Tickets to Shanghai hard to get

SHANGHAI - Train and airline tickets to Shanghai are in short supply as visitors throughout China flock to the city for Expo 2010 Shanghai.

The six-month Expo has kept travel agencies and train ticket scalpers busy, and airfares are about 20 to 30 percent higher compared to this time last year.

"Hard-to-get train tickets include return tickets from Hankou, Wuchang, Luoyang and Taiyuan to Shanghai," said Zhu Weibiao from the Shanghai Travel Agency.

"Friday and weekend tickets are especially popular as people usually come to the Expo on the weekends. Tickets from cities in northern China to Shanghai are harder to get compared to southern cities."

The number of trains to and from Shanghai has been increased to help with the growing number of visitors. Travelers from Nanjing will be able to get to Shanghai faster with the new Shanghai-Nanjing high-speed rail, which begins this Thursday.

Ninety-eight train trips, with trains traveling at a top speed of 350 km per hour, will cover the route each day, according to an official from the Shanghai Railway Station. Trains from Shanghai to Nanjing leave every 15 minutes. Tickets have been on sale since last Friday.

More night trains from Shanghai to Nanchang and Wuchang have also been added.

Despite the additional trains, large tourist groups are still having trouble booking tickets. For Yuan Wenxiao, who works for a chemical company in Xi'an, planning a trip to the Expo Garden with 90 colleagues and their families has been complicated.

"No scalper can promise me 90 tickets to Shanghai. We had to use several travel agencies in the end," said Yuan. "We booked tickets at least 10 days before the trip and nobody could guarantee us tickets back to Xi'an."

The situation for individual travelers isn't any better. "Soft-seat tickets to Shanghai are hard to get and they're monopolized by travel agencies," said Cao Guiru, who wanted to book two tickets from Beijing to Shanghai.

Airline tickets in and out of Shanghai are available but at a higher cost. "Airfares have gone up about 20 to 30 percent no matter what airline it is," said Chen Jing from China Youth Travel Service.

(2010-06-29 source:chinadaily.com.cn)