You know what is one of the coolest thing in China. Their lightning fast bullet trains. I traveled in Maglev and Fuxing bullet train and I will share my experience of these two trains of China.
Maglev in Shanghai
Maglev runs between the Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road station. If you are traveling light then you can easily mange to travel in Maglev. I was traveling with a suitcase, a handbag and a backpack still I managed well. Get out of the airport and ignore all the people shouting for a taxi. Look for directions of Maglev. They are lots of boards pointing in the direction. You can take your baggage trolley till the ticketing point. Single trip costs 50 CNY and if you show the same day’s flight ticket it is 40 CNY. Wait for the train at the platform, and get in the train when it arrives. You can choose any seat that is vacant. Usually there is not much rush as many people take the metro instead of Maglev as it is cheaper. Choose a window seat from where you can look out and also see the LED display of the current time and speed. Maglev starts at the exact time it is scheduled. Observe the gradual increase in speed. The maximum speed varies based on the time of the day. I experienced the maximum speed of 300 km/hr! Enjoy each and every moment as the ride is very short and i reached the destination in exactly 8 minutes! Exact to 00 seconds! The speed is really fast and the experience is totally worth it. On reaching the Longyang station, i got out of the exit and from there took the subway towards my hotel. I took a three day subway pass for 45 CNY as i had to travel a lot and also it is easier instead of taking a ticket for each trip individually. This was my first trip to Shanghai and China, i don’t know Chinese and most people there don’t know English, still overall my experience was smooth. There were directions in English and there is very less chance of getting lost. Overall I had an amazing Maglev experience!
Fuxing Bullet Train between Shanghai and Beijing
I decided to travel between Shanghai and Beijing using the bullet train. I booked the return train from Beijing to China online using Travel China Guide. I wanted to book a specific train and it was around the China holiday season. So i didn’t want to take the risk of waiting to book the ticket in person, as sometimes the tickets get sold out. The online booking experience was good. There is some extra service fee to be paid but it is worth it if you have a specific train to book. You need to select the train and send them the passport copy. They will confirm the tickets which you can collect after reaching China. I requested them to book a window seat and they booked a nice window seat in the first row for me!
I booked the to ticket from Shanghai to Beijing in person after reaching China. I went to the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. It is huge and crowded. Followed the directions and reached the ticketing counter. The person at the desk didn’t know English, but there was a display showing the details of the ticket to be booked. I signaled him to choose the date and train of my choice. It was not at all difficult. He checked my passport and gave me the ticket. I also collected my Beijing to Shanghai ticket which i had booked online by showing him the receipt. And yipee i had to and from tickets of the Bullet train. I had selected both the trains of the G series as it is the fastest 😀
Shanghai to Beijing train
I reached the station again. Followed the directions and people to the third floor which were heading to the waiting area. Shanghai station is huge. Keep sufficient time in hand if it is your first time. After getting my bags scanned i checked my ticket for the platform number on the top right. There are well numbered platforms of both sides. I headed to my platform. There, my train was listed in the upcoming trains. I waited in the area. There are shops and restaurants all around just like an airport. It was clean and well maintained. There were huge blue LED displays of schedule of upcoming trains. And guess what ALL the trains were ON SCHEDULE. Not even a single train was delayed even by a single minute! Keep an eye on the time. Boarding started half an hour before the boarding time. The tickets are scanned and checked. Then i took the escalator to head down to the platform to board the train. And there it was, the bullet train! 🙂 There are LED displays at both the ends of each coach. It displays the train number and coach number. I entered my coach and went towards my seat. Kept my bags on the luggage carriers above and sat down my seat. It was an aisle seat 😦 Two more girls were my co passengers. And very soon the train was full and ready to leave for Beijing.
One minute before, there was a announcement that the doors are closing and bam the doors closed. People don’t run here on the platform to catch the train in motion 😀 And finally the train started. I was really cool! It attained the maximum speed of 350 km/hr. Things just zoomed past! Cars and other vehicles were left far behind. It was nice to see the smaller cities, farms, forests, rivers and landscape of China. Also there were some tunnels in between. On the train, they serve food and snacks which is chargeable. However it did not have any veg options. I took breaks and walked around. Stood at the door though it was closed 😀 Enjoyed the views from the door’s window. The girl at the window seat offered to exchange her window seat with me so that i could i enjoy the views from the window. She was a Chinese but her English was good. She guided me towards the taxi stand and also suggested few places to visit in Beijing. In 5 hours i covered a distance of 1200 kms in the bullet train!
Beijing to Shanghai train
I was looking forward my bullet train ride back to Shanghai. Although i was also a bit sad as it was almost the end of my China trip. My train was G5 at 7 AM and i reached the Beijing station at around 5:30 AM. I had a lot of time in hand. After the security check the waiting area is also at the same level. Again i headed to my gate mentioned on my ticket. Even this station is huge but smaller that the Shanghai one. I took a seat and checked my train number on the display at the gate. Chatted with a girl who knew some English. And half an hour before the departure, boarding started. I scanned my tickets and they checked my passport. Headed towards my coach and got to my seat. This time i had a window seat! 🙂 This was the latest model of the train called the Fuxing bullet train. It had charging points and free WiFi. This train was faster and mostly had the speed of 330+ km/hr. Maximum speed was 350 km/hr. My co passenger was a guy working at Microsoft Bing. His English was good and we chatted about China and India and shared snacks. I had a great time in the bullet train and took breaks and walked around in between. The train has two stops in between and it stopped just enough so that people could get down and enter the train in around 3 mins. The train was completely full. I reached Shanghai in exactly 4 hours 34 minutes!
Overall bullet train is something not to be missed in China. Take the Maglev to and from airport. And take the bullet to other cities instead of fight. These bullet trains are more comfortable that flight. It has more leg room. And the stations are located in the center of the city. I had blazing experience on the bullet train rides! This is the fastest i have been on land in my life so far 🙂 I will surely take a bullet train again when i revisit China. Hopefully it will be much more faster then 😀
Bullet trains are awesome! Hopefully India will also have bullet trains soon. It will be convenient to travel long distances in such trains. We can have a network of bullet trains connecting major cities like all the state capitals. And from these major stations, there can be other options like trains and buses to connect other cities and towns. I’m sure it will create more employment opportunities for our people and will be an affordable transportation alternative. And while we demand for all these facilities, it is our duty and responsibility to take care of public properties. We should consider it as our own property, after all we have paid taxes for all these facilities. People should not damage the things installed in the train. The platforms and stations should be kept clean. Things are changing in India now, however we need to go a long way. It is very easy to ask for multiple things and facilities to the government but at the same time, it is the moral responsibility of the people to take care of the public property by considering it our own! I look forward to the day when there will be a network of fast and affordable bullet trains in India! 🙂