Wed, February 23, 2011
China > Mainland > Spring Festival travel peak

Government promises harsher measures on ticket scalping

2011-01-24 03:34:47 GMT2011-01-24 11:34:47(Beijing Time)  Global Times

A senior official at the Ministry of Railways has said that any employees found to be involved in ticket scalping will be fired, the Beijing News said Sunday.

Vice Minister Wang Zhiguo made the comments at a press conference Saturday.

Millions of people are still finding it difficult to get a train ticket home during the Spring Festival period this year despite government efforts to crack down on ticket scalping.

Wang said the ministry had hired more than 1,000 staff to supervise ticket selling and report on any illegal behavior by railway workers.

He said that public security personnel had arrested over 1,800 ticket scalpers and confiscated 14,000 tickets so far.

However, getting home is still difficult for many looking to visit their families for the holiday. By Sunday, all tickets for trains on January 31 and February 1 from Beijing had sold out, and buying a ticket for popular routes such as Beijing to Chengdu and Chongqing was almost impossible, China News Service reported.

On Wednesday, Chen Weiwei, who works in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, ran naked through the booking hall of a local railway station to express his frustration at failing to get a ticket to his hometown in Shangqiu, Henan Province, despite queuing up overnight and being third in line.

The chief of the station promised to get him a ticket, but Chen told the Xinhua News Agency that he had not received one yet.

Zhang Chen, an office worker in Beijing, had to pay an extra 300 yuan ($45) to a scalper to get a hard sleeper train ticket from Beijing to Shenyang, Liaoning Province, which was originally worth 113 yuan ($17).

One scalper in Beijing turned down a telephone interview with the Global Times, saying that he was too busy.

A railway worker at Jiujiang station in Jiangxi Province told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that scalpers would queue for tickets, and most of them had connections inside the railway system.

The worker said the warning from the Ministry of Railways was more like a routine this time of year.

The worker said this measure could help reduce scalping activities, but added the key to solving the problem was to increase railway capacity and forbid people and government agencies from using their connections to acquire tickets.

The Spring Festival transportation period began Wednesday. The ministry estimates that 2.85 billion passenger trips will be made during the period.

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