Flood of migrant workers disrupt rail service

THE national railway has been besieged by a massive movement of migrant workers across the country in the past few weeks that seriously disrupted the normal operation of the rail system, according to a senior official.

The human tidal wave, which happens every year, had reached an alarming level this year, chief railway co-ordinator Mr Hua Maokun said.

Mr Hua was quoted by the national media as saying in order to move the extra travellers quickly, a huge volume of cargo had to be withheld in the past month.

Railway authorities had to jam-pack a record 74.7 million travellers into carriages in the past four weeks and re-scheduled 3,000 cargo coaches to meet the hugh demand, he said.

Cities such as Guangzhou and Fuzhou have reached saturation point since most of the travellers are migrant workers who dream of making a fortune in the prosperous south and have headed for provinces such as Guangdong and Fujian.

Mr Hua said that while these two provinces remained favourite destinations, an increasing number of migrant workers had shifted their attention to Shanghai.

This was because migrant workers believed they could find jobs in Shanghai's rapidly developing Pudong district.

In recent weeks, Mr Hua said, the central city of Wuhan had seen a constant stream of human traffic heading towards Guangzhou - as high as 150,000 passengers every day. The Shanghai railway station handled as many as 640,000 passengers a day.

Railway experts were quoted as saying that the traffic jam was partly caused by the fact that some impoverished provinces in the northwest were encouraging peasants to abandon their farmland to look for work in the south.

A dispatch by the official China News Service quoted the experts as saying these provinces believed they could solve their poverty problems by sending the peasants elsewhere.