Trains added to deal with spike in Expo passengers

The Beijing Railway Administration will run four extra trains to Shanghai from Wednesday to meet the increasing demand of visitors from the capital to the world's fair, which opens Saturday.

A press officer surnamed Ma from the Beijing Railway Administration told METRO that as many as 15,000 passengers per day will fill trains from Beijing to Shanghai during peak times, such as the upcoming three-day May 1 holiday.

The four extra trains will join the 10 throughout the six-month Expo period.

"The added four trains will mostly ease the current lack of transport capacity from Beijing to Shanghai during Expo," she said.

When regular tickets to Shanghai on Saturday went on sale on April 10, they sold out within a half day at one ticket outlet, said Kong Xiangcheng, a salesman at a rail ticket office in Chaoyang district.

"It reminded me of the Spring Festival travel rush.

He said tickets for the swifter China Railway High-speed trains are still abundant because the price is 730 yuan, more than double the ticket price for the trains that take two hours longer.

As the opening date of the Shanghai 2010 Expo neared, the price of air tickets and hotel rooms soared.

Ma Xing, a press officer with Ctrip.com - an online travel service provider in China - told METRO the biggest recent airfare discount during the holiday was 20 percent off. In early April the discount reached 40 percent.

"Shanghai is a business destination," Ma said. "Airfares are normally discounted during public holidays such as the May 1 holiday.

"But because of the Expo, very few tickets are being discounted" now, she said.

Shanghai hotel bookings made in March were triple those made during the entire previous three months, said Ma.

She said the average price of accommodation had risen 20 percent, to 400 yuan and 700 yuan, for three- and four-star hotels.

The shortage of transportation tickets and expensive accommodation are not the only concerns for Expo visitors during the May Day holiday; the availability of Expo tickets is another problem.

None of the Shanghai 2010 Expo official tickets outlets in Beijing has tickets left for the upcoming holiday.

A clerk surnamed Li with China Mobile - one of the four official Expo ticket agencies - told METRO the tickets for the upcoming holiday sold out in December at her outlet.

"When the tickets were first on sale last July, it enjoyed a frantic popularity," she said.

"I received hundreds of phone calls requesting ticket information on one busy day."

The other three official tickets sellers - China Telecom, Bank of Communications and China Post - told METRO that all opening-weekend Expo tickets allocated to Beijing outlets have long been sold out.

The Shanghai Expo Bureau issued a statement on Saturday saying opening day tickets sold out on April 20.

(2010-04-27 source:china.org.cn)