China Railway Network

China railway network has a total length of 155,000 kilometers (96,300 miles) among which 42,000 kilometers (26,100 miles) are high speed railways. These railways shape a dense net covering almost every corner of China, even remote mountainous areas, Tibet on the “Roof of the World”, and Hainan Island on the sea. By 2025, the railway network in China will reach 175,000 kilometers (108,740 miles).

First of all, we will introduce several major normal speed railways, including five vertical lines running in a north-south direction and three horizontal lines traversing in an east-west direction. As completed years ago, most of them can only accommodate normal speed trains.

Five Vertical Lines (north-south)

Beijing-Shanghai (Jinghu) Line
Total Length  908 miles (1,462 kilometers)
Cross-Provinces and Municipalities Beijing-Tianjin-Heibei-Shandong-Jiangsu-Anhui-Shanghai
Cross-Cities Beijing-Tianjin-Dezhou-Jinan-Xuzhou-Bengbu-Nanjing-Zhenjiang-Changzhou-Wuxi-Shanghai
Cross-Terrains North China Plain-Yangtze-Huai Plain-Yangtze River Delta
Functions This rail line covers a densely populated area including highly developed agricultural and industrial areas. Serving as the east artery linking north and south China, this line helps strengthen communications and also relieves transportation pressures of the eastern costal area of the country.

Beijing–Guangzhou (Jingguang) Line
Total Length  1,444 miles (2,324 kilometers)
Cross-Provinces and Municipalities Beijing-Heibei-Henan-Hubei-Hunan-Guangdong
Cross-Cities Beijing-Shijiazhuang-Handan-Xinxiang-Zhengzhou-Wuhan-Changsha-Zhuzhou-Hengyang-Shaoguan-Guangzhou
Cross-Terrains North China Plain-Dongting Lake Plain-South China Hilly Region-Pearl River Delta
Functions  Jingguang line is the central axis in the Chinese railway network linking northern, middle and southern areas of the country. It is a north-south line with the highest transportation capacity.
Beijing–Hong Kong (Jingjiu) Line
 Beijing-Hong Kong Train
Total Length  1,538 miles (2,475 kilometers)
Cross-Provinces and Municipalities Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei-Shandong-Anhui-Hubei-Jiangxi-Guangdong-Kong Kong
Cross-Cities Beijing-Bazhou-Hengshui-Shangqiu-Huangchuan-Macheng-Jiujiang-Nanchang-Ganzhou-Longhcuan-Shenzhen-Kowloon
Cross-Terrains North China Plain-Yangtze-Huai River Plain-Poyang Lake Plain-South China Hilly Region-Pearl River Delta
Functions It is the main transportation artery connecting the country's southern and northern territories. This line attaches much importance to the stability and prosperity in the Hong Kong and Macau regions.

Jiaozuo-Liuzhou (Jiaoliu) Line
Total Length 1,488 miles (2,395 kilometers)
Cross-Provinces and Municipalities Henan-Hubei-Hunan-Guanxi
Cross-Cities Jiaozuo-Luoyang-Xiangyang-Zhicheng-Huaihua-Liuzhou
Cross-Terrains West mountainous region of Henan Province-Jianghan Plain-west mountainous region of Hunan Province-Gunagxi and Guangdong hilly regions
Functions It nearly parallels the Jingguang line and travels through areas with rich coal resources. This line helps to relieve the stresses of coal freight and improve operation efficiencies. Meanwhile, it shares heavy passenger transport load with the Jingguang line.

Baoji-Chengdu-Kunming (Baocheng-Chengkun) Line
Total Length 1,089 miles (1,754 kilometers)
Cross-Provinces and Municipalities Shaanxi-Gansu-Sichuan-Yunnan
Cross-Cities Baoji-Chengdu-Panzhihua-Kunming
Cross-Terrains Qinba Mountains-Chengdu Plain-Yunnan Guizhou Plateau
Functions Along this line there are abundant natural resources, populations of ethnic minorities are also scattered around. Therefore it helps to promote the economic development of southwest area and improve the living standards of the ethnic minorities.
Xi'an Railway Station
Xi'an Railway Station along Longhai-Lanxi Line
A Hard Seat Carriage
Hard Seat Carriage of an Ordinary Train

Three Horizontal Lines (east-west)

Beijing-Baotou-Lanzhou (Jingbao-Baolan) Line
Total Length 517 miles (833 kilometers)
Cross-Provinces and Municipalities Beijing-Heibei-Shanxi-Inner Mongolia-Ningxia-Gansu
Cross-Cities Beijing-Datong-Jining-Hohhot-Baotou-Yinchuan-Zhongwei-Lanzhou
Cross-Terrains Mountainous area of northern Hebei Province-Inner Mongolia Plateau-Hetao Plain-Ningxia Plain
Functions It strengthens the economic and communication networks of northern and western parts of the country. This line also relieves transport stresses on the Lanzhou-Lianyungang rail line. This line attaches much importance to overall territorial defense.

Alataw Pass-Lanzhou-Lianyungang (Longhai-Lanxin) Line
Total Length 2,269 miles (3,652 kilometers)
Cross-Provinces and Municipalities Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Xinjiang
Cross-Cities Lianyungang-Xuzhou-Shangqiu-Kaifeng-Zhengzhou-Luoyang-Xi'an-Baoji-Lanzhou-Urumqi-Alataw Pass
Cross-Terrains Huanghuai Plain - Loess Plateau - Hexi Corridor - Turpan Basin - Junggar Basin
Functions Being the longest railway mainline, it links the developed east area and developing west area thereby contributing greatly in the development of economy and tourism. In addition, this line leads to China’s northwest border which is beneficial in developing international trade.

Shanghai-Kunming (Hukun) Line
Total Length 1,663 miles (2,677 kilometers)
Cross-Provinces and Municipalities Shanghai-Zhejiang-Jiangxi-Xiangjiang-Guizhou-Yunnan
Cross-Cities Shanghai-Hanghai-Nanchang-Zhuzhou-Huaihua-Guiyang-Kunming
Cross-Terrains Yangtze River Delta-South China Hilly land-Yunnan Guizhou Plateau
Functions This line enhances economic interaction between the country's east and southwest areas. This line is also a good helper to share the transport pressure of the Lanzhou-Lianyungang rail line.
 Different from the above mentioned normal speed railways, these high speed railways can accommodate bullet trains running as fast as 350 km/h (217 mph), greatly shortening the journey time. Currently, the high speed railway network has covered over 500 China cities and will cover more in the future. Below are some major high speed railway lines:
Line Travel Route Length (km)
North - South Lines
Beijing - Shanghai Line
Beijing South, Tianjin West, Jinan West, Tai'an, Xuzhou East, Nanjing South, Shanghai Hongqiao
Beijing - Guangzhou Line
Beijing West, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou East, Changsha South, Guangzhou South
Harbin - Dalian Line Harbin West, Changchun West, Shenyang North, Tieling West, Dalian North 921
Hangzhou - Shenzhen Line Hangzhou East, Ningbo, Taizhou, Wenzhou South, Fuzhou South, Putian, Quanzhou, Xiamen North, Chaoshan, Shenzhen North 1,464
East - West Lines
Xuzhou - Xi'an Line Xuzhou East, Kaifeng North, Zhengzhou East, Luoyang Longmen, Huashan North, Xi'an North 883
Shanghai – Kunming Line Shanghai Hongqiao, Hangzhou East, Nanchang West, Changsha South, Guiyang North, Kunming South 2,264
Shanghai – Chengdu Line Shanghai Hongqiao, Nanjing South, Hefei South, Wuhan, Chongqing North, Chengdu East 1,985
Guangzhou - Kunming Line Guangzhou South,  Yangshuo, Guilin North, Guiyang, Guiyang North, Kunming South  1,287
Lanzhou – Urumqi Line Lanzhou West,  Xining, Zhangye West, Jiayuguan South, Kumul, Turpan North, Urumqi South 1,786

 Further Reading:
8 Most Scenic Train Rides in China

- Last updated on Jan. 12, 2023 by Brenda Lian -
Questions & Answers on China Railway Network
Asked by Yu from USA | Oct. 19, 2019 01:11Reply
How do I get from Zhangjiajie to Chaozhou?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jamie | Oct. 22, 2019 01:22

If by rail, I suppose you may need to go to Guangzhou firstly and then to Chaozhou. If by flight, you may go to Jieyang Chaoshan airport by direct flight and then to Chaozhou by bus.
Asked by Yu from USA | Oct. 19, 2019 01:07Reply
How do I get from Changsha to Zhangjiajie?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jamie | Oct. 22, 2019 01:20

Both flight and railway service can be used.
Asked by Mr.JOHNOOI from AU | May. 31, 2016 19:50Reply
Train or bus
How can I get from Guangzhou to Hainan ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Tyler | May. 31, 2016 22:40

There are rail service between Guangzhou and Haikou or Sanya. Buses should also be available but not clear about the timetable. The duration should not be a very big difference as well, may around 10 to 12 hours to Haikou.
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