How to Read a Train Ticket

How to Read a Train Ticket
By Sherry Liu
Web Editor

Although traveling by trains in China is becoming popular among westerners, the train tickets are still written in Chinese characters, with only your names in English. You are urged to get help to read the tickets correctly and gain accurate information before heading to the train station.

Types of Train Tickets

There are 5 types of paper tickets sold by China's railway authorities:

  • Computer soft paper ticket with red shading
  • Computer magnetic medium ticket with light blue shading
  • Chinese Train E-ticket
  • Tickets issued by the train mobile ticket replacement machine
  • Substitute tickets, section tickets, passenger fares and miscellaneous fees receipts, etc.

Normally you will get your tickets with red or blue shading.
The blue shading ticket means that the ticket can pass through the automatic check-in machines, and the red shading one means you need to pass a manual check-in pass.

How to Read a Paper Train Ticket

a train ticket
Infographic: Read a Paper Train Ticket in China

Important information on a train ticket includes:

  • Departure and arrival stations
  • Train number
  • Travel date and departure time
  • Passenger's name and passport number
  • Carriage number, seat/berth number and class

Where are the positions of A, B, C, D and F on the train ticket?

layout of different seat classes

In the early days, airplanes mainly had a single aisle design, with each row usually having six seats, labeled as ABCDEF. AF were by the windows, CD were by the aisle, and BE were the middle positions. Over time, the letters A-F not only represented the order of the seats, but also distinguished window, aisle, and middle positions.

The second class seating on high-speed or bullet trains is arranged in a 3+2 layout, so there is only one seat in between two seats, which is why there is only a B seat and no E seat. First class seating is arranged in a 2+2 layout, so the seat arrangement is AC DF, without B and E seats. VIP or business class seating is arranged in a 2+1 layout, so the seat arrangement is AC F.


  • The QR code is the most important part of the ticket, as the code is used to check whether the ticket is valid.
  • Blue tickets cannot be folded if you don't want to fail the check.
  • When you get your ticket, first look at the middle of the ticket to confirm your passport number and name, then check the departure and arrival stations as well as departure time.
  • If you have difficulty finding your seat, you can take your ticket and ask the train staff or other Chinese people around you for help.

How to Read a Chinese Train E-ticket

A Railway E-ticket is an electronic form of a voucher, which serves as a contract for railway passenger transportation. Using e-tickets for train travel is significantly more convenient than using paper tickets. Just keep your e-ticket saved on your phone or printed, as all you need to do is show your passport to check in and out of the station, and to board the train.

Chinese Train e ticket
Infographic: How to Read a Chinese Train E-ticket


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