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Chinese railways ease holiday journey for special needs passengers
January 18,2017   By:Xinhua
BEIJING, Jan. 18, 2017 -- An elderly woman suffered a heart attack at Beijing South Railway Station after realizing her ID card was missing. She was quickly transferred to a clinic in the station where she was treated by two doctors.
 
Meanwhile, staff members in the station prepared a temporary ID card for her, and the woman soon safely boarded a train headed home.
 
Similar cases involving groups such as the elderly and the disabled are reported almost every day during China's annual holiday travel frenzy.
 
The hectic 40-day travel period surrounding the Chinese lunar new year, or Spring Festival, is known as "chunyun." This year's lunar new year falls on Jan. 28, and the chunyun travel rush stretches from Jan. 13 to Feb. 21.
 
Chunyun is a major test for railway authorities. Every year, China's railway system transports hundreds of millions of passengers, most of whom are traveling home to meet family and friends.
 
Statistics show that up to 356 million trips are expected to be made via rail over the 40-day period this year.
 
Among the most pressing challenges for the nation's railway system is accommodating special groups including the elderly, children, the sick, the disabled and pregnant women.
 
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Before this year's chunyun began, the station in Beijing updated its medical service, which offers free basic examinations and provides first-aid treatment as well as regular medicine, to make trips more convenient for passengers with physical challenges.
 
These passengers can make a phone reservation to be picked up by a team upon arrival at the station, according to Zhang Runqiu, who leads the station's service desk for passengers with special needs.
 
Zhang said when a passenger's train is about to depart, the station communicates with the train crew to ensure the passenger receives special care during the trip.
 
Zhang has witnessed the station's transformation into one of the largest railway stations in Asia and the starting point of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway since she started working at Beijing South Railway Station in 1999.
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