High-speed train passengers in China now have the option of traveling with more privacy by booking tickets for individual sleeping compartments.
Debuting this past weekend on the D311 train scheduled between Beijing and Shanghai, the personalized compartments are designed for a single passenger. Each bunk provides space for passengers and their luggage, and is equipped with an electrical recharging outlet and its own window.
The double-stacked bunks are laid end-to-end with the head and feet of the passenger pointing towards the front and back of the train, with an aisle running down the middle of the passenger compartment.
The D311 marks a departure from the previous design in which four passengers shared a closed compartment with their beds arranged perpendicular to the direction of the train.
The individualized soft sleepers on the D311 are not enclosed, but offer a curtain for privacy. Each compartment also has a table, a clothes hanger, a reading light, safety railing, and an adjustment control for air flow. Optimized for passengers who bring their own personal computer and smartphone, a personal TV screen does not appear to be part of the new design, as was previously offered.
Every ticket on the D311 is reported to be a personalized soft sleeper compartment, the likes of which extend right up to the locomotive train car.
Although it has been in operation for just a few days, the newly-designed high-speed train compartments have also received a number of complaints.
Passengers say the luggage space, described as being able to accommodate two 25-inch suitcases, is non-adjustable. Furthermore, passengers say only the upper berth passenger can stand up in the case of an emergency.
By nearly doubling passenger capacity, the D311 can now take 880 travelers at once, signifying that the more private train compartments may paradoxically in fact bring a more crowded and noisy travel experience.
The D311 is scheduled to leave Beijing at 9.16pm and arrive 11 hours, 52 minutes later in Shanghai at 9.08 the next morning, cruising at a speed of 250 kilometers per hour. Qunar lists the price of a soft sleeper ticket on the D311 as RMB 732 (USD 108).
The debut of the personalized sleeping compartments coincides with the unveiling of a faster high-speed train earlier last month that may allow passengers to travel from Beijing to Shanghai in just three hours.
Now that extremely fast trains – which don’t require sleeping arrangements and personalized compartments designed for long-distance use – have been introduced to the the Beijing-Shanghai railway, it’s not known which kind of travel will be prioritized.
The Beijing-Shanghai corridor is the only profitable high-speed railway in China. The country will spend RMB 3.5 trillion (USD 503 billion) by 2020 to expand its railway system at the same time the China Railway Corp has incurred a debt worth over RMB 4 trillion.