Train Types and Seat Classes in China

There are many types of trains and corresponding classes of seats in China. Below we will introduce them separately with tables for your clear comparison and consideration.

Types of Trains in China

Mainly 8 types of trains can be found in China, and the tickets respectively identified with letters or (and) numbers.

Types Descriptions
G- High Speed Fastest of all.
Run long distances between large cities.
Speed up to 300km/h.
D- Electric Multiple Units (EMU) Run for long / middle distances.
A few run overnight.
Speed up to 250km/h.
C- Intercity EMU Run for short distances between two nearby cities.
Speed up to 200km/h.
Z- Direct Express Run directly to destinations with no stop or a few stops at large stations.
With a speed of some 160km/h.
T- Express Limited stops at large stations.
With a speed of some 140km/h.
K- Fast More stops at middle and large stations.
With a speed of some 120km/h.
Ordinary Fast Identified with four digits starting with 1, 2, 4 or 5. Stop frequently along the way. With a speed of some 120km/h.
Ordinary Indentified with four digits beginning with 6, 7, 8 or 9. Stop at almost every station along the way. With a speed of some 100km/h.

High Speed Trains

High speed trains (also called fast or bullet trains) are the most popular railway transportation in China nowadays as the trains are spacious, clean, less noisy, punctual and available at most tourism destinations. Due to its high speed, the tickets price is higher than normal trains. The train starts with C, D, and G are high speed trains, and most of them run in daytime. There are six types of tickets for high speed trains in China:

Ticket Types Price Seats per Row Descriptions
Second Class
( Largest Quantity)
Low 5(3+2) Most popular among travelers. The seats can be adjusted to your comfortable position. There is a foldable small table on the backrest and power at the bottom of the seat by aisle.
First Class Medium 4(2+2) More space, comfortable, and quieter than second class. The seats also can be adjusted to your comfortable position. Small neck pillow, foldable take, footrest, and power are available in this class.
VIP Class
(Only 16 Seats on a Train)
Medium 3 (2+1 OR 3) This type of seats only can be seen on few high speed trains. The seat is like the first-class in the aircraft, it can be turned 360°and the backrest also can be adjusted. Reading lamps, radio and video facilities are provided.
Business Class Most Luxurious 3(2+1) Available on part of the high speed train. It has more space for passengers. The sofa-like seat can be lied down. Mini LED TV, tray table, power, free snacks, drinks, disposable slippers, back cushions and blankets are provided.
Soft Sleeper
(not available everyday)
High 4 bunks per room Only provides on the overnight bullet trains. There are 4 sleepers per room with door. LED TV set and reading lamps are provided.
Luxury Soft Sleeper
(not available everyday)
High 2 bunks per room Only provides on the overnight bullet trains. There are 2 sleepers per room with door. LED TV, reading lamps, independent bathroom are provided.

Normal Trains

The train starts with Z, T, K or digit are normal trains. Normal trains are more common seen in almost every part of China. They run slower than high speed trains for they have more stops. The compartments of these trains are usually noisy and crowded. There are mainly four types of tickets for normal trains in China:

Ticket Types Price Seats per Row Descriptions
Hard Seat Lowest 5(3+2) Hard seat carriage is usually crowded and noisy for its cheapest ticket. The seats are hard and can’t be adjusted to your comfortable position.
Soft Seat High 4(2+2) Compared with Hard Seat, the Soft Seat carriage is cleaner and quieter since it has fewer passengers. The seats are softer and more comfortable.
Hard Sleeper Lower than soft sleeper 6 bunks per compartment There’s less privacy in hard sleeper carriage since it has no door and opens straight onto the corridor. Each side has 3 bunks: upper, middle, and lower. It’s quite noisy and crowded. It only has Chinese-style toilet and sink at the end of each carriage.
Soft Sleeper Higher than hard sleeper 4 bunks per compartment There is a door per compartment and each side has two bunks: upper and lower. This kind of sleeper provides more security and privacy than the Hard Sleeper. It has both Chinese and Western-style toilets at the end of each carriage.

Special Ticket Types

Standing Room Tickets:
Passengers who buy the Standing Room Tickets don’t have seats on a train. It is not recommended to buy this type of ticket unless even the hard seat tickets are sold out, for the price of standing room ticket is the same as that of a hard seat, and passengers can only stand along the aisle or at the end of a hard seat carriage.

Child Tickets:

Height Price Descriptions
Under 1.2 meters
Free with an adult Do not have own seat or bunk. Shared with the adult. One adult only can accompany with one child for free. If there are two or more children under 1.2 meters with one adult, only one child enjoys the free ride, the others have to pay for child tickets.
1.2 -1.5 meters
Half price of an adult Have own seat, OR share bunk with adult (child pay half fare of a seat). If child want to have his/her own bunk, the price will be the full fare of the hard/soft sleeper minus half fare of the hard/soft seat (about 75% of the full price).
Over 1.5 meters
Full price Have own seat or bunk.

Student Tickets:
Student Tickets are only provided to Chinese students or the students who have student cards issued by Chinese educational organization. It is not provided to foreign students at the moment.