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Doubts remain in railway bids

By Liu Dong (Global Times)

08:34, September 29, 2012

After the Ministry of Railways (MOR) released an announcement to clarify public questions about the costs of its online ticketing system, a Beijing lawyer said Friday the information was ambiguous and vague.

The announcement, released by the MOR information office on Thursday, explained the bidding process of its new ticketing system upgrade project three days after Beijing lawyer Dong Zheng-wei and a sophomore from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, Gansu Province applied for the related information to be released to the public, according to the Beijing News.

The announcement said the upgrade project was based on the MOR's current national tickets purchasing system. It involved an investment of 330 million yuan ($47.73 million).

According to National Business Daily, the MOR published a bidding announcement of the upgrade project on July 10 and announced on August 1 that Taiji Computer Corporation and Tsinghua Tongfang Co Ltd were both candidates.

The MOR released no more information until Taiji announced that its bid of 199 million yuan had been accepted on September 14. Meanwhile, it accepted another 130 million yuan bid from Tongfang, the National Business Daily reported.

The MOR confirmed Taiji and Tongfang were both successful bidders and said that a total of five qualified companies and institutes submitted bidding documents. The whole bidding process was witnessed by the Beijing Municipal Notary Office.

However, Dong Zhengwei told the Global Times on Friday that he was not satisfied with the information revealed.

"Their answer was not what I asked. They just gave some information that doesn't touch the core issues," Dong said. "The information disclosed was incomplete and far from enough to convince people."

It lacked core information, such as how millions of yuan was spent on the finished website and will be spent on the upgrade, who the other bidders were, and the details of the bidding document, he said, calling on the MOR to release more information.

Calls to the MOR, Taiji and Tongfang went unanswered on Friday.

The only online ticket purchase website approved by the MOR, 12306.cn, went live in January 2010. Since then, public criticism of its poor performance has been ceaseless. The MOR apologized to the public after the website went down again recently.

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