On our recent holiday to China we had an opportunity to travel on one of the high speed trains from Shanghai to the garden city of Suzhou (100km away and a 30 minute journey). The ride was very smooth indeed, eventually hitting just short of 300kph. The stock was considerably wider than we are used to, seating five abreast with a very generous gangway. However the interior design and décor was to my mind a little utilitarian.
Shanghai railway station was vast, handling almost one million passengers per day. Firstly you had to go through a typical airline security regime (luggage x-rayed, and then a full body pat down and scan with a metal detector). All departing passengers were held in departure halls, being released onto the platform just as their train was due to depart. The same procedure was followed on our return from Suzhou.
China Railways have invested an enormous amount of money in their infrastructure. Almost everywhere one looked in the Shanghai area there appeared to be ‘new’ railway lines, invariably elevated so construction impacted day-to-day living and existing roads etc., at little as possible, as well as ultra-modern stations.
However, away from the Shanghai conurbation we saw little evidence of much in the way of railways, although in Kunming (a three-hour flight from Shanghai) they were putting in a new metro system. We also saw the maglev track which connected Shanghai with Pudong airport, and I believe I spotted one of these trains in the distance.