Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Asia > China
Reload this Page >

Trains in China?

Trains in China?

Old Sep 28, 09, 9:48 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 21
Trains in China?

Hello fellow FTer's,

I booked a last minute train ticket from Shanghai to Xi'ian on the 2nd which coincidentally is on the HUGE Chinese week-long holiday and was wondering if anyone has information what the trains will be like? I have, unfortunately, a HARD SEAT and heard horror stories about these but anyone else got another opinion? Many thanks
noooah is offline  
Old Sep 28, 09, 10:16 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: European: ZRH, Asian: SIN
Posts: 7,496
I've once had a hard seat in a fully booked train from Shanghai to Nanjing (and that was a slow one, so it took around 5hrs)... now, Shanghai to Xi'an is, of course, way longer, and might get you really on the edge of your nerves.

It will be crowded, not only from people, but also from luggage. It is definitely doable, as the Chinese train system, even in hard seats, is still way above Indians levels, but it won't be like European/NA rush hour. I suggest you're giving yourself a good dose of Tsingtao (or any other alcohol or you prefered, legal drug) to get yourself more relaxed. Also, such a distance should be overnight, no? Do you have hard sleeper, or really only hard seat? Hard sleeper is not that bad, yes it's full, but you'll eventually be able to sleep.... hard seats will make things harder...

I would consider looking around if you've to travel on those very dates... maybe there are still Business class seats available on Chinese Eastern? Should not cost a leg and an arm...

One other note, recently the Chinese gouvernment does try to limit travelling on National Holidays by splitting them into more but smaller periods. Might help a bit in your case, but probably won't help much.
YuropFlyer is offline  
Old Sep 28, 09, 11:15 pm
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 29,676
Originally Posted by noooah View Post
Hello fellow FTer's,

I booked a last minute train ticket from Shanghai to Xi'ian on the 2nd which coincidentally is on the HUGE Chinese week-long holiday and was wondering if anyone has information what the trains will be like? I have, unfortunately, a HARD SEAT and heard horror stories about these but anyone else got another opinion? Many thanks
Why did you put yourself in that situation? If I were you, I'd swallow that loss and buy a plane ticket (Y690+50 will get the job done on the 3rd, or slightly more if you want to fly on the 2nd). If you do decide to sweat out the train, you should be able to upgrade on board, as long as you don't waste any time getting to the conductor's counter.
moondog is offline  
Old Sep 28, 09, 11:21 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Programs: SPG Gold, SQ Blue, OZ Diamond, JAVA and occasionally C
Posts: 5,563
You seriously don't want to know. The beds are filled with bedbugs and the sheets and blankets stink of piss.

You're welcome and enjoy your ride.
kitsura is offline  
Old Sep 28, 09, 11:37 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 29,676
Originally Posted by kitsura View Post
You seriously don't want to know. The beds are filled with bedbugs and the sheets and blankets stink of piss.

You're welcome and enjoy your ride.
Well, that's a rather negative view. SH-based train sets aren't all that bad IMO, and I've braved much harsher trains without any ill effects.

That having been said, I stand by my earlier remarks... that the hard seat purchase was a questionable decision.
moondog is offline  
Old Sep 28, 09, 11:54 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Programs: SPG Gold, SQ Blue, OZ Diamond, JAVA and occasionally C
Posts: 5,563
Well I guess one can always choose to be cold and unrested or rested but covered with bites and smelly.

And of course there won't be any lasting effects but not exactly a nice way to travel. So always try to upgrade to the best class seats while travelling on a Chinese train.

But as with everything else, YMMV.
kitsura is offline  
Old Sep 29, 09, 12:20 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: cn
Posts: 5
Originally Posted by noooah View Post
Hello fellow FTer's,

I booked a last minute train ticket from Shanghai to Xi'ian on the 2nd which coincidentally is on the HUGE Chinese week-long holiday and was wondering if anyone has information what the trains will be like? I have, unfortunately, a HARD SEAT and heard horror stories about these but anyone else got another opinion? Many thanks
I must say, you choose a wrong time to travel.
It definitely very crowded in national day holiday. But also, the extent of crowding depends on which trains and what kind of tickets you booked.

T and Z trains are much better,clean and on time. Usually over-selling ticket is impossibe at soft-sleeper and hard-sleeper canbins, so not very crowded.

Hard seat ? give it up! especially the slow trains' hard seat!
T116 and Z92 are the fatest trains from Shanghai to Xian.
apple01 is offline  
Old Sep 29, 09, 8:27 am
  #8  
Ambassador, China
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Beijing
Programs: TG, OZ, UA, AA
Posts: 6,619
--If you're not used to dealing with seething masses of humanity, then I'd recommend springing for the plane ticket.
--If you want to practice your Chinese and have stories to regale your grandkids, keep the hard seat. Don't expect to get any sleep and you'll need to watch your stuff.

It's likely that on this train, not everybody who's bagged a sleeper will be going all the way to Xi'an. When they get off, a sleeper berth will be freed up and it is theoretically possible to get this sleeper, with cost prorated for the balance of the journey. To do this, you need to find the on-board conductor and get in his/her good graces, and be willing to take hard or soft sleeper whatever comes up. This will be easier if you speak some Mandarin. There will be others trying the same gambit, so it is really a crapshoot.

Despite kitsura's comments, most Chinese trains are actually reasonably decent.
jiejie is offline  
Old Sep 29, 09, 9:13 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,559
As others have said upthread, try to upgrade your ticket at the station or onboard if possible or if money isn't an issue, take the hit and buy the flight.

2 hrs in coach vs an overnight hard seat train on a holiday week is a no brainer, unless money is tight.

Safe Travels
FLLDL is offline  
Old Sep 29, 09, 10:52 am
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 21
Hahaha I thank you all for your comments!

Unfortunately money is tight but I will take your advice on trying to upgrade to a sleeper. I am on a T116 which is a fast train so that helps I hope! It will be a eye-opening experience nevertheless esp on this crazy Chinese holiday. Thanks again
noooah is offline  
Old Sep 29, 09, 5:06 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 55
T116 is overall not bad. But it stops in more cities than Z along the way. I am pretty sure that the YZ ( hard seat) cars will get packed over night during the time you travel. If you get a window seat, good for you! You may get a bit of sleep over night. If you you get a aisel or middle seat, brace yourself.

Also drinking beer is not a good idea cause you may have to fight your way to the toilet more often. And you may find people settling down there all the time too..

If you are in the middle of the train just go to the office and try to get an upgrade. Go there as early as possible once you get on the train and don't leave until you've given the final word. Some people pay 50 Yuan to get a seat in the dinning car. But since you've gotten a seat already it may not apply to you.

Good luck!
Black Hawk is offline  
Old Sep 29, 09, 5:25 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 29,676
Originally Posted by Black Hawk View Post
If you are in the middle of the train just go to the office and try to get an upgrade.
Personally, I like to ask (ahead of time) which car/doorway is closest to the "office" and then make a beeline for that specific spot at the earliest opportunity. Getting the upgrade should be a serious priority for the OP!
moondog is offline  
Old Sep 29, 09, 7:42 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Programs: CX Silver, QFF Bronze, Mabuhay Miles
Posts: 570
I don't even like to be in the same area as a train station at this time. They are madhouses and then the train ride may be "interesting". Moondog has given some good advice.

Good Luck!
Crocodile is offline  
Old Oct 9, 09, 12:22 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: SFOSJCOAK
Programs: AA-EXP & 1MM, AS MVPG 75K, MR-LT Titanium, HH Gold
Posts: 5,766
If you are looking for the train "experience", then you will definitely have it in the head-seat class. If you are not in it for the experience, then take other posters' recommendations and fly. Save lots of time to fly (but pay more though).

The station in Xian is more of a mad house (MHO) than that of Shanghai Station. Finding the end of line for the taxi is overwhelming (even for repeat trips). I wouldn't want to take the bus there. My experience was based on non-holiday period travel.
allset2travel is offline  
Old Oct 10, 09, 1:13 am
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 29,676
Originally Posted by allset2travel View Post
If you are looking for the train "experience", then you will definitely have it in the head-seat class. If you are not in it for the experience, then take other posters' recommendations and fly. Save lots of time to fly (but pay more though).

The station in Xian is more of a mad house (MHO) than that of Shanghai Station. Finding the end of line for the taxi is overwhelming (even for repeat trips). I wouldn't want to take the bus there. My experience was based on non-holiday period travel.
Now that you've rekindled this thread, I'm extremely curious to hear the OP's tale.

In response to your post, I really like train travel in China. My negative comments earlier in this thread pertained only to the instant case (hard seat between SH and Xi'an). I will continue to urge FTers to try out China's rails, when doing so makes sense (e.g. SH-BJ). Thus far, I've yet to receive a single complaint from someone I've pushed in that direction.
moondog is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread