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December 17, 2013

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Travelers team up as groups for train tickets

As the saying goes, where there is a will there is a way. Individual travelers seeking group train tickets for Spring Festival holiday pooled together with strangers to avail of the opportunity instead of waiting for individual ticket sales that go on sale at the end of the month.

Yesterday was the last day for group sales, which started on December 11, with railway authorities saying they had received over 3,000 applications from enterprises and 4,000 from groups.

The railway stations accepted group applications from companies who purchase tickets in bulk for their employees for the extra trains that will be put into service from January 16 to February 24. Individuals had to rope in at least five passengers to be able to apply for these tickets. Fortunately, they didn’t have to be for the same destination.

Tickets for regular trains will be available 20 days in advance and can be booked online or through telephone, or 18 days before at ticket counters and vending machines.

Last year, over 80 percent got their group tickets for this year's Spring Festival in February but it could be harder to predict this year. The railway authorities will process the applications from December 17 to December 20.

Luo Li and her boyfriend were among the individual ticket purchasers who were keen to make the most of the group ticket sales. They wanted tickets out of Shanghai for January 30 — the Lunar New Year's Eve — for Zhuzhou in Hunan Province. They got another colleague to join them, making it a trio but were still two short of the required five people.

Luo and her boyfriend went to the Shanghai South Railway Station on Saturday looking to complete the group. Luo’s boyfriend held up a sign with a message saying: "Seeking group members."

They soon found another group which was short of one member and joined them. In the end, the seven-member group successfully handed in their application. They will know their fate through a short message on their mobile phone on December 21 and 22.

The group will meet again once Luo receives a confirmation SMS from the railways. Luo said she had thought of approaching others through online chat tools like QQ, but thought it risky.

Companies can make payments for their tickets online while individually-formed groups will have to buy their tickets at designated spots.



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