Many specialists but zero clarification
The unspoken disadvantage of the Chinese HSR leaves me puzzled and none of the so-called China Rail Buffs pays attention.
Here a pretty good introduction about the impressive Chinese network:
High-speed rail (HSR) in China is the world’s longest high speed railway network and most extensively used — with a total length of 37,900 km by the end of 2020. The HSR network encompasses newly built rail lines with a design speed of 200–350 km/h. China’s HSR accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total high-speed railway networks. Almost all HSR trains, track and service are owned and operated by the China Railway Corporation under the brand China Railway High-speed (CRH).
Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_China
A great network
As a former engineer & project developer in rail projects, I can fully appreciate the impressive state-of-the-art of the Chinese trains and network. There are certainly improvements to be made, especially for foreigners, but if you travel between Beijing and Shanghai the HSR is highly recommended.
I am also impressed with the stability of the HS trains.
Yeah it took some patience but see the clip I made with a coin stable at 300 km/h! (click to play)
The unanswered question
However one critical issue is overlooked. A practical question:
“I arrive from Belgium by air in Shanghai and I want to take the train. The checked-in luggage for my flight from Europe has a bottle of whisky, anew kitchen knive (so difficult to buy in China), deodorant spray and shaving foam. Now how can I go to Beijing?”
Well the answer is clear: YOU CANNOT.
All items mentioned are prohibited and will be removed during the “security check”. Those are just some of the “prohibited items” but are very realistic examples. Think also about your Swiss knife, hair lotion, some sunscreen types, nail clippers, …
I have not been able to understand if there is any kind of “checked-in luggage” system for the trains. I heard some vague stories there would be a some kind of service to send those items somewhere before entering the railway station, but it is not clear how and when those items can be retrieved on arrival. And then, how do you remove and repack those after landing?
In other words all the blabla of environmental issues and why you would fly instead of using a train is totally flawed. When arriving in China from another international (or even domestic) flight you cannot continue your voyage by train. Also, if you travel within China many of those items are needed during your journey.
I guess all the rail buffs now fall silent.