No fare hike for holiday train riders

By Jessie Tao (
Updated: 2007-01-10 13:56

Migrant workers line up at the ticket check point to get on board their train, the first temporary passenger train added for migrant workers prior to the Spring Festival exodus at the railway station in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province January 5, 2007. A total of 1,116 migrant workers aboard this train went back home in Guiyang, southwest China's Guizhou Province to reunite with family members. [newsphoto]

Railway Ministry spokesman Wang Yongping said Wednesday train ticket prices will not go up during the Spring Festival season, also known as the 'chunyun' period, beginning in 2007, reports the China News.

According to the ministry, a daily average of 3.88 million passengers will travel over the railways during the 40-day 'chunyun' period from February 3 to March 14, 2007, which will see a total passenger flow of 156 million, up 4.3 percent from the previous year.

Train riders have been required to pay a premium raning from 15 to 20 percent pf the ticket price during the spring festival, when Chinese travel from places they live and work to spend time with their families and friends. The scheme was carried out to alleviate the transportation problem in the hottest travel days.

The new policy will benefit tens of thousands of railway traveller, Wang said.

Wang also said the first special train for college students will be dispatched from Beijing on January 19. In order to facilitate their return to Beijing, the ministry has also made round-trip tickets available to students for the first time.

In another separate report by Beijing Times, Hao Jinsong, a 34-year-old law school student at the China University of Political Science and Law, said he had written a letter to the railway minister, suggesting an end to the train ticket price increase during this year's Spring Festival season.

The letter represents Hao's renewed effort at arguing with the railway authorities on railway ticket price hikes during the 'chunyun' period after failing in lawsuits in which he claimed the price increase is invalid without authorization from the State Council or holding public hearings.

But an unidentified official with the Railway Ministry said "it is impossible to change the course" which he said was ordered by the National Development and Reform Commission in January 2002.

Hao said he suggested in the letter the Railway Ministry to stop raising the ticket price, which he claims has become a channel to pull in extra profits from passengers.

He also mentioned "streamlining passengers," which the ministry has repeatedly cited as a major reason for the price raise, but argued that the yearly increasing number of passengers has rendered the streamlining impossible. Rather, he wrote, the passengers are paying more for less satisfactory services, which goes against the principle of fairness.

The ministry's decision to scrape the annual ticket price hike has caused a stir among netizens.

Within an hour after the report was posted on, a Chinese news portal, a total of 673 posts were left, most hailing it as a welcome gesture and expressing support for the move. Some say the move is a result of Hao's relentless pushing efforts.

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