Chinese hostesses welcome passengers on the platform before a Fuxing high-speed bullet train leaves the Beijing South Railway Station for Shanghai on Sept 21. (SONG FAN / IMAGINECHINA)
Passengers can now select their seats when buying tickets online for bullet trains - part of an effort to improve customer service, China Railway Corp said on Thursday.
When entering the ticket purchase page at 12306.cn or when using a smartphone app, passengers can choose a seat before submitting payment. If the preferred seat is not available, the system will automatically choose another.
The railway launched a pilot service in December allowing passengers to choose their own seats for the high-speed rail line that circles the island province of Hainan.
It also launched another online service that allows passengers to select alternate routes having one stop when tickets for a nonstop trip are unavailable.
Further improvements will be made based on operations and passenger feedback.
Passengers can log on to 12306.cn, the official national railway website, to find out how to use both services. Foreign passengers will be able to use the service if they have an account on the website or app.
Liu Jiangbo, a Shaanxi native working in Beijing, is happy for the new service.
"I tested it on my smartphone as soon as I read the news," the 30-year-old said. "I always travel with my wife, and sometimes the system gives us seats that are not together. We have to ask people on the train to change seats with us. But sometimes it's too much trouble and we just sit apart, as though we are traveling alone."
"Sometimes I cancel the order online, hoping to get tickets next to each other with the next order," Liu said. "But the next order sometimes turns out to be separate seats also. In the future I can choose where I want to sit on a bullet train, just like on an airplane."