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Ministry aims to reign in high prices on railways

By Hao Di (Global Times)

11:01, October 19, 2011

Having cheap meals on trains may soon be an option for passengers in China, after the Ministry of Railways promised Monday that travelers could buy lunches for 15 yuan ($2.20) at any time on trains.

Along with boxed lunches, the ministry also required all passenger trains to ensure steady supplies of bottled water costing a maximum of 2 yuan, according to a notice posted on the ministry's website.

Such measures are among a series of regulations the railway authority has issued to improve service. Efforts will also be made to reduce the difficulties encountered by travelers when buying railway tickets.

Chinese passengers have long complained about high prices and bad service on trains. Meals on bullet trains from Wuhan to Beijing currently cost about 30 yuan, and a bottle of water that should cost 3 yuan is priced at 5 yuan on trains, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Dissatisfaction escalated after a high-speed train slammed into a stalled train in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, on July 23, leaving 40 people dead and 191 injured.

The ministry said all tickets will be sold online and ticket booking by phone will be expanded to 18 railway bureaus by the end of this year. At the same time, the ministry will further crack down on ticket scalping by expanding the real name ticket buying mechanism to major rail routes. By the end of this November, travelers will be able to use their identification cards to board trains.

According to the notice, trains should strictly follow their routes and arrive on schedule. In the event of delay, the railway departments should strengthen communication and apologize to passengers.


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