Chinese Railway Tickets to See Unified Appearance and Slight Change

CHN Rail Ticket 2015 800
The new, 2015 redesign of the Chinese railway ticket

CHN Rail Ticket HSR 2009 800
The 2009 version of the blue ticket (mainly issued at HSR stations)

CHN Rail Ticket Regular 2009 800
The 2009 version of the pink ticket (issued at other stations)

Some passengers might have seen a ticket with the extra Chinese character for station, “站”, plus somewhat more cramped text and, occasionally, an ad for the railways. This is the new ticket redesign that is going to be official on 01 August 2015.

Apart from the rather visible “intrusion” of ads (even if it’s for the railways), the new layout is good news in that it unified how HSR and regular rail tickets are shown. HSR tickets printed on blue, magnetic tickets today, have one layout; all other trains and tickets have another. The new layout builds upon the layout of regular rail trains, in use for quite a while ago, and unifies its layout regardless which trains travellers will use — HSR or “the usual”. This means you will be seeing the same design — regardless of your ticket being on a blue or pink ticket.

Here is what will change:

  • The issuing office (as in the station or city that sold you the ticket) is now on the lower right hand corner, just next to the QR code.
  • Your origin and destination, as well as the train number, are now shown near the top of the ticket (in addition to the ticket number).
  • Your ticket gate (检票口 in Chinese) is now shown on the top right hand corner (it used to be on the lower right hand corner, just by the QR code).
  • The date and time of departure is now shown below your journey, near the middle of the ticket. Right next to it is where you will be seated on the train (for HSR tickets, this used to be on the upper right hand corner).
  • The validity and conditions remain near the centre of the ticket — although circled characters now dispense with the circle.
  • Unlike the old, non-HSR train tickets, your class of travel remains on the ticket even if you change your travel plans and rebook or change your destination.
  • Your name now appears next to your ID document number, on the same line. (This could be bad news if you have a long name; you could end up with your name truncated or occupying a lot of space.)
  • The rather protruding ad now appears in a dotted box. Most ads will simply advertise the railways ticketing service (12306) and cargo service (95306), along with a quick message to wish you a pleasant journey.
  • The dashes in the full, 21-digit ticket code, are now gone.
  • The new tickets do not appear to show the CRH indicator — the word 和谐号 is nowhere to be seen.
  • Key information, including dates, times, carriage numbers and seat numbers, now appear with larger numerals and letters.

You might see different tickets with a variety of differing layouts between now and 31 July 2015, but as of 01 August 2015, the new standard will be only ones issued in China.

To check for a fake ticket, just make sure the last seven figures or digits in red (on the top left hand corner of the ticket) match with the trailing seven digits or figures in the huge, 21-digit ticket number at the bottom of the ticket. In very rare circumstances, they might be off by one digit (3456 and 3457, for example); if it’s more than that, turn it in and ask if the ticket is real or counterfeit.

The last major change to train ticket layouts happened in December 2009, when the ageing barcode was replaced with a QR code, so to enable personal ticketing and getting tickets registered to a legal owner.

Please note that the new, 2015 layout, might change slightly as they fine-tune the redesign of tickets.

To avoid unauthorised duplication, these sample tickets use a different font from those in the “real” ticketing system. Please do not attempt to use these sample tickets for anything illegal.

By David Feng

David Feng — founder and publisher, Tracking China, a Street Level China website.

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