Guangdong gears up for real-name train ticket system

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South China's Guangdong Province is to pilot the real-name train ticket system Thursday morning amid China's efforts to curb ticket hoarding by scalpers.

The real-name system starts with tickets of trains scheduled for the 40 days since Jan. 30, the Spring Festival rush. These tickets will become available at 7 a.m. Thursday, or Jan. 21, as travellers can book 10 days in advance by phone, says Huang Xin, head of the passenger transport section of the Guangzhou Railway Group (GRG), operator of the province's railways.

Travellers will be able to dial hot lines to book tickets and later get them from wickets in railway stations or ticket agencies.

The traveller only need to follow automated voice instructions and dial in necessary information. After the booking is accepted and processed in a computerized database, the automated voice system will issue a booking code. With the code and ID card at hand, the traveller can get his ticket from wickets in railway stations or ticket agencies, Huang said.

"This procedure is expected to prevent long queues at the windows because most of the communication is made on phone," he added.

The hot lines are capable of simultaneously handling 8,000 booking calls by now and the number will increase significantly on Thursday.

GRG will reinforce the railway stations with more personnel for ticket and passenger ID checking, Huang added.

The National Development and Reform Commission forecast some 210 million train trips during the Spring Festival rush, a year-on-year rise of 9.5 percent.

The real-name system has drawn much attention in China. It still needs to be seen whether the system can effectively curb ticket hoarding. There are also worries that the newly introduced ID checks may paralyze railway stations because of the heavy workload involved.

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