All aboard! First extra train pulls out of Shanghai
A passenger onboard the first extra train from Shanghai to Urumqi looks out of the window before departure yesterday.
The first extra train from Shanghai for this year’s annual Spring Festival rush left Shanghai Railway station yesterday for the almost 58-hour journey to Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Most of the 600 passengers on board were headed home to one of the 28 stops on the route, or via connections, for traditional family reunions.
The Spring Festival holiday runs from January 24 to 30 this year, but the 40-day festival travel rush begins tomorrow.
A total of 13.62 million passengers are expected to depart Shanghai’s rail stations, up 4.8 percent from last year.
The peak is forecast for January 22, when 580,000 passengers are expected.
To cope with the increased demand, rail authorities have arranged 159 extra trains for the rush.
“I will arrive home almost half a month earlier than last year’s Spring Festival, which makes me very happy,” said Zhao Zhengwei, a migrant who works in sewage treatment in Shanghai.
“The whole trip will take about 20 hours, but it’s bearable,” said Zhao, whose destination is Changchun, in the northeastern Jilin Province.
It also seems to be a happy start for migrant worker Meng Jianzhong, who has been in Shanghai for three years, working in power engineering.
“I tried grabbing a ticket for several days but failed. I was lucky to get a ticket online for an extra train on Monday morning,” said the native of Henan Province.
He will get off at Sanmenxia City, following a trip that will take more then 20 hours.
Last year, he returned home only the day before Lunar New Year’s Eve.
“I am excited to be back and eat minced pork noodles made by my mother,” said a passenger surnamed Wang from Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. The noodles are a specialty of the province.
Another passenger surnamed Fang, a university student in Shanghai, has prepared a gift of Shanghai xuehua (snowflake) facial cream for his mother. His home is in Hotan in Xinjiang.
“I cannot wait to have a bite of barbecue in my hometown, as it’s difficult to enjoy authentic Xinjiang barbecue in Shanghai,” he said. “My parents are waiting for me.”
In the station waiting room, hot water, medicine, newspapers and magazines were all available for passengers.
“The holiday rush to China’s northwest starts earlier, thus extra trains are arranged in that direction,” said Huang Tianlin, a rail attendant.
“Extra trains will also be arranged to Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou and China’s northwest and northeast depending on actual traffic flows.”
The train’s 47-year-old chief attendant, Zhang Limin, a 20-year veteran, said:
“We have decorated and put paper-cuts in auspicious patterns on windows to create a festive atmosphere.
“We have also prepared Xinjiang cuisine and local snacks like nuts and raisins to create a warm homey environment.”
His home is Urumqi, but he has been back for Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner only once over the past two decades.
“I’m used to it. Ensuring that passengers return home safely is my wish and responsibility,” he said. “I am happy that our train will take them to family reunions.”
Other service upgrades include shuttle buses, 24-hour ticketing, express delivery and fast channels at stations.