China urges railway safety for Spring Festival rush
Updated: 2011-12-10 21:43
BEIJING - China's railway system has been given the call to prepare for the upcoming Spring Festival travel rush season to ensure safety, as the Ministry of Railways (MOR) Saturday commenced operation of an online booking system for express train tickets.
The new service provides greater access via the Internet to tickets of express train routes starting with the letter "T," and will spare passengers from time-consuming queues.
Previously, the ministry allowed only online booking of tickets for high-speed and non-stop fast trains with the initials of "G," "D" and "Z."
The expanded service comes about one month ahead of the Spring Festival travel rush that begins on January 8, 2012, when hundreds of millions are expected to hit the road to unite with their families for the Chinese lunar new year that falls on January 23 next year.
Passengers can log on at www.12306.cn, the MOR's official online ticket-booking website, to buy train tickets.
Demand for train tickets is always high in China, particularly during the Spring Festival when passengers desperate to return home line up for hours in freezing weather to buy tickets.
Minister of Railways Sheng Guangzu said the railway system faces an onerous task during the upcoming Spring Festival travel rush as more passengers are expected.
"The railway system's transport capacity can hardly meet passenger demand," Sheng said in a statement on MOR's website. "We are facing new tests and challenges to ensure the safety and order of the Spring Festival travel rush."
Sheng said railways bureaus across the country should complete maintenance ahead of the travel rush and open access to ticket booking through the Internet and phone.
"The absolute safety and reliability of high-speed trains must be guaranteed and attention should be attached to maintenance of high-speed trains," he said.
The MOR vowed to schedule more trains and intensify its crackdown on train-ticket scalping during the upcoming travel rush.
Railways carried a record 221 million passengers during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush period in 2011, while 1.72 billion people traveled in the first 11 months of the year, according to MOR data.