Some turn to scalpers for tickets home

Updated: 2011-09-30 08:16

By Xu Wei (China Daily)

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Some turn to scalpers for tickets home
Passengers stand in line to buy train tickets at Nanning Railway Station in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Wednesday. [Photo by Lu Boan/for China Daily]

BEIJING - Zheng Yuanjie, a renowned Chinese writer of children's literature, was recently disappointed to find that he couldn't buy a train ticket even after he had stood in line at a ticket office for more than an hour.

Zheng tried on Wednesday to buy the ticket for his assistant, who had planned to go to her home in Central China's Henan province for the National Day holiday. At the end of his long wait in line, Zheng learned that other travelers had booked all of the seats on the train she had wanted to take.

That was disappointing to Zheng, who had seen online advertisements offering tickets to those who wanted to go in the direction of Henan.

Zheng next went online and managed to get in touch with someone offering to sell him a ticket. The only catch was that he had to agree to pay 60 yuan ($10) more than the ticket's original price.

Zheng consulted a lawyer who told him that buying tickets from scalpers is illegal. So he refused to go through with the deal.

"I just wonder why scalpers and not authorized ticket agencies have tickets," Zheng complained on his micro blog. "Does everyone have to use illegal means to go home?"

Zheng sought an answer from the Ministry of Railways, which had not responded to him by Thursday. Phone calls to the Beijing Railway Bureau also went unanswered.

Travelers usually have a hard time buying tickets in China before long holidays, when hundreds of millions of people tend to return home or go elsewhere.

At the ticket hall of the Beijing Railway Station on Thursday, dozens of people held up signs asking for tickets from people who had come to the station to return their tickets and claim refunds.

Huang Shulin, a migrant worker from Heilongjiang province, said a person will have difficulty buying a ticket to go toward Harbin even if he starts looking for it 10 days before he wants to depart.

"I am here just to try my luck," Huang said at the station, while holding up a sign soliciting tickets.

"Right now the scalpers online have raised the price (of tickets) from 200 yuan to 1,000 yuan," Huang said. "That's even more expensive than a flight."

Guan Yuhui, another migrant worker from Rizhao, Shandong province, was also searching for a scalper at the station after he had failed to find someone who was returning a ticket that would take him in the direction of his hometown.

"My top concern is whether these scalpers' tickets are valid or not," Guan said.

Railway stations throughout China expect to accommodate a record number of 69 million passengers during the National Day holiday, according to the Ministry of Railways.

Xinhua contributed to this story.