China Normal Railways

In China, train is an important mode of long-distance travel. According to the “Railway Construction and Development Plan” issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, the total mileage of Chinese railways is expected to reach 150,000 kilometers by 2020, of which 120,000 kilometers belong to China normal railways. China normal railways refers to the railways designed with low speed, which can only allow the train to run at normal speed. At the beginning of the railway construction, there was no idea of normal speed railway. It was not until the high-speed railway era that the concept of normal railway was introduced.

Construction of China Normal Railways

Times of Normal Railways

Before the 21st century, except for Guangzhou-Shenzhen railway, China’s railways were all normal speed railways. The main reason was that due to the backward economic and technological strength at that time, there was not enough advanced bridge and tunnel construction technology and locomotive manufacturing technology.

In the early days of New China, the key railway construction was in the central and western regions. After the reform and opening up, the pace of railway construction in the eastern region was gradually accelerated. Several vertical and horizontal railway trunk lines were formed and the extension of local railway branch lines was expanded. Apart from the Bohai Sea Railway, Beijing-Shanghai railway, Beijing-Guangzhou Railway and the North China section of Beijing-Kowloon Railway, most of the railways are built zigzag in continuous mountains and hills. The mountainous section of the railway accounts for a large proportion. The initial design speed of most trunk railways is 120 km/h. In many mountainous and hilly sections, the train speed limit is less than 100 km/h.

Times of Speeding-up

From 1997 to 2007, China railways carried out a total of six large-scale speed-up. Although EMUs with a speed of 200 kilometers per hour were operated in several economically developed city circles and several trunk lines in the later period, the main railways speeded-up during this period was still the normal speed railway.

The speed-up of normal speed railways mainly include the reinforcement and reconstruction of existing railway lines, electrification and double-track reconstruction so as to safely operate high-speed locomotives. Fast  speed train, express train and direct express train have appeared one after another, and many branch of noamal speed railways have been completed and opened to traffic.

At this period, the operating speed of trains on China normal rail line has improved significantly, with the fastest speed reaching 160km/h to 200 km/h. The express train from Guangzhou to Beijing takes only 21 hours. On July 1, 2006, the main line of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway was completed and opened to traffic. The design speed of the main section reached more than 100km/h, marking that the construction technology of China’s railway is the highest in the world. After the sixth large-scale speed-up of China’s railway in 2007, fast trains gradually replaced normal trains and became the leading role of passenger trains. 

Times of High-speed Railways

After the Beijing-Tianjin inter-city high-speed railway was opened in 2008, the focus of China’s railway construction is no longer the normal speed railway, but the new trunk line and the branch line of inter-city with an speed of over 200 kilometers per hour. Therefore, the construction of the normal speed railway has slowed down greatly, but some important normal speed railways that have not been realized in the planning, such as the Lhasa-Shigatse railway, are still stepping up.

The existing normal speed railway will further replace the old green trains, and more fast trains, express trains and direct trains will be added to the national trunk lines and local branch lines. 

In 2011, the maximum operating speed of the normal speed railway was limited to 160km/h, and in 2016, the minimum speed standard for high-speed railways is 200 km/h. So far, China’s railways have been divided into two major parts in terms of speed: normal railways with a design speed of less than 160km/h and high-speed railways with a design speed of more than 200km/h.

Advantages of Normal Railways

  • The construction and maintenance cost is low, the investment is small, and the capital risk is controllable;
  • The overall requirements for the railway system are low, which is suitable for construction in difficult areas;
  • The driving speed is slow, the energy consumption is relatively low, and the train freight tickets are relatively low;
  • The construction focus of the railway can be placed on the load, which is suitable for heavy freight lines;
  • The railway does not completely rely on electric locomotives and power supply equipment, which can only run diesel locomotives;
  • The technology is mature  and the reliability is much higher than that of high-speed railway;
  • It has a strong service for local county and town.

Main Normal Railways in China

  • Beijing-Harbin Railway, named the Jingha Railway, is the railway that connects Beijing with Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province. It spans 1,249 km (776 mi). It is a very prominent route in the provinces of northeastern China.
  • Shenyang-Dalian Railway, abbreviated as Shenda Railway, runs from Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province, to Dalian, a famous coastal city in northeast China. It was first built between 1898 and 1903 and was electrified on December 1, 2001.
  • Beijing-Shanghai Railway or Jinghu railway has a total length of 1,462 km (908 mi) and connects the municipalities of Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai, as well as the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu. It is commonly referred to as the Jinghu railway, taking on the abbreviated names of the two terminal cities.
  • Beijing-Kowloon Railway: The Beijing–Jiujiang–Kowloon railway, also known as the Jingjiu railway is a railway connecting Beijing West Station in Beijing to Shenzhen Station in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. It is connected with Hong Kong’s East Rail across the border which terminates at Hung Hom Station (Kowloon Station) in Kowloon.
  • Beijing–Guangzhou railway or Jingguang railway is a major trunk railway that connects Beijing in the north with Guangzhou in the south. This double-track electrified line has a total length of 2,324 kilometres (1,444 miles) and spans five provinces through north, central and south China.
  • Jiaozuo–Liuzhou railway or Jiaoliu railway is a major trunkline railroad in China between Jiaozuo in central China and Liuzhou in southern China. The line is 1,639 km (1,018 mi) long and runs north–south through four provinces.
  • Baoji–Chengdu railway or Baocheng railway is the main railway connection between the northern/northwestern and southwestern China. The line has a total length of 668.2 km and passes through mostly mountainous terrain in southern Shaanxi, eastern Gansu and northern Sichuan.
  • Chengdu–Kunming railway or Chengkun railway, is a major trunkline railroad in southwestern China between Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province and Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. The line is 1,134 km (705 mi) long and traverses rugged terrain from the Sichuan Basin to the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.
  • Beijing–Baotou railway or Jingbao railway is an 833 km (518 mi) railway from Beijing to Baotou, Inner Mongolia, functioning as an important route in North China.
  • Baotou–Lanzhou railway, also known as the Baolan line is a 995 kilometer railway that connects the cities of Baotou in Inner Mongolia to Lanzhou in Gansu Province.
  • Longhai railway is a major arterial east–west railway in China. It runs from Lianyungang, Jiangsu on the Yellow Sea to Lanzhou, Gansu through the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi, and Gansu, covering a total length of 1,759 kilometres. The Longhai Line is one of the busiest Chinese railways.
  • Shanghai–Kunming Railway or Hukun Railway is a major arterial railroad across eastern, south central and southwest China. It connects Shanghai, whose shorthand name is Hu, and Kunming. The line has a total length of 2,690 km and passes through Shanghai Municipality, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan Province.
  • Lanzhou−Xinjiang railway or Lanxin railway is the longest railway in northwestern China. It runs 1904 kilometres (1,183 miles) from Lanzhou, Gansu, through the Hexi Corridor, to Ürümqi, in Xinjiang. It was Xinjiang’s only rail link with the rest of China until the opening of the Lanzhou–Xinjiang high-speed railway in December 2014. The railway follows the path of the ancient Silk Road.
  • Qinghai–Tibet railway or Qingzang railway, is a high-elevation railway that connects Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region of China.The length of the railway is 1,956 km (1,215 mi). This railway is the first that connects the Tibet Autonomous Region to any other provinces.
  • Daqin railway, also known as the Daqin line is a 653 km coal-transport railway in north China. Its name is derived from its two terminal cities, Datong, a coal mining center in Shanxi province, and Qinhuangdao, of Hebei province, on the Bohai Sea. 
  • Harbin–Manzhouli railway, abbreviated as the Binzhou Railway, is a double-track electrified trunk railway in Northeast China between Harbin and Manzhouli on the Russian border, where it connects to the Trans-Siberian Railway via Zabaikalsk, Russia.
  • Harbin–Suifenhe railway, named the Binsui Railway, is a double-track electrified trunk railway in Northeast China between Harbin and Suifenhe on the Russian border. The line was originally built by Russia as the eastern branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway, which linked Chita with Vladivostok.
  • Beijing–Tongliao railway is a railroad in northern China between Beijing, the national capital, and Tongliao in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The line is 804 km (500 mi) long and runs northwest from Beijing Municipality through Hebei Province to southeastern Inner Mongolia. Major cities and counties along route include Beijing, Luanping, Longhua, Chifeng and Tongliao.

China Train Tours with us

At present, if you want to travel to Tibet by train, you can only take the normal train from BeijingChengduXian or Lanzhou. Another hot destination, Zhangjiajie, can only be linked by normal trains too. Though high speed trains are becoming more and more important and popular in China, normal trains are still playing a vital role in passenger rail transport. Below are the pre-arranged popular China tour tours for you ,and you can also contact us to tailor-make your personal China train tours!

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