Ticket hotline overheats during holiday rail rush

08:29, January 25, 2011      

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Confusion as booked tickets go uncollected

Up to 60 percent of train tickets booked in Shanghai by hotline for the Spring Festival travel peak were not collected, while tickets bought by other means sold like hotcakes.

The uncollected tickets were put back on sale 24 hours after the original booking, but many people who had been unable to buy them through other channels thought seats were all taken on their preferred trains and did not try a second time to buy them.



Passengers dine in the Shanghai railway station while waiting to buy train tickets on Jan 16. The Shanghai Railway Bureau has off ered improved convenience to passengers by opening more ticket windows and placing stools in the waiting area. [Photo/Xinhua]

This situation has cast doubt on the efficiency of the hotline service.

According to statistics from Shanghai Railway Bureau, as many as 49,594 of 80,944 tickets, or 64.3 percent of tickets reserved by hotline on Friday, remained uncollected by the end of the day.

On the same day, railway stations in Shanghai witnessed the largest passenger flow of the peak period, yet the number of uncollected tickets was greater than on any previous day.

This was probably due to the fact that people were rushing home as the weekend started so they bought tickets at stations and did not bother to cancel the reservations they had made earlier by hotline, sources with the bureau told the Shanghai Morning Post.

On other days since Jan 19, some 30 percent of reserved tickets were not claimed, the newspaper reported.

Railway authorities said the hotline's poor efficiency was due to passengers who used the service as a backup to lining up at a ticket office.

Passengers who no longer needed reserved tickets should have called the service to let them know so that other people could have bought them, said Chen Wanjun, spokesman with Shanghai Railway Bureau.

Passengers also complained about the difficulties of securing a ticket by hotline because the system was rarely available.

"I called god knows how many times over the past three days but every time I called I ended up hearing that the line was busy, please call later," said Chen Yuan, who wanted to reserve a ticket to Chengdu for Feb 1.

Shanghai Railway Bureau said more than 100,000 passengers might be using the service at the same time, which makes the hotline super busy.

Source: China Daily
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