Another one for the trainspotters…

The trains here are something else.  I’ve posted before about the amazingly fast and fast-growing rail network across China: click here for more.

A few months ago, they opened the fast train service to Nanjing, just over 300 hundred kilometres west of Shanghai.  As I have a project in Nanjing, I’ve caught it a few times – a mere 70 minute journey.

And last weekend, we hopped on the train to get to Suzhou, one of the nearby canal cities.  In the rush to buy tickets (they were selling out fast), I selected Deluxe Class – still cheap at about $12.  As it turned out, they were the Mostest Deluxe Possible – the first four seats on the train, positioned directly behind the white-gloved, highly-focused driver.  I guess everyone could see him, so clean hands and a sense of focus were important traits to display.

We got a great view straight down the tracks and travelling at over 350 km/h, it was quite an experience.  Had things gone horribly wrong, I imagine we would have had little time to realise, so it was easy to place oneself in a state of fatalistic calm.  Besides, the trains and so roomy and clean and comfortable and they even hand out free drinks (in the Deluxe section only, of course…)

The building infrastructure for all these new trains is pretty amazing too.  The stations are vast, like airports, teeming with thousands of travellers, packed with shops and services, and connected with multiple Metro and elevated roadways. There are three main stations – Shanghai South Station is probably just a few years old…

and this one, at the Hongqiao Transport Hub (containing dozens of platforms for high speed trains and interchanging directly with the Metro as well as Hongqiao International Airport) opened just last month.

I guess all this infrastructure doesn’t always create the most attractive urban environment.  This is the Maglev that connects to the other airport (Pudong International) at a speed of 430 km/h.

Next year, the Shanghai-Beijing Express opens (a year ahead of schedule).  Journey time between the two cities will be cut from 10 to 4 hours and it will carry up to 80 million passengers a year (that’s around 200,000 a day).  It also just set a passenger train speed record – see this Herald article for more –  and I’m sure to the typical trainspotter, it looks pretty sexy too.

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2 Responses to Another one for the trainspotters…

  1. Adina West says:

    I’m no professional trainspotter, but I do have a bit of a thing for high speed trains. Just so practical.

    Another thing the Chinese (and everyone else in the world) is apparently doing better than we Aussies. We just need a few hundred million more people to make it economically feasible.

    Sigh.

  2. Pingback: Suzhou / canals, gardens, silkworms | That Look Crayzy!

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