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Passengers Call for Better Services

People from across the social strata expressed mixed reactions to the public hearing on the pricing of railway tickets.

The live CCTV broadcast of the public hearing meant all people had access to what was being debated at the meeting.

Most people interviewed said they could accept increased prices during Spring Festival, which is the traditional family reunion holiday for Chinese.

"Trains are the safest and the most convenient transportation vehicle for me and the price increase is acceptable," said a youth from Ankang of Shanxi Province, who works in a mine in the Beijing suburbs.

"But we should be able to enjoy comfortable and reliable services for this higher price."

Poor rail services during Spring Festival have become an all-too-common traveling nightmare for many Chinese travelers.

Tian Hongbo, who is now working for an electric company in South China's Guangdong Province, has traveled on nearly all types of trains in operation nowadays - even cargo trains.

"Newspapers and TV repeatedly reported people fighting to get into crowded carriages on most trains. There is no space to have a walk, and people have to stay, sit or stand, in one position for their entire journey," he said.

Tian, who hails from Hebei Province, said this was the situation that faced his workmate and himself every year since 1997. Often they could only stand in a cramped position with little water and food.

He hoped the Ministry of Railway could improve services and make it easier for travelers to enjoy the journey.

"I miss my parents and friends in my hometown. Without such a family reunion, I could not even convince myself it is worth working in such a remote city. Only at home do I feel warmth and respect," Tian said.

(China Daily and Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2002)

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