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How to Read China Train Tickets

With the popularization of e-tickets, China train paper tickets have been seldom given. What you get, either the “red ticket” or the “blue ticket” is actually reimbursement voucher, used as invoice to get reimbursement in China. Although different in color, they have not much difference in how they show information. In this article, we will read such “China train tickets” from top to bottom and left to right. 

In addition to the above two versions of "train tickets in China", "Trip Information Reminders" are also given to remind passengers of related train information.

Please note that all three of them cannot be used to take the train. Most China trains now allow boarding only after checking the ID certificate used for booking the e-ticket. 

Ticket Number

This is in red and located on the top left corner, consisting of both letters and digits. Each ticket has its own number and it seldom duplicates others.

Boarding Gate

This is shown on the top right corner. Boarding gates in some of the earlier-built stations like Xi'an Railway Station are not numbered, hence this information will not be shown, like the below blue one.
China Railway Ticket
China Train Ticket

Departure and Arrival Stations

These are the largest characters on the whole ticket, with departure station on the left and arrival station on the right. The English letters below them are their Chinese pronunciations in pinyin.

In China, a railway station is usually named after the city, such as ‘西安(Xi'an)站(railway station)’. When the city has more than one station, any station built later is named as ‘city name+location of the station in that city’, like ‘北京(Beijing)南(south)站(railway station)’. The locations used in station names are usually ‘东(east)’, ‘西(west)’, ‘南(south)’, and ‘北(north)’, while a few are local well-known places like Shanghai Hongqiao and Luoyang Lonegmen.

Train Number

This is placed between the departure station and arrival station, made up of several digits or an English letter prefix, which refers to different train types.

Departure Date and Time

These are located in the fourth row on the left, in the order of year/month/date/hour/minute. Usually, passengers are allowed to enter the railway terminal at most 2 hours before departure; the boarding gates are opened 30 minutes before departure and closed 5 minutes before.

Carriage Number and Seat/Berth Number

These are to the right of departure date and time, with carriage number first. China railway carriages are numbered with digits, while a few have a prefix ‘加(addtion)’, meaning the carriage is added due to an excess of passengers. This usually happens during peak travel seasons like Spring Festival Travel Rush.

Inside normal trains, seats are numbered with digits while in high speed ones, seats are numbered with digits plus an English letter.

Berths inside the carriages are identified by ‘digits+location’, like 04号上铺, meaning no.04 upper berth. Usually, there are上铺(upper berth), 中铺(middle berth), and下铺(lower berth) inside sleeper carriages.

 Please note that tickets printed at many railway stations do not show Carriage Number and Seat/Berth Number. This does not mean it is a standing room ticket. If it is, the below seat class category will show “站票”. 


This is below the carriage and seat/berth numbers.
高级软卧: Deluxe Soft Sleeper 软卧: Soft Sleeper
硬卧: Hard Sleeper 商务座: Business Class Seat
特等座: VIP Class Seat 一等座: First Class Seat
二等座: Second Class Seat 软座: Soft Seat
硬座: Hard Seat 无座: Standing (no berth or seat)


This is on the left side of the fifth row, in units of the Chinese currency.

Below it, the Chinese sentence says: Permission only for the specific train of the printed date and time.

Passenger’s Certificate Number and Name

These are in the seventh row with the passenger’s real certificate number on the left and his name behind it.


In the lower left, there are two Chinese sentences in a dotted line box, advertising the passenger ticket booking (12306.cn) and freight transport service (95306.cn) of the China Railway Corporation.

Printing City

This is in the last row in Chinese characters, telling in which city the ticket was printed.

To its left, is a code made up of digits and English letters. It is used to verify the authenticity of the ticket, as does the two-dimensional code in the right bottom corner.

How to identify the authenticity of a "ticket"?

1. Watermark: The watermark must be printed clearly.
2. Feel: An authentic one will be smooth to the touch. Some fake ones may feel rough, and their printing may rub off or not be printed neatly.
3. Flexibility: Roll the ticket up and twist it. An authentic one will resume its original shape.
4. Comparison: Compare the ticket with an authentic one you already have.
5. Code: Every ticket has a set of codes at the top left (e.g. B023489 in the blue sample). You could find a corresponding set of codes at the bottom left (e.g. 36010311510706B023489).
6. Anti-fake Code: On the lower right, there is an anti-fake two-dimensional code which records train no. and passenger’s information.


How to Read China Train "Trip Information Reminders"

Also from top to bottom and left to right, it shows the departure time of the train, departure station, train number, arrival station, carriage number, seat/berth number, seat/berth class, and passenger’s personal information, etc. What are different from the above red and blue “tickets” are that the boarding gate and ticket price are showed in the right lower part.  

China Train Trip Information Reminders
Further Reading:
  China Train Travel - A Beginner’s Guide
 Useful Chinese Phrases for Train Travel
- Last updated on Jan. 11, 2021 -
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