Taking a Train from Hangzhou to Beijing

I had a week off from school at the beginning of October. It was for the mid-autumn festival and the national holiday. It’s time to eat a lot of moon cakes (ate about 6 of them) and travel.

A few of my friends (who are excellent in Chinese) and I went to Beijing.  We took the train instead of flying because we have time and we wanted to see more of China.

I have heard of not so nice stories about train rides in China. Each often involves crowding, dirtiness, hard benches on a rickety train and people invading your private seating space. I was preparing for the worst.

On the day of our departure, we arrived at the Hangzhou train station at around 6:45am and our train is scheduled to leave at 7:20am. The train station’s floor was a bit of a mess. It’s likely that the cleaning staff hasn’t yet reported in for the morning shift. As well, there are more travellers going through the station this week than normal because of the holiday. Unfortunately, it supported those not so nice train stories.

When we got to the train’s platform, I was surprised by the train. It’s a high speed train with comfy seats. It’s sleek and clean. Wow. It took us 6.5 hours to get to Beijing but it didn’t feel like it despite some stops. Each stop along the way was fast and efficient. My negative perception has just got thrown off board. It was a fun experience!

Facts and tips about trains in China:

  • Our train seats were assigned when the tickets were purchased.
  • Trains can leave early. Ours left before the scheduled time. It’s best to come early.
  • Beijing train station (some other stations may too) requires us to have our tickets before we can exit the station’s platform. The lesson is don’t throw the ticket away until you have exited the arrival gate.
  • A train numbering is coded as AXXX (A is an alpha and where X’s are numbers). A train number starts with a G means it’s a 300+ km/h train. For example, our train number to Beijing was G32. This means it’s a high speed train. Other letters are:
    • C – Intercity super fast (e.g. Hangzhou to Shanghai)
    • D – 250 km/h (older generation of fast trains)
    • Z – direct express at 160 km/h
    • T – express 140 km/h usually have sleepers
    • K – more stops and slower 120 km/h
Below are some of photos of the G32 train my friends and I took to Beijing. Enjoy!

Spacious and clean seating area. This is the second class area. The walk way between cars is wide — a man in this picture is walking to car number 12 from car number 11. First class seating is like that of a modern first class seating on an airplane.

The restaurant car. This is where you can buy drinks, snacks and order microwaveable food. I recommend you bring your own food. There’s hot water facility on each car for tea and instant noodles.

Anne and Hyeonji waiting at the counter waiting for our food. We tried the food and it’s not recommended. Bring your own food. I am so lucky to travel with them. They know Chinese hen hao (very well)! Our another friend, Alex, is already in Beijing and he is waiting for us at the hostel.

 

Plenty of leg room and there’s an AC outlet to charge our mobiles. I got cell/data coverages most of the way except in the mountainous area and going through tunnels.

Speeding our way to Beijing at 305 km/h. The information board shows that it’s train G32, it’s 11:43 am and it’s car number 12. Very comfortable and quiet at speed.

A view from the train. A rural area as the train is nearing Beijing. Photo by Anne.

We have arrived at Beijing South Station. This station is connected to Beijing’s subway system. It made getting to our hostel cheaper than taking a taxi. I believe all train stations in Beijing are connected to the subway system.

 

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