Mainland coach operators have been criticised for their notorious safety records and seasonal surcharges. But 88 per cent of the 140 million passengers who cannot secure train tickets will have no choice but to use the services they offer. Long-distance coach drivers said inflation and expressway tolls had increased the pressure on their business, and justified overloading and 30 per cent surcharges during the Lunar New Year holiday. 'The retail price for diesel has been raised by 10 per cent from November, and expressway tolls erode our profit,' said driver Qin Xinyan, who operates an 800km line between Shenzhen and Guilin in Guangxi . In Guangdong, expressways covering 12,500km charge fees of 40 to 60 fen a kilometre. The 140km highway between Guangzhou and Shenzhen charges 70 yuan for five-seat vehicles and 220 yuan for coaches. The mainland's media reported that staff working for Guangzhou's toll stations had been attacked by drivers three times in a week in disputes over expressway charges. 'We charge individual passengers 200 yuan per seat, netting us just 3,500 yuan for an 11-hour trip. Our profit is then reduced by fuel costs, the operating licence and expressway tolls,' Mr Qin said. Coach operators are allowed a maximum 30 per cent rise in the price of tickets for the Lunar New Year season. But Mr Qin said he expected the limitation to discourage operators. In Guangdong, 50,000 coaches have geared up for 124 million trips.