Public opposes new railway ticket regulation

The Ministry of Railways' newly-revised regulations stipulating that passengers who miss regular trains will have their tickets invalidated and not be allowed to take other trains within a two-hour period have prompted public criticism of the policy, The Beijing News reports.

The regulation, which takes effect Wednesday, says rail operators will continue to make exceptions for those who miss regular trains because of illness, according to the report.

The previous regulation stipulated that passengers who arrived late could take other trains within two hours after their original one departed.

But under the new rule, those with tickets for China's high-speed trains will still be able to switch to other trains within two hours after their original train has left.

According to the report, many citizens oppose the change, arguing that it is unfair, because it creates an inequality between passengers who travel on regular trains and those who travel on high-speed trains.

One netizen named "jsj7628" argues that because passengers who miss regular trains will not be able to take other trains, rail officials should compensate those with tickets for trains that arrive two hours or more late at stations.

Qiu Jianguo, an official with the China Consumers' Association, told the newspaper that the legal rights and liabilities of both passengers and railway operators should be the same.

"Passengers will have their tickets invalidated if they arrive late for a train, but if a train arrives late, passengers cannot receive compensation," Qiu was quoted as saying. "So it is apparently unfair."

Cao Zhijun, a Beijing lawyer, said passengers who travel on regular and high-speed trains should be treated equally.

"It is impossible for a passenger to deliberately arrive late for a train," he was quoted as saying. "The railway departments should treat passengers equally without discrimination."

The report said the Ministry of Railways would respond to the public's comments late on Wednesday.

( Xinhua , December 1, 2010 )