Online train ticket system derailed by huge demand
Thursday, January 05, 2012
A new online system designed to make it easier for people in the mainland to buy train tickets home for the Lunar New Year has been overwhelmed by huge demand.
Demand for train tickets is high weeks ahead of the holiday, with migrant workers desperate to return to their home villages or towns queueing for hours to buy tickets.
The railway ministry launched the system on Sunday hoping to ease the problem this year.
But many people have complained that problems with the website have left them out of pocket and with no ticket - if they were lucky enough to log on to the site at all.
"I paid 218 yuan (HK$268) for a ticket from Shanghai to Chengdu online," Huang Siling told the Global Times. "When I went to collect the ticket a railway official told me he could not find the sales record."
Many travelers flooded social networking sites to vent their anger at spending hours trying to access the new system, only to find that tickets allocated for that day had already sold out.
"Three days on end rushing for a ticket. It's almost 10 and I still can't log on. What's going on?" one web user posted on weibo.
"It releases the tickets at 8am," a web user said in a posting under the name woshiduoqipa. "At 8.15 there are none. I can't go home."
As ticket queues grow at train stations in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, officials have promised to improve the website's design.
Officials in Shanghai have set up 100 temporary ticket booths at the city's train station to handle the hoards of travelers.
The rail ministry has also vowed to increase the network bandwidth to handle the demand and refund money to out- of-pocket travelers within 15 days, state media said.