[ 2007-04-16 09:15 ]
Tickets for the country's new bullet
train services went on sale at the weekend, but there was nothing high-speed
about the public's response.
Local media reported that just a handful of ticket collecting hobbyists,
media workers and youngsters attracted by the train's high speed had bought
advance tickets for the new service, which is identified by the letter D.
The new trains come into service on Wednesday.
Railway officials, however, said that the indifferent market reaction was
consistent with passengers' normal buying habits.
"Bullet trains are used on intercity routes for journeys that generally take
less than three hours. When passengers are traveling such short distances, they
seldom buy their tickets in advance," an official said.
But that's unlikely to be the sole reason for the slow ticket sales. There is
also the issue of price.
While bullet trains can travel at up to 250 kph and cut journey times by an
average of 20-30 percent, the high-speed experience is also high-priced.
A seat on a bullet train costs about twice as much as one on the previous
fastest service, which is identified with the letter T or Z.
For example, a passenger traveling from Beijing to Zhengzhou, capital of
Central China's Henan Province, would pay a minimum of 213 yuan ($27.50) for the
five-hour journey by bullet train. A soft-seat ticket for a T-type service,
however, would cost just 94 yuan but take 90 minutes longer.
However, insiders said people's attitudes will change once the May 1 holiday
arrives. Train tickets are hard to find during the Golden Week break, as people
head off on holiday.