Real-name train ticket system kicks off in China

Southern Guangdong Province launched the pilot real-name train ticket system Thursday morning amid China's efforts to curb ticket hoarding by scalpers.

China's first real-name ticket was booked at 7:03 a.m. Thursday by phone, confirmed sources with the ticket booking system of Guangzhou Railway Group (GRG), operator of the province's railways.

The ticket, priced at 423 yuan (61.96 U.S. dollars), was for a hard berth on a train coded K446 scheduled for Jan. 30, running from south China's Shenzhen City to northwestern Xi'an City.

The real-name system covers tickets of trains in nine stations in Guangdong scheduled between Jan. 30 and Feb. 4, the travel peak of the Spring Festival holiday season. These tickets are now available as travellers can book 10 days in advance by phone.

Train passengers can dial hot lines to book tickets and get them from wickets in railway stations or ticket agencies before midnight the day after the booking.

Passengers only need to follow automated voice instructions and dial in necessary information. After the booking is accepted and processed in a computerized database, the automated voice system will issue a booking code. With the code and ID card, a passenger can get his/her ticket from wickets in railway stations or ticket agencies.

"This procedure is expected to prevent long queues at the wickets of railway stations because most of the communication is made on phone," said Huang Xin, head of GRG's passenger transport section.

The real-name system is also scheduled to be adopted in Hunan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and Chongqing Municipality.

A total of 17 stations in Hunan, which are also operated by GRG, will implement the same system as in Guangzhou for tickets of trains scheduled between Feb. 14 and Mar. 10.

Chengdu Railway Bureau will launch its real-name ticket system on Feb.4, covering tickets of trains scheduled between Feb. 14 and Mar. 10 at six stations in Sichuan, three stations in Chongqing and two stations in Guizhou. A similar telephone booking system is adopted.

The National Development and Reform Commission forecast some 210 million train trips will be made during the Spring Festival rush, a year-on-year rise of 9.5 percent.

The real-name system has drawn much attention in China. People are waiting to see whether the system can effectively curb ticket hoarding. There are also worries that the newly introduced ID checks may paralyze railway stations because of the heavy workload involved.

China's National Development and Reform Commission predicted this year's Spring Festival travel peak to be between Jan. 30 and March 30. This year's Spring Festival falls on Feb. 14.

(2010-01-21 source:china.org.cn)