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.