China Train Travel Guide

China Train Hard Sleeper Service Review

Hard sleeper is a kind of sleeping accommodations on China's conventional trains.
Hard sleeper has an affordable price and it is extremely popular among long distance passengers or those who travel the train overnightly as it provides relatively comfortable travel experience.
In this article, we provide on site photo explaining, basic knowledge and essential service guide for the hard sleeper with purpose to help you make smart choice to have a smooth rail travel.

Main Content List:
  1. The Train and the Carriage
  2. Features and Amenities
  3. Upper Hard Sleeper and Applicable Users
  4. Middle Hard Sleeper and Applicable Users
  5. Lower Hard Sleeper and Applicable Users
  6. Travel Tips

The train and its hard sleeper carriage

Hard sleeper is available on most of normal trains which include four-digit number train (e.g. 4471), K train (e.g. K217), T train (e.g. T170), Z train (e.g. Z122), Y train (e.g. Y513) and etc.
Hard sleeper is frequently seen on such carriages as "25K" class, "25G" class, "25T" class and "25Z" class of China railways.

China Train Hard Sleeper Carriage
Photo HS-1. A "25G" class hard sleeper carriage on China's regular speed train. As you can see through what we circled, on the car body, "YW", "硬卧车" and Chinese Pinyin "YINGWOCHE" are marked to remind passengers that it is used as a hard sleeper coach of the train.
In practice, you don't have to look for such characters to board the train. You can just find the corresponding carriage number which is printed on your ticket and then go there to get on. Before picking up passengers, the conductor would place a carriage number plate which is easily recognized beside the coach door to guide passengers for boarding.

Even though it differs in carriage classes and train types, hard sleepers have similar configurations. In most cases, the hard sleeper carriage has 11 compartments. Inside each compartment are 2 parallel triple bunk beds consisting of 6 bunks. That is, each hard sleeper carriage can provide 66 bunks.
Depending on which train to take, you may meet either of the following two types of hard sleeper carriages with different interior designs:

Half-enclosed Hard Sleeper Carriage
Photo HS-2. The first is a semi enclosed hard sleeper carriage. Partition board is installed between the hard sleeper compartment and the aisle providing more private space to the traveler. As you can see from above photo, the ladder for climbing up and stepping down the middle and top berths is locacted inside the compartment. The compartment has no door, that's why the name "semi enclosed" comes from.

Open Air Hard Sleeper Carriage
Phot HS-3. The second is an open air style hard sleeper carriage which is more commonly used on the trains. Berths inside have wider view while lower privacy.

Features and Amenities

As you can see from photo HS-4, the hard sleeper compartment is arranged with two upper berths, two middle berth and two lower berths. The words "hard sleeper" comes from that it has a thin cushion that feels a bit hard to sleep on. In fact, the cushion is well padded. Each hard sleeper is supplied with basic bedding sets including a mattress, a sheet, a quilt and a pillow.
Between the two lower berths is a wall mounted small table on which passengers can place small items such as boxed food, bottled water. Beneath the table, is a thermos bottle for passengers to fill hot water and a litter bin to throw in waste paper and etc.

China Train Hard Sleeper Compartment
Photo HS-4. An interior photo of the hard sleeper compartment.

When you feel boring for laying long time on the bed, you can leave the cabin and walk to the aisle where you can find a wall mounted seat to sit on and travel the train in another posture. The aisle seat is retractable, the seat automatically sticks to the wall when it's not used to leave more space for people to pass through the aisle. Beside the aisle seat is a wall mounted desk where you can place carry ons when you are leaving from the cabin to make sure they will not out of your sight for security purpose.
The hard sleeper carriage has enough room for your luggage. The first choice is to place them on the luggage rack which is located just overhead of the aisle. Second option would be to place them beneath the bottom berth to make the baggage more reachable to you.
Hard sleeper carriage has toilets, washstands and a large trash can at one end and has an electric water boiler and an attendant office at the other end.
According to the schedule, main lights inside the hard sleeper carriage turn off at approximately 10:00 pm while aisle lights, toilet lights and light at the connection joint keep on the whole night.

Upper Hard Sleeper and Its Suitable Users

  1. Dimensions:
  2. Most of the upper hard berths have the length of about 1860 mm and the width of about 750 mm with the headroom of about 670 mm.
  3. Advantages:
  4. The upper hard sleeper has the lowest price and the quietest place. It's relatively safe to place your property on the upper berth as the high position adds difficulty to the thief to reach.
  5. Disadvantages:
  6. Passenger will have to take trouble to climb to the upper berth. What's more, it's more risky to stay high above the ground even the upper berth is equipped with guard bar.
  7. Suitable users:
  8. Medium-sized adult passengers who are also agile.

Middle Hard Sleeper Features

  1. Dimensions:
  2. Middle hard berth has similar dimensions with the upper berth and its headroom is about 680 mm.
  3. Advantages:
  4. Midle hard berth has a medium price. Property safey factor for middle hard sleeper is higher than that for lower hard sleeper.
  5. Disadvantages:
  6. Middle hard sleeper is reported to have big difficulty for people to step in even with the assistance of the ladder.

China Train Hard Sleeper
Photo HS-5. A snapshot for middle hard sleeper and lower hard sleeper.

Lower Hard Sleeper Specifications and Its Ideal Users

  1. Dimensions:
  2. Lower hard berth has similar dimensions with the upper and middle berths and its headroom is about 900 mm.
  3. Advantages:
  4. Lower hard sleeper is the safest and the most convenient option for people to travel with comparing with the other two.
  5. Disadvantages:
  6. Lower hard sleeper has the highest price with the lowest property safety factor. Since the lower berth is frequently visited by other people, it's a little noisy and the bedding is not as clean and tidy as the other two because people from the middle and upper berths may step on it to climb up and down.
  7. Who should use it:
  8. Lower hard sleeper is the best choice for special group including the old, the weak, the sick, the crippled and the pregnant. Online ticket booking system is not allowed to book lower hard sleeper specifically, so if you want to secure a lower berth, best way would be to go to the railway station to reserve ticket through its ticket counter in the earliest time possible.

Power Port on Hard Sleeper Train
Photo HS-6. It has power socket underneath the aisle desk to let passengers in the hard sleeper carriage to charge battery for their Iphone, Ipad, Notepad and etc.

Travel Tips

On arrival reminder: on board the train, you will be requested by the train attendent to exchange the hard sleeper ticket to a berth token. Before the train approaches to your destination, the attendent would walk to your berth to return your ticket. This is also a kind reminder to tell you that you are about to arrive, so please don't hesitate to leave your bed and gather your carry on and luggage to make preparation for alighting. Meanwhile, passengers don't have to worry about miss the stops as the train attendent is obligated to return your ticket to remind you before arrival. Please note, on arrival reminder is not offered to seat ticket holders privately.
Security and Theft Prevention: Please take special care on your kid sleeping on the middle or upper berth and make sure he/she will not fall out of the bed. When you are sitting on the aisle, please keep distance with those passing through the aisle with boiled water to avoid being scalded. Even though the train is quite safe, people at China Train Guide.Com still want to advise passengers to keep the cash or valuables with you to prevent theft.

Before the ending of this article, we want to remind that you can go to the homepage to search train schedule and find if hard sleepers are available for your travel.If you find this article useful, please share it to others through the following buttons.

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