Philip Martin talks international rail travel with the rail travel guru Mark Smith, founder of The Man in Seat Sixty-One. Discover his trip to China and his high-speed experience with the new line between Beijing and Shanghai.
Of course, Mark always makes the trip a little bit special, taking the overnight sleeper (which uses some of the high-speed lines) and then came back on the daytime service, using one of the fast G-Trains that now does the run in just 4:48h.
Booking rail in China
I was intrigued to find out how the rail booking process worked and asked Mark how this compares to the European rail system:
“It's always a good opportunity to try out rail booking systems when you go somewhere. So I checked out a system called China Highlights which links to the Chinese booking system.”
The Chinese rail booking system provides live fares and availability updates, fulfilled with a Chinese railways e-ticket. How did that go?
“The rail booking experience worked really well. You could easily select the train and the class, and things were pretty well explained. Then you either get an e-ticket or you collect the ticket from the station. We picked up the tickets from Beijing main station's ticket office”.
Booking rail in Europe
A bit closer to home, Mark travelled by train from London to the Amadeus Rail Forum in Barcelona. So Mark, would you recommend this trip?
“I certainly would: the direct route can be done in a day. 2:20h from London to Paris (ideally have lunch between trains at Le Train Bleu restaurant in the Gare De Lyon) then hop on the afternoon TGV from Paris to Barcelona which takes 6:25h”.
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