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High-speed rail expands ticket discount

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-06-23 00:58

BEIJING - China's high-speed rail will start a summer discount for business cabins, state cabins and first-class seats on certain railway lines, the country's national railway operator announced Friday.

It is the first time for the high-speed rail discount to cover first-class tickets, but second-class ones, the hard-to-get tickets for some popular lines, are still excluded from this round of special offer.

According to China Railway Corporation, the discount, starting July 10 through August 31 and with variable rates of up to 20 percent, is implemented to "adapt to market demand."

The discounted tickets will be available for certain sections of the Beijing-Guangzhou and Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rails, some of which are discounted for the first time.

A faster way of travel, China's high-speed train services often receive complaints about its stubbornly high prices and transport capability unmatched with market demand.

Tickets around busy travel season, specially those of the economy class, often sold out soon after available, whereas some costly trains suffered low attendance.

"It is a good start, but I hope high-speed rails can be like the subway, running more in busy season and fewer in off season and not wasting on resources while claiming a deficit," said netizen "phils" on Sina Weibo, China's twitter-like microblogging service.

While some netizens complained that it provides little benefits to the price sensitive group targeting only second-class tickets, Wang Ming, deputy head of the Institute of Comprehensive Transportation of National Development and Reform Commission, said the discount is designed to adjust between demands of different market segments.

"Some passenger flows are stable. Some can be attracted by lower prices. The railway department has enough data to back up its decision and expects the price to balance the demand." Wang said in an interview with a local newspaper.

According to Guangzhou Railway Group, the national network's local operator in the southern transportation hub Guangzhou, this round of discount can provide a price reduction as much as 500 yuan ($81) for business class.

Under the discount, prices for some short-distance first-class tickets will be marked down to almost the same as the second-class, the railway operator added.

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