While China’s railway ministry works at designing an efficient ticketing system (see news), travellers, wanting to hop on to one of the new high-speed trains, will still have to deal with the complicated process of purchasing tickets
For one, there is no online booking engine, and in some places such as Beijing, no phone booking facility either. In Shanghai, phone bookings require local ID card numbers and passengers are required to book 10 days ahead of the departure date.
Foreigners are advised to book tickets either on the spot at stations or through travel agents. Agents will usually place a CNY10 to CNY15 RMB (US$1.5 to US$2) surcharge, but can offer delivery at offices or hotels. When purchasing tickets at stations, only cash is accepted.
Train schedules are released by the government to travel agents and hotels, and cannot be viewed online.