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Bullet trains a relief for Hebei commuters

Updated: 2015-01-08 16:07

Bullet trains a relief for Hebei commuters

People cram themselves into a bus bound for Beijing at a bus station in Yanjiao, North China's Hebei province, Dec 10, 2014. It's estimated that 300,000 living in Yanjiao's towering apartment buildings spend five hours a day getting to and from their work in Beijing.[Photo/CFP]

Launch of three bullet trains on Jan 12 will bring relief to about 300,000 travelers who spend hours commuting from Beijing to Yanjiao, Hebei province. The start of operations is seen as one more step toward regional integration between Beijing and its surrounding provincial areas.

The trains will reduce the commuting time to only 30 minutes. From Monday, train D9022 will start at Yanjiao at 6:46 am and train D9023 will leave Beijing at 5:50 pm and D9024 at 7:57pm. The fare will be $2.

Sky-high housing prices in Beijing have forced many to migrate to surrounding towns. Although houses are more affordable there, they come at a cost. Many start out for work at five in the morning and return home in the evening. The buses are so crowded that there is hardly any room even to stand.

Hao, one of the daily commuters, said he usually spends at least three and a half hours on road everyday. Ideally, it takes 40 minutes without any traffic jam to get to Central Business District in Beijing, but it's not often the case in the gridlocked capital.

Buses seem to be the primary option the commuters have. There are four regular trains from Beijing to Yanjiao, but the earliest train gets into the capital at 10:27, a time which is obviously too late for work.

"I am so glad that I would finally get more sleep thanks to the bullet trains," Hao said.

Located about 35 kilometers east of the capital's center, Yanjiao, which literally means suburbs of Beijing, is a town under the administration of Sanhe city in Hebei province.

The lower home prices and rents make the excruciatingly long commutes worthwhile and have earned the community the nickname "sleeping town".

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