Ordinary Trains in China: The speed of ordinary trains are much slower tha the bullet trains. The speed is about 90 - 120 kilomteres per hour. However,they usually depart at night and arrive the destination in the next morning. Chinese ordinary trains have 4 classes: "soft sleeper", "hard sleeper","soft seat" and "hard seat".
Soft Sleeper -Most western travellers travel soft sleeper, a comfortable, civilised & affordable way to travel. Soft sleepers are spacious 4-berth compartments with two upper & two lower berths by night, converting to two sofas for daytime use. All necessary bedding is provided.
There's a table with tablecloth, and usually a vacuum flask of hot water for making tea (or drinking chocolate or cuppas soups if you've brought some). The compartment door locks securely, and a smartly-dressed attendant looks after each car.
The best trains even feature individual TV screens and power sockets for laptops & mobiles. Most long-distance trains have only one soft sleeper car.
If you're on a tight budget, there's no reason why you shouldn't go hard sleeper, as many western backpackers do. Hard sleeper consists of open-plan carriages with a broad aisle on one side of the car, bays of 6 bunks (upper, middle & lower) on the other side.
The hard sleeper, is a passenger railway compartment class in the People's Republic of China. Hard sleeper is a class on most Z-series, T-series express trains and K-series rapid trains. They are less expensive than soft sleepers.
Despite its name, the bunks are padded, only less than soft sleepers. Like soft sleepers they have a table, hot water and a rubbish bin. The lower bunk is the roomiest followed by the middle bunk. The upper bunk not only has the least room, but one has to be relatively agile to climb up to it. There are slight differences in ticket cost depending on the bunk position.
Shortly after the trip starts, the carriage official will come around and exchange tickets for berth tokens. Tickets will be returned before arrival at the destination.