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IMG_1288.JPGSHANGHAI - When Gov. Jerry Brown boarded a bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai on Thursday afternoon, it marked the second time in less than a week that the Southwest Airlines-flying governor rode in a class that wasn't coach.

Brown sat in business class, as he did on his United Airlines flight arriving Tuesday in Beijing.

For a governor who has long used his mode of travel to highlight his frugality (when governor before, he was riding in a Plymouth), the latest seat assignments have been a departure.

The 75-year-old, third-term governor visited reporters Thursday in their section of the train and offered an explanation.

"I need it," he said. "My back's been a little sore, guys."

The ticket class is of no consequence to California taxpayers. Fees paid by business delegates joining Brown on his week-long trade mission to China are covering Brown's travel costs.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with reporters on the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai on Thursday, April 11, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee


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