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December 6, 2010

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Home » Metro » Public Services

New refund regulation on trains unpopular

LOCAL railway stations have reported to Shanghai rail management authorities, saying a revised rail regulation is "relatively hard to be done," days after the rail regulator announced that unused train tickets, except for those for bullet trains, will become invalid after the designated departure time.

Some passengers can still get refunds if they have missed their trains, but it is mainly dependent on their local railway stations.

Local rail officials said they would "consider passengers' real reasons of missing the trains, like sickness."

However, it is proving difficult for most passengers to get refunds or to arrange alternative train services if they have missed their scheduled one.

Previously, late passengers could exchange tickets for other trains up to two hours after the departure of their booked train.

Under the new rules, passengers wanting to exchange their tickets will have to do so before their booked train leaves. People who miss the train, except for bullet trains, will require a permit from stationmasters if they want to change to a different train within two hours or get a refund.

Regulators have warned that not every reason will be sufficient to change train times or to get a refund. For example, people who claim that they missed their train due to illness will need a doctor's certificate to prove it.

"In the past, exchanging tickets was easy, but now it needs top station officials to unlock the computer to make the change," said staff working at Shanghai Railway Station.

A migrant worker, surnamed Xiong, said he negotiated, and even begged, with local rail officials five times before he got four tickets refunded.

Xiong, from Guizhou Province, planned to travel to his hometown with his wife and relatives but went to the wrong railway station.

After hours, Xiong finally got a refund after 20 percent of the fare was deducted.

Local rail staff say those who missed the trains were "rare cases" and they will handle requests for refunds and ticket-exchanges "with some flexibility."

China's consumer rights protection association condemned the new regulation, saying if passengers have to pay for missing their booked trains, then the rail operator should pay compensation for delayed train services.

Among the city's three major rail terminals, Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai South Railway Station still operate ordinary services, while Hongqiao Railway Station only has bullet train services.


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