I attempted to buy train tickets yesterday in Urumqi. Was feeling pretty good about myself for taking public transport to the train station and all…costs 1 rmb!
The bus numbers and the route is provided at the bus stop, with the station you are at highlighted in red. Useful only if you can read Chinese characters.
At the Urumqi [south] station, you’ll be faced with several bag checks, sometimes frisking…and after all that is done, you hit the ticketing station to behold this sight –
The screen above is displaying the no. of available tickets to popular destinations during the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival holiday.
When I got the end of the queue, I tried to order a ticket to Kashgar only to be turned away because I didn’t have my passport with me 😦
Recent regulation of recent years: tickets are tagged to a registered ID, and they are transferable only at the ticket counter (i.e. a fair bit of hassle). This was done apparently to prevent people from hoarding tickets and selling them with a price hike on the actually-rather-obvious and therefore not-very-black market. I asked some locals whether they minded the hassle, (could be seen as a violation of privacy too…), but it seems they appreciate it for the order it brings.