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VIP room at Chinese rail station charges passengers for cool air at arbitrary fees

The VIP waiting room at the Changsha Railway Station is outsourced to a company that charges passengers random prices to enjoy cool air and early boarding, Hunan Economic TV reports.

The VIP waiting room has been run by an independent service provider since 2009 and the company furnished the room with sofas and air conditioners.

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Passengers who wished to enter the VIP room were charged from 20 to 30 yuan (HK$23-35), the report said, and the monthly income of staff was related to how much money they collected from passengers.

A staff member in the VIP room said she could earn 3,500 to 4,000 yuan a month by only working 14 days.

She said passengers who paid to use the VIP waiting room could board their trains earlier than other passengers.

Because there is no air conditioning in the common waiting area, many people are prepared to pay to wait in the VIP room.

Many passengers at the station, who don’t want to pay, wait outside to escape the heat of the common waiting area.

Liu Jing, an assistant to the station master, said the station’s power supply was limited because of ongoing construction and they could not operate air conditioners in the common waiting area.

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“According to the regulations, nobody is allowed to attract consumers by saying they can get on the train earlier after buying a particular product or service,” Liu added, “ so the VIP room has already broken that rule.”

Chen Wen, a standing member of the CPPCC Hunan Provincial Committee, said the Changsha Railway station should improve its service in the common waiting area despite the ongoing construction.

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