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February 10, 2010

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Rail officials vow to block scalpers

SHANGHAI railway authorities vowed to continue cracking down on scalpers following an allegation that scalpers can lead passengers directly onto the trains, whether or not the passenger has a ticket.

Shanghai Railway Station, the city's biggest train terminal, denied yesterday that rail staff colluded with scalpers to allow passengers without tickets to board trains.

The statement came in response to a radio program quoting a passenger who alleged a scalper at the station had let him go past a ticket inspector who did not even look at the ticket.

"That's untrue," Dong Bilian, a spokeswoman with the station, said of the allegation.

She added that any officials found with connections to the scalpers will be fired.

In the radio report, the passenger, surnamed Wei, said he had been waiting in a long queue before he was allowed to board the train.

A scalper told Wei the entrance would be closed soon.

"I was in a rush," said Wei, who feared he might miss his train. After paying 200 yuan (US$29) to the scalper, Wei was taken to another entrance and let in.

Rail authorities described that as slip-up, of the sort that "sometimes are inevitable" as the station gets crowded during holiday season, when the inspectors check tens of thousands of tickets a day.

The daily traffic at the city's two railway stations will surpass 250,000 as the Spring Festival holiday draws near.

A few people without tickets might slip through, rail officials said.

They said some volunteers hired by the station to help inspections "are not as responsible as rail staff." Scalpers might pass the volunteers' checks easily.

To dispel a possible uproar among ticket-holders, rail officials strengthened inspections along entrances yesterday.

Rail police also sent more officers to the entrances.

To prevent railroad staff from hoarding tickets and selling them to scalpers, each ticket booth will be closely watched by one officer.

But rail police said they have no plans to deploy officers at each ticket inspection as they do at the ticket booths.

Despite the tightened checks and police patrols, some scalpers still decided to try their luck.

"If you add more money, I will figure ways letting you board the trains," a scalper yesterday told a passenger without a ticket, according to Shanghai Evening Post.


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