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Chinese railways try regional tailor-made train service

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-11 16:07
XI'AN - When Liu Hongyan went to the crowded ticket office at Xi'an railway station, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, during the National Day holiday, she was unable to buy a ticket home to Yulin.

Sold out trains are a common occurrence during China's peak travel periods such as the National Day holiday that ended Sunday, but Liu didn't expect the ticket seller's solution. He told Liu to visit the railway station's official Weibo or Weixin social media account to request an additional train service to Yulin, also in Shaanxi.

Liu was able to made the seven-hour train trip home after she and 121 other passengers all requested an extra train to Yulin that day.

The Shaanxi Railways Bureau added an extra return train service between Xi'an and Yulin on both Oct 7 and 8, even though the online booking requests did not meet the requirement of 50 percent of the train's available tickets.

The railway authority explained that the ticket office had reported strong passenger demand for the route on those dates.

In the end the trains, which have 218 seats, 817 "hard" sleeper berths and 22 "soft" sleeper berths, were fully booked for a round-trip service between Xi'an and Yulin.

The "on-demand service" is a pilot program set up by Shaanxi Railways Bureau, which allows them to add additional train services based on real-time bookings. At this stage it is only available on the Xi'an - Yulin route, which is owned and managed by the provincial authority.

More than 132 million rail trips were made during the official 11-day holiday travel period last week, up 11.6 percent year on year, according to the China Railway Corporation (CRC).

An average of 7,852 trains were scheduled each day during the holiday, 713 more than the same period last year, including 5,273 high-speed trains, an increase of 788 from last year.

Apart from the on-demand pilot service, all of the trains were regular scheduled services..

The bureau said the new service is an innovation in regional train services, but it will be difficult to extend it to the national level as adding extra services would require advanced coordination between different rail authorities and train stations.

"Taking bookings for on-demand services is a new phenomenon available due to the internet era. The provincial railway bureau can make adjustments to train services based on real-time information showing passenger demand," said Yin Xiaojun from the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences.

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