Migrant workers slam train ticket rules
Updated: 2012-01-05 21:15
HANGZHOU - New ticketing measures issued in a bid to ease the ordeal of buying train tickets have been bashed for hampering the homecoming of migrant workers, who constitute the lion's share of passengers in the Spring Festival travel rush beginning on January 19.
China's Ministry of Railways has begun allowing customers to book their tickets online or by phone in the hope of putting an end to complaints of how arduous it is to buy tickets in the run-up to major holidays, when hundreds of millions Chinese are on the move, mostly by train.
The Wenzhou Metropolitan Daily on Monday published an open letter sent in by a migrant worker from the city of Wenzhou and accusing the new ticketing system of robbing migrant workers of their "ticket rights."
With the majority of tickets sold to online buyers, there were few left for purchase from ticket booths, said Huang Qinghong in the letter.
"We migrant workers have no idea how to use the Internet. Queuing for hours is actually less tortuous for us," it said.
Feng Hua, a construction worker, agreed, saying, "Buying tickets was easier before the regulations were changed for this Spring Festival."
Feng, queuing on Tuesday at a ticketing booth in the railway station in the southeastern city of Hangzhou, said the station had cut short its pre-sale period to only three days ahead of departure since online and phone booking had been introduced.
"But I do not know how to use the Internet. I do not have a bank card for transactions. I do not even know the booking phone number," he said.
Feng asked his nephew, a college student, to help him reserve tickets for the 35-hour train ride back home to Yunnan, a remote province in China's southwest.
Despite the long travel time, Feng still chose to go by train because the lowest train fare is less than 300 yuan, one fifth of the cheapest air ticket price.
But in this Spring Festival travel rush, Feng spent much more on train tickets.
He paid more than 1,000 yuan to a swindler who his nephew said was an agent for phone booking. "But when I came to claim the booked ticket on Monday, the staff told me that there was no record of my booking. I then realized I was trapped," Feng said.
All people booking by telephone are still required to pay for their tickets at the booths in railway stations, not by other bank transactions, according to Cai Jianli, a salesperson at Hangzhou Railway Station.
"My nephew is a college student, and even he could not figure the ticketing out. How am I supposed to?" Feng said, adding that the only choice would be a 680-yuan bus ticket if the train tickets were sold out.
Zhu Dacui, a migrant worker from Jiangxi province, burst into a loud crying among crowds queuing for tickets in Hangzhou Railway Station.
Zhu said she could not manage to buy a ticket as the new ticketing system was too complicated for her.
"We expect a large number of passengers will face the same difficulty during their purchase of train tickets," said Wang Youzhao, a member of staff at the station.