FAQ - Beijing/Xian 'Z' category trains


Category: train


Question: What are the Beijing/Xian 'Z' category trains like?

Z category trains are the fastest and most modern long distance trains in China, running on routes such as Beijing-Shanghai and Beijing Xian.

They are composed of the very latest air-conditioned sleepers, plus bar and restaurant.

One passenger described it in this way: The train journey was exceptionally good; the sleeping accommodation was first class as was the service. We also had the opportunity to meet and enjoy conversations, sometimes only in written form I may say, with a number of Chinese people sharing our compartment both going and returning. Booking in Beijing was relatively painless as they have a special booking office for foreigners.

These superb trains have top-quality brand-new air-conditioned sleeping-cars, far superior to any flight and saves time over flying, too. These trains are soft class only (no hard class) with 4-berth ordinary soft class sleepers, 2-berth deluxe soft class sleepers with private toilet, restaurant car (with menu in Chinese and English, beer a reasonable RMB15, the crispy fried prawns are recommended..!) and bar. It is reported that the on-board staff are helpful and speak some English, and the berths are even fitted with small TV screens.


Beijing to Xian is 1,200 km (750 miles).  Beijing to Shanghai is 1,463 km (914 miles).



Question: What is the D-category Express Train Beijing to Shanghai?

This is a new D-category 200-250 km/h express electric train, introduced in April 2007. It has 1st and 2nd class seats and bar-restaurant car. 1st class seats are 2-abreast each side of the aisle, 2nd class seats are 3-abreast one side, 2 abreast the other.


Train Number: D31, Running time: 9 hours and 59 minutes, From Beijing to Shanghai Leaving Beijing at 10:50 every day, and arrives in Shanghai on 20:49. The distance is 1463 km.



Question: How to buy a train ticket at the Beijing railway station?

You can buy tickets yourself at the station reservation office, remember to take your passport with you.

In big cities such as Beijing or Shanghai you should use the special reservations office for foreigners.

Reservations for the best Z-category express trains open 20 days (or in some cases 10 days) before departure, reservations for most other trains open up to 10 days before departure, assuming the train you want starts its journey at that station.

If the train you want starts its journey somewhere else and calls at your boarding station already well into its journey, tickets may only be available 2 days before departure.

The rules vary by city..! You can generally only book a train journey at the station where your journey starts, so (for example) the reservations office at Shanghai can sell you a Shanghai-Beijing ticket but not a Beijing-Xian ticket.

Berths are best booked at least 2-3 days in advance, apart from peak periods (the Spring Festival, May Day 1st May, National Day 1st October) when they should be booked as soon as reservations open.

In Beijing, you can buy tickets at Beijing Main station (metro Bejingzhan), or Beijing West station (called Beijing Xi or Xizhan, metro Junshibowuguan).

At Beijing Main station, the ticketing office for foreigners is on the north west corner of the 1st floor, accessed via the soft seat waiting room. It is open 05:30-07:30, 08:00-18:30, 19:00-23:00. Only domestic Chinese tickets are sold, no international tickets. At Beijing West station, the foreigners ticketing office is on the 2nd floor, open 24 hours.



Question: How to buy a train ticket to Beijing to Lhasa?

You MUST present a valid Tibet travel permit onboard the train. To obtain this permit, you will have to arrange a tour/hotel in Lhasa through an accredited travel agency like us.



Question: How to board my train in Beijing?

There are two major stations in Beijing, Beijing Main (metro Bejingzhan) and Beijing West (also called Beijing Xi or Xizhan, metro Junshibowuguan).

Trans-Siberian trains to Moscow & Ulan Bator use Beijing Main, as do trains to Shanghai. The direct train to Hong Kong and trains to Xian, Guangzhou & Tibet all use Beijing West station.

Both Beijing stations are large and busy, and some people find them confusing. So arrive in plenty of time for your train!

When you reach the station, you must first go through airport-style security controls into the departure area.

For soft sleeper travel, you must then find the appropriate waiting lounge for your train. There are a number of different waiting lounges, and the electronic message boards show which is the right one for each specific train. Tickets are checked on entering the lounge, so you can be sure you are in the right place.

Inside the lounge, the electronic message boards show the trains departing from that lounge, for the next 24 hours. Trains are usually allocated between lounges so there is ½ hour or more between each departure from that lounge.

Most trains are shown as "on time", but the most immediate departures are shown as "waiting". Once a train is ready for boarding (normally about 30 minutes before departure) it is shown as "check in", meaning you can proceed through ticket control to the platform. About 5 minutes before departure the barrier is closed and the train is shown as "check out".


More questions: How to buy train tickets in Hong Kong?


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