“Welcome aboard Harmony, your green train…”
Each time you step on one of the many fast speed trains that criss-cross China, you are welcomed aboard Harmony, in Chinese and English.
That’s right, the train has a name, and the name is Harmony.
Harmony travels at up to 300 kilometres an hour, but don’t worry, you wont get dizzy looking out the window. There are specially designed windows which make the passing countryside appear as if the train is going much slower than it really is, so everything is not rushing past in a blur.
It’s a no-smoking train, and second class seats are reasonably comfortable. First class seats are really comfortable – more so than first class on aeroplanes (not that I’ve ever tried those!) Then there is business class.
Previously, these wide luxurious chairs were in the ‘sightseeing’ carriage, and if your first class ticket happened to be seat 1, 2. or 3… you would get to experience this luxury. And luxury it is. Once, heading north, I was lucky enough to find that my first class ticket was for a seat in the sight-seeing carriage. A couple of hours into the journey, the train had to stop due to some kind of problem with the tracks. ( in all the time I’ve been travelling on the fast speed trains, this has only happened once). Whilst all the other passengers were complaining, I simply pressed a lever or three and my wide, comfortable, luxurious chair turned into a wide, comfortable, luxurious bed!!!
The fast speed trains have cut the travelling time substantially. The Beijing to Shanghai run used to be overnight train, now you can get there in 5 hours. Better than flying.
China is now beginning to export it’s fast speed trains, and is building the infrastructure for train transport in Brazil and Germany.