How to read a China train ticket?

No worry! Everybody can read a train ticket printed in Chinese.

The Chinese train tickets are printed in blue and pink. The blue magnetic ticket can be read by the automatic entry or exit gate at some railway stations while the pink paper ticket cannot be swiped. Other than this, they are exactly the same.


1. Departure and Arrival Station

The largest characters printed in bold on the ticket are the departure and arrival station name. The departure station is on the left and arrival station on the right. Under the Chinese characters is the station name printed in English letters. However, it is in Pinyin rather than in English. The spelling of Pinyin is not always same as English. For example, Beijing South is spelled as Beijing Nan in Pinyin, Kowloon is spelled as Jiulong.
Sometimes, the Chinese railway station names are confusing to foreigners, especially when you find a city has more than one railway station. At the beginning, China Railway usually named a railway station simply after the city name.  For instance, Beijing's first main station is named as Beijing Railway Station. It can be looked as central station in west countries. Then the new stations were built and named as Beijing West, Beijing South, Beijing East and Beijing North according to their locations in the city. When you receive a ticket with departure station as Beijing, then you go to Beijing Railway Station, the main station in the city center. It will be helpful if you learn the location name in Chinese because most newly built stations are named as city name+location name.

  • 北(Bei):North
  • 东(Dong): East
  • 南(Nan):South
  • 西(Xi):West

2. Train Number

The train number is printed between the departure and arrival station. It consists of a English letter prefix and up to four digits. The prefix tells what kind of train it is.

  • G: high speed train, speed 250 to 350 km/h, 
  • D: multiple unit train, speed 200 km/h to 250 km/h
  • C: intercity multiple unit train, 200km/h
  • Z: through train without stopover in between, speed 160km/h
  • T:extra fast train stops at major cities, speed 140km/h
  • K: fast train, speed 120km/h
  • Y: tourist train, speed 120km/h
  • L: temporary train running at peak season only
  • no English letter prefix: slow train under 120 km/h

3. Departure Date and Time

The departure date and time is printed under the departure station name. The format is YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM. The arrival time is not printed. After the digits you can see some Chinese characters:

  • 年: Year
  • 月:Month
  • 日:Day
  • 开:Depart

4. Carriage Number and Seat or Berth Number

The carriage number and seat or berth number are printed under the arrival station number. Again, we can learn some Chinese characters to help us to locate the correct place on the train.

  • 车:Carriage
  • 号:Number
  • 上铺:Upper Berth
  • 中铺:Middle Berth
  • 下铺:  Lower Berth

For example

  • 12车16A号 means  Carriage 12, Number 16A
  • 8车17号下铺 means carriage 8, Number 17 Lower Berth

5. Class

  • 高级软卧:Deluxe Soft Sleeper
  • 软卧: Soft Sleeper
  • 硬卧:Hard Sleeper
  • 商务座:Business Class Seat
  • 特等座: Premium Class Seat
  • 一等座: 1st Class Seat
  • 二等座: 2nd Class Seat
  • 软座:Soft Seat
  • 硬座:Hard Seat
  • 无座: Standing

6. Price

The price is printed in currency Chinese Yuan,¥

7. Personal Data

According to the real-name policy, the passenger's name and passport (travel document) numbers are printed on the ticket. Some digits and letters are replaced by asterisks (*)to protect privacy.

8. Others

  • Boarding Gate Number: sometimes the boarding gate number is shown on the ticket. If you see Chinese characters 检票口+number, it tells you the boarding gate number. For example, 检票口21 means boarding gate 21.
  • Ticket Serial Numbers are printed on the upper left and bottom left corner. Generally, you will not use it.
  • Issuing City: the city where the ticket is issued.
  • Advertisement: China Railway's advertisement is printed in a dashed frame.