A passenger has her identification card and ticket checked at Beijing Railway Station. ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY
The railway authority has said that passengers who mislaid train tickets will soon be allowed to reclaim booked seats for free, but netizens ridiculed it as the "most complicated procedure ever".
The Ministry of Railways said on Wednesday that, beginning on May 10, people who have lost train tickets can go to the ticket office no less than 20 minutes before ticket checking stops, show identification and some ticket information, and get replacement tickets for their booked seats.
However, they must pay for the replacement tickets and then get a refund at the destination station within 24 hours of arrival, the ministry said.
In addition, they must notify the train conductor when boarding and must get a document from the conductor to prove that their seat is being "used normally".
"Otherwise, some people could take advantage of the policy. Two people could get on board a train with one ticket that they bought and a reissued replacement ticket," said a railway official, who requested anonymity.
A replacement ticket will cost 2 yuan (32 cents).
The measure came after the public called for improvements to the railway network's real-name ticketing system.
The system, which took effect on all trains at the beginning of the year, was adopted to curb the ticket- scalping that typically thrives during the Lunar New Year travel rush.
But passengers soon found that the railway network's real-name ticketing system was not what they expected.
One big complaint was that people who lost tickets had to spend money on a new one, and instead of reclaiming the booked seat, had to take a different train. The ticketing system was designed to allow each passenger to buy only one ticket on a particular train on a particular date, to prevent ticket-scalping.
On Thursday, many netizens welcomed the ministry's move. But some questioned whether it had to be so troublesome.
"I was happy at first to hear the news," said a netizen, "Hahaleier", from Zhejiang province, on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter. "But does it have to be so complicated? Will it be possible to get a replacement ticket just with my identification certificate?" she asked.
Some netizens suggested that the railway ministry should further improve the real-name ticketing system to make it as convenient as the air ticketing system.
The anonymous railway official said that the current solution was made out of consideration for "the management of tickets", declining to make further comment.