City-Beijing Train Service to Add Luxury

City railway officials have promised to provide the nation's best railway service on the Shanghai-Beijing route, the country's busiest, beginning in late October.

Two trains with amenities such as bathrooms in each berth are being built. The trains will work the route between Shanghai and Beijing to counter stiffer competition from airlines and buses, railway officials said.

"The two trains, built and operated by the Shanghai Railway Administration and the Beijing Railway Administration, respectively, will offer comfortable sleeping berths," said Shanghai Railway spokesman Wu Ruochuan. "We hope the two trains will help enhance the quality of services on the nation's trains and enable more travelers to travel by train between the two cities."

Shanghai Railway Administration oversees rail transportation in the city and in the neighboring provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian.

Industry insiders told Shanghai Daily that trains, which account for about 60 percent of the traffic between Shanghai and Beijing, are now confronting strong-er competition from airlines and long-distance bus firms.

Wu said the two new trains will for the first time offer "luxury" compartments with their own bathrooms in addition to regular hard-sleeper and soft-sleeper coaches.

Also, more services will be offered to customers to make their 13-hour trip more enjoyable, railway officials said.

For instance, private audio-video entertainment and private air-conditioning systems will be provided to passengers in soft-berth coaches.

Plus, "better" food, both Chinese and "exotic," and a bar offering wine and fruit juices will be on the trains.

Renovation work recently began on one of the waiting rooms at the Shanghai Railway Station as part of the move to improve service.

The No. 1 waiting room, now used for the Shanghai-Beijing route, will likely be too small for passengers when the new service goes into operation, officials said.

As a result, they will refurbish the No. 5 waiting room to handle the additional passengers.

But, railway officials acknowledged, all waiting rooms, as well as other parts of the railway terminal building, will be renovated during the next two years.

( 08/21/2001)

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