Just like taking a flight, there is a baggage allowance to adhere to when taking a train. Please read on to see how many bags you can take on a train in China, and where to place them.
The maximum weight and size for free carry-on baggage for each passenger is as follows. All items exceeding this should be consigned to a rail freight car (see How to Consign Your Baggage) or mailed separately.
For normal trains:
For high-speed trains (C, D, and G trains), the total of the three dimensions cannot exceed 130 cm (51 in), and a rod-shaped item cannot exceed 180 cm (71 in).
The above limitation is not applicable to a wheelchair. Ramps and assistance are available for helping passengers in wheelchairs aboard.
In practice, there is no steel box to put your baggage in, like in airports. So, generally speaking, you won't be stopped at the security check, unless what you're carrying is obviously in violation of the size/weight restrictions. Bikes aren't allowed as carry-on baggage, unless folded to the dimensions above.
However, baggage space is limited and it is better to store your baggage near you in your car, so it is recommended to travel lightly. Your luggage must fit safely on the overhead racks with no parts or straps overhanging. Loose items, like water bottles, that may fall out of a bag or off the rack are routinely required to be repacked or held.
The items listed below are not permitted on a train or in a train station:
You can take the following items on a train in limited quantities:
There are luggage racks over the seats at either side of a carriage.
Therefore, you can take a 24-inch suitcase on board and place it on a luggage rack. There are some shelves between the carriages for large baggage.
Shelves for Large Suitcases
If your suitcase is too large to place on the luggage rack, e.g. a 28-inch suitcase, you can place it in one of the shelves at the joint between two carriages. Bear in mind that the space is limited and suitcases may be piled on top of one another.
Barrier-Free Wheelchair Car
If you need to use a wheelchair on the train, you may be worried about narrow corridors, where to park your wheelchair, and access to disabled toilets. You are well catered for on China’s high-speed trains.
Each D/G train has a barrier-free carriage with wide-corridor access and a disabled toilet, usually e.g. the fourth car (central on a typical 8-car train, and so closest to the platform-access lift, and usually the bar car too). There is a place for wheelchairs to park, with a belt to fasten them. The conductors are always willing to help you at any time. And you can charge your electric wheelchair for free.
Luggage racks above the seats: After you board the train, you can place your baggage on the luggage rack above the seats. It's sensible to put it on the luggage rack that is opposite to your seat, so that you can keep an eye on it.
Room under your seat: If there is no space on a rack to place your baggage, you can place it under your seat.
Room under the small table: There is a small table between the seats. If your suitcase is too heavy to place on the luggage rack, or too thick to place under your seat, you can put it under the small desk that is near your seat.
If you are taking a sleeper carriage, you can place your baggage on the opposite side to the berths, under the lower berth, or under the small desk in your compartment.
If you don't want to carry too much baggage with you, you can opt for baggage consignment at the train station before departure. Usually, your baggage can be transported in a freight carriage on the same train as you. So you can collect your baggage when you arrive at the train station.
The baggage consignment office (托运厅) is usually just beside the ticket office. The staff will give you a form to fill in (in Chinese) with your name, address, phone number, weight, and amount of items. If you don't know how to fill in the form, you can ask staff for help.
When you show your train ticket and pay you'll be given a consignment collection voucher for the equivalent journey.
Remember to pack your fragile items and electronic products carefully, as they may be damaged during transportation. You can buy consignment insurance for them there.
See Taking a Bike on a Train in China if you would like to consign your bicycle.
The consignment fee is calculated according to your baggage's weight and the journey's distance.
Prices also vary with baggage type, so we can't give you exact prices. But usually the price is much cheaper than express delivery. If your luggage exceeds 50 kg, the overweight baggage consignment price is double the below-50-kg price. Weight and Size
Your consigned baggage should not contain high-value amounts of any currency, bonds, cultural and historical relics, gold, silver, and jewelry, or important documents or materials. You can arrange an escort service for these valuable items.
Any items that are prohibited for carriage on trains are also not allowed to be consigned.
If your baggage contains items that are restricted by the government regulations, please provide transport certificates. See Customs Regulations for restricted items.
High-speed railway trains (C, D, and G trains) don't currently provide a baggage consignment service.
Usually, there are closets for large baggage at the joint between two carriages on high-speed trains. As long as you can take it on the train, staff members will help you to locate some space in a closet.
If you still need a baggage consignment service, you can consign your baggage on an ordinary speed train. The disadvantages are that your baggage will not arrive at the same time as you and you may need to go to another train station to collect it.
After you and your baggage have arrived, you can collect your baggage using the baggage collection vouchers that the carrier gave you.
The carriers will keep your baggage without charging a fee for three days. If you fail to collect your baggage within three days, you will need to pay a storage fee.
If your baggage is too heavy to carry by yourself, you can find a "red cap" luggage porter to help you take it on your train. There are usually some staff members in red caps or red jackets at a railway station. You can see them easily in front of the train station.
The service fee is about 20 yuan (3 USD) for each item.
If you are planning a tour in China and want to experience a high-speed train, please see the following itineraries for inspiration:
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