Traditional Sleeper Trains & Modern High Speed Trains
Trains has always been one of the easiest and best way to travel around China. Now China has developed an increasingly expanding high-speed rail network covering nearly all major cities of the country, and there are still a considerate number of traditional sleeper trains served in the long-distance rail journeys. Concerning the rocketing speed and comfort, high-speed trains also beat over traditional sleeper trains in many other ways regarding to safety, punctuality and more personalized facilities. However, ordinary sleeper trains win at cheaper price and the money saved for one night accommodation of hotel.
Travel Time and Speed
Modern highspeed trains shuttling between major cities greatly rival over the normal types with respect to the speed. The travel time is dramatically cut down more than a half. Traditional sleeper trains make more stops at small counties and usually run at a lower speed hovering between120km/h and 160km/h. For example, the newly opened Xian-Chengdu high-speed line has shrunk the duration from 13 hours to 3-4 hours. It is utterly possible for travelers travel across most of China within 6 hours. Besides, comparing to normal trains, high-speed trains provide more choices of train timings for your preference.
Facilities and Environment
Generally, modern high-speed trains are much cleaner and neater than the traditional sleeper ones. You can enjoy a comfortable ride onboard with spacious legroom and luggage room. Personal space is respected as seats are slightly separated by armrests, and the adjustable seats are friendly to your back and waist. Clean western style toilets and convenient power sockets are available on highspeed trains. Relatively speaking, the environment on traditional sleeper train is kind of bedbug-free, and facilities are just plain. As a great deal of standing tickets are issued on normal trains, they are crowded and untidy at most of the time. You may have to tolerate the terribly smelly squat toilets, and squeeze through the narrowed aisles. The case is much better in soft or deluxe sleeper compartment where a private toilet and sink are available.
Check-in and Train Delay
Most modern high-speed train stations are applicable to auto ticket check-in machines. Usually the queue lines move quickly and you do not need to arrive the train station as early as catching a normal train. However, the train ticket can only be picked up from ticket window with staff as ticketing machines do not accept passport neither for bullet trains or regular trains. In the case of punctuality, modern high-speed trains are more reliable and time-efficient with low occurrence of train delay. Even if you miss the train, you can easily reschedule the ticket of the same day as there are often more frequent bullet trains available. Relatively, train delay happens more on normal trains, and the long-distance train journey is barely refundable because of the scarce departure once you fail to catch the train.
Food onboard is always a target of complaint for travelers home and abroad. The unpacked meals sold on canteen cart of ordinary trains tastes terrible, while the pre-packed box meals sold on high-speed trains are of higher quality, but still limited to varieties and far expensive. The wisest way to eat on board is to prepare some easy-carry fast food or snacks in advance for both.
Price and Cost
In terms of travel cost, a traditional sleeper train would be an economical option for budget travelers. The ticket price of a regular fast sleeper train is a bit lower than that of bullet trains. Another advantage of an overnight sleeper train is that you could save the expense of a hotel for one night, and you do not have to waste the limited day time for sightseeing instead of making transit.
Facilities for the Disabled
Honestly, Chinese modern high-speed trains are friendlier to travelers with physical challenges, as barrier-free facilities and care are accessible from the station entry to the exit. There is no problem for the disabled to board the train, settle their wheelchair or use the restroom. Nevertheless, most old-style traditional sleeper trains is theoretically accessible for the disabled, but it could be a huge hassle without two or three companions for assistance.
By far, it is doable for you to select the desired seat for free when booking a high-speed train ticket. You could choose a window seat for viewing landscape and adjoining seats with your friends or families. However, the train ticket for traditional sleeper trains are issued randomly, so you and your fellows might be not in the same row of seats or compartment. In such case, you could ask other passengers to change the seats or berths with you if they are willing to.
Popular High-Speed Train Travel Routes
- Beijing - Shanghai
- Beijing - Xian
- Shanghai - Hangzhou
- Shanghai - Huangshan
- Beijing - Luoyang - Xian
- Xian - Pingyao
- Xian - Chengdu
- Chengdu - Chongqing
- Yichang - Shanghai