Smokers on trains to face big fines
Anyone caught smoking on high-speed trains will be fined up to 2,000 yuan ($330) as of Jan 1, according to a railway safety regulation issued by the State Council.
The penalty aims to ensure normal operation of the railway system and passenger safety as China's railway system readies for the annual challenge of coping with an expected 258 million passenger journeys during the 40-day Spring Festival travel season.
Passengers intercepting trains, walking on railway lines, jumping off running trains or throwing garbage from trains will also face a fine of up to 2,000 yuan, the safety regulation said.
According to an official from the Beijing Railway Bureau who spoke on condition of anonymity, the fine is expected to considerably reduce the number of smoking passengers and ensure travel safety.
Last year, a high-speed train D8072 from Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, to Dalian, a port city in the province, was forced to slow from 200 kilometers per hour to 120 km/h, as the fire alarm was triggered because of a smoking passenger.
"Violations of the no-smoking rule have been frequent in the past few years as railway personnel can only persuade passengers not to smoke, and the fine is too low," he said.
Suo Chao, spokesman for the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control, said lighting up on the train puts other passengers' health at risk and should be strictly prohibited.
"The rights of nonsmokers have been long-ignored," he said.
Liang Zhaoyu, spokesman for the administration, said the authorities will act in accordance with the regulation and enforce the rules, especially during the upcoming chunyun, a 40-day Spring Festival travel period that usually starts 15 days before Lunar New Year's Eve and ends 25 days later.
Millions of people, including the bulk of migrant workers and college students, travel home to visit family during the travel period, and it is considered the largest human migration in the world..
According to the Beijing Commission of Transport, as the volume of passengers is expected to continue growing, seeing more than 37.38 million trips in and out of the capital during the period, a 4.8 percent year-on-year growth, the city's transportation system will be put to the test.