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Xinguanren project 3. A ticket is hard to find

March 27, 2012


File photo: 1-9, the long line waiting to buy tickets at the railway temporary ticket windows set up at the Ningbo International Meeting Center (photo, Gong Guorong)

konjaku: First a blog entry from 2008, then the opinions of some netizens in 2011, on the railway ticket problem:

For five days every day I have been calling, trying to reserve a ticket for Shenzhen to Shandong! Every night I search for scalpers but in about one minute the tickets are all gone!

Tonight I called a scalper, but his price was too high.  15 minutes later I called back –I was ready to buy that ticket. He was all sold out –he told me I shouldn’t have hesitated –his prices are cheaper than others!

T108,T186, K106 are the three trains that go to Heze and Liaocheng in Shandong. The usual price is 367 for a sleeper, 208 for a hard seat.

On 2008.2.1 it was 780 sleeper   500 hard seat

On 2008-02-02. 880, 600.

On 2008-02-03 it was 980, 700

On 2008-02-04, 1100.

These are the scalper’s standard prices. They are free to do what they want, and ratchet the price higher. In two weeks they can make enough money to take it easy for the rest of the year!

Truly China is a harmonious nation! A great and mighty nation! No one, not even Martians, have anything so magnificent!

Netizens doubt that  the problem of demand for railway tickets can be satisfied by 2015 –the government responds

Once again, it is time for the spring rush. On 1-15, the Railway Vice-minister Wang Zhiguo stated. ” In the 25th phase (2011-2015)  with the construction of more rails, the problem of lack of available space on trains (difficulty in obtaining tickets) will fade into history.”

But these speeches have not gained much credibility among the people. There are some netizens who have unearthed statements from old newspapers. In 2007 the railway ministry stated the problem would be solved by 2010. In 2009, again they state the ticket problem will be solved by 2012.  Why do they now need to defer it another three years? It’s  not believable.


Illustration above: “2007: Railway Ministry says spring rush ticket problem will be solved by 2010.” “2009: Railway Ministry says, Ticket problem will have a fundamental solution by 2012.” “2011: Railway Ministry says ticket problem will be solved in 4 years.”

Yesterday,the designated railway ministry official meeting with reporters used these phrases, “a fundamental solution” and “a complete solution” without any inkling that these words were contradicted by reality.

According to the railway, during the 40 days of this year’s spring rush, they will transport 230,000,000, compared to last year an increase of 35,540,000. The various localities have started selling tickets, and once again for many people tickets are hard to come by.

On 1-15, The Railway Vice Minister Wang Zhiguo announced to the media that at present railways in China had not enough network of tracks, and far, far from enough transport capacity to meet demand. We must speed up the construction of railways, and increase transport capacity.” This 25th phase is one of large scale construction, and the end result of our long term railroad modernization drive. As this phase reaches its final segment,  our country’s railroad is poised to meet the challenge of the spring rush, and the problem of difficulty in obtaining a ticket will pass into history.” According to this, the solution will be attained sometime after 2015.

Why not 2012? Why has it been postponed for three more years? More than a few netizens do not buy this. They have collected and reproduced the newspaper announcements of previous years, to criticize the railway ministry for saying the problem would be solved within a certain time frame and then postponing it again.

The 2007 statement

2007-02-01. The railway ministry called a news conference, and their media spokesperson Wang Yonggan stated that by 2010, a highly developed railway network would begin to take shape, with special lines for passenger traffic. These would connect with already existing high speed suburban lines , to form a complete network of high speed passenger transport. Our transport capacity will expand greatly, and I think the problem of obtaining tickets will be greatly solved. Wang Yonggan’s speech was put out with the title “The Railway Ministry states that by 2010 the difficulty of obtaining tickets during the spring rush will be solved.”

The 2009 statement

Although the content is not the same, the next statement also issued from Wang Yonggan’s mouth. On 2009-01-09, he said that solving the problem involved tapping the railways latent potentialities. Although they had greatly enlarged transport capacities, they still did not have sufficient to deal weigh the increased demand during the peak season.  “By 2012,  the Chinese railway system will manifest increased capabilities as “public transport,”and will be able to solve the railway transport bottleneck.”

The railway responds

The netizens are quoting them out of context, these statements by railway official are not at all in contradiction. An official from the Railway Ministry department of propaganda yesterday responded, saying a “fundamental solution” and a “complete solution” do not have the same meaning. The previous spokesperson Wang Yonggan’s statements, “large scale solution,” “fundamental solution to the transport bottleneck,” and the more recent statements by the  Vice-minister Wang Zhiguo for a “thorough-going solution” are not in contradiction.

“Solving this problem is something the railway ministry has been working on without pause for many years. We are building rails and expanding transport capacity to meet demand. As for when the problem will be solved, we can only make projections, which are not absolutely certain.” This official informed this reporter, that every year at the spring rush the railroad’s inability is made apparent, but he hopes everyone will see, that they are raising their transport capacity. It is the goal every railway employee is struggling towards. “Every year transport capacity rises, but demand also increases. Even if the problem of meeting demand is solved in 2015, the railroad will still have to continue developing and building.”

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