Rush on the rails

Updated: 2012-01-19 08:25

By Zou Hong (China Daily)

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Rush on the rails

Zhang Jing (far left), a 24-year-old seamstress, watches TV on her laptop as her traveling companions sleep. [Photos by Zou Hong / China Daily]

Editor's note: To see the ongoing Spring Festival travel rush firsthand, China Daily photographer Zou Hong on Jan 15 boarded a passenger train - L187 - traveling from Beijing to Yichang, Central China's Hubei province.

To handle the traffic pressure, Beijing Railway Bureau usually puts on extra trains for people heading home to reunite with their families for Chinese New Year.

Between Jan 8 (the start of the travel rush) and Jan 17, the bureau put on 792 extra trains, 158 more than last year.

On the 2,888-km, 50-hour journey to Yichang, Zou Hong took about 2,000 pictures, capturing some touching moments. Here is a selection.

 Rush on the rails

Clockwise from bottom left:

Li Dezhi (right) had to spend 25 hours on the train before reaching home. He was tired of sitting but had no place to stand in the crowded coach, so he just stood on the chair.

A peddler hawks boiled eggs from the platform.

Huang Songyan, a 52-year-old cook from Baoding, Hebei province, serves noodles to passengers at lunchtime. Crews on the extra passenger trains were all transferred temporarily from different railway agencies or stations. This year, Beijing Railway Bureau dispatched 7,140 temporary crews, including train drivers, electricians and office workers.

Michael Turner, 48, from London, sings a New Year song to fellow travelers in his carriage. As a middle school English teacher in Xilin Gol League of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Turner was traveling to Hubei to spend Spring Festival at a student's home. "The journey is great. The ticket was very cheap; it cost just 86 yuan ($15). It's meaningful for me to experience the spring rush with Chinese passengers," said Turner, who taught English to children on the train and sang, making him a big hit with other travelers.

Before departure from Beijing West Railway Station, the L187 passenger train had to take on coal, which was used to power the in-carriage heating system - much to the relief of passengers.