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Railway authority pledges easier ticket purchasing

(Xinhua)

16:24, September 30, 2011

BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua)-- China's Ministry of Railways announced Thursday a series of improvement measures, including facilitating train ticket purchasing and offering better food on trains, months after a deadly rail accident tarnished the ministry's image.

The ministry said all railway tickets will be sold online by the end of this year, as part of its efforts to resolve travellers' difficulties in buying train tickets.

Ticket booking by phone will be expanded to the whole country before the Lunar New Year of 2012, while more efforts will be exerted to crack down on ticket scalping, said the ministry.

The quality of food on trains, which has been a constant frustration among travellers in China, will be improved, it promised.

Stations and some trains will be made wheelchair-accessible and air-conditioning will be available on more trains, said the ministry.

"We will authorize a third-party survey agency to evaluate the services of the railway system...to make people more satisfied with our work," said a ministry official, who didn't give his name.

Earlier this month, the ministry said it would cut the fees for ticket refunds in an effort to improve service quality.

Difficulty in purchasing tickets has been a major source of complaint against the ministry in recent years as demand for train tickets is always high in the country, especially during holidays.

Discontent with the ministry mounted after a deadly train crash killed 40 people in the city of Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province on July 23.

Preliminary investigations into the accident revealed serious design flaws in railway signaling equipment, as well as loopholes in railway safety management.

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