Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Shanghai to London- Part 3

Wuxi to Beijing-

The journey to Beijing is from Wuxi East Station- which turns out to be very east (especially as we are running late!). A 30 minute taxi ride from the downtown area on one of China’s new 3 lane elevated roadways brings into view another large steel station structure. Today is a fairly clear day but even so the towers of central Wuxi are too far away to be seen.  The station here will be linked to the new Wuxi metro system- but that is still under construction, large ‘cut and cover’ pits littering the cities streets.

Wuxi East Station on the Shanghai -Beijing High Speed Line
At Wuxi East we area allowed onto the platform some10 minutes before the train arrives from Shanghai. While waiting a fast Shinkansen style ‘Bullet Train’ soars through the central track at a line speed of around 300kph. The sight is certainly impressive! Shortly afterwards another similar train arrives to form the G112 service to Beijing South.

Boarding the train here is very orderly. Passengers are already queing at markers on the platform which locate the door position of their coach. As the train doors open passengers board from one door, while departing passengers leave from the opposite end of the coach. This eliminates (at least in theory ) the usual jam of people in the coach aisle.

Two views inside the Japanese 'Shinkansen' train
On board the train is comfortabley apponinted with 3+2 airline style seating. This is all configured to face the direction  of travel but can also be reversed to create a bay of seating for groups- not that I had found any way to influence the seat reservations I had been given.

A glimpse of a freight train on a 'classic' line as we speed past
As sightseers our allocated seats were not ideally placed being with windows which really could line up better. The fact that many of the window blinds are down is a further hindrance. We find some seats more suitable for viewing the scenery but half an hour later we must give them up and move back to our own seats as more passengers arrive. Very few trains in China run with empty seats and this one is no exception, now being close to capacity. Fortunately there are always vestuibles we can stand in to take our photographs when the scenery gets good- and this does happen from time to time along the route. The vast swathes of China’s flat and fairly uninspiring farmland are punctuated, of course, by large construction sites where tower blocks are appearing seemingly in the middle of nowhere. As each City approaches a myriad of further high speed routes converge before entering the cavernous parkway style stations.
Flat rural China. If you look closely you can just make 
out the silhouettes of a large group of tall apartment
buildings in the background

One cannot help feeling that these stations are excessively large, some with almost 20 platforms! Like everything else in China it is a clear sign of the countries confidence in it’s future with infrastructure built with capacity for expansion in mind.

While it certainly does feel link a long journey the 5 hour trip has been pleasant, smooth and very fast. As the rural scene changes to become more and more urban it is clear that arrival in Beijing is imminent. The cities South Station is well connected and having said goodbye to China’s high speed rail system and passing several security checks (which the Chinese seem very keen on) it is just a short hop on the subway to reach the city centre.

Beijing South Railway Station

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