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Volunteers ease burden of train travel

By Wang Xiaodong and Huo Yan (China Daily)

08:26, January 11, 2012

Two volunteers help a blind man enter the waiting hall of Nanning Railway Station in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Sunday. (China Daily/Huo Yan)

NANNING - As thousands of travelers swarm the square outside the railway station in Nanning, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, heading to family reunions back home for Chinese New Year, a group of young volunteers are making their travels easier.

"That girl is so helpful. I didn't expect someone who doesn't know me at all to be ready to help me carry my heavy luggage in this cold," a woman surnamed Yang said as she hurried to the station entrance on Sunday.

Fang Lili, a freshman at Guangxi University of Foreign Languages, who is on winter vacation, said she got to the station before 8 am and would continue to volunteer until a few days before the Spring Festival, which begins on Jan 23 this year.

"I'm very glad to have been able to assist people on their trips. Besides, volunteering can help me gain social experience," she said. "I can't remember how many people I've helped."

Fang is one of 540 volunteers recruited by Nanning Railway Station this year. Clad in eye-catching red clothing, they stand at every corner of the square, helping passengers with their luggage and informing them of train-travel regulations.

The railway station has recruited volunteers from universities in the autonomous region for the peak traffic season since 2009 to make up for a shortage of staff, according to Ye Qiujiang, media officer at Nanning Railway Station.

Nationwide, about 3.1 billion trips are expected to be made during the Spring Festival travel season, 9.1 percent more than last year. The travel season started on Sunday and will last 40 days. About 235 million people will travel by train, according to official figures.

"In the past few years, the volunteers did the same work as the railway station staff, such as checking tickets and security screening," Ye said. "But this year, we have organized the volunteers to provide assistance to the passengers. Their workload is lighter. We also hope that by helping with railway work during the peak travel season, they will come to better understand the work of the rail system."

Huang Feifei contributed to this story.


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