For the uninitiated, the CHR, China High-speed Railway – gao tie, is the fastest train network system in China. Example on times being something like Xi’an to Beijing taking 5 hours, instead of the 12-14 on the slow train network.
Last year the Lao tie was extended from several cities in China (going as far as Nanning in Guangxi province) to the very special region of the Hong Kong SAR.
All trains on the fast speed network have three classes of train, business, first, and second (as well as standing).
Due to urgency to get to Hong Kong, a late meeting, and lack of tickets I needed to get a business class from Foshan to Kowloon West Station (a newly built station for this service).
This was the most expensive train ride I have ever taken! Total journey time is 1 hour and 20 minutes but at a cost of around $115. Ouch.
The business class sections of a Chinese train are located at the very front, and back of the train, and consist of 6 seats separated from the peasants. In some (but far from all) respects it mirrors business class on a flight. You have plugs, a reclining seat, and are provided with a drink and snacks. Kind of. Drink choice was coke or sprite, and the snacks left an awful lot to be desired. Think crap from a Chinese cigarette shop and you’ll be about there.
But, whilst I would not justify from a price point of view, it was very comfortable.
On arrival in “Hong Kong,” you are actually still in China, as the station has been given extra-territorial status. You go through Chinese immigration, walk over an HK – China “line”, and then do the Hong Kong immigration.
I have to say the new Hong Kong services are quite convenient, but unless I’m outside Shenzhen, I’d rather just cross like normal into Lo Wu.