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Barriers close 5 minutes before departure, and the train is then shown as 'check out'.

Photos in this section are courtesy of Sunil Mehta.

Now the bad news: Foreigners cannot buy tickets at it's only in Chinese and only accepts Chinese bank cards (although if you happen to be an ex-pat with a Chinese bank card and a basic knowledge of Mandarin, you can follow these instructions for using 12306here).

So you should buy tickets through one of the following reliable recommended agencies, who charge a small fee. Or buy from a local train ticket agency for an RMB 5 fee.

However, a temporary shortening to 30 days in early 2017 seems to have become permanent.