Packed planes and trains loom

Updated: 2011-09-23 07:42

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)

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Packed planes and trains loom
A man waits for his turn to buy a train ticket at the Taiyuan Railway Station in the capital city of North China's Shanxi province on Wednesday. [Photo by Hu Yuanjia/for China Daily]
BEIJING - Transport authorities are forecasting that passengers will make nearly 700 million trips by rail, road and water across the country during the upcoming National Day holiday.

Though the July 23 bullet train crash has lowered some people's trust in taking the train, the Ministry of Railways forecast on Thursday that some 69 million passengers will still take trains between Sept 28 and Oct 7, up 8.5 percent over the same period last year.

The travel peak will fall on Oct 1, the National Day, when the railway system will carry 8.5 million passengers, up from 8.29 million on the same day last year, it said in a news release.

The weeklong holiday will also see 520 million road trips and 9.1 million trips by ship, said He Jianzhong, spokesman of the Ministry of Transport, at a news conference on Thursday.

The National Day holiday is a "Golden Week" as millions of people travel across the country for sightseeing and family visits. Another busy weeklong holiday is the Spring Festival, or the traditional Chinese New Year.

The railway ministry said it added 282 train services to cope with the surging passenger flow during the holiday.

But travelers found high-speed train tickets are easy to get, while slow train tickets are even more difficult to buy than before.

Niu Zhengyu, 26, an engineer in a State-owned enterprise in Shanghai, said that although he spent three hours waiting in a line, he did not get the ticket for a slower train to Beijing that he wanted to buy for the National Day.

"I had no choice but to buy a ticket for the high-speed train from Shanghai to Beijing. It's expensive, and takes five hours in the daytime. I prefer taking the night trains so that I won't waste the daytime on a train," he said.

He said he always had no luck securing train tickets for such holidays, and many times had to go to scalpers and pay twice the price of a ticket.

To crack down on train ticket scalping, the railway ministry's public security department announced that this year it will set up a blacklist of scalpers across the country.

It promised to thoroughly investigate the channels that scalpers use to get train tickets and stem scalping from the roots.

But netizens hold little confidence in the new measure.

Micro-blogger Limeng1983 said that the railway authority has announced similar measures for years to little effect.

Many netizens urged the railway ministry to expand the real-name ticketing system to slower trains, and check boarding passengers' ID with names on the ticket.

"A thorough real-name ticketing system is the best way to deal with scalpers," said a micro-blogger Yunyangzhai.

The ministry has tried to lay out more high-speed railways to handle the annual ticket shortage in holidays. The national high-speed rail network has expanded to 8,353 kilometers by the end of 2010.

But some passengers said they prefer slow trains that provide cheaper tickets and depart at night, which can save time.

Engineer Niu said that the ministry should consider the masses' opinions and reopen the slow train services that were cut to pave way for the high-speed trains.

Jin Huiyu contributed to this story.