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Prices cut for costliest high-speed rail tickets

(Shanghai Daily)

13:43, May 08, 2012

Some tickets on high-speed rail services between Shanghai-Nanjing and Shanghai-Hangzhou have been cut.

But only the more expensive business and parlor seats will qualify for discounts of up to 30 percent. Other cheaper seats are not included, the Shanghai Railway Bureau said yesterday.

The discounts will cover 116 train services along the Shanghai-Nanjing and Shanghai-Hangzhou lines from May 18 until June 20, said the bureau.

"In the future the ticket prices will be adjusted based on market demand and transport seasons," railway officials said of the first price cuts to be introduced since the high-speed lines came into operation in 2010.

The lines are among the busiest in the region with bullet trains leaving Shanghai railway stations for neighboring cities every five minutes during peak periods.

Qian Guifeng, the general manager with the Shanghai-Hangzhou railway passenger transport company, the regional operator, said yesterday the low take-up of the more expensive seats played a part in the price cuts.

A Shanghai Daily investigation found that by the time some bullet trains were about to leave Shanghai, the majority of business seats remained unsold.

On the railway operator's ticket buying website, only one or two tickets for business carriages had been sold. Each bullet train has about 28 business seats available.

Business seats see the biggest price reductions. On the Shanghai-Nanjing line, a ticket that used to be 438 yuan (US$69.4) is now 307 yuan.

Discounts range from 10 to 30 percent on the business and parlor seats but the operator says they can vary depending on the time of purchase.

"It means little to a passenger like me," said a man surnamed Zhu, who travels to the Yangtze River delta region on business.

Zhu said he usually bought a second-class, or ordinary seat ticket.

He said he hoped to see prices for second-class seats lowered too.

Meanwhile, an air-rail combined service began receiving passengers in Shanghai over the weekend.

The service allows passengers to transfer between domestic or international flights and a train with a single ticket which is cheaper than separate tickets.

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