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Online ticketing will work: rail ministry

By Miranda Shek (Global Times)

08:23, January 04, 2012

The railway authorities have pledged to sort out the faulty online train ticket booking system before the Spring Festival rush, when hordes of students and migrant workers return to their hometowns across the country.

Tickets for trains during the Spring Festival went on sale across the country on Sunday, but many buyers complained of glitches in the online booking system at 12306.cn, the official website of Railway Customer Service Center. Some said they could not pick up tickets that they had already paid for online.

"I paid 218 yuan ($34.6) for a ticket from Shanghai to Chengdu online," Huang Siling, an accountant, told the Global Times. "When I went to collect the ticket, a railway official told me he could not find the sales record."

The Ministry of Railway promised during a press conference last Friday that money deducted by the website would be returned within 15 days, but refunds were the last thing on people's minds.

"I do not want the money back," said Tang Jun, a 52-year-old construction worker from Fuzhou, Jiangxi Province. "I need a train ticket and my family is waiting for me."

More than 235 million people are expected to travel by rail during the 40-day Spring Festival rush from January 8 to February 16, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Hu Jian, the Shanghai Railway Bureau press officer, told the Global Times yesterday that the bureau was working to improve the website's design and increase its network bandwidth.

"The Shanghai bureau will add more on-duty staff to take ticket booking calls from travelers," she said. "And travelers can buy the tickets at the stations - we have set up 100 temporary booths to help travelers buy tickets at Shanghai Railway Station in Zhabei district."

Meanwhile, the real-name ticket system, a move to prevent scalping, is another newly-introduced measure that travelers have to adapt to.

Under the system, travelers must present an identity certificate when buying tickets. Foreigners can use passport information to buy tickets online.

"The official railway website is in Chinese, so I cannot buy my tickets online," Beth Grimson, an English teacher in Shanghai, said. "The real-name system is a hassle for me, because I cannot ask a travel agent to buy tickets for me now."

The Ministry of Railway reminded travelers that they will need to show their identity documents to board trains during the Spring Festival rush. Railway station staff will check ID at all railway station entrances nationwide.

"Identity checks during the peak period will put extra pressure on our station staff," Hu Jian said. "But this is the only way to make sure that scalpers cannot cash on ticket shortages during Spring Festival."

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Canada at 2012-01-0470.36.49.*
Perhaps it is too late to do now, but to reduce the load on the website because everyone is trying to access it at same time, there could be different days for surnames by alphabet. Example those with surnames starting with A to D on some days, D to H on some days, I to N on some days, etc.
  

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