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Train Classes & Ticket Types in China

Traveling in China, especially on a private tour, you are supposed to get some basic knowledge about trains in the country. Here we provide you some information.


China Train Classes
 
G Train
"G" is the first letter of "Goasu", literally meaning "High Speed"(EMU). This refers to a group of long-distance high-speed trains. G1-G5998 is designated for the trains that are used in more than one railway bureau's zone, while G6001-G9998 run only within one railway bureau's area. The whole railway in China is managed by several railway bureaus headquatered in different parts of China. Example:
G2001 Luoyang - Xian (08:36 - 10:29)
G2002 Xian - Luoyang (08:30 - 10:21)

C Train (top speed is 350 km/h)
"C" is the first letter of "Chengji", literally meaning "Inter City High Speed Train(EMU). At present this group of high speed trains refers to the High-speed express passenger train running between Beijing and Tianjin designed with the highest speed of 350 km. This Beijing-Tianjin bullet train features cleanness, low noise, elegant-looking and speed. Now C typle train is the fastest of this kind in operation around the world. The Shanghai - Hangzhou inter city high speed train is put into operation. It represents the high speed trains with shorter travel distances, and mainly running between two big cities within one railway bureau.
1) More than 2 railway bureaus: C1-C1998
4) Only within one bureau: C2001-C9998
Example:
C2001 Beijing - Tianjin (06:35 - 07:05)
C2018 Tianjin - Beijing (09:30 - 10:00)
 
D Train (top speed is 200 km/h)
"D" is the first letter of "Dongche", literally meaning "Moving Trains", a kind of EMU high speed train. These trains are powered using CRH series electric multiple units (EMUs) officially named "Harmony" (Chinese: 和谐号, Hexiehao). The trains D1-D3998 are running through two or more railway bureaus while D4001-D9998 trains run within one railway bureau. It can reach 200km/h. Usually it offers the First class seat and Second class seat. It is clean and comfortable, and the inside of the train is quite different from the other trains. All the seats face the same way. There is a screen that shows how fast the train is going.
Example:
D305 Beijing - Shanghai (21:46 - 07:55)
D306 Shanghai - Beijing (21:15 - 07:24)

Z Train (top speed is 160 km/h)
"Z" is the first letter of "Zhida", literally meaning "Direct Express". These trains offer "non-stop" overnight trains between two big cities. Z Train is popular and important in China. Most of the Z Trains start in the evening and reach the destination in the next morning and overnight on the train. The train has 4-bed cabins both for soft sleeper and hard sleeper tickets. Some has two-bed cabins. The trains have air-conditioned system, hot water, western styled toilet. There is a restaurant car on the train to serve three meals. The top speed is 160 km/h. It uses the numbers Z1-Z9998 regardless of the number of railway bureaus entered.
Example:
Z19 Beijing - Xian (21:18 - 08:19)
Z20 Xian - Beijing (20:16 - 07:17)
Colour: white-blue
 
T Train (top speed is 140 km/h)
"T" is the first letter of "Tekuai", literally meaning" Express". These train refers to "Express Train" in English. Unlike "Zhida" - Direct Express Train, this kind of train stops at important big cities on route before reaching the destination. So T Train is usually more crowded than Z Train. Its tickets are composed of hard seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper. It boasts of air-condition, restaurant compartment, toilet and washing room. The top speed is 140 km/h. The trains T1-T4998 run through two or more railway bureaus while T5001-T9998 are used for the trains going within one railway bureau.
Example:
T43/T46 Beijing - Xian (21:36 - 08:42)
T45/T44 Xian - Beijing (20:34 - 07:40)
Colour: white-red outside.
 
K Train (top speed is 120 km/h)
"K" is the first letter of "Kaisu", literally meaning "Fast". These Train refers to "Fast Train" in English. This kind of train is of course slower than "Z" and "T" trains with more stops on route. K Train is also equipped with air-condition system. It has a restaurant compartment, Chinese styled toilet and public washing room. The K Train ticket includes hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper. The trains K1-K6998 run in more than one railway bureau, while the trains K7001 to K9998 will be operated in only one railway bureau. The top speed is 120 km/h.
Example:
K615 Beijing - Datong (15:40- 21;45)
K616 Datong - Beijing (08:33 - 14:33)
Colour: white-red outside.

"4 Number" Ordinary fast Train (Pukuai) top speed is 120 km/h
These trains are named by 4 numbers, such as train 1115(Beijing-Datong). These are slower trains. Most of the passengers are local common people, villagers and vendors. Most of the trains have no air-condition system. They have Chinese styled toilets, but without restaurant Car. These trains stop at most of the stations along the way, hence a longer travel time than the fast trains. The top speed is 120 km/h.
1) Ordinary fast trains: 1001-5998
2) More than 3 railway bureaus:1001-1998
3) Two railway bureaua: 2001-3998
4) Only within one bureau: 4001-5998
5) Colour: green
Example:
2671 Datong - Xian (16:40- 09:14)
2672 Xian - Datong (2257 - 14:47)
 
"4 Number" Ordinary slow Train (Puke) The top speed is 100 km/h
These trains stop at many stops as possible, and are often sought-after by rural workers to visit their home villages because of low ticket price. This is the slowest type of train. The top speed is 100 km/h.
1) Ordinary slow trains: 6001-7598
2) More than 2 railway bureaus: 6001-6198
3) Only within one bureau: 6201-7598
4) Colour: green
 
 
China Train Ticket Types
 
• Luxury Soft Sleeper 
This is the top level sleeper and the most expensive ticket but only equipped by a few of trains. There are only two comfortable bunks in a compartment, which is equipped with an independent toilet, sofa, tea table, TV and some other facilities equal to a soft sleeper. The price is about twice as much as that of a soft sleeper.

 
• Business Class Seat – these are only available on G and some D trains. The seats are usually behind the operation cabs and in carriage No.3 of a train, and equals to the first class seats on an airplane. The carriages are spacious and the leather seats can be adjusted to a sleeper. Each seat is equipped with an outlet, a reading lamp and an LED screen. Passengers will be served with snacks and disposable slippers during a trip. The business class seats behind the operation cabs are called Sightseeing seats as there are large windows for sightseeing. Apart from two business class seats, there are also three first class seats in this area. The price of a business class seat is about twice of that of the first class seat. Both super class seats and business class seats are the most expensive seats on a train, but they are set in different trains and the former is cheaper than the latter. 

 
• Super Class Seat 
These are only available on G trains and some D trains. The seats are behind glass wall of the two operation cabs. The seat is as comfortable as the first class seat, with one seat at one side of the aisle and two on the other side. The price is much higher than first class seat - about twice as much as that of the second class seat. 


First Class Seat
(Available for G Train, C Train and D Train )
These are only available on D (Electric Multiple Unit), G (Chinese Railway High-Speed), and C (intercity High-speed) trains. The seats are roomy and comfortable, four of which are set in a row. The seat is roomy and has enough space for one passenger and one carryon bag; the distance between two rows is over 30 cm, which is fairly enough for passengers to rest their legs. With an adjustable cushioned backrest with a small pillow and a foldable pedal, the seat provides a comfortable ride. A tray table is hidden in the arm. Moreover, the rotatable seat in some new trains is equipped with a headset jack and volume buttons on the arm for passengers to listen to radio programs during the trip.
 
Second Class Seat
(Available for G Train, C Train and D Train )
These are also available on a D, G, and C trains. The seats are not as soft as the first class seats, but still comfortable for sitting. There are five seats in a row with three on one side of the aisle and two on the other side. Each seat is equipped with a folding table on the back. On some new trains, the second class seat is rotatable and has an outlet at the bottom of the back. The ticket price is 60% - 80% of that of the first class seat.
 
Soft Sleeper
(Available for Z Train, T Train )
If you have a soft sleeper train ticket, that means you will spend the night in a 4-bed cabin. The cabin has a door with much privacy. The soft-sleeper cabins are often clean and comfortable. There is a squat toilet and a washing room at each end of each car. The food trolleys pass back and forth along the narrow car corridor. You can buy some cheap food and drinks. If you pay more, you can have your meal in the restaurant car.

Hard Sleeper
(Available for Z Train, T Train )
The so-called hard sleeper is generally less comfortable than the soft sleeper. The compartments are open and comprise six fixed bunks, arranged as an upper, middle and lower on either side.
 
A thermo, a tray for litter, and basic bedding such as sheets, pillow slips, blankets, quilt and pillows are provided. The space tends to be cramped and inclined to be noisy at times. However, if you are obliged to take an overnight rail trip, the hard berth is highly cost effective. The toilet is squat style and at one end of the carriage, where there are also sinks and a mirror. Hot water for drink is available. The price is almost twice as much as a hard seat; the prices of a hard sleeper plus a hard seat equals to that of a soft sleeper.
 
 A sleeper ticket should be handed in when getting on board. The conductor will keep it for you and give you a card as a certificate instead. After you reach your destination, you need to change your ticket back. If there is still no passenger in a sleeper an hour after the train has started, the conductor has the right to sell the berth to other passengers.
Soft Seat
(Available for short distance K Trains or some "4 Number" Trains)
Soft Seat is only available for the train drive between 1-5 hours for fast trains. Soft seat refers to those in K (fast), T (express), Z (direct), and accommodation trains. There are no bunks for sleeping, just a cushioned seat as comfortable as the first class seats in high-speed trains. Four seats are in a row with two in either side of the aisle. The back is adjustable with a small tray table on it. The carriages are clean and roomy. The price is lower than a hard sleeper but higher than a hard seat. The soft-seat is a nice way of traveling bewteen the cities at shorter distance.

Hard Seat
(Available for T Trains, K Trains and "4 Number" Trains )
This is the basic way to take a rail trip, and has the lowest price. As the name implies it can be something of an ordeal, especially for a long or an overnight journey. The seat is less soft, roomy and comfortable than a soft seat. The carriages are always noisy and crowded with people, especially during peak times or the high travel season on the most popular railway routes. Usually, people holding standing-room-only tickets are arranged to stand along the aisles of hard-seat carriages. The toilets are usually unclean and cramped (only 1.2 square yards) and no toilet paper is supplied. For the adventurous or maybe just a short daytime journey this is acceptable as it is a wonderful way to experience something of the timelessness of the real China and its people.

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