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Xinguanren project. 2 .Riding the trains during the spring rush, 2010

March 26, 2012


photo#1 name imprinted ticket. The bearer’s name 王晓明 Wang Xiaoming and identity number are in the lower left corner.

konjaku: The New Year’s holiday, the Spring Festival, may be the one time during the year that xinguanren and other migrant workers visit home. While looking through public notices from Shipai town in Dongguan, I came across the following:

Shipai town government:

Notice concerning the 2010 Shipai town extra trains for New Dongguaners to return home during the spring festival

Dongguan business enterprises, New Dongguaners :

The itinerary of the extra trains for the New Dongguaners of our town to return to their native places has been set. This year our town will run trains on nine routes. Because this year the railroad department is putting into effect a system of buying tickets by one’s name, we please request that New Dongguaners bring their identity cards and a duplicate copy to their respective residential district labor service center to register and place an order before 2010 -01-15, along with a deposit of 100 yuan for each ticket towards the total purchase price.

konjaku: I was unable to find out anything more about the town actually sponsoring extra trains, but I was curious about the “tickets by name” system. What was it, and what was it supposed to accomplish?

The initial article about this new system expressed some uncertainty about the details. Anyone travelling between Guangzhou and Chengdu during the spring rush had to produce a ticket with their own name and identity number printed on it. (Example, photo 1).


The Guangzhou Daily reported on 1-10, that starting 1-30, the Guangzhou Railway will start selling name imprinted tickets as a trial project, but people are uncertain as to the details concerning how to buy these tickets.

Yesterday the Guangzhou Railway Group put out a second announcement with more details on the plan, from buying tickets to entering the station. A person who goes to the station on the day of travel, is permitted to buy one name imprinted ticket with one valid proof of identification. A person can also act as a proxy and buy a ticket for another person if holding that person’s valid identification document. If purchasing tickets in advance of the day of travel, by phone or at a ticket window, an individual can buy three tickets at one time.

The Railway admits honestly that it faces a stiff trial to implement the system during the spring rush, and asks people to bring two types of identification to purchase tickets.

Purchasing tickets by phone is limited to those persons who have residence permits. If purchasing from an authorized ticket -seller, the seller can swipe his or her resident identification IC card to enter the information automatically. If it is some other document, the information needs to be entered manually. The seller will verify the identification documents, but the buyer has to make sure what is printed on the ticket is correct. If the ticket and proof of identity do not correspond, the traveller will not be allowed to enter the station. If a purchaser wants to change or return a ticket, the same condition applies –the information on the ticket and the identification documents must correspond.

(More details –here omitted)

Source: Guangzhou Daily, reporters Yang Jin, He Zhiwen

konjaku: the next article adds more details.

37 train stations try out name imprinted tickets. 20 types of proof of identity are accepted


These tickets for the spring rush will go on sale 1-21at 7 AM, 10 days in advance, for seats on 1-30 and after, until 2-13. On the face of the ticket the purchaser’s name and identity number will be printed. These need to be checked when one enters the station. The traveler must bring one valid proof of identity and the ticket. If these match, they can enter and board their train.Children do not require name imprinted tickets.

Types of valid identification include resident identification card, temporary resident identification card, military officer or armed soldier certificate, passport, Hong Kong-Macao home-return permit, etc.

After it has been called for again and again, the day for the system of name imprinted tickets has finally dawned The Railway Ministry has instituted the pilot project from Guangzhou to Chengdu.The railway department had already invested several hundred million yuan in scanners and hardware to check the tickets. The grassroots units in charge of implementation have received some training sessions, but  not all the concrete details of how it works yet. As for why Guangzhou and Chengdu stations were chosen, an official said, “it is not yet possible to implement this plan everywhere. Therefore we chose the two stations where demand for this system has been the greatest.”

As is well known  to the public, Guangzhou and Chengdu are the two “hottest” stations during the spring rush. Guangzhou railway station is called “the country’s number one” During the peak of the rush 200,000 travelers pass through in one day.

To achieve the system, three obstacles must be overcome

A specialist told this reporter, the first hurdle is in technology and investment. To make the name imprinted ticket system a reality, the existing system for selling tickets must be overhauled and replaced with a more advanced system. New software and hardware is required to inspect tickets and match them to the identity of the bearer. The railway system cannot yet do this quickly and conveniently, without a time -lag.

The second hurdle is whether the railway can provide enough ticket checkpoints within the stations, so the lines do not become too long.

The third hurdle is whether or not there can be impartiality in the selling of tickets, because some will probably find the “hole” to bore into the system and manipulate it to their advantage.

Data shows that every year ticket scalpers rake in 18 hundred million yuan in profits or more. Using more advanced technology, the efficiency of selling and inspecting tickets will rise. But, up until the 2009 spring rush, the Railway Ministry did not believe the system of name imprinted tickets was feasible. Representatives pointed out in public on many occasions, that the main problem was lack of enough train service to satisfy demand, and the name imprinted ticket system did nothing to address this issue. The railroad was trying to develop in the direction of having greater speed and convenience, and being burdened with more small details and troublesome procedures went against that overall goal. To make the name imprinted ticket system work, they need to greatly increase the number of personnel to inspect the tickets, and increase points of entry into the station.

Whether or not ticket prices will rise during the spring rush is not yet decided.

The National Development and Reform Commission has already released its Notice on Operations and Deployment for the 2010 Spring Rush. But in the Notice there is no mention as to whether ticket prices will or will not be increased. In 2007, when oil prices spiked, the Commission announced that railway ticket prices would not go up for the 2008 spring rush. However, bus tickets were allowed to fluctuate upward, but within the limits set by the government. At no time can bus ticket prices exceed the set limits. But now in 2009, oil prices have risen to a new peak, at 80 dollars a barrel on the international market.

It is calculated that 2.5 million people will travel during the 2010 spring rush, up to 7.7% over last year.The National Development and Reform Commission Transport Division intends to add train capacity in accordance with the flow of traffic, to satisfy the demand of travelers to the best of its ability. At the same time, they must continue to transport materials essential for daily life, such as coal for generating power, to ensure a steady and orderly flow of these supplies to the cities.

Source: Xinhua net. Reporter Zuo Lin

konjaku: Now it is clear why the name imprinted system of tickets was instituted –to prevent rampant ticket scalping. Scalping exists because there are more people travelling then there are tickets are sale, a situation referred to as “lack of transport capacity.”

At this point the xinguanren traveller only knows that 1) there is no better, and perhaps a worse, chance of getting a railway ticket this year with the new system, 2) he or she will have to make two trips to obtain it, one to the government office to register and pay a deposit, again to an agent to retrieve the ticket, hoping that all goes well and the information on the ticket is printed correctly, 3) the new system favors those who have residential permits, that is, residents instead of migrant workers, 4) he or she does not know what the price of the ticket will be.

konjaku: After the 2010 spring rush ended, a judgement was reached:

The Guangdong province name imprinted tickets system “passes the final exam”

2010-02-13 Xinhua net

Reporter Chen Xianfeng

2-13 at midnight, the Guangdong 15 day experiment in name imprinted tickets came to an end. During this period, the name imprinted ticket system effectively choked off the rampant actions of scalpers reselling tickets at higher price. It preserved an orderly system of selling tickets for the increased spring transport season, allowing some ten million travelers to return to their native place in a safe and secure way, holding in their hands a ticket with their own name printed on it.

For this New Year’s season, this system was tested in 9 stations in Guangdong where there is a high concentration of migrant workers: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Dongguan,  Huizhou, etc. During the successive ten days in which passenger volume was the heaviest, this reporter spent time observing in Guangzhou station. A record breaking number of travelers passed through this station, yet there were no lines or delays caused by the inspection of tickets. The system worked in an orderly fashion.

At the ticket checkpoint, the forehead of Xiong Xiaoyan, a migrant worker from Guizhou, was beaded with sweat. In one hand he gripped his ticket and two identification documents. He seemed apprehensive. A station employee promptly took his ticket and documents, and lightly passed them across the scanner screen. The computer retrieved information on his ticket and identity number. The three components “person, identity, ticket” all matched. The station employee stamped his ticket, and he passed through. The whole procedure took about 10 seconds. “I did not expect it would be so fast,” Xiong Xiaoyan said. He explained he had been afraid that checking the ticket would require more steps and take a long time, causing him to miss his train, Therefore, he had come to the station well in advance.

A Guangdong Railway department head Huang Xin explained, in order to keep the flow moving swiftly they had opened 108 ticket inspection checkpoints in the station. Before the name imprinted ticket system, they only had seven or eight checkpoints. They have increased this tenfold, in order that passengers do not have to wait. The Railway did research and development on producing the tickets, setting up the scanners, training personnel to run them, all in time for the increased demand during the Spring Festival season.

On 2-8, 232,000 travelers used the station, a historical record. But the great tidal wave of spring migration went off smoothly. The scalpers had no space in which to operate. The Hunan province migrant worker Wang Xiangneng said, “This year it was different. Anyone whatsoever could telephone in advance, go to the window to purchase. If you went early you could get a ticket, it was more fair than before. This year there were a lot fewer scalpers. Last year a “hard seat” (economy class) on an extra train from Guangzhou to Shaoyang cost 51 yuan, but during the spring rush, when buying from a scalper it rose to at least 200 yuan. For us temporary workers, just to buy one ticket was quite a few days wages –no small amount.”

The trial test of the name imprinted tickets did lay bare some shortcomings. In particular, because of scarce resources, demand was greater than supply.The scalpers were not entirely eliminated, and some travelers suffered inconveniences. It is urgent that these deficiencies are identified and corrected. The problem of “one ticket, hard to acquire” is still a reality. Yet what should not be denied, is that the scarcity of resources is dealt with impartially, distribution of what there is, is done fairly. This has a positive significance. The system of name imprinted tickets should not be abandoned at the slightest obstacle, but constantly pursued and its deficiencies rigorously investigated and perfected.

This year, in the system of name imprinted tickets, the difficulty of  “one ticket, hard to acquire” exists as before. As Huang  Xin explained, at present there is not enough transport capacity, and during the peak of the spring rush, it is difficult to fulfill the request of every traveler. A fair number can still select a different mode of transport. The “one ticket, hard to acquire” represents the disequilibrium between supply and demand. No matter whether it is booking one’s ticket by telephone, or trying out the name imprinted ticket system, these are unable to fundamentally solve the problem of transport capacity.

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