China's railway police have swooped on 185 illegal train ticket dealers on the newly-operated Qinghai-Tibet Railway, announced the Ministry of Railways on Tuesday.
The people arrested were involved in 110 ticket brokering incidents, involving 812 tickets worth more than 470,000 yuan (about US$58,750), said Wei Yuzeng, an official in charge of public security with the ministry.
Wei said that local railway policemen in Beijing, Chengdu, Lanzhou and Qinghai had cracked down on 14 ticket brokering gangs.
"As far as we can tell, since August no passengers have bought tickets for Lhasa at inflated prices," Wei said.
Li Zhigang, another police official with the ministry, said that ticket brokers added up to 200 yuan (US$25) to each train ticket from Lhasa.
Other sources said the price of a ticket to Lhasa could be raised by as much as a hefty 800 yuan (US$100). The normal price of a hard seat ticket from Xining to Lhasa is 226 yuan while hard sleepers and soft sleepers are 523 yuan and 810 yuan respectively.
Qiao Xin, an official with Beijing Railway Bureau said that passengers can buy no more than three tickets for Lhasa at one time.
"People buying group tickets from the counter will be investigated by the police regarding the use of the tickets," Qiao said.
China's railway police started a one-month campaign against illegal train ticket deals on the Qinghai-Tibet railway in July, after the new railway led to a surge in the number of tourists going to Lhasa.
Local statistics show that Tibet now receives 5,000 tourists every day, and about 1,700 take the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
The railway opened trial service on July 1. Trains connect Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining and Lhasa.
(Xinhua News Agency August 24, 2006)