The controversial Chengdu-Shanghai luxury bullet train made its first trip last Tuesday, departing from Chengdu at 5:15 p.m. and arriving in Shanghai 15 hours later.
Less than two hours earlier, the Chengdu-Beijing bullet train started its inaugural journey. The D318 pulled into Beijing West station around 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning, bringing 451 passengers along with it.
West China Commercial Daily reporter Li Fengchun climbed aboard the Chengdu-Shanghai train to give those who stayed at home a full picture of the journey.
On the D358 train to Shanghai, passengers recounted long journeys from Sichuan to Shanghai decades earlier—journeys that involved days of non-stop train and bus travel and largely prevented them from visiting home. One Shanghai native who has lived most of his life in Sichuan said that a journey home 44 years ago would have entailed a roundabout route of nearly 90 hours on trains and buses.
Despite critics' predictions that ticket sales for the luxury cabins (pictured above) would be low, all seats had been booked, and the train pulled out of Chengdu North Railway Station with 395 passengers. Additional passengers alighted at Nanchong and other stops along the way. The price of a one-way ticket from Chengdu to Shanghai in one of the luxury cabins costs over RMB2,000—well over that of a full-fare plane ticket.
The soft-seat cabins are outfitted with water boilers, electrical outlets, and air conditioning, prompting the reporter to describe it as "just like being at home."
Both trains travel at speeds of up to 250kmph, with speeds averaging between 190 and 200kmph.
A dining car serves a menu of traditional Sichuanese dishes including twice-cooked pork, Mapo tofu, and gingko chicken soup, or the dishes can be brought to passengers' cabins. The price of a set meal ranges from RMB15 to 38. Beverages, including Bordeaux, sake, and German beers are also available, as well as snacks and desserts including Haagen Dazs ice cream. Food service shuts down overnight, but bar service is available 24 hours, according to the report.