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Real-name system squeezes scalpers

By Wen Ya (Global Times)

08:42, January 10, 2012

Scalpers are still doing their best to profit from the Spring Festival travel rush despite the introduction of a real-name train ticketing system and the popularity of telephone and online booking.

About 2 million tickets are sold by phone and online every day. In the first week of January, the ticketing website 12306.cn received more than 1 billion visits a day, the Beijing Morning Post reported Monday.

The new services mean the number of travelers queuing all night to buy a ticket at train stations and other outlets has fallen by a third. And they have also squeezed scalpers.

"Traditionally, scalpers stand in line to buy tickets. The real-name system makes this more difficult for them," Zhu Bin, a police officer at Hangzhou Railway Bureau in Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times Monday.

But some scalpers bought tickets online and had them sent to other people by express delivery, which is hard to prevent, Zhu said. By Saturday, the bureau had caught 52 scalping gangs and confiscated 1,022 tickets, he said.

"Migrant workers usually look for help from scalpers who use the workers' ID cards to purchase tickets," Zhu said. "They don't realize that it's very dangerous if their personal information is stolen by the scalpers to register bank cards or withdraw money."

Similar crackdowns are underway in the neighboring city of Ningbo. On Friday, police at Ningbo Railway Bureau smashed a scalping gang, arresting two suspects and confiscating 76 tickets, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

The gang scalped tickets in the name of a local tourist agency. Police found numerous ID cards and copies, receipts and tickets at the scene. The scalpers admitted that they hired others to queue to buy tickets at railway station and said they booked some of the tickets online themselves, according to the report.

"Even under the real-name system, the supply of train tickets is much lower than demand, so scalpers take the risk of detection. It's the same in India, which has had a real-name system for years," said Li Hongchang, an associate professor at Beijing Jiaotong University.

There is a big disparity between supply and demand, Hu Yadong, vice railway minister, said at a news conference in Beijing on Sunday.

The Spring Festival period, which begins Sunday, will see about 235 million passengers traveling by train nationwide, up 6.1 percent on 2011, Hu said.

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