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September 2, 2011

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Disliked luxury berths added to night trains

THE railway operator yesterday resumed luxury sleep berth service, once removed after passenger complaints, on the added night trains along the Shanghai-Beijing line.

Not one ticket was sold for the expensive berths, priced at nearly 1,400 yuan (US$219), according to an online railway customer service website.

Four new pairs of high-speed train services, initialed with letter "D," began to operate yesterday during the night along the route. Ordinary tickets on the trains sold relatively well with only a few left unoccupied.

"Why doesn't the operator put on more ordinary seats or berths instead of the luxury ones?" asked a rail passenger, surnamed Lu, who intended to go to Beijing on a business trip.

Lu said it would leave him fewer choices once the cheap tickets were taken.

Rail riders said that, while it was good news that night trains have been added, it would be much better if they could manage to buy the tickets they want.

Only one night train, T110, was riding from Shanghai to Beijing before the adjustment as the operator canceled others after the Shanghai-Beijing bullet train was established on June 30.

The T110 takes more than 15 hours on the track while the new added trains need about 11 hours and 45 minutes.

The luxury berth, priced at 1,392 yuan, offers a suite equipped with sofa and television. There are about 16 such berths on one train. Seat tickets on the night trains only cost 311 yuan from Shanghai to Beijing and other, less-luxurious sleep berth tickets are priced between 617 and 698 yuan.

The operator said the high-end sleeping berths were opened for business people who pursue comfort during the long journey. But railway authorities soon removed such expensive berths on some services late last year after complaints, as passengers did not welcome the tickets.

Riders once joked "the trains just carried the berths all the way instead of passengers" after pictures of empty berths were put online.


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