An insider's view on historic changes in train ticketing system

(Xinhua) 10:28, February 16, 2023

TAIYUAN, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Li Jing, a railway ticketing guide at a railway station in north China's Shanxi Province, has been devoting extra hours to her job lately amid the Spring Festival travel rush.

"I began as a ticket conductor since 2006," said Li, adding that she never imagined she would cry at work less than a week after assuming her new position.

Recalling the incident she said that once a passenger rushed to the ticket window to purchase a ticket to the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, and as the train was scheduled to arrive in just 15 minutes, she sold the passenger the ticket immediately without thinking.

However, the long line of passengers quickly became enraged with her for selling a ticket to the queue jumper, with some even pounding hard on the window.

"I was so embarrassed that I had tears in my eyes," Li said. "There was only one way to buy train tickets at that time, and travelers were always in a hurry."

According to Li, despite the mundane nature of her work which involves repeating the same words every day, handing out the same tickets and collecting money, she did not turn into a snippy person.

To improve her skills, Li read service books to find tips for doing a good job, and sat in the storefronts of McDonald's and KFC restaurants to observe the service skills of the employees.

During those days, she spent nearly all of her spare time honing her ticketing skills, resulting in two worn-out keyboards in the process. She also memorized all the station codes of each train on the timetable and reduced her lunch break from 20 minutes to 10 minutes.

With resolute efforts, she gradually acquired proficiency in her work. In 2011, Li was able to sell a ticket in 21 seconds on average and sold a total of 40,254 tickets during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush that year, becoming the "top ticket seller" of her station.

In the same year, China Railway officially launched the "12306" train ticket booking platform, ushering in an era of online and telephone booking.

"Thanks to the 12306 platform, the number of people queuing at the ticket window gradually decreased, greatly relieving the pressure on ticket sellers," Li said. "Though the passenger flow was quite high this year, the number of people in the ticket hall has not significantly increased."

Since 2012, Li's responsibilities have shifted to guiding passengers to purchase tickets online or using self-service ticket machines.

In 2019, China Railway began to promote the implementation of e-tickets on a large scale, eliminating the need for passengers with online bookings to queue at ticket windows and self-service machines to pick up paper tickets.

Soon thereafter, Li's role as a ticketing guide moved from offline to online.

"Now, I make announcements about remaining tickets and travel tips three times a day and also visit the waiting area to seek feedback from passengers in order to create audio and video products that provide the public with more information," Li said.

"I feel extremely fortunate not only to have witnessed the improvement of ticketing procedures but also to have seen the transformation of China's Spring Festival travel rush," she added.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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