That’s 3,134 km. About the same as going from St Petersburg, Russia, all the way to Avignon, France. Except for this time, you go through about six or seven provinces of China rather than six or seven countries.
(Even if, thousands of years back before Emperor Qin Shihuang unified all of China, we were a bunch of separately-organized Hanzi-writing nation-states.)
Beginning 01 July 2013, Train K1338 / K1335 will begin service from Ürümqi, Xinjiang through to Ji’nan, Shandong. The return service, Train K1336 / K1337, enters into service as of 03 July 2013. Because these trains take a long time to finish the journey, services are available only on alternate days.
Note: The service changes train numbers around Shijiazhuang North Railway Station — so the Ji’nan-bound service will be Train K1338 before Shijiazhuang North, and the K1335 after Shijiazhuang North; the same happens to the return service, which leaves Ji’nan as the K1336, and becomes the K1337 once it leaves Shijiazhuang North.
The new service is nearly 10 hours faster than the previous service for trips to Ji’nan; for the return trip, it is nearly 7 hours faster. Stiil, it will still take riders 40 hours and 16 minutes to make the eastbound trip to Ji’nan (42 hours and 21 minutes for the westbound trip to Ürümqi).
Interestingly, tickets are cheaper on the newer, faster service (it’s said that if something is too good to be true, it probably is — although here China Railways takes exception!). The most expensive ticket on this train is a mere CNY 871.50 for lower berth, Soft Sleeper; Hard Seat travellers pay only CNY 313.50 for the ride (although doing Hard Seat for the whole journey is nothing short of challenging!). Happily, air conditioning is standard with the new service.
The service mainly serves the cities of Ürümqi, Turpan, Shanshan, Hami (South), Liuyuan, Jiayuguan, Wuwei, Zhongwei, Suide, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang (North), Hengshui, Dezhou, and Ji’nan. The trains travel across Xinjiang, Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, and Shandong. Railway lines on which the trains all run include the Lanzhou-Xinjiang, Gan-Wu, Taiyuan-Zhongwei, Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan (HSR), Shijiazhuang-Dezhou and Beijing-Shanghai Railways.
CORRIGENDA: This site was alerted on 15 June 2013 by a Weibo reader that the original article had the order of some stations written incorrectly. This problem has since been fixed — thank you reader Men Qian Yue Xia (Sina Weibo).