China has a railway system covering more than 70,000 km with over 5,500 stations serving it. In China, pratically every city has a train station, while some have more than one, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Traditionally, it is located in the center of the city or town and functions as a transportation hub. However, since CRH trains were put into operation, new stations have been built and most are far from the city center, such as the Beijing South, Shanghai Hongqiao, and Xian North. Different stations in a city also operate trains running to different destinations. Take Beijing as an example. Most trains that stop at Beijing West travel to the cities in western China, while Beijing North operates trains to cities and towns in the north. So you should always make sure which one you should go for your destination.
Find A Station
As most are located in the center of the city or town, it is quite easy to find them, even for new comers. Being a transportation hub of a city or town, it can be reached by buses, subways, taxies, and even coaches. In cities and towns, when you see a building with large red or golden Chinese characters (the station’s name) on the top and a square out front, you probably find it.
A railway station in China is composed of one or two squares, a station building, and platforms.
A square often lies in front or at the rear part of a station, where bus stops, taxi stands, and subway and coach are distributed in and around it. Parking lots can be found on and under ground. What’s more, there are shops, restaurants, vendors, hotels and public toilets. A square also serves as an outdoor waiting room, as it is always filled with travelers waiting for their trains before being admitted into the building.
• Information Board: A huge LED screen usually hangs outside, showing the timetable and status of trains. You will find the departure time and when and whether or not you can enter the building.
• Entrance & Exit: the entrance is usually central to the building. There will be conductors checking the tickets. A moving conveyor belt and a metal detection door are installed at the entrance for security check. The exit usually leads to the city's public transportation. Self-service check-in machines are installed at entrance and exit for ticket checking.
• Ticket Office: the ticket offices or booking halls can be found near the entrance. There are boards showing ticket information. Conductors seat inside windows to sell tickets. Many have self-service ticket machines, but after the real-name ticket policy has been applied, travelers can only book tickets on the machine with their second generation Chinese ID cards. E-ticket Pickup Machine is also available, which enable passengers collect their tickets that were booked online. There are also separate ticket windows for platform tickets, and these ticket windows are usually close to the entrance or exit.
• Left Luggage: The left luggage center or luggage storage hall is also near the entrance. Some provide 24-hour service. The charge is CNY 5 – 20 per day for luggage of different weights or sizes. Take Xian as an example, it charges CNY 5 per day for a bag not exceeding 10 kg and CNY 10 per day for a bag over 10 kg.
• Baggage check-in counters: the counters are near the entrance. If your luggage exceeds the weight or size limits, you can have your luggage consigned at the counters.
• Others: Police office, passenger service center, restaurants, and shops can also be found outside of the building.
• LED Screens: Once inside the building you will see LED screens showing timetable and the designated waiting rooms. You will find your waiting room according to the train number.
• Waiting Room: Large stations have more than one waiting room and some also have special soft sleeper, CRH waiting rooms, and mother-and-child rooms. LED boards hanging in each waiting room tell the status of a train: waiting, check-in or delay, and also the platform from which to board. A waiting room usually has several ticket wickets, where a conductor checks and punches your ticket. If there are self-service check-in machines, passengers holding blue tickets only need to insert the tickets into the machine and collect them after passing the gate. The pink ticket cannot be read by the machine. The self-service check-in machines in Beijing South, Shanghai Hongqiao and Tianjin South can also read ticket information through second generation Chinese ID card. Travelers sweep their ID cards over the machine – no paper tickets are required.
• Luggage Lockers: timed luggage lockers can be found inside the building. There are usually charged by hours and the sizes of luggage. In Beijing West, the charge for a normal-sized locker is CNY 10 for 7 hours, CNY 15 for 12 hours, CNY 25 for 24 hours, and additional CNY 10 every 12 hours after the first 24 hours; the charge for a large-sized locker is CNY 15 for 7 hours, CNY 25 for 12 hours, CNY 40 for 24 hours, and additional CNY 15 for every 12 hours after the first 24 hours.
|Platform in Chongqing Railway Station|
Passages and stairs connect the waiting rooms with platforms. Some have escalators but not all do. Platforms are numbered, so it is easy for you to find the right one. On platforms, there are stalls selling all kinds of snacks, beverages, magazines and newspapers. Clear signs are available showing the way out upon arrival, although most are in Chinese.
Major Railway Stations
|Beijing Railway Station||Beijing South||Beijing West|
|Shanghai Railway Station||Shanghai South||Hongqiao Railway Station|
|Guangzhou Railway Station||Guangzhou East||Guangzhou North|
A full list of China Railway Stations