Since November the 20th 2019, some Chinese railway stations proposes e-ticket ! That is the end of the physical train ticket. Since my first arrival in China 2 years ago, I had the opportunity to travel across the country, using the famous Fuxing high speed train. However, it was specially disturbing to realize the only train tickets available were paper train tickets.
The Chinese train goes green !
When we know how much the Chinese government is investing in the sustainable development of the country, it was weird not to see any improvements in the ticket delivery. Indeed, the paper train ticket represents a huge waste of paper in China. With millions of tickets issued every day, the train is the most popular transportation mean in China. An important part of the population uses it in their daily life to go to work, implying a round trip every day.
That’s how, starting on November the 20th, 47 Chinese railway station started giving e-tickets. Among all those e-ticket train stations, we can highlight some of the most important Chinese railway stations (Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, Nanjing South, Hangzhou Hefei, Huanghshan North [that we used for our little trip in Huangshan]). We can also add to this improvement was already tested in 45 other railway stations since November the 12th, which brings the total number of e-tickets station to almost 95.
For us, westerners, the e-ticket was already democratized for a few years, and rapidly came across the society to several sectors. China, often at the cutting edge of technology, showed a special delay in this domain. However, we have to keep in mind the recent Chinese rail network was released in June 2015 with the first trip of the Fuxing train. The settlement and the arrival of the e-ticket could not have happened as early as in Europe.
The benefits of the e-ticket
The e-ticket offers clear benefits. First, this is a significant paper economy. It allows to avoid the issuance of billion of paper train tickets. According to the sustainable government policies, the Chinese government intend to reduce its environmental impact on the society.
Then, the e-ticket allows everyone to save time. For the passenger as for the institution, the e-ticket no longer oblige people to come receive their ticket in the train station. For those of us, who have already experienced the train ticket purchase, it is rarely synonymous of fun.
The limits of the e-ticket innovation in China
Unfortunately, this progress is not complete yet, and shows some limitations. First, we can highlight only 92 train stations are using this new system. In a country as wide as Europe, with the second largest rail network with 130 000 km, this number of compatible train station is really weak.
Then, the technological and ecological improvement is not available on all kind of trains. This improvement is available only for high speed train first.
Finally, the e-tickets are available only on Chinese online booking apps. It is still hard for a western people to purchase an e-ticket if they are still novice in Mandarin. Ctrip, the major train ticket retailer in China, with an important customer share of western people, does not offer this service yet. However, this will probably soon be available.
The e-ticket development in China is, without a doubt, a great idea we have all been waiting for. This initiative continue this Chinese government policies for a better sustainability, with a huge saving of paper. However, it is necessary to note this progress is happening slowly, and only in a few train stations, with several years of delay comparing to the rest of the world.
Were you also interesting in the reason why this e-ticket was not available in China ?
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An article by Erwan Chatelet