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Struggle to buy tickets home

01-21-2012 08:57 BJT

Getting home for Spring Festival is --and has always been -- a difficult task. With hundreds of millions of travelers heading home, it’s not surprising that stations and airports are over-crowded.

Even buying tickets is hard. Once again, the government is trying to make things easier for passengers, setting up new ways to purchase tickets. But as Li Qiong finds out, these new channels still need to be improved.

Zhao Na works for an IT company in Beijing. Every year ahead of Spring Festival, she gets anxious, fearing the long struggle to buy a train ticket to Harbin.

With ticket bookings now available on-line and over the phone, Zhao Na decided to give it a try.

She said, "It is convenient, but it’s still difficult. I could never get through on the phone, and it took me three hours to book a ticket on-line. I booked a second class seat on a train."

Zhao Na says she’s satisfied with the new on-line service, as it avoids her waiting hours in queues at a ticket office.

Zhao said, "It’s very convenient for working people like me, though it’s not easy in process."

However, not everyone is as lucky as Zhao Na. Her collegue, Zhu Mengmei, did not have such a successful experience.

Zhu said, "I don’t know why I can’t log in. Maybe too many people are trying the on-line service, which makes it so slow. I’ve asked many friends to try for me but in vain."

Zhu Mengmei is not alone in suffering this fate. Railway authorities have even admitted they underestimated the number of people that would choose to use the on-line booking service.

Zhao Chunlei, Vice Director of Transport Bureau of Railways Ministry, said, "At the busiest time, nearly 1.4 billion people were trying to book tickets on-line booking at the same time. It’s a huge number. And as for at railway stations, we have done all we can to run as many trains as possible. But the demand exceeds capacity."

Although slow and saturated by demand, the on-line service remains a convenient way to purchase tickets. That’s "of course" if you have access and know how to use a computer. For some migrant workers, that’s not always the case.

"We can’t access Internet, and I can’t speak standard Chinese to make the phone call, so my only option is to come to the railway stations to try my luck. I’ve been here for five days and I’m still waiting. In the past, I only had to get up early to queue."

But migrant workers make up a large proportion of Spring Festival travellers. To help them, the Railway Ministry says it is giving them certain priorities, for group tickets in particular.

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CNTV.CN

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