A commuter pass for the Beijing-Tianjin intercity railway that gives a discount of up to 15 percent went on sale on Monday as part of government efforts to promote the integration of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province.
Last year, 646,000 passengers traveled back and forth between Beijing and Tianjin at least twice a month. The pass is expected to benefit more than 200,000 people.
The pass will save passengers the trouble of buying tickets, and the discount is expected to attract more people to commute between the two cities, Sun Wenkui, vice-mayor of Tianjin, said on Saturday.
Currently, 184 trains arrive and depart from both Beijing and Tianjin every day, carrying more than 80,000 passengers.
Calling the launch of the pass a move to promote the integration of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, Sun said the Tianjin government will "make a greater step forward" to promote the integration of the three areas' transportation systems through further cooperation with China Railway Corp, the national network operator.
There are two kinds of train passes: a gold one for first-class seats and a silver one for second-class seats. A first class seat for a single journey between Beijing and Tianjin costs 65.5 yuan ($10), while the price for second class is 54.5 yuan.
Passengers can get a 5 percent discount if they pay for 20 single journeys up front. The discount will increase to 15 percent for gold pass holders who pay for 90 journeys and for silver pass holders who pay for 100 journeys, the Tianjin government said.
Pass holders will use their cards at a special ticket machine where they can choose a train and print a ticket with a seat assignment.
"We are trying to keep the Beijing-Tianjin intercity line in the lead," said Huang Xin, deputy director of CRC's transport bureau. "The train pass is an innovation, and we are looking forward to seeing future promotions on other railways."
Passengers have been expecting the discount passes since the Tianjin government announced in February that they would be issued, said Zou Yirong, from the marketing department of Tianjin Research Institute for Advanced Equipment, affiliated with Tsinghua University in Beijing.
"The train pass was the talk of the office back then," she said, adding that about 40 researchers at her institute are regular commuters between the two cities - and they would save time and money with the passes.
Xiang Nan, chairman of a Tianjin-based investment company that has offices in Beijing and Tianjin, said: "We are definitely going to make a group purchase for me and five other colleagues who need to take the train every day."
"I used to spend 2,600 yuan on the train every month. Now 400 yuan of that can be saved. That is good news for me," said a man who only disclosed his name only as Duan. The man paid for 100 single journeys with second-class seats on Monday as he often has to travel between Beijing and Tianjin for work.
The Italian cruise line Costa Cruises recently celebrated the maiden call of Costa Fortuna at Tianjin International Cruise Home Port.
As the fifth cruise ship from the line to enter North China, Costa Fortuna will be based in Tianjin for the next eight months, opening voyages to South Korea and Japan with an "Italy at Sea" cruise experience.
Passengers can enjoy delicious cuisines, shopping and entertainment activities on board.
Inspired by Italy's shipping and navigation history, the ship is a virtual museum at sea, showcasing Italian paintings, antiques and historic artworks. The main hall is decorated with a giant red dragon head, which combines Italy's mythology figure with the image of Chinese dragon.
With Costa Fortuna, the line will now have more than 60 voyages departing from Tianjin port this year, consolidating its long-held position with the most voyages from Tianjin. The company is part the global leisure travel company Carnival Corporation & plc.