Superspeed to Hangzhou

Had to make a business trip to Hangzhou last Thu, so I had the chance to take the spanky new high speed train 3 days into its launch. The new train station at Hongqiao is just next to the Hongqiao airport, is less crazy than the other two stations.

While the train rides to Hangzhou were only one hour, I actually spent at least 30 mins each time waiting in a supersized line for cabs, both between Hangzhou station and our office at Liyuan Plaza, and between Hongqiao station and my hotel. The subway line to the train station is not open yet, and honestly, they really need to hurry up. It’s really no fun taking cabs here!

It was also crazy trying to hail a cab off the street of Hangzhou between 3.30 pm and 5 pm because that’s when the drivers change shifts and in this city, they can jolly well choose passengers. So many of them turned me down, simply wouldn’t take me to the train station, which is quite out of the way. Forget about calling cabs because the industry is very fragmented (more than 10 cab companies, every one with only a small fleet) so there is no organised way of customer service when every cab driver has to fend for himself.

Drivers wouldn’t let passengers on the same route share the same cab either. A guy got in the cab with me, but he had to drop off halfway because the driver was nagging him. The driver later told me that had the guy offered to pay him the full fare (on top of the full fare that I’d have paid), he would take him too. So it’s the economics of money, play smart in second tier Chinese cities where the transportation system is under-developed.

This is the spanky new Hongqiao Railway Station. The new high speed train to Hangzhou which began operations only since 26 October takes off from here.

High speed train to Hangzhou took 1 hour, compared to the usual 1.5 hours by normal rail. Not enormous savings of time, although ticket prices were RMB30 more than the old RMB54 for regular train. However, with the high speed train, regular trains have ceased operation to Hangzhou, so no choice.

Inside the train ... very very crowded like everywhere else in China.

This is the train station in Hangzhou. Don't be fooled by this picture, it's a lot more crowded and chaotic than this, verging on pandemonium. Quite the madness.

The view from our 16th floor office in Hangzhou. Not bad eh?


About transez

Design researcher: curious about people, passionate about life.
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