Since the first day of railway establishment in Beijing, a strong relationship has been tied between the history of Beijing railway and the development railway in China. The history of Beijing railway can be traced back to 1865 when the first railway trail appeared at Chongwenmen Wai Avenue. The railway seemed to be alien and strange for Beijing citizens during that period. People were wondering of what that trail was purposed for and whether it would cause any dangers to their entire life. In fact, the first railway trail was constructed by Durand, a British businessman just for exhibition and not for transportation. The main purpose of Durand was to make an introductory of railway to the government of Qing Dynasty during that time and hoped to open the market in China. However, the first railway in Beijing with the length of 500 meters only was ordered to demolish by Qing government as it was said that the railway had “scared the dragon” and not good for Fengshui.
In 1909, Jingzhang Railway with over 200 km length was opened to traffic. The starting point of this railway was set at Beijing. However, the main designer and contractor for this railway was not a foreigner but a Chinese named Zhan Tianyou. After the formation of People’s Republic of China, the previous Pingjin Railway Bureau was renamed to Beijing Railway Bureau. The overall operation distances had reached 3155 km at this moment and therefore ensured its position as the major railway system center throughout China.
In the beginning, only a train with single cabin was operated between the railway connecting Sanjiadian and Muchengjian. Green color was the theme color of this type of train. There were five seats only available in a row, three on a side and two on the other side. This train operated two round trips daily at a speed of 30 km per hour. Majority of the trains available in 1950s were similar to this. From 1953 onwards, these types of old trains were replaced by local made trains. Some modifications such as fan, heater and air-conditioned sleeper cabin had been added in order to improve the level of comfortable while traveling in a train. Anyway, the green color was still remained.
As a result of rapid development of economy in 90s of last century, the railway system in Beijing was also encountered a very distinctive improvement. The first increment of speed for overall trains was taken place in 1994. During that time, the speed for trains which transferred between Jingguang Railway, Jinghu Railway and Jingha Railway was increased to 140 km per hour. Later, there were 4 times speed increment took place in the history of Beijing railway development. The speed of trains to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hefei, Changsha, Hankou, Wuchang, Xian, Harbin as well as Changchun which depart from Beijing in the evening and arrive at destination in the morning of next day was increased to 160 km per hour. In addition, a large scale of improvement was made in 2004 where many new trains which were equipped with sleeper cabin and air-conditioned were put into service.
Nowadays, the overall operational distances of Beijing Railway Bureau have reached 7721 km. There are 15 main railway routes, such as Jingshan Railway, Jingguang Railway, Jingyuan Railway, Jingjiu Railway etc, going to and forth from Beijing. Moreover, there are trains which connect Beijing with other countries near by. In 1954, trains which run between Beijing and Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea were introduced. Later in 1959, trains which connect between Beijing and Moscow at a distance of 7721 km began to service.
Recently, Beijing Railway Bureau has become one of the busiest railway centers in China which has trains heading to almost all large cities and municipalities. The overall passenger traffic of Beijing Railway Bureau had reached 15 millions people in 2007. In the same year, followed by the 6th increment of speed, the Electrical Multiple Units train (EMU) was introduced in Beijing. The EMU can transfer passenger at 200 km per hour. The white-color train body has made it to look as if a lightning across the railway trail. Thus, it is given a beautiful name which is the “Inland Flight” by the locals. The train is well-designed with white color and barrier-free cabin which is very handicapped friendly. Wheelchairs can enter the cabin directly from the platform and the restroom is also wide enough for wheelchair to enter.
Moreover, there are changes made to the Train number too together with the improvement. The earliest train number was set with a combination of digits only. Later, there are train numbers which begin with “K” which stands for “Fast” (Kuai) in Mandarin language. This train number is entitled for a series of trains which can travel faster than the normal green trains. After that, train numbers begin with “T” was introduced. “T” is the short term for Express (Tekuai) in mandarin language. This type of train is normally operated at even higher speed when compared to the “K” train. “Z” trains which stand for non-stop express (Zhida Tekuai) in mandarin come out when people are more concerning with the speed of trains. The EMU which started to operate in recent years are numbered with “D”, which means “Dongche Zu” in mandarin language. Throughout the modifications and introductory of new train numbers, it signified not only the improvement of speeds for railway services in Beijing but also the need of this land transportation in such a huge land of China. In addition, the Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Rail, a 114 km high speed railway which connects Tianjin and Beijing was put into service in August 2008. It runs at 300 km per hour and the top speed can reach 350 km/h which enables these two cities to be reached within 30 minutes.
There are four main railway stations in Beijing, which are the Beijing Railway Station, Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station and Beijing North Railway Station. Beijing Railway Station located at an extremely centered location just next to Jianguomen is the oldest railway station in Beijing. Beijing West Railway Station is responsible for the traffic which arrives from northern part of Beijing (including Harbin, Shenyang and Dalian), Eastern part of Beijing (including Qingdao and Jinan) as well as traffic from Eastern Seaboard (Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou). Beijing North Railway Station, formally known as Xizhimen Station is a smaller station and serves mostly intercity train to and forth North and North West part of Beijing city. Beijing South Railway Station is a massive and new railway station which officially opened in August 1, 2008. This railway station is reported to be the largest railway station in Asia and serves as the terminus for Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Rail, the high-speed trains to the city which can reach up to 350 km/h.