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Chengdu station befriends passengers

01-21-2012 11:44 BJT

By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)

CHENGDU -Hong Jiaran was nervous when he approached the Chengdu Railway Station in Southwest China's Sichuan province on Friday morning.

"Grandma told me over and over there are crowds of people at the station and on the train. The three of us have never been away from home, so she wants me to be careful along the way," said the timid 10-year-old student from Shifo village of Hongxing town in Pixian county, Sichuan province.

Together with his handicapped grandma and 5-year-old sister, Hong boarded the L258 train on Friday morning to visit his parents working at a construction site in Shanghai.

Thrilled at the thought of being reunited with his parents - he had not seen them for three years - in a city he longed to visit, Hong was nevertheless afraid about the nearly 40-hour journey to the strange land.

To his surprise, they got a warm welcome at the Chengdu Railway Station. An employee ushered them to a spacious waiting room for the elderly, infirm, disabled and pregnant, where they found fewer passengers and all sorts of toys.

"Lots of migrant workers from Sichuan stay where they work during the Spring Festival each year. They ask their children to visit them with their grandparents," said Deng Hong, deputy chief of the Chengdu Railway Station.

"It's common to see an elderly person accompanying several children on trains from Chengdu to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou," he said.

To make travel easier, his station lets them use the special waiting room during the festival.

Soon after boarding the train, Hong saw Wan Qiang, a crew member, place a traditional Chinese red knot in front of their seats. Wan also placed "loving cards" on the necks of Hong and his sister.

"Uncle Wan told me the knot and cards are both a reminder that each crew member has to pay special attention to us," Hong said.

According to Cao Jun, deputy chief of the Chengdu passenger service section in the Chengdu Railway Bureau, the Chinese red knot and loving cards are available on some trains.

"The knot is placed near the seats of the old, infirm, the disabled or pregnant to remind crew members they have to keep a close eye on them to see if they need anything. The loving cards have cartoons telling children to be careful with boiling water on trains and also teaching them about safe travel," he said.

Soon after the train left at 10:50 am, Wan approached Hong and his grandmother Lan Mei, to tell them about rail travel safety. "Uncle Wan told me and my younger sister not to run around in the compartment," Hong said.

Since the Spring Festival travel rush began on Jan 8, at least 300 children a day have gone to visit their migrant worker parents on trains under the Chengdu passenger service section.

"We make sure the children and their guardians are aware of the safety regulations because most of them seldom travel," Wan said.

After telling them about the safety rules, Wan gave a "return card" to Hong's grandmother. The card has information on how to use the Internet and telephone booking system to book return train tickets.

Using those systems, passengers can buy tickets 12 days before traveling. In railway station ticket offices, tickets are available only nine days in advance.

"In a word, the ticket office sells tickets not sold online or through the telephone booking system. That's why passengers can't get a ticket even if they are at the head of a long line at the ticket office. The problem is that most rural residents don't know how to use the Internet or the telephone booking system," Wan said.

After Wan left, Hong and his younger sister, Hong Shuhan started reading a cartoon book teaching migrant worker parents how to mingle with children they have not seen for a long time.

It offers tips such as praising children or preparing a meal with them to get rid of their sense of alienation from their parents. The book is given away on trains of the Chengdu passenger service section, said Zhu Linlin, an information officer with the section.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: China Daily

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