China Normal Trains

China normal trains run at speeds below 200 kilometers per hour. Their speeds are lower than those of high-speed trains and their prices are relatively low. In general, the normal speed is only about 120 km/h, and some express trains can reach 160 km/h. It is the main force of the national railways and urban rail transit railways.

Why Take China Normal Trains


Taking the normal trains traveling China is very cost-efficient. Normal train ticket prices are very low. Hard seats are nearly 70% cheaper than second-class seats on high-speed trains. What’s more, overnight trains can save the cost of a hotel room. So it is very suitable for traveler with limited budget.

Wide Coverage

Normal trains reach nearly every corner of China. By 2020, China’s railways will cover a wide range of 150,000 kilometers, and almost every city/town with a population of 200,000 will be connected by train. At present, Tibet Autonomous Region and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region only have normal trains, so if you want to travel to these two provinces, you can only take normal trains.

Types of China Normal Trains

According to the speed and age of equipment, they are identified by Direct Express Passenger Train (Z), Express Passenger Train (T), Express Passenger Train (K), General Train (Four-digit Digital Train), Tourist Tour Train (Y), Temporary Passenger Train (L), and Suburban Commuter Rail(S).

  • Z Trains: Direct express service between two cities, with few or no stops; often overnight trains. The highest speed is 160 kilometers (99 miles) per hour.
  • T Trains: Long distance service stopping only at provincial capitals, subprovincial-level and major prefecture-level cities. Maximum speed 140 km/h (87 mph). 
  • K Trains: Service stopping at prefectural and higher-level cities. Maximum speed 120 km/h (75 mph).
  • General Train: Stop very often and cover many villages. Have just numbers and no letter prefix.
  • Y Trains: Run between places of interest and large & medium-sized cities. They are faster with fewer stops and more advanced bodywork.
  • L Trains: They are additional passenger trains to meet the needs of seasonal and occasional passenger flow. Train trips usually begin with the first letter L.
  • S Trains: In some big cities it is used for commuting between the city centre and the suburbs.

Seats of China Normal Trains

Normal trains in China have both seats and beds. Taking the hard seat is the cheapest way to travel, but it’s uncomfortable. The exact type of seat and its comfort and design will vary greatly from train to train.

  • Hard Seat: The seats are about 40cm wide with no armrest. With almost vertical seat backs, the seat cannot be adjusted. You’ll face other passengers in the opposite row with a small table in between. The seat configuration is typically 3+2. The carriage is always noisy, smelly and crowded with passengers without seats, especially in the peak season.
  • Soft Seats: Not available on all trains. With a 2+2 configuration, the seats are about 45cm wide. The fare is about 1.5 times that of the hard seat.
  • Hard Sleepers: Hard sleeper compartments consist of 6 beds, 3 on each side, and without door. The beds are 180cm long by 60cm wide. The fare is about twice that of a hard seat. The carriage is also a little bit noisy with continuous snores at night.
  • Soft Sleepers: Soft sleeper compartments consist of 4 beds, 2 on each side, and with a door. The beds are 190cm long by 75cm wide. The fare is about 50% higher than the hard berth.
  • Standing Tickets: Have no seats and can only stand in hard seats carriages.

Popular Routes of China Normal Trains

Route Distance Duration Frequency Price
Xining – Lhasa 1972km 20h55′ Every other day Hard Seat: RMB 224 
Hard Sleeper: RMB 521 
Soft Sleeper: RMB 808
Xian – Lhasa 2864km 30h34’/31h01’ daily Hard Seat: RMB 293.5 
Hard Sleeper: RMB 706 
Soft Sleeper: RMB 1097.5
Chengdu – Lhasa 3360km 36h18′ Every other day Hard Seat: RMB 302.5 
Hard Sleeper: RMB 663.5 
Soft Sleeper: RMB 1034.5
Changsha – Zhangjiajie 396km 4.5~5.5 hours 7 Daily trains Hard Seat: ¥54.5 
Hard Sleeper: ¥108.5 
Soft Sleeper: ¥161.5

Read more about China Normal Railways.

China Train Tours with Us

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 normal railways. At present, if you want to travel to Tibet by train, you can only take the normal train from Beijing, Chengdu, Xian 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!

6 Days Xining and Lhasa Train Tour

8 Days Northwest China Tour

10 Days Qinghai and Tibet Mount Everest Tour by Train

11 Days Tibet Mount Everest Tour from Shanghai by Train

12 Days Sichuan-Tibet Train Tour

13 Days Qinghai and Tibet Train Tour from Beijing

Changsha to Zhangjiajie Trains

Changsha to Zhangjiajie Trains

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Chengdu to Lhasa Trains

Chengdu to Lhasa Trains

Chengdu – Lhasa Trains...

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Xining to Lhasa Trains

Xining to Lhasa Trains

Xining – Lhasa Trains...

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Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) to Wuyishan (Mount Wuyi) High Speed Trains

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) to Wuyishan (Mount Wuyi) High Speed Trains

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) – Wuyishan (Mount Wuyi) High Speed Trains...

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