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Chinese Railway Ministry Refused to Disclose the Available Number of Chun Yun Train Tickets

Chun Yun, the Chinese New Year’s travel season, usually starts 15 days before the Lunar New Year and ends 25 days afterwards. It is China’s busiest travel season of the year. Between January 8 and February 16 of 2012, the total volume of tickets using all means of travel was over 3 billion. One of the major issues in railway transportation is the difficulty of purchasing train tickets.

Two Beijing lawyers recently requested that the Ministry of Railways disclose the available number of railway tickets for sale during the Chun Yun period. The Ministry of Railways refused the request, claiming that information about railway ticket sales falls under the domain of the railway transportation enterprises and is therefore not applicable as government information. Some people questioned the black-box operations of the Ministry of Railways.

One economist questioned the logic of the response. "Generally speaking, Chun Yun is a major social issue. The government has a greater responsibility than corporations do to be transparent to the public. The enterprises subordinate to the Ministry of Railways are monopolistic enterprises; they are thus different from normal private companies in a highly competitive sector. The response is very strange and does not pass the logic test. … Information of this kind should be open and there is no reason to hide it."

A lawyer told Radio Free Asia, "It is a problem with the whole system. All authorities shirk their responsibilities. It is not just one single ministry; it is the whole government system that is shirking its responsibilities."

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 8, 2013