Choosing a Type of Train
Part of the Travel section of A Better Guide to Běijīng’s Practical A–Z
Letter prefixes on train numbers indicate the type of train. With the exception of the short maglev line in Shànghǎi, the fastest trains in China, running on dedicated high-speed lines at maximum speeds of between 200km/h and 350km/h are the G, C, and D trains.
G (gāotiě, 高铁, short for 高速铁路, high-speed railway) trains run long-distance routes with limited stops, such as Běijīng–Shànghǎi and Běijīng–Guǎngzhōu.
C (chéngjì lièchē, 承际列车, inter-city) trains run high-speed between nearby cities, such as Běijīng and Tiānjīn.
D (dòngchē, 动车, EMU) electrical multiple unit ‘bullet’ trains with a maximum speed of 250km/h.
Z (zhídá tèkuài, 直达特快, non-stop express). Regular limited-stop or non-stop inter-city trains.
T (tèkuài, 特快, express). Slightly slower, and with more stops.
K (kuài, 快, fast). Slight slower still, and with yet more stops.
L (línkè, 临客, additional service). Extra trains for peak travel seasons, particularly Chinese New Year/Spring Festival. Usually slower and less reliable.
No prefix (pǔkuài 普快 or pǔkè 普客, ordinary). Slow, older rolling stock, with many stops.