Mixing conventional and high speed trains in China

China’s high speed rail network is the biggest in the world, but not all of it is dedicated to high speed trains – on some routes conventional trains also share the tracks.

CRH380B high-speed train awaiting departure from Beijing South railway station

Combined traffic

Shanghai Railway Station was the first I came across. Once the main railway station for the city, today it mainly sees locomotive hauled long distance trains.

Electric locomotive SS7D 0016 departs Shanghai Railway Station with a rake of '25Z' class carriages

Along with a handful of CRH high-speed services – the fastest trains now use Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to the west of the city.

China Railways CRH2 set arrives at Shanghai Railway Station

I found the same mix of trains at Beijing West Railway Station.

Looking down on platforms 12 and 13

My high speed train to Xian departing from one platform.

CRH380A train awaiting departure from Beijing West Railway Station

While passengers waited to board their locomotive hauled train on the opposite platform.

Food cart on the platform at Beijing West Railway Station

And separate

Between major cities, “passenger dedicated lines” (客运专线) have been built for high speed trains.

China Railways CRH2 high speed train arrives at Jinan West station

These new routes often run parallel to existing railway corridors.

Overtaking a HXD3C class hauled passenger train on the 'old' Shanghai-Beijing railway

Separating high speed trains from slower locomotive hauled trains.

Overtaking a red 'K' train on the 'old' railway alongside

As well as even slower freight trains.

Freight train heads out of Xian

Viaducts are often used to carry these new high speed rail routes.

Freight train passes below our high-speed train

Avoiding the need to acquire land at ground level.

Paralleling a CRH2 high speed train outside Shanghai Hongqiao

These new routes serve newly built stations on the outskirts of cities, avoiding the need for detours into built up areas.

CRH train stopped in the opposite platform at Huashan North Railway Station

Xi’an North railway station is one example – only high speed trains were to be seen.

CRH train departs Xian North Railway Station

With slower trains still using the original Xi’an railway station closer to town.

Forecourt of Xi'an Railway Station


Baidu has a Chinese language article on “passenger dedicated lines” (客运专线):

Passenger dedicated line refers to the railway system that only runs passenger trains and technical operation trains. There are many types of passenger dedicated lines, which are generally divided into railway trunk lines (铁路干线), inter-regional railways (区际铁路), inter-city rails (城际轨道交通) and suburban city ​​express (市域快铁) trains according to the railway administrative nature.

China’s passenger lines have two major classes:

Class 1: high-speed rail passengers (high-speed passenger line), the railway ranks on the high-speed rail. China stipulates that the high-speed railway is a high-speed (with a speed limit of 250 km/h) passenger line, which is its technical standard and functional positioning, while the passenger-vehicle dual-purpose railway with a speed of 250 km/h is a fast-speed railway.

Class 2: Fast-speed passenger-class (fast passenger line), which is a passenger dedicated line (the city ​​express train and some inter-city railways , such as the Dagang Express Railway and the Changsha-Zhuzhou-City Intercity Railway ) , which is lower than the 250 km/h speed bottom line standard of the high-speed railway.

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