Workers switch from motorcycles to rail

Updated: 2015-02-19 07:56

By Qiu Quanlin in Foshan, Guangdong(China Daily)

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Migrant workers in Guangdong province had to endure long, uncomfortable motorbike rides when they returned to their hometowns in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Guizhou province for Spring Festival in previous years

Now, however, they can make the journey quickly and in style following the opening of two high-speed railway lines linking the two regions with Guangdong - provided they are lucky enough to obtain tickets.

"In the past, when there were no high-speed railways, many of my friends had to go back home by riding motorcycles during the peak travel time," said Ma Yunian, a migrant worker from Mashan county in Guangxi.

Workers switch from motorcycles to rail

A passenger who works in Guangdong province returns to her hometowm in Guiping in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on the Guangzhou-Nanning high-speed railway on Saturday. Song Hantao / For China Daily

Ma, who works for a furniture factory in Guangzhou's Panyu district, added, "It was a very harsh journey-sometimes it took me a whole day to drive home."

Ma, 42, bought a train ticket for less than 170 yuan ($27), and will travel on Thursday. The journey from Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, to Nanning, the capital of Guangxi, takes four hours.

The 577 km line took four years to build and became operational in December.

The 857 km high-speed line linking Guangzhou and Gui-yang, the capital of Guizhou, also started to carry passengers at the end of last year.

Ma said, "The lines run through the most scenic spots in Guangdong, Guangxi and Guizhou, as well as remote counties, providing a more easy and comfortable journey for us migrant workers."

Ma, who has been working in Guangzhou for more than 20 years, traveled home by bus instead of on a motorcycle last year.

"It took more than 12 hours on the bus, and it was uncomfortable," he said.

However, demand for highspeed train tickets was so strong that not everyone was able to buy one, and as a result many migrant workers will again be traveling home by motorcycle.

To help them on their way, they are able to apply for free gas supplied by Sinopec.

Wu Guanghua was waiting in line at a gas station in the Shunde district of Foshan in Guangdong, home to thousands of migrant workers from Guangxi and Guizhou, on Tuesday.

"It was very difficult to buy a high-speed train ticket," he said.

Wu, 34, a migrant worker from Guigang in Guangxi, set off on a motorbike after filling his tank.

"I expect to see my children at home after 10 hours," he said. "The journey may be very harsh, but there will be a happy ending."

Guangdong's transport authority said more than 600,000 migrant workers in the province are expected to ride motorcycles to their homes in neighboring Guizhou, Hunan, Sichuan and Fujian provinces and Guangxi before Spring Festival on Feb 19.