Beijing Travel Essentials: Beijing Trains
Beijing Trains & Rail Network
Beijing has six train stations but most visitors will only ever need to know about the modern Beijing South Railway Station for High Speed Trains (HST) to Tianjin, Nanjing and Shanghai, Beijing Railway Station and Beijing West Railway Station.
Trains head to Moscow, Pyongyang, Ulan Bataar, Baotou, Tianjin, Shanghai and some other cities from Beijing Railway Station, a monolithic station built in the 1950s.
If you don't speak Chinese it is a good idea to head to the ticket office designated for foreigners.
At Beijing Railway Station it is on the first floor through the soft seat waiting room. Train tickets can be booked on the Internet if you have a knowledge of Chinese.
Chinese intercity trains are air-conditioned, reasonably quick and a good way of seeing the country and something of local culture.
Beijing West Railway Station links the capital to virtually every other city in China, including Lhasa in Tibet, and destinations such as Hong Kong and Vietnam. The Foreigner's Ticket Office is on the second floor.
Read more about Beijing to Lhasa trains.
There are four basic classes of Chinese train. Hard seat is the cheapest, and is self-explanatory. It is not recommended for those of a nervous disposition or for very long journeys.
Soft seat is the same idea, but you get a comfy padded seat. Hard sleeper is the cheapest class where you get a bed.
Beds are stacked three high and partitioned into groups of six. A soft sleeper ticket will get you a bunk in a room of four. The beds are nicer than in hard sleeper, and there are sometimes televisions. The trade off is the price; soft sleeper can sometimes be as expensive as the aeroplane.
Shanghai 10 hours by conventional train or 4 hours and 48 minutes by HST from Beijing South to Shanghai Hongqiao.
Chinese Train Safety
Overall China's railway system is considered safe but the speed of HST development has raised some concerns bourne out by a fatal accident on the Ningbo-Taizhou-Wenzhou Railway in July 2011 which killed 40 people.