Chinese trains are divided into various categories according to their speed. The train number usually starts with a letter, which indicates the category of train. For instance, Z19 means direct express train, and D316 refers to EMU Train (Electric Multiple Unit train, also called high-speed train).
G, C&D trains are all modern high-speed trains, and currently are appoint to the best categories. Most of them are 200-300km/h daytime trains; a few D-trains are 200km/h overnight trains.
G - High-Speed EMU Train
In Chinese: Gao Tie (高铁)
This is the fastest EMU train running long distances through China, and its top speed could reach 350km/h. However, the speed is limited from 300km/h to 200 km/h in different routes.
Beijing-Shanghai: 1,318 kilometers, 4-5 hours
Wuhan-Guangzhou: 1,068kilometers, 3 hours
Shanghai-Nanjing: 301kilometers, 70-80 mins
Zhengzhou-Xian: 458-kilometers, 2 hours.
C - Intercity EMU Train
In Chinese: ChengJi Lie Che (城际列车)
This is also the fastest EMU train in China, but runs for short travel distance between two nearby cities, such as the 120-kilomter's Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway.
D - EMU Train
In Chinese: DongChe (动车)
D train is also called Hexiehao (和谐号, Harmony) or bullet train in China. The designed top speed of D train is 250km/h. These trains have been widely used for serving fast and frequent transport between main cities, such as Beijing-Shanghai, Shanghai-Suzhou and Shenzhen-Guangzhou.
Z - Direct Express Train
In Chinese: Zhi DaTeKuai (直达特快)
The 'Z' trains are now ranked as the second best category train. The top speed of Z-trains is 160km/h, which is the most efficient transport for long-distance travel after the EMU trains. Generally, Z-trains are a direct train from a to b without a stopover, but in some cases they do have a few stops.
T - Express Train
In Chinese: TeKuai (特快)
The T-trains have limited stops on the routes, especially in the major cities. The highest speed is 140km/h. Almost every T-series of train is equipped with soft-sleeper, soft-seat, hard-sleeper and hard-seat.
K- Fast Train
In Chinese: KuaiChe (快车)
The top speed of K-trains is 120km/h, it has more stops than the T-trains. The K-series of trains are equipped with air-condition and the four classes of train berths.
L - Temporary Train
In Chinese: LinKe (临客)
This L trains operates only during the peak travel season, such as the Chinese Spring Festival and the National Holiday. These trains are not listed in the official fixed train schedule. It is not advised to take L-trains if you have other options as they are known to be relatively slow and regularly subject to delays.
PuKuai or PuKe
In Chinese: PuKuai (普快) or PuKe (普客)
The train numbers for these 2 categories only consists of four digits and do not consist of any letters.. These trains are the slowest in all the categories, with many stops on their way. Moreover, a few of them are not equipped with air-condition.