Railways Ministry under fire after another online ticket system crash
Updated: 2012-09-29 01:35
The Ministry of Railways disclosed details of the tender for its costly online ticketing system on its website on Thursday evening after the system crashed again, angering netizens.
The ministry statement said the public tender was won by Taiji Computer Co Ltd and Tsinghua Tongfang Co Ltd, and notarized by Beijing Fangzheng Notary Public Office.
The online ticketing system, www.12306.cn, cost 330 million yuan ($49 million) after 10 years of research and development, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Although many netizens say the 12306.cn website is “harder to get on than the moon”, the ministry said web-access speed has increased since Sept 21.
From Sept 21 to 26, about 2.2 million tickets were sold online every day on average, and the recent busiest day saw nearly 2.8 million sales, about 1.6 million more than the peak day in the Lunar New Year this year.
The response came after Huang Huanting, a student of Northwestern Normal University, wrote to the ministry on Monday asking for information about its bidding process, saying the cost of the website comes from taxes, and citizens have the right to know the details.
Huang’s request was backed by Internet users, including a lawyer and a critic.
The critic, Zhou Xiaoyun, posted on Sina Weibo eight questions to the ministry about the bidding, asking for bidder names, their project details, quoted prices, reasons for selecting the winning bidders, and the name of the evaluation committee members.
Zhou’s request was forwarded 27,000 times within two days.
People have speculated that kickbacks were involved in the website-project bidding process, but railway authorities blamed the malfunction on huge online traffic caused by the fast-approaching holiday, adding that the site got 1.5 billion clicks at its peak time.
Chinese people will have an eight-day holiday starting Sunday to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival that day and National Day on Monday, which will mean huge numbers of travelers, which will put a lot of pressure on the railway system.
However, not everyone was buying the ministry’s explanations.
Statistics from a third-party data provider, alexa.cn, showed that the visitor flow on 12306.cn, even at its peak time, is lower than some major online retailers like Taobao.com.
The ministry said the ticket booking system “was still being upgraded” and will improve.
Tang Xiaotian, a professor with Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said pressure from netizens in the virtual world has turned into power in reality.
“The way government uses money has not been challenged before,” Tang said. “If the ministry is forced to disclose the bidding process, it will be a milestone for Chinese netizens fighting corruption.”
China Daily - Xinhua