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Beijing police nabs 17 train ticket scalpers
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Beijing police nabbed 17 scalpers and confiscated 84 train tickets on the second day of the Chunyun, or Spring Festival travel season, a spokesman said on Sunday.

More than 20 railway police raided some restaurants and telephone booths around the Beijing West Railway Station on Saturday after receiving reports, the spokesman said.

Ticket scalpers have turned to restaurants and booths to do their "business" after the police launched a crackdown on the illegal practice recently, according to him.

The railway police found 61 tickets in a box at the cash counter of a restaurant and seven tickets in a chess and card room.

Under Chinese law, train ticket scalpers dealing in tickets worth 5,000 yuan can face jail sentences of up to three years and fines ranging from 5,000 yuan up to five times the face value of the tickets.

Scalpers used to sell tickets direct to buyers, sometimes inside train stations, but now they use text messages or the Internet.

Spring Festival usually boosts rail travel as many passengers, particularly college students and migrants, make their way home and then return within a 40-day period. The peak passenger flow always makes train ticket purchase difficult.

China started on Friday its Chunyun amid widespread concern. It is estimated that Beijing will have 30.09 million passengers, up 7 percent from last year's figures. Trains are set to carry about 21.03 million people, up 6 percent.

China's railways are expected to carry a record 178.6 million passengers during the 40 days, up from 156 million last year, according to China's Ministry of Railways.

(Xinhua News Agency January 20, 2008)

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