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High-speed trains take the holiday strain for China's travellers

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High-speed trains will take more Chinese travellers home for Spring Festival this year than ever before.

This year's "Chunyun", the hectic travel period surrounding Chinese New Year, sometimes known as the world's largest human migration, began on Sunday.

China Railway Corporation (CRC), operator of China's rail network, plans to run 3,488 extra pairs of trains this year, an increase of 14.5 percent from 2015. More than 60 percent of them are high-speed trains that can run up to 350 kilometers per hour.

In Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, 56 out of 86 extra trains are high-speed. As one of the first cities with high-speed rail routes, over three quarters of all trains departing Nanjing are high-speed, connecting to 19 major cities.

"From Nanjing to Harbin, regular trains take over 30 hours, but it only takes 10 and half hours by high-speed train," said Tao Peng, conductor of a Nanjing-Harbin train.

"During the Spring Festival rush, my train used to be so crowded that passengers could not even move between carriages," said Tao. "Since the launch of the Nanjing-Harbin high-speed train, we don't even need to offer standing room tickets anymore."

In Guangdong Province, for the first time this year, high-speed trains will carry more Spring Festival passengers than regular trains.

The shorter travel time is not the only attraction of high-speed trains, they are also affordable.

Zhu Chuanlai, 53, works in Jinan, in the east coast province of Shandong. His hometown is in Shucheng County, Anhui Province and he will travel to Hefei, capital of Anhui, on a fast train.

"Workers like me now can earn 50,000 or 60,000 yuan a year, so we can afford to ride high-speed trains," he said. "The ticket is just over 200 yuan, 100 yuan more than than the regular train, but the travel time is much less.

"It's absolutely worth it," he added.

Ma Jinyong has been a ticket inspector at Nanjing station for 16 years. High-speed trains have made her work easier in many different ways. During the holiday rush five years ago, the waiting rooms were always full of people waiting in line to get their tickets checked, or waiting for late trains.

"Most high-speed trains run on time except during extreme weather ," Ma said, "Passenger can come to the station on time and don't need to hang around in the waiting room."

Around 3,300 kilometers of new high-speed lines opened last year, bringing the total length to 19,000 kilometers, about 60 percent of the world's total.

From 2011 to 2015, fixed-asset investment in railways amounted to 3.58 trillion yuan (544 billion U.S. dollars). The CRC has plans to spend 800 billion yuan on new track in 2016, mostly in central and western regions.

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