Shenzhen  Stuff

High Speed Train with Low Speed Ticketing

We took a weekend trip to Changsha, and for me the main point was to ride the train – check out my job.


Good Points – more comfortable than the SZ-GZ train as the seats are further apart and recline.  The ride is also smoother, despite travelling much faster, due to the rigid concrete track bed.  The trains in both directions ran exactly to time. On the trip up we were on a train and moving within about 20 minutes of arriving at Guangzhou South station.  The non-stop trains between the two cities take two hours.


Bad Points – if you don’t have a Chinese ID card you can’t buy from the automatic ticket machines, which didn’t matter at GZ, but was a total pain at Changsha on Sunday afternoon, and No, you can’t buy two tickets re-using one card – they’re smarter than that. 


We arrived at the station at 3:40pm after a ride from the city centre through the Changsha traffic.  The ticket hall was packed and the queues were moving very slowly, then after a 30 minute wait we found out why.  At about 4:10 pm we were told that the next train we could get seats on was the 6:38pm – two and a half hours wait, when there are running eight trains an hour.  We were offered standing room in about an hour, but I wasn’t interested.  We asked about First Class – RMB532 instead of RMB333 – and could get a seat for 5:52pm, and that didn’t seem worth it.


It’s a nice station to hang around in – spacious with plenty of seats - but two and a half hours is too much.


The train never reached 350km/hr but ran a good bit of the way in the 340s and peaked a few times at 348.  If you fancy hurtling through Hunan covering each kilometer in less than 11 seconds in a Chinese designed and built train, then it’s worth it.  But buy your tickets in advance.


Photos of the train with many standing passengers, plus the “what we did in Changsha” bit later.

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Comment by Mike46 on June 28, 2011 at 8:49am

@Chris - Shannon has friends in Changsha, so we were shown around.  For me the main point was the train trip, but I enjoyed the wandering around, especially on Saturday when it wasn't too hot.  I'm sure that you've seen many more older Chinese cities than I have.  We spent most of the evening in Soho - very similar to the one in Luohu.

@Bill - I enjoy reading about other people's travels, so I put mine up so people have an idea about what's out there.

Comment by GrandPa on June 27, 2011 at 8:24pm
Mike, nice post, thanks for sharing!
Comment by Mike46 on June 27, 2011 at 3:24pm

The ticket windows at Changsha had their times of opening above them - I didn't actually see one close - might have been worth watching.


The main problem with the queues was the customers - I guess that's always the problem with queues.  They would get to the front and be given the choice of:

  1. waiting two and a half hours for a second class seat;
  2. waiting two hours for a first class seat; or
  3. getting a standing ticket soon.

As they were all important people in a hurry, they most selected:

  • getting a second class seat NOW

and then argued about it when the stupid girl wouldn't give it to them.

Comment by Mike46 on June 27, 2011 at 3:18pm
Comment by Biophoton on June 27, 2011 at 1:41pm

The problem for waiting in the queue was, that we came around lunch time and like aways when you come to somewhere in China around lunch time, they close the window in front of you even when you have waited for an hour, that just the bad costumer service they have here. Maybe in a million years also chinese ppl will understand that a big group of waiting ppl demands a higher amount of serving personal.


Comment by Mike46 on June 27, 2011 at 12:49pm

There were quite big queues at the automatic machines in the ticket office in Changsha, but when we got through to the departure area there were a whole bunch more ticket machines and no people - no signs outside letting you know that you could get the ticket inside [with Chinese ID card] either.  I'll maybe try my HK ID card sometime, but there was a guy in Changsha raising hell because the machine had eaten his Chinese card.


A couple of weeks ago I tried to buy an advance ticket to GZ from SZ, because we were wanting to catch the 6:15am train the next day.  However I didn't have my passport with me and they wouldn't even let me into the ticketing area.

Comment by David - 戴維在中國 on June 27, 2011 at 12:41pm
I did a Shanghai to HK trip in the poor seats once in 07 just for the experience of it. But wont be doing that again.
Comment by David - 戴維在中國 on June 27, 2011 at 12:39pm
Weird, they never bothered with my passport last time. The guard was swiping ID cards but just gestured me to go through as I came to the front. Never asked for my passport to get the ticket either as I recall.
Comment by David - 戴維在中國 on June 27, 2011 at 12:36pm
Yes Aiya that's right, Mike was saying you cannot get the ticket from the Automatic Ticket machines you need to swipe the Chinese ID card to complete the transaction and get the ticket. From the ticket window it is no problem, just means you have to queue longer usually.
Comment by Mike46 on June 27, 2011 at 12:36pm

I read your blog a while back.  The problem is that you have to queue for the counter sales, which took half an hour in Changsha.  They insisted on seeing my passport and put the passport number there.


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