China / Society

Missing rail ticket renews old debate

By Cang Wei (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-21 07:48

College student unhappy about being forced to pay twice; policy defended 

The insistence by China's railway authority that a passenger who lost his ticket pay to have it replaced has aroused another round of discussion on the internet.

The passenger, a college sophomore surnamed Hu, claimed when attempting to exit the station in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on June 14 that he had mislaid his ticket.

Railway workers insisted that he must buy a replacement. But Hu complained that the railway's real-name ticketing system could easily prove that he had bought the ticket originally and so he should simply be given a new one.

The policy is designed to prevent ticket fraud. Tickets are used to verify that a passenger has paid the correct amount to reach a given destination.

Fraud could happen, for example, if a passenger on a long journey with multiple stops gives or sells his ticket to another person who had only paid for a short trip, and then claim the ticket was lost. The other passenger, who paid for a short trip, could use the ticket to exit at the final destination.

Hu is one of a number of passengers who have been required to pay for a replacement ticket to exit a railway station.

According to the railway authority, since 2012 a person who loses a ticket before traveling can buy a replacement up to 20 minutes before the end of ticket checking. A refund for the lost ticket will be provided at the final destination within 24 hours of arrival if the lost ticket has not been used by another person to exit.

Those who mislay their ticket on the train must buy a replacement before exiting. A refund will be given later if the person provides their booking information to a conductor and can show that the booked seat was not occupied by someone else.

Hu complained that the process is too complicated.

"Why do I have to pay for the same booked seat twice?" he said. "It's easy for the railway workers to verify my booking information with their real-name booking system."

Pan Wei, a judge in a similar case in December, said it would be possible for some people to take advantage of a policy allowing free replacement tickets.

"The real-name ticketing system can verify passengers' ticket booking but not their exit at a station," Pan said. "People can exit the stations with others' tickets easily."

Moreover, Pan said, "It would be expensive to upgrade current equipment or hire more railway workers to verify people exiting stations, as some people expect. All passengers would need to pay for an upgraded fare system or the additional workers' salaries. That's unfair to passengers who keep their tickets well."

The China Railway Corporation declined to comment, saying that workers are doing their jobs in accordance with regulations.

Peng Yining contributed to this story.

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