More than 15 million passengers throughout China rode bullet trains in a rush to get back to their cities on the last day of the “Golden Week” break, which ended on October 7.
The spike in riders put the nation’s railway operator under pressure, having just carried almost 100 million passengers within the whirlwind first five days of the week-long holiday. More people opted for rail trips out of fear of being stuck in traffic jams on roads and expressways.
The China Railway Corp reportedly scrambled 741 extra trains with a total of 4,200 passenger cars to cope with Sunday’s passenger flow from resorts and scenic spots to major cities.
Beijing alone saw an influx of 580,000 passengers at the capital city’s three major rail terminus on Sunday, as residents and migrant workers were anxious to get back to town before the start of the next working day.
Meanwhile, the CRC’s Beijing Railway Bureau was under fire for halving the number of passenger cars on three out-bound bullet trains on Friday and Saturday, when riders were told to either squeeze themselves into packed trains or spend extra hours in stopovers at intermediate stations.
At least three 16-car bullet trains to cities in Heibei province were cut short and unfortunate passengers whose seats were on the missing trains had to stand for hours in remaining cars already chock a block with riders.
Xinhua reported that the problem was caused by power distribution glitches, but the rail operator decided not to cancel these train trips but instead to dislodge some cars so passengers would still be able to get home as planned.
One passenger who stood for two hours told reporters that the grueling ride was even worse than Beijing’s notoriously crowded metro during morning rush hours.