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Note for train travel

Types of trains

Passenger trains are named either by a four-digit number (e.g. Train 1501), or by a Chinese Pinyin letter followed by one or several digit of numbers (e.g. Train T164). The Chinese Pinyin letter indicates different meanings as follows:

G - Super high speed trains (高铁)
D - Top-line trains (动车组)
Z - Non-stop high-speed train (直达特快)
T - High-speed train (特快). Across the local railway jurisdiction (跨局): 1~399; Within the same railway jurisdiction (管内) 401~999.
K - Express train (快车)
N - Fast train that runs within the boundary of the local railway jurisdiction. (局内列车)
L - Temporary train (临时列车)
A - Temporary train per request (按需临时加车)
Y - Tourist train (旅游列车)
Four-digit number train (普快).

D Trains are the top-line trains in China with cutting-edge equipment (except for those local Maglev trains in Shanghai). All other trains, ranging from four-digit number trains to T, K and Z trains have to yield to D trains, which surely carry the highest ticket prices. All the seats in D trains face the same way, and each seat comes with its own tray table. There is a speedometer showing how fast the train is going (usually around 180 km/hr).

Train seat

There are four types of seats in trains in China - hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper.

Hard seat (硬座)- Most basic. Mostly used by working-class Chinese. The seats do not come with soft cushions. The train cars are usually noisy, and seats are less than clean. Maybe a good way to experience the real life of working-class Chinese for those adventurous.

Soft seat (软座) - Comes with nice and comfortable cushions. Cleaner and roomier than hard seat with the price slightly higher. In D trains or some tourist trains, the soft seat has 2 classes: 1class and 2class.

Hard sleeper (硬卧) - A bunk where you can sleep. Each car has 11 open compartments, and each compartment has 6 bunk beds, fixed as an upper, middle and lower on the two sides. This is the most popular type of seats for long-distance travel, and tickets are generally hard to get.

Soft sleeper (软卧) - 4 bunker beds (two upper and two lower bunks) per compartment. The compartments come with doors for privacy. Each bunk has its own small reading lamp, and other supplies such as cups, trash can, slippers and brushes.

Price for children

Children under 1.1m (3ft) tall travel free and those under 1.5m (5ft) pay a half of the fare (only for seats) and pay full fare for sleeper.

China Domestic Railway Map

China Domestic Railway Map
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Train tickets


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