Keeping track of precious rail tickets

Updated: 2012-01-19 09:02

By Wu Wencong and Yang Wanli (China Daily)

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Keeping track of precious rail tickets

A foreigner waits his turn to buy a train ticket at the Beijing Railway Station. Although there is a special window for foreign nationals, it's still difficult to get tickets in the Spring Festival rush. [Photo/China Daily]

On the fringe

Liu Zengjiang, 43, and four of his co-workers couldn't help laughing with joy on Friday as they held the train tickets - all for standing room - they had just bought from Beijing to Heze, Shandong province.

The colleagues are from the same village and are doing construction work in Shunyi district. They spent three hours traveling from their building site to the station by subway.

"We know nothing about computers, not to mention buying on one, and we couldn't connect on the hotline after days of trying," Liu said. "People at the ticket agency in Shunyi told us there were no tickets in the next 10 days, so we came here."

(It turned out the phone number he had been calling was actually the West Station's office, not the booking line.)

He said they only learned about the real-name ticket policy when a fellow worker came back from the station, ticketless, and told them they must take their ID cards when buying tickets this year. "Migrant workers don't read newspapers, and we don't have TVs either," Liu said.

Their train was leaving at 3:49 am Monday and the trip would take about seven hours.

"Standing tickets are all we can get, yet they're better than nothing," Liu said, and he smiled from ear to ear.

Programmer's edge

Even people who are familiar with online purchasing find it's no easy task to catch a ticket on a website that receives 1 billion clicks daily.

It takes six steps starting from the home page of the booking website: logging in, checking for tickets available, booking, filling in personal information, confirming booking, and paying through Internet banking.

"There can be errors for every single step, but the one with the highest failure rate is the confirmation part," said Jack Lee, 28, a programmer for a well-known Internet company in Beijing.

He was able to complete the six steps successfully three times, booking four tickets altogether.

Lee attributed his achievement to patience and computer knowledge, which allows him to tell whether the Web page is stalled or still processing, even though it may not seem so.

"Many people say that even the first step is killing them. Actually sometimes they are already logged in successfully, although the page was redirected back to the logging-in page," he said.

"And in the following steps, sometimes all you need to do is wait longer. You will be logged out if you click 'confirm' when an error pops out.

"What can I say, programmers know programmers better."

Keeping track of precious rail tickets

An Italian man finally get on the train to Wuhan after being helped by employees at Changsha Railway Station. He had gone to Changsha, Hunan province, to visit a friend after three months teaching in a Wuhan school. When he wanted to return to Wuhan on Jan 8, the first day of the Spring Festival travel rush, he was stuck because the train was full. [Photo/Xinhua]