Where are the Train Tickets?

Remember about how tough it was to buy train ticket?

Well. The question is, even if you WANT to stand on the train, you don’t have the chance, since there are so many people standing there already. Standing tickets were sold out.

Wendy asked: “How about tickets after 11 days?”

She asked because all tickets are sold 11 days in advance.

The person said: “No. Don’t try that.”

Wendy was upset: “Then where are the tickets?”

The person replied: “If I tell you, I put all the ticket in my own pocket, do you believe it? Next!”

We tried every ticket office and there is nothing for the next 11 days or even after.

The Real Secret

Finally, we were approached by someone (not one, there are so many of them everywhere) who claim to be able to provide us with any ticket we want. Wendy decided to buy two tickets from them. We call them “yellow cow” (Huang niu, or 黄牛).

They charge 50 RMB more for each ticket as service fee.

A traditional “yellow cow” is a person who takes the time either to line up to buy the ticket and resell it at higher price, or buy back tickets from ticket owner at lower price and sell it at higher price.

But for the railway tickets, it SEEMS that they even didn’t bother to line up in the ticket window. The amount of the ticket they have seems not to be bought at “retail” window.

Reports say many of them have been directly or indirectly affiliated with the “insider” of the railway ticket system.

The Result. Aha!

No matter how terrible the ticket availability seems to be, we find out the real situation.

Yesterday night, when Wendy and I sent our parents to the railways station, and to the train cart, we found the train was only half full.

On the sleeper train No. 3 of K282 from Shanghai to Chengdu, the first 4 sleeper section only have to passengers – our parents.

There are three deck of beds for each number. All of them are empty. That means, in the first 4 rows, 2 out of 12 beds were occupied. The rest 10 are completely empty.

Bad System Brings Bad People Together

Well. Spring Festival is the time most people will go back home. It is for sure that tickets are hard to get. On one hand, all tickets were sold out, and many people cannot go home. On the other hand, trains ARE EMPTY!

Who gets the benefit? Thousands of “yellow cows” who gets 50 RMB each ticket (1/6 of the ticket price). It is for sure that they need to share the revenue to those in the railway system who control the source of the ticket. But who cares.

When we are back, we past by the ticket window. There are still thousands of people lining up to get a ticket. I am sure many of them will find their effort to stand in cold for hours in Vail. No ticket at all! There is no tickets! It is not because there are too many people there, and too few seat, it is just because of the corruption of the railway system.

I realize the current problem of railway system is no longer the problem we faced 10 years ago, when I can still find a standing place on the crowded train.

25 thoughts on “Where are the Train Tickets?

  1. Charlie

    Although we have already known the fact years by years, JS is the one who posts it in BLOG. In my heart, it is just a common case, not a special story.

    I think that most people are like me instead of JS. That may be the worst point — we have accepted this environment.

  2. twang

    Thanks for sharing what you know of. But what puzzles me is that if all tickets went from the ticketing agents to the scalpers to sell them at a 50Yaun mark up, and later on only a handful of passengers were on the train. I’m sure that somebody reads the revenue numbers of the train ridership. Wouldn’t the revenu be very low? Meantime, wouldn’t there be many people complaining this situation to the governement? There must be a governmental department that handles complaints like this. I would think the flock of complaints would have brought loud attentions from the high-ranked official and start its investigations to see wha’s causing the shortage of tickets?

    Haven lived in Shanghai for four years before, I know how helpless most of the civilians are. Many don’t even believe they have the right to complain. Meantime, highly educated folks such as you, Wang Jianshuo, ought to write to media and perhaps even to the Major Han Zheng who ought to appoint a task force to investigate the situation, and to punish those who are responsible for scalpering the tickets. Make sure that they get heavy fines puls jail time.

  3. twang

    Charlie,

    Right after I posted my comment, I read yours. As I said in my earlier post, most people don’t believe they have the right to compalin thinking it’s no use fighting with the goverment. I disagree.

    Why do you just accept this phenomenon and be silent about it? Now that there are forums in major media websites, why don’t you shout out loud there to warn more people of the situation? I’m sure many of the college students are from other provinceses and will go home for the holiday. You guys should bring this to your school’s attentions. Team work will make a difference. Another thing you guys can do is to broadcast this kind complaints in international media forums such as the ones in CNN.com, Yahoo.com. Chinese govenment sure doesn’t like this kind of negative publicity.

  4. Shrek7

    I would think that people would get fed up with all the rip offs and start protesting. after all, the train is a public transport system and not private.

  5. SSC

    I suspect that sleep trains are intentionally left largely empty so that railway workers on board have the chance to seek profit from selling them to people in more crowded carts (e.g., those standing all the way). There is a surely high demand of beds on train for a three-day trip. The train will be fill quite soon, so there is no concern of ridership.

    The root cause for the corruption is, I believe, still the shear difference between demand and supply, although things should not be as bad if the system were monitored..

    Wherever you complain, don’t go to yahoo.com. It may hand you in, and it did happen.

  6. Jian Shuo Wang

    The assumption about complaininig to major, or its “supervisor department” is: They care about whether the people are satisified or not. The worry about the revenue lose of a state-owned system like railway is: They care about money. It is just the other suggestion about suing the government agencies. The assumption is, the legal system works indepently with the government, instead of under it. These three are just assumptions, not real.

  7. Shrek7

    Jian Shuo, is there such a thing as a ‘class action’ lawsuit in China where one representative plaintiff files a lawsuit seeking monetary damages upon behalf of a bunch of consumers similarly situated or ripped off? Maybe Wendy can be one of the first filing a major class action against the railway system seeking recovery of all damages from the railway and their Yellow Cow agents (co-conspirators in the ticket scam).

  8. Shrek7

    a legal system must be adequate to address grievances of its citizenry. where a wrong is widespread and great, the remedy must be strong and effective to correct it.

    are most judges trustworthy there and individuals of honorable character? OR, are they just like the Yellow Cow ticket rip-off agents?

  9. Micah

    We went to a big hotel to buy our train tickets. The lady at the desk called a number and the person on the phone said that they could get tickets, but that they can’t deliver them until two days before we are supposed to leave. Naturally, we are nervous. But what else can we do? We paid a RMB 40 service charge, and we still only have the assurance of an anonymous person on the phone.

  10. lawer

    The problem with the legal system is not whether the judges are trustworthy, it is whether the system is trustworthy. The legal system in China is not independant in reality, it is not independant in theory. There is a committe in the government(Politics and Law Committe) specially setup to control lawers, judges, and most importantly, the courts.

    Pay attention to the name of the committe. The law is never pure, politics is always in the first place and above the law.

  11. cheery

    建硕,这样的文章非常有意义。国王的国度讲真话的孩子其实需要很大的勇气,或者说有很大的勇气。这个我之前从来都没有想到过。虽证据不太可能去完全确凿,但是可以想见的。很有意义,很棒,支持你,建硕 :) 。

  12. Shrek7

    lawer

    how do you separate judges from an *untrustworthy* system? I would think an honorable, upright, principled and righteous person wouldn’t want to be a judge in that kind of sewer committee system.

    where are the protests for change and independence?

  13. rio

    “Team work will make a difference. Another thing you guys can do is to broadcast this kind complaints in international media forums such as the ones in CNN.com, Yahoo.com. Chinese govenment sure doesn’t like this kind of negative publicity.”

    I don’t think so. Chinese care very much about face, and something like this reflects their government as well as their country, in other words, its better to sit tight, wait for change, work locally, than to publicize internationally and give more reason for Americans to sit in their couches and say ” see, China sucks big time, Billy finish your mash and thank the Lord you are not Chinese”.

  14. rio

    Better to contact Pheonix tv i say. I’ve been a viewer since before its first broadcast (priorly just Star China), and they’ve done much good for the Country as the sole breath of fresh air in Chinese media amongst the CCTVs.

    The prob with trains is that the tickets get devided between station management, conductors, drivers, officers before reaching the ticket office. What’s taken is filtered as ‘currency’ down everyone’s ‘guanxi’ network, probably not to make money, just to maintain good relationships.

    So, in your case with the yellow cows, that’s actually a ‘good’ thing. At least its available to the public for a price, and someone is making a buck.

    The horrible waste and inequality are in cases where a station conductor might have 500 personal tickets, and he doesn’t even have enough relations to use all of them, so the tickets just totally go to waste.

  15. rio

    My personal bet is that sometime in the near future, someone up top is going to do some posturing, and make concern for the masses an issue ~ concentrating the the injustices of the railway system. There’ll be a crackdown, your yellow cows will get rounded up along with some insiders, the railway bureau gets a tight squeeze, reorganization, some officials fall, others suddenly disappearing to Canada, US, Australia with their families, and millions of taxpayers money seeking political refuge, and there’ll be a CCTV media blitz about all of this for a month, before things slowly slide back to the way they were.

  16. DB

    Just read the original post for the 1st time. What you described, WJS, seems to be an extremely rare incident. Usually, if the sleeper wagons are not fully occupied, passengers with seater or standing tickets will very likely upgrade their tickets and occupy the vacant beds.

    In fact, if what you described would happen more frequently, it would be a natural way to tackle the corruption issue. For if the sleeper wagons remain empty or not fully occupied, it would mean that the yellow cows weren’t able to sell all their tickets. Every unsold ticket reduces the amount of profit distributable to themselves or the insiders in control of the tickets. This would force them to sell the tickets more aggresively or for more reasonable terms, e.g. by reducing prices to fair levels. In the end, money is the cause for corruption, but also the natural remedy to stop it.

  17. tom

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  18. Aladin

    I don’t think so, Sir.

    China care very much about face, and something like this reflects their government as well as their country.

    in other words, its better to sit tight, wait for change, work locally, than to publicize internationally and give more reason for Americans to sit in their couches and say ” see, China sucks big time, Billy finish your mash and thank the Lord you are not Chinese”.

  19. Kevin

    That’s the every knows secret.

    Who cares the citizens’ wrights?

    We can talk here thousands of times, but no use!

    I can not see any hope of change at all.

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