All Aboard!

By Mark Andrews

City Weekend. 01/11/2007

How China’s new high speed trains are revolutionising travel in China.

Bang on time at 7.45am on January 28 train D653 left the ultra modern Shanghai South Station bound for Hangzhou. This gleaming white streamlined electric CRH2 train marked a new era for Chinese railways. Finally China Railway High Speed (CRH) or dongchezu was born.

How things change! Just thirteen years ago on my first visit to China, it was still very much a land of Paul Theroux’s ‘iron rooster’. Trains of leviathan length clanked there way across China at little more than 50kph. Days were spent on trains and many travellers contested that you hadn’t seen the real China unless you’d spent at least 36 hours in hard seat. Steam engines were in their last throws hauling the slower local trains in the far flung north of China.

Until this year the answer to the question “Does China have any high speed trains?” would have been “Yes, one – the world’s fastest.” The much vaunted and underused maglev line since 2003 has covered a grand total of 30km from Shanghai’s Pudong airport to the edge of the city.

Unfortunately I cannot find an electronic version of this article.

Mark Andrews has written about everything from Japanese houses to heli hikes on New Zealand glaciers, test drives of Chinese cars to bar and restaurant reviews. He currently specialises in travel articles and reviews of Chinese cars plus articles about the Chinese auto industry.

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