Zhengzhou: The Clapham Junction in Central China

Visited & filmed: 15 June 2017

The problem in China is that the country is so huge, it’s hard to “centralise” on one single hub, but if there was anything that would give Clapham Junction or London Waterloo a run for the money, it’s most likely Zhengzhou Railway Station.

When we gave the station a visit on 15 June 2017, the station showed its true dimensions. It has two of probably the busiest exit underpasses in the national rail network in China — one taking riders to the Northwest and Northeast Exits, and another to the Southwest and Southeast ones. Thank heavens the flow of traffic is separated: everyone goes to the platforms from the upper level, and all who leave must use the underpass. Imagine the mess if a one-way system was not put in place! The Departures Hall, by the way, looks a fair bit like at the Beijing West Railway Station — however, it is rather much smaller, and also looks a little bit like Birmingham New Street (before it was massively redone).

Zhengzhou station is unique in that it is sandwiched between passenger and cargo / freight lines. A somewhat “lesser half” on the west side of the station forces passengers to a rather “squashed” set of 13 platforms (1 side, 6 islands giving 12 in tall). Also, like just a handful of stations in China, it uniquely labels platforms by both platform numbers and track numbers, so you can easily have Platform 2, Track 3 as one side of the second platform of the station.

Traditionally, you can still get pink tickets from the counters at the West Ticket Hall, plus there’s a lot more in the way of food choices by the West Square. There, too, is the sole link to the Zhengzhou Metro. Access between the two squares is only directly possible inside the stations — there’s about a 20-minute reroute on foot needed if you don’t have a ticket!

The introduction of High Speed Rail to the Zhengzhou area means that we also get to see these amazing speed demons here, although passengers will benefit from many more connections at the Zhengzhou East (Zhengzhoudong) Railway Station.

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