How Many People Travel by Train in China?

Estimated numbers indicate that at any given time, about 10 million people are riding trains in China. Part of the reason may be that the Chinese railway system covers most of the country, with the exception of the province of Hainan. Another reason might be the speed — the trains in China average a speed of 194 miles per hour (313 km/hr). And yet another reason may be the sheer size of the population in China — over 1.3 billion.

Faster than a speeding bullet facts:

  • The high-speed railway network in China covers 4,071 miles (6,552 km).

  • By comparison, the high-speed railway network in the United States covers 456 miles (734 km).

  • The average speed of high-speed trains in the U.S. is 100 miles per hour (161 km/hr).

  • Most of the trains in China include dining cars.

  • The world's first high-speed, high-volume train — meaning it had 12 passenger cars or more — was the Tokaido Shinkansen train in Japan, which opened in 1964. It's average speed was 130 miles per hour (210 km/hr).

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people travel by train in China annually?

China's railway system is one of the busiest in the world, with a staggering number of passengers each year. According to the China Railway Corporation, the country's railways handled over 3.57 billion passenger trips in 2019. This figure showcases the immense scale of train travel in China, reflecting its importance as a mode of transportation for millions of people.

What percentage of China's transportation is made up by train travel?

Train travel is a significant component of China's transportation network. While exact percentages fluctuate yearly, it's reported that rail transport accounts for a substantial portion of domestic long-distance travel. For instance, during the 2019 Spring Festival travel rush, also known as Chunyun, train travel constituted a major share of the trips, highlighting its role in intercity and cross-country transportation.

How has high-speed rail affected the number of train travelers in China?

The advent of high-speed rail (HSR) in China has revolutionized train travel, significantly increasing its popularity. The country's HSR network, which is the largest in the world, has attracted many passengers due to its efficiency and speed. According to the International Union of Railways, China's high-speed rail services carried about 2 billion passengers in 2019, indicating that HSR has become a preferred choice for many travelers.

What are the peak times for train travel in China?

Peak times for train travel in China typically coincide with major holidays and festivals, with the most notable being the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year. During this period, known as Chunyun, China experiences the world's largest annual human migration. In 2019, for example, an estimated 410 million train journeys were made during the Spring Festival travel season, underscoring the immense demand for train travel during peak times.

Are there any recent trends in train travel in China?

Recent trends in train travel in China include continuous expansion of the high-speed rail network and the introduction of new technologies such as smart trains with features like facial recognition and automatic ticket gates. Additionally, China is focusing on green transportation, with the development of electric multiple units (EMUs) and efforts to reduce carbon emissions from train travel. These trends reflect China's commitment to modernizing its railway system and promoting sustainable travel.

More Info: Lonely Planet; Wikipedia

Discussion Comments


About 46 million trips per day on all railways across China. About 9 million metro trips per day in Beijing alone.

Now, with 19,000 km of HSR (High Speed Rail) in China, the world's longest. China rail moves 10 million tons of freight per day.

Tom in China

Post your comments
Forgot password?