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Monday, January 12, 2015, 14:08

High-speed trains bring suburbs closer

By Xinhua
High-speed trains bring suburbs closer

Some passengers fell asleep on the train after it left Yanjiao at 6:46 am. (Photo by Zhang Xiang /

BEIJING - China's expanding high-speed train network and soaring property prices in big cities have seen the birth of the "high-speed train tribe," a new set of commuters who travel to and from work by bullet train.

Starting Monday, Beijing will be connected to Yanjiao Town in neighboring Hebei Province via three bullet trains during morning and evening rush hours. The new trains are a high-speed alternative for white-collar workers in the town who are used to suffering on slow, cramped buses on their way to the capital city.

The trains, coded D9022, D9023 and D9024, will help Yanjiao commuters reach Beijing in only half an hour, much shorter than buses, which typically take an hour.

Yanjiao, only 30 kilometers away, has been dubbed the "town of sleep" because its residents often work in Beijing and return to sleep there at night. The town has 600,000 residents, a majority of whom work in Beijing.

The new rail routes came as welcome news to commuters in Yanjiao, many of whom said they will finally be spared the trouble of being crammed on overloaded buses. By 9 pm Sunday, all Monday morning train tickets to Beijing had been sold out, according to official statistics.

But the public remains divided on the issue.

On microblog Sina Weibo, many praised railway authorities for the new routes, saying they will help ease traffic woes. Some suggested courtesy cards be issued to facilitate quick journeys.

Others, however, were critical, arguing that few will take the new routes to work "unless these workers' homes and offices are near railway stations.

But bullet train commuters say the routes offer a new choice for Yanjiao residents, and in case of emergencies, high-speed trains are "definitely the best choice," said a netizen on Weibo. A worker interviewed by Beijing News said he had already bought train tickets for the following week, and he will take the trains in the future.

In recent years, more residents living in the outskirts of big cities have opted to take high-speed trains to work. Chinese rail operators have launched multiple routes catering to the needs of the "train tribe." In November, Beijing was connected by rail to Hebei's Langfang City, also 30 kilometers away.

With high-speed train networks in metropolises like Tianjin, Shanghai and Chengdu, more office workers are likely to jump on the rail commuting bandwagon.

"I hope that there will be more routes in the future so that our commuting days will be easier," a netizen said on Weibo.

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