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ID makes debut on bullet trains

"SHOW your ID, please." The movie line will soon become a familiar refrain at city railway stations after a real-name policy was introduced yesterday for bullet train services. During the first day's spot checks, local rail officials found that most passengers boarding trains were carrying ID. But some hoping to buy bullet train tickets at city stations had forgotten to bring theirs. "A few are careless," said Chen Qixiao, a rail official with Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, one of city's major hubs for bullet trains. Rail staff, together with police officers, conducted spot checks on about 5 percent of passengers in the waiting area. Although a little surprised at the ID request, Andrew Gaule from Britain showed his passport and ticket to two rail officials at Hongqiao. There was no name on the ticket, so officials checked his passport number, which matched that on his ticket. He intended to board a train to neighboring Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Province. "If that's the policy here, it's not a problem," said Gaule, who did not know about it beforehand and had bought his ticket through his hotel. The real-name system is aimed at curbing train ticket scalping and improving security. All bullet trains prefixed with "G", "D" and "C" now require passenger ID. There are 23 types of ID that are accepted in the real-name system. Foreigners can buy tickets using their passports, temporary residence permits, exit-entry permits and diplomatic certificates. One legal certificate can only buy one ticket for one return trip, rail officials said. They said they would conduct random checks in line with passengers volume. Once onboard, rail staff and police officers will check tickets and personal information on a larger scale. Railway police advised passengers to dispose of used tickets carefully as the personal information could be used by criminals. Meanwhile, at Hongqiao long queues formed at ticket booths where police were issuing temporary certificates to passengers who had failed to bring ID. Among these was S! hen Yugu an from Zhejiang Province who had forgotten his ID card and other certificates. Shen gave his address to two officers who approved it through an online check and issued a temporary certificate with his information on it. This would allow him to buy a ticket. However, the process took some time. "Why do they take so long?" asked a passenger, surnamed Li, queuing after Shen. Li was in a rush to a business meeting in Hangzhou and had to call to postpone the appointment. Li, a Chinese Canadian, waited an hour before she was issued with a certificate. Railway authorities said foreign rail passengers may need more time buying bullet train tickets because, in addition to possible language barriers, their details take more time to verify and input. A passenger, named Alvydas, from Lithuania, shook his head as he emerged from a ticket booth. "It's crazy," he said, having spent 40 minutes buying a bullet train ticket.

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