Railways and train lines connect more than 40 big and medium-sized cities of Jiangsu, and Nanjing and Xuzhou are two transportation hubs in this province. Two national major train lines, Longhai Railway, from China's eastern coastal city Lianyungang to the most western city Urumqi of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and Jinghu Railway, from Beijing to Shanghai, play a great role in the province as well.
A plan to link eight cities of Jiangsu with a fast railway network is under way, including cities situated on both banks of Yangtze River: Nanjing, Zhenjiang, Changzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou, Yangzhou, Taizhou and Nantong. The railway network would be composed of city subways and suburban trains with up to 1,460 kilometers of railways, 16 large stations and about 160 normal-sized stations. The construction should be carried out between 2006 and 2010.
In China, travel by train is a cheaper, faster and more popular method of transportation than automobiles and airplanes, as cars are unavailable for most families and air travel is limited mostly to business groups. In holiday seasons like the Spring Festival, China's railway operators always face massive amount of passengers and during this time, all train stations and railways in Jiangsu, especially those in Nanjing and Xuzhou, are usually jammed, crowded, and unsafe. It is in your best interest to avoid the period to travel by train.
Tickets are available in all railway stations, ticket offices, major hotels, and on the Internet via websites such as www.chinatripadvisor.com or www.china-train-ticket.com.
Tickets and their prices can be divided into four classes: hard seat, hard sleeper, soft seat, soft sleeper. Soft sleeper is the highest class and are highly recommended. Each adult passenger can bring one child under 1.1 meter in height free of charge. Half price for additional child between 1.1 and 1.4 meter. It is advisable to buy train tickets through a travel agent as there are usually long queues at the ticket office.
Web sites to provide help for train travel in China
To check train times in China online, please go to: www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains/index.htm.
To print timetables of your train, please go to: at www.connectedglobe.com/travlog/latestctt.pdf (This is produced by Chinese railways expert Duncan Peattie and it is a freely downloadable timetable in English for train schedules between the biggest cities) or www.chinatt.org.
To get info for train travel, please go to: www.seat61.com/China.htm.