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Railway fan makes ticket selling an art

By Xu Jingxi  (China Daily)

09:34, February 01, 2012

BEIJING - Tell Pei Jiyang that you need to travel by train from Beijing to other cities in the country and he can list the transfer stations, train numbers and whether you will be standing, sitting or sleeping during each part of the journey.

The 22-year-old philosophy student from Peking University is so familiar with the country's railway network that during the annual Spring Festival transport peak, hundreds of students sent him an online SOS to help them book train tickets between major centers by routing them through smaller, less busy cities.

"Philosophy studies require me to analyze a problem from every possible angle," said Pei. "Similarly, by designing detours, I'm exploring new routes between two cities other than the direct train."

He booked train tickets for about 200 people during this year's festival. In fact, Pei has been working as a volunteer train ticket salesperson at the ticketing office in Peking University since the summer of 2009. He was able to help 100 to 200 people get tickets every day at the office.

Pei's familiarity with the railway network partly comes from his experience of traveling tens of thousands of kilometers across China by train in the past three years.

He has been to more than 200 cities, visited every province and autonomous region, as well as Hong Kong and Macao.

In Pei's treasure box are five albums containing more than 1,000 train tickets. The tickets are testimony to the railway fan's adventures into Nagqu Railway Station in the Tibet autonomous region, the highest railway station in the world, and Mohe Railway Station in the freezing northern corner of China.

The special train tickets Pei has collected include one for a journey on a soft sleeper from East Harbin Station to Harbin Station. This may be the cheapest soft-sleeper train journey, costing only 0.5 yuan (7 cents).

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