Following the plan of the country’s Ministry of Railways, China is travelling at full speed towards a rail-driven future. The plans are for a total of 16,000km of high-speed railway lines to be laid out by 2020, with trains travelling at an average of 350km per hour between urban centres.

On short- and mid-haul routes, the high speed trains are an attractive proposition and might even present a challenge to the future growth prospects of domestic airlines. The advantages for travellers are obvious: terminals are easier to get to, trains carry more passengers than a plane and and fares are often cheaper. Late last year, airlines such as Shenzhen Airlines, Hainan Airlines and China Southern Airlines were offering discounted tickets to fly between Wuhan and Guangzhou, in part a reaction to the introduction of the new express train service between the two commercial hubs.

Here are some of the latest train services connecting major and emerging Chinese business hubs:


Route: Guangzhou-Shenzhen – a high-speed intercity railway from Guangzhou to Shenzhen via Guangzhou East, Shilong, Dongguan and Zhangmutou.

Track length: 147km

Train operator: Guangshen Railway Company

Top speed: 200km/h

Trip time: roughly one hour

Fare: Non-stop: First class CNY100 (US$15), Second class CNY80 (US$12); With stops: First class CNY95 (US$14), Second class CNY75 (US$11).

Telephone: 86 755 2558 7920



Route: Beijing-Tianjin – a high-speed intercity rail line from Beijing South to Tianjin via Yizhuang, Yongle and Wuqing

Track length: 117km

Train operator: Ministry of Railways (China)

Top speed: 350km/h

Trip time: 30 minutes

Fare: A Deluxe class ticket costs CNY99 (US$15); a First class ticket costs CNY69 (US$10); and Second class ticket costs CNY58 (US$8).

Telephone: 86 10 5184 1979



Route: Wuhan-Guangzhou  – a high-speed rail link from Wuhan (Hubei) to Guangzhou (Guangdong) via Changsha (Hunan) in China.

Track length: 968km

Train operator: China Railway High-speed

Top speed: 350km/h

Trip time: about three hours

Fare: Deluxe class costs CNY885 (US$129); First class costs CNY780 (US$114); and Second class costs CNY490 (US$72).



Route: Zhengzhou-Xi’an – the first high-speed passenger railway in western China, connecting Zhengzhou in Henan province and Xi’an in Shaanxi province. The railway opened in February of this year.

Track length: 505km

Train operator: Ministry of Railways (China)

Top speed: 352km/h

Trip time: one hour and 48 minutes

Fare: First class CNY390 (US$57); Second class CNY240 (US$35).



China’s fastest commercial train service remains the Shanghai Maglev Train (Shanghai Transrapid) between Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road Station, also in Pudong.

It is the world’s first commercial high-speed maglev (magnetic levitation) line in the world. It also still holds the record for being the world’s fastest train in regular commercial services – 431km/h – faster than the previous title holder, France’s TGV at 320km/h.


Route: Pudong International Airport-Longyang Road Station, Pudong, Shanghai

 Track length: 30.5km


Train operator: Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Corporation

Top speed: 431km/h

Trip time: from 7 minutes 20 seconds to 8 minutes 10 seconds

Fare: A one-way ticket costs CNY50 (US$7.27), or CNY40 (US$5.81) for those holding a receipt or proof of an airline ticket purchase. A round-trip return ticket costs CNY80 (US$11.63) and VIP tickets cost double the standard fare.


Margie T Logarta and Joy Zhou