E-tickets for fast trains to go national

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All high-speed railway stations across the country will allow passengers to check in without a paper ticket next year, China Railway Corp said.

A passenger swipes her identification card to pass through a gate before boarding a high-speed train at Haikou East Railway Station in Hainan province on Thursday. [Photo/China Daily]

Trial operations kicked off in Hainan province on Thursday, and the results will help the railway operator improve its e-ticket service before launching it nationwide sometime next year, the company said. It did not provide a specific date.

The company said that passengers who succeed in purchasing an island-looping high-speed train ticket in Hainan will have access to an information sheet that includes a QR code.

When entering the station and checking in, passengers need only swipe an identification card-a second-generation ID card for Chinese mainland residents, a permanent residence permit for foreign "green card" holders, or a mainland residence permit or travel permit for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan residents-at the self-service counters.

Those whose certificate cannot the be read by the machines can check in by scanning an electronic or printed QR code.

Previously, a paper ticket was necessary even for passengers who bought tickets online, the company said.

"It's very convenient and fast," said Wu Yuanzhen, a passenger from Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. "I am a salesman in the retail industry and travel a lot by train. For us, time is money. E-tickets save time picking up a ticket and improve travel efficiency."

For passengers who need to reschedule or return their ticket, if they paid for it online and didn't print out the certificate for reimbursement, they can change the ticket or get a refund through 12306.cn, a mobile phone app or the ticket office at the station.

If they paid for the ticket in cash or printed out the reimbursement certificate, they can change the ticket or get a refund after returning the certificate to the ticket office at the station.

Since 2011, passengers have been able to swipe their ID cards at self-service machines to take the Beijing-Tianjin high-speed passenger railway and Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway.

Checking in by swiping an ID card is now available at high-speed railway stations in most big cities across China, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Wuhan. At stations in some remote areas, passengers still need a paper ticket to board.

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