Yearly outbound train travel tops 100m for first time

Shanghai yesterday marked the first time in its history that the yearly number of outbound train passengers crossed 100 million.
Jiang Chenqi

Charles Bingham, a 79-year-old American businessman, and his wife Brigitte pose with their railway tickets at Hongqiao Railway Station yesterday. Bingham is Shanghai’s 100 millionth outbound train passenger this year. He often visits China for his work in the roller coaster industry.

Shanghai yesterday marked the first time in its history that the yearly number of outbound train passengers crossed 100 million.  

Charles Bingham, 79, an American businessman from Orlando, Florida, found himself surrounded by cameras at Hongqiao Railway Station yesterday morning. The railway officers told him that he was the city’s 100 millionth outbound train passenger this year after he bought his train tickets. 

Bingham and his wife were taking the G14 bullet train to Beijing at 10am, before taking a flight to Florida last night. 

Bingham estimated that he had traveled about 50 times on high-speed trains since 2009, adding that he had been taking four to five such trips each year. 

The American, who owns a roller-coaster equipment factory in China, often travels to and from China to meet contractors. 

“High-speed trains have always been my first choice when I travel in China,” he said. “I wish we had such advanced train systems in the US.

Bingham’s wife, Brigitte, said: “It took you 23 hours to take a train to travel to New York City from Orlando. From Shanghai to Beijing, it’s a similar distance but takes less than six hours. That is miraculous.” 

Bai Zhengguo, head of the Shanghai Railway Station, said the total handling capacity of Hongqiao Railway Station, Shanghai Railway Station, and Shanghai South Railway Station had reached 200 million this year.

The railway stations have been able to do so because they have been upgrading their transport facilities and strengthening their technological systems.

At Hongqiao Railway Station, a six-men team uses an advanced computer network to control the arrivals and departures of more than 400 trains, in addition to managing some 400 electronic information displays and 220 turnstiles. About 80 percent of train tickets are dispensed through 167 vending machines.

Each day, more than 900 high-speed trains travel on Shanghai’s railway system. They carry more than 600,000 passengers.

Since Hongqiao Railway Station started operating a high-speed train service between Shanghai and Beijing in 2011, Shanghai’s yearly number of outbound travelers has risen from 61 million to 100 million.

“The number of Shanghai’s railway employees hasn’t changed much since 2010, but the volume of passengers has increased by 78 percent,” said Li Yi, the Party secretary of the Shanghai Railway Station. 

“The growing volume of passengers is an opportunity and a challenge, so we must keep innovating.”

Li also said the next step for Shanghai’s railway system was to come up with ideas to make it more convenient for people to book train tickets, and to improve safety and efficiency by analyzing data from the online ticket sales. 

Construction of the Shanghai East Railway Station, near the Pudong International Airport, would begin soon, Li added.

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