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Train ticket cancellation fees to rise

RAILWAY travelers will be able to cancel or return tickets at any railway station in the country but also could be subject to significantly increased cancellation fees under new regulations that take effect Sunday.

Passengers previously could only make changes at their departure station or the station where they bought the tickets. Under the new regulations, people who return tickets more than 48 hours before departure will be given a refund minus 5 percent of the fare, China Railway Corp. said.

People who cancel tickets 48 to 24 hours before departure will lose 10 percent of the cost, while 20 percent will be charged to people who return tickets less than 24 hours before departure, the railway operator said.

Previously, railways deducted only 5 percent for all cancellations.

Travelers tend to book more tickets than needed, through methods such as asking friends to book online during peak travel seasons when tickets are in short supply, or even buying tickets for different classes of seats on the same train, reducing the supply for other travelers.

The trend invariably leads to high cancellation numbers, especially 24 hours before a train’s scheduled departure time. Railway authorities said the new regulations are aimed at cutting the high cancellation rates and easing demand during peak seasons.

Additionally, canceling tickets has become much easier since the start of online ticket sales in late 2011, shortly before the Spring Festival travel peak, when millions of Chinese ride trains during the nation’s biggest annual holiday.

From January to mid-July this year, there was a 77.6- percent rise in ticket cancellations compared to the same period last year.

The Spring Festival peak saw triple the average daily level of cancellations and a 110-percent rise compared to the same time last year. The pre-summer vacation period saw the cancellation rate double from a year ago.

About 74 percent of the cancellations occurred less than 24 hours before departure, while only 15 percent occurred more than 48 hours in advance.

(SD-Agencies)

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