China has one of the world’s biggest rail networks. With 20% of the world’s population that is hardly surprising, and it still comes nowhere near meeting demand on existing networks, or on actual network coverage in densely populated provinces like Henan with its 100 million + people. It is a mind-bending logistics operation, greatly improved since I last knew it (1998–2000) when you couldn’t even buy a return ticket. At that time the rail system, like China itself, was an assembly of feifdoms, each jealously guarding its influence and finances. Things have mellowed a bit, though around 20 people a day are killed somewhere on the network (better than 600 or so deaths a day on the roads, according to the OECD). From time to time even a main trunk line may be virtually closed for hours at a time as some “leader” flashes through under maximum security in his special train. At its worst, as in the Chinese New Year, you can have impossible crowds fighting for non-existent seats. 100,000 were camped out around Guangzhou station this year. At its best, on the main line bullet trains (D-trains) there is air conditioned comfort with airline type uniformed hostesses.