• June 21, 2024

Puffing along in China

 Puffing along in China

Photo by theglobalpanorama

In China, a passenger is suing a local railway authority for allowing passengers to smoke on trains, according to a story in the China Daily.

The Beijing Railway Transport Court held a hearing on Wednesday in respect of a case brought by a female passenger surnamed Li against the Harbin Railway Bureau (HRB).

While traveling on June 9 from Beijing to Tianjin on train K1301 operated by HRB Li noticed ‘lots of passengers’ smoking between two carriages, though the company’s ‘safety tips’ state that smoking is banned everywhere on the train.

After filing a series of complaints that generated no useful response, Li decided to sue, demanding compensation for her ticket, valued at 102.5 yuan ($13), her legal expenses, and 1 yuan as compensation for her mental suffering.

She demanded also that the HRB issue a smoking ban on train K1301, which is not a high-speed train, and on the platforms at Beijing and Tianjin stations, and the removal of smoking areas and ashtrays.

In court, the defendant argued that the case was a dispute of transportation contract in name only and was essentially a public interest lawsuit. It demanded the court dismiss Li’s request since her claim did not meet the conditions in either case.

HRB said it believed it had fulfilled its contract obligations as the passenger was transported to her destination safely. Setting up smoking areas and ashtrays was a humane management measure rather than a violation of law.

“The complete ban of smoking on regular trains that often take 30 hours to finish a journey is unrealistic,” according to an HRB agent. “Otherwise some people would smoke in the carriages, which is much more dangerous.”