Duncan Peattie's Chinese Railway Timetable

A Little History

I have been asked, "Why have you produced the timetable?". Here is a short explanation for anyone interested:

It all started when I was working in Hong Kong in 1997, knowing very little about Chinese railways. I made a trip from Hong Kong to Shanghai with my mother on the newly introduced through train - return tickets safely booked in Hong Kong. On the journey I saw lots of trains, carrying destination boards for interesting places; in Shanghai I found lots of timetable information, but entirely in Chinese. On my return I resolved to get hold of a copy of the English language timetable, only to find that no such timetable existed.

So - two choices; forget it or make one. I chose to make one, although it took a long time (my work at that time being somewhat demanding). My Chinese language skills were zero and are not good now, but I have developed the ability to read place names - easier than you might think. The hardest part of the compilation process is not the translation, but getting the trains into table form from the layout as published (which even the locals complain about!). The first complete edition was based on the service at April 2001. Having completed it I realised that it was a bit silly to keep it to myself, so I turned it into something fit for publication (learning a lot about .pdf in the process). The timetable is somewhat of a labour of love - producing a new edition takes several hundred hours of work, but I find it very rewarding. Some have called it an obsession, but surely a harmless one!.

To anyone interested in railway operations the Chinese railway system is fascinating. The Chinese take their railways very seriously - despite improving road and air links the train remains by far the most widely used means of long distance transport for both passengers and freight. It is a large and busy system, and one which is growing rapidly, in marked contrast to the stagnation or decline common in 'developed' countries. Each year many hundreds of kilometres of new railway, both high speed and conventional lines, are brought into service, whilst the upgrading of existing railways continues apace. Double tracking, resignalling and electrification are being carried out on a massive scale - all whilst intensive existing services are maintained.

The timetable is now established, with the eighth edition (based on the January 2013 timetable) now available. Whilst marketing is not my forte, the timetable is becoming more widely known, with references in various guidebooks and links from a number of websites. I welcome suggestions from those with marketing knowledge and experience, although I am very keen to maintain the unparalleled editorial freedom I currently enjoy.