhou East Railway Station, not to be confused with the Xuzhou Railway Station which used to be called the East Station, serves the high-speed trains running on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway. The station is situated in the outskirts of the city. Taxis and bus route #72 serve downtown. The facility is very modern with a handful of fast-food restaurants and shops. A high-speed train ride (G train) from Xuzhou East to Shanghai's Hongqiao Station takes only about 2.5 hours.
If you are coming to Xuzhou by a slow train, this is the Xuzhou railway station (formerly called the East Station) located at the city center. Almost all the large train stations in China are similar: The second floor is the departure level; find your waiting hall and from there you enter the platform to get on the train. The lower level is the arrivals level. Outside is a large open plaza with lots of buses and taxi cabs offering rides.
The new Xuzhou East railway station on the outskirts of the city serves the high-speed bullet trains running on the Beijing-Shanghai railway.
Xuzhou has an airport, but it's small, not very accessible and with limited flight schedules. Other than train, most travellers will be arriving in Xuzhou via long-distance bus. The long-distance bus station is located in town, a couple of junctions away from Xuzhou train station. Most frequent departures to major cities are to Lianyungang and Nanjing.
Never, ever, if you value your sanity, take a sleeper bus from Shanghai to Xuzhou! We had a nightmarish, "squashy" ride to kick off our Qingming Festival holiday trip in April 2009.
The bus took on a host of extra passengers by the roadside after we left the main long-distance bus station in Shanghai. Needless to say these passengers and the driver were trying to save on money by not buying official tickets at the long-distance bus station. Since we were one of the last to board the bus at the station (and since everyone just took places anywhere they liked regardless of what was printed on the ticket), my 2 friends ended up side-by-side on the upper level at the back, and I got the lousiest space ever possible on a sleeper bus: at the very back and in the middle!
The extra passengers (from what I could see, all migrant workers) all crowded to the back and the ticket guy on the bus started asking them to pay for their ride. To my indignation, he kept asking me (in some strange dialect, but we could all figure out what he was talking about) to pay for my ride, even when I told him many times in no uncertain tones that I got on at the station with an official ticket! Had to yell extremely furiously at him before he reluctantly left me alone, though I'm sure he still thought I was cheating him out of his "deserved" money.
Well, that wasn't the end of our troubles. This particular long-distance bus was actually terminating somewhere in Shandong province, further north. Thankfully I had asked about the time and location that we were supposed to arrive at, in Xuzhou, as we had to inform our CouchSurfing host in advance. We were told that we would arrive perhaps around midnight or a bit after, at "somewhere near the train station". Very clear indeed! In the end we ended up being dumped unceremoniously somewhere in Xuzhou (thankfully, apparently not too far from town) at around 0230! Taxis were waiting for passengers and we got a ride to Carrefour (where our CouchSurfing host stayed, in the middle of town) for 10 RMB.
Thankfully, our long-distance bus to Yangzhou was much more "normal". We caught the departure at 0730; there're other departures at 0930, 1430 and 1630.
Just in case if you're wondering if there's an airport in Xuzhou, there is one 40 km southeast of the city (but not very convenient to get to). The regional airport serves a handful of flights to a few cities in China including Beijing and Shanghai daily and places like Dalian and Guangzhou on limited days. There is a shuttle bus that runs between the airport and the train station for 20 yuan (bus leaves for airport 2 hours prior to flight departure). Don't take the taxi as it will cost you well over 100 yuan plus highway toll (and don't trust any taxi driver who convinces you to take his taxi to the airport for only 20 yuan). If you're coming to Xuzhou, I still recommend the train.
The taxis in Xuzhou are cheaper than in Beijing or Shanghai. The starting rate is 5 yuan and it's usually about 1.40 per km (after first 3 km). Since Xuzhou is not a very big city, you rarely have to spend over 15 yuan on a ride, probably not even 10 yuan. The taxis are painted red and are mostly the small, old Chinese-made Xiali cars. It is the most convenient (and most comfortable) way to get around town.
Xuzhou is roughly halfway between Beijing and Shanghai. It is easily accessible by train. From both Beijing and Shanghai to Xuzhou it's about half a day (12 hours). From Beijing to Xuzhou there is a convenient overnight sleep train that leaves Beijing's train station in the evening and arrives in Xuzhou in the morning. Most trains arrive at Xuzhou's East Station. From there you can take a taxi (very cheap) or a bus to wherever you want to go. Bus #1 goes to the city center.