China’s high-speed trains to adopt real-name ticket system

BEIJING– Passengers who want to ride high-speed trains on June 1 or after will find themselves having to pay attention to a new ticketing system adopted by railway authorities.

To get tickets for train services that start with the letters C, D and G – indicating that the trains run at a speed greater than 200 kilometers an hour – travelers will have to show identification certificates.

Twenty-three kinds of identification certificates will be accepted. But driver’s licenses are not one of them.

For foreigner passengers, passports, residence permits and foreign citizen exit-entry permits are all acceptable certificates.

Also acceptable are seafarer’s passports, letters issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local embassies to prove a foreigner’s identification and certificates issued by exit and entry administration departments to prove the loss of a passport.

Travelers coming from Hong Kong and Macao must show permits allowing them to travel on the mainland, and Taiwan residents must show entry permits.

If a traveler cannot produce an original version of a certificate, a copy is also acceptable.

The Ministry of Railways said previously that the policy is aimed at preventing ticket scalping. A train ticket will bear a passenger’s name and ID number, and random checks will be carried out to confirm the identity of the person tendering the ticket.

The new policy is expected to cause trouble for some travelers.

In Beijing, train ticket agencies can only sell tickets for high-speed trains to passengers who show the newest types of ID cards, said a ticket agency worker surnamed Fan at the city’s Chaoyang district.

“Foreigners and those who could only show copies of their identification certificates have to buy tickets for high-speed trains at railway stations,” she said.

Wang Juan, who went to the Beijing Railway Station on Sunday afternoon to buy a train ticket from Beijing to Shenyang, said she first went to a ticket agency near her home and was told she could not buy a ticket with her ID card, which is of an old type.

“So I have spent extra time coming to the railway station,” she said. “This is very inconvenient.”

Foreigners in Shanghai are luckier, since local railway authorities allow ticket agencies to sell tickets for high-speed trains to passengers who have any kind of official ID certificate, whether it be an original or a copy.

Those who want to buy tickets at the city’s railway stations should be aware that ticket sales for spots on high-speed trains start six days before a train departs.

The new policy could also force passengers to wait longer in line before they can buy tickets.

A ticket seller at the Beijing Railway Station, surnamed Song, said any new delays will be very small for passengers using the new type of ID cards. She told China Daily such passengers will only have to wait a few more seconds for a device to recognize the ID cards.

But if travelers use certificates other than the new ID cards, time will be lost as personal information is typed into a computer system, she said.

On Sunday, not many people came to the ticket hall of the Beijing Railway Station to buy tickets for high-speed trains leaving on June 1.

“I sold only six or seven such tickets,” she said. “We have to wait and see the effects of this new policy.”

Many Internet users are not satisfied with the ticketing policy and called for the Ministry of Railways to make it apply to slow-moving trains as well. 

“It’s the slow trains that are not easy to get tickets for, not the high-speed trains,” said a netizen from Suzhou, Jiangsu province, at the news portal sina.com.cn.

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