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Migrant Farmers Put Huge Strain on Trains
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The increasing number of farmers from the populous Sichuan and Hunan provinces who rush south to Guangdong Province to find jobs are exerting heavy pressure on trains, a railway official said on Friday.


Nearly 300,000 passengers arrived Friday in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong, a southern province that borders Hong Kong, according to Ding Liang, an official with the Guangzhou Railway Corporation Group.


Usually fewer than 100,000 passengers arrive every day in the region.


In the past four days, the group added 165 seasonal trains to carry passengers from Sichuan in southwest China and Hunan and Henan in central China to Guangdong, Ding told China Daily.


The distance between Guangdong, a magnet for job thirsty farmers elsewhere because of its economic strength, and these provinces is more than 1,000 kilometers, and the train is the most popular means of travel.


In Sichuan, more than 7 million local farmers, or 10 percent of the province's total population, work outside the province each year, half of them in Guangdong. About 4 million people from Hunan work in Guangdong each year.


According to the tradition, Chinese people, especially farmers, usually enjoy Spring Festival for 15 days. This year's festival started on January 29.


"We hope to find good jobs (in Guangdong) by getting there earlier," said farmer Huang Yongguang, who is from Changsha, Hunan's capital.


Chengdu Daily, in Sichuan's capital, reported on Friday that the number of traveling farmers increased by 40 percent compared with the same period of last year.


Local officials in charge of exporting farmers to Guangdong hired chartered coaches to transport farmers from their home towns to Chengdu Railway Station, the report said.


In Guangzhou, Guangdong's capital, labor-intensive factories such as those making shoes held job fairs in front of railway stations to attract migrant workers.


(China Daily February 5, 2006)


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