China’s High-Speed Rail – Photo Essays

China’s High-Speed Rail

Beijing puts all its muscle into building a massive, state-of-the-art high-speed railroad network

Photographs for TIME by Michael Christopher Brown

Engine of Growth

Engine of Growth

Engine of Growth
In the past three decades, China has more than doubled the mileage of new track in its railroad system. In the coming year, it will spend $120 billion on the construction of new lines, many of which will handle high-speed rail.

Terminal

Terminal

Terminal
The system offers a vast improvement over the aging, traditional rail network, which was known for being filthy and overcrowded.

Need for Speed

Need for Speed

Need for Speed
Railroad authorities have focused intently on upgrading the system’s speed. In July 2010, the fastest train to date — it can travel as fast as 220 m.p.h. (355 km/h) — went into service, linking Shanghai to Suzhou and Nanjing. By comparison, Japan’s fastest train reaches speeds of just 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h), while the Acela, America’s fastest rail link, averages an anemic 72 m.p.h. (116 km/h).

Vast Land

Vast Land

Vast Land
Critics of the system complain that high-speed rail poorly serves the country. They say that most Chinese, especially the vast rural population, travel infrequently and are perfectly content to pay less for slower service.

Market

Market

Market
Still, the Chinese middle class is growing rapidly, and the service has created a new class of intercity commuters. In this photo, passengers wait to board high-speed trains leaving the railway station in Suzhou, pop. almost 6 million.

Tickets

Tickets

Tickets
Passengers buy tickets for high-speed trains leaving Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. The machines have instructions in both Chinese and English.

On Board

On Board

On Board
A train operator and two train officials sit in front of the first-class cabin, en route to Suzhou.

Well-Traveled

Well-Traveled

Well-Traveled
The Shanghai-Nanjing route is one of the busiest railway corridors on earth.

Reflected

Reflected

Reflected
The new trains have reduced the travel time between Shanghai and Nanjing from two hours to 73 minutes, with nonstop service.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

Work in Progress
Fewer than half of the railway lines entering the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station are currently in operation.

Memories

Memories

Memories
Travelers photograph themselves in front of the new train.

Window on the Future

Window on the Future

Window on the Future
Chinese officials say the current high-speed rail network is only the beginning. The domestic system will continue to expand, while Chinese firms will participate in constructing rail projects in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Turkey. There are also reports that Beijing wants to build a high-speed link between China and Europe.

11 comments for “China’s High-Speed Rail – Photo Essays

  1. Han Teck Fong
    April 9, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Dear sir,
    I salute to the Chinese people, the Chinese nation and the Chinese government. It is just incredible and will be hale as a living wonders of mankind achievement.

    Yours sincerely,
    Han Teck Fong.

  2. tracy
    July 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I flight from Beijing to Shanghai and need to buy a high speed train ticket travelling from shanghai to beijing. . What is the best way to get the train tickets, if we book the train tickets on line in advance? I will only stay in shanghai for a night, but don’t know the hotel name yet.

  3. brooks
    July 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Dear Tracy,

    We can deliver the tickets to your hotel when you check in!

    Please book the tickets online with the following link:

    http://www.chtrak.com/result.php?from=shanghai&to=beijing&x=11&y=10

    The train beginning with “G” is high speed bullet train you want!

    You may let us know the hotel address after you book it!

    Thanks,

  4. Margaret Ho
    July 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Please advise how much is 1 ticket for VIP seat from Shanghai to Beijing.?
    Total there are how much VIP Seat in “G” high speed train. What is the difference between VIP and First Class seating arrangement like.? If I travel in sept when I need to book the ticket.? If there any promotion or discount for 3 VIP ticket if I book early. After booking if there is changed
    in my intinery, can i cancelled my ticket and get back my refund in full.?

  5. brooks
    July 31, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Dear Margaret Ho,

    The VIP Sightseeing seat cost 323USD per person!
    http://w.chtrak.com/result.php?from=shanghai&to=beijing

    We can not offer any discount if your party is under 10 PAX. If you change the tickets inside of 10 days in advance we will charge 30% cancellation fee! If you cancell the tickets 11 days in advance we will full refund the price!

    Thanks,

    Tommy

  6. Diego Albaran
    August 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Hi,
    I checked the link to book the high speed tickets:
    http://www.chtrak.com/result.php?from=shanghai&to=beijing

    However I would like to know if the prices are for single-trip or round trip.

  7. Diego Albaran
    August 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    The prices are in USD? EUR? RMB?

  8. Sandeep mahendra
    August 30, 2011 at 2:59 am

    I have been trying to pay by Indian bank issued visa credit card.Your site says you cant pay.please suggest how do I book a ticket.Im sick and tired of trying to book a simple thing as train ticket but have failed with China train.We also do not have pay pal in India.Can you please help??

  9. brooks
    February 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Dear mahendra,

    We accept westernunion(WN)

    If you need payment information,please contact us via bottom contact us link

  10. carol zee
    February 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Dear Sir,

    Just need to know any High speed Train from Shanghai to Huangshan?

  11. brooks
    February 22, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Dear Carol zee,

    No High speed Train from Shanghai to Huangshan now!

    You can by K Train

    Train from Shanghai to Huangshan
    http://www.chtrak.com/Train-From-Shanghai-To-Huangshan.html

    Thanks,

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