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China launches first no-ticket intercity train line in Guangzhou

Travelers on China’s busiest intercity railway are now able to catch a bullet train without having to buy a ticket.

The Asia Times reports that passengers on the 147km line between Guangzhou and Shenzhen just have to scan a QR barcode, and their face, to get on the train.

When they arrive at their destination, their face and barcode are scanned again, after which money is deducted from their digital wallet – around $12 at present prices.

The rail operator, China State Railway Guangzhou Group (CR Guangzhou), wants to speed up the operation of China’s busiest intercity line.

Around 100,000 people use the line every day, and the removal of tickets mean that it requires only three seconds to deal with administrative details, rather than the 15 minutes needed previously to buy and collect a ticket, present it and check the passenger’s identity.

The ticketless system is delivered using the WeChat app, China’s equivalent of Facebook. To set up the service, users tick boxes on a consent form and set up facial recognition, after which they are able to use their phones to make the verify their identities at the station.

Staff at Guangzhou East Railway Station told China’s ECNS news website that the new system makes catching an intercity train as easy as catching a metro or bus.

CR Guangzhou has been experimenting with the real time verification of electronic tickets on the island of Hainan and on the Guangzhou–Zhuhai Intercity route. These trials required passengers to have a ID card, which they had to present during on-board inspections.

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