China's Ctrip to sell railway tickets online

CIOL Bureau
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SHANGHAI: China's leading travel agency Ctrip plans to sell railway tickets online in the near future, its chief executive said on Wednesday, opening up a potentially huge revenue stream.

“Definitely we will (sell train tickets online),” Min Fan, Ctrip's chief executive told a gathering of foreign journalists.


“We are preparing this kind of service in the near future,” Fan said, adding negotiations with the government and other details had not been finalised, but could be in about a month.

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China will launch a high-speed rail line between Shanghai and Beijing in June this year that will see travel times halved to 5 hours. China plans to build 13,000 km (8,078 miles) of high-speed railways by 2012, more than the rest of the world combined.


According to the government's blueprint, by 2020 a high-speed train network will serve more than 90 per cent of the population at a projected cost of 2 trillion yuan ($307.7 billion).

Most of China's 1.3 billion citizens who still commute by trains buy their train tickets by queuing up at train stations or affiliate offices. Options for buying train tickets over the telephone or online are limited.

Ctrip, which pioneered online booking of airline tickets in China, hopes to gain first-mover advantage in the field.


Ctrip reported first-quarter revenue of 814 million yuan, up 30 percent from a year ago.