FAQ About Chinese Trains

FAQ About Chinese Trains
By Sherry Liu
Web Editor

If this is your first time on the train, you must have a lot of questions about it. We chose some of the most frequently asked questions about Chinese trains to answer. Anyway, don't worry; a train tour is easy and friendly for everyone. Every railway station has an information desk and you can ask the staff for help if you encounter any problems.

1)What are the toilets like on the train?

western style toilet

Lavatories are provided on both ordinary trains and high-speed trains, at the junction of two carriages, or both ends of one carriage. The facilities and conditions are however different on different trains.
Toilets cannot be used when the train is about to arrive in a station and just before it leaves a station.
High-speed train: There are both Chinese style toilets and western ones, and some carriages have toilets for the disabled.The lavatory is small but well equipped, with tissues, toilet paper, trash cans, washbasins, diaper changing table and mirrors.They are regularly cleaned and sanitized.
Ordinary train: Trains numbered with letter T and Z usually have both western and Chinese toilets. Other trains will only have Chinese style ones. Toilets on these trains are mostly not clean and smell unpleasant. The lavatory is small and poorly equipped. Always bring your own toilet paper and sanitizer.

2) Can I buy food on the train?

The dining car is usually located in the middle of the train where you can buy drinks and meals (usually Chinese boxed meals). Trolleys will roam in the train carriages, selling snacks, drinks and packed lunches.

3) Is there a shower on the train?

A shower is not available on any train. If you have to clean yourself, you can bring a towel or hygienic towelette.

4)What is the luggage allowance/where can I put big luggage on the train?

luggage racks

a. You need to carry your luggage on and off the train by yourself
b. The free luggage weight and volume:

  • Children (including free-ticket children):10 kg
  • Diplomatic staff: 35 kg
  • Other passengers: 20 kg
  • The sum of the length, width and height must be less than 1.6 meters.
  • Any rod-shaped article must be no more than 130 cm, and weigh less than 20 kilograms.

c. Folding wheelchairs, which are free to carry, are not included in the above range.

In seat carriages, luggage can be placed on luggage racks at the junction of the carriages or in the storage spaces above and below the seats.
In sleeper carriages, luggage can be placed on the luggage rack in the corridor or under the lower berth.
Note: There are porters available to help at most of the train stations. With paying RMB 20-30 per baggage, the porters can carry your luggage and lead you to your seat/bunk.

5)Items prohibited to board a train

You may refer to the rules of carry-on baggage of an airplane, except that water and food is allowed on the train. If you're not sure if something is portable, ask your tour guide or an employee at the ticket counter.

The following items are not allowed in your luggage:

  • Guns, bullets (including parts)
  • Explosive material
  • Knives and weapons
  • Inflammable goods
  • Highly toxic, corrosive, radioactive and infectious dangerous goods
  • Items that can interfere with the train's strong magnetization and endanger the train's operation or public health

Limits on the following items:

  • Less than 20ml: nail polish, polish remover, hair dye
  • Less than 120ml: sunscreen spray, mousse, hair gel, insecticide, air freshener and other self-spraying pressure vessels
  • Safety matches 2 small boxes
  • Two ordinary lighters

6)What can I do if I miss my train?

If you miss the train, you can change your ticket to the next trains within two hours after the train departs.

7)What can I do if I lose my ticket before boarding?

If you lose your ticket, go to the ticket refund window at the ticketing hall and report the loss. You need to tell the conductor your ticket information (ticket number, departure and arrival stations and departure time). The conductor will issue a new ticket which is the same as the one you lost with a deposit (RMB cash only). You can board the train with the new ticket. Remember to ask for a travel proof from the staff on the train. With the new ticket and travel proof, you can claim a refund of your deposit at the arrival station within 24 hours.

8)If I/my travel companions are disabled, is it possible to take the train?

Yes, there's nothing to be worried about. The train stations have special ticket outlets for the disabled to help them buy tickets and board the train. Just bring relevant valid identification and disability certificates. Folding wheelchairs can be carried on board for free.
The station has a "help room" equipped with Braille timetables, wheelchairs, crutches and stretchers, as well as special lifts and toilets for disabled people. Disabled passengers can get help from the staff to board the train and get out of the train station.

9)Can I choose a certain seat/berth number?

Seats/berths are allocated randomly when you buy the ticket, so it can't offer a seat selection service like buying a movie ticket.
Tickets purchased at the same time are usually arranged in adjacent seats if available. Otherwise, you will be getting seats apart from each other, even possibly in different carriages. In this case, you may ask the passenger sitting next to you if they'd like to switch seats.

10)Can I charge my phone in the train?

The Ordinary trains' hard/soft seats only have power sockets in the conductor's carriage and near the lavatory. The First and Second class seats in high speed train have power sockets under the seat. The VIP/Business class seat has power sockets in the seat armrests. The power sockets of the hard sleeper are distributed in the corridor of the carriage. Each compartment may have one or two power sockets in the corridor.

11)Can I change or cancel my train tickets?

Change the ticket:
Passengers who need to adjust their itinerary and change to a new destination can change their ticket at the station ticket window or on the website www.12306.cn within the ticket pre-sale period and more than 48 hours before departure. This service is free of charge, and new tickets that cost more than the original ticket will be charged extra, and those that cost less will be refunded. Each ticket can only been changed once.
Cancel the ticket:

  • More than 15 days before: Free
  • 48h-15 days before: 5% of the ticket price
  • 24h-48h before: 10% of the ticket price
  • Less than 24h: 20% of the ticket price


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