Napping away the long journey home
- 24 January 2014
On a high-speed train, the trip from Hangzhou, on China's eastern coast, to Guiyang, a city in the south, takes just over 10 hours.
But few migrant workers can afford that luxury when travelling home for Chinese New Year.
Instead, the slow journey takes at least 27 hours. Extra trains added to shuttle migrant workers home for Chinese New Year stop and start sporadically, adding hours in delays.
Hundreds travelling on a packed train last week were stuck on the train for an exhausting 31 hours.
"Although the journey was quite tough, the passengers all fell asleep quite peacefully," said Xu Kangping, a newspaper photographer documenting the factory and construction workers' trip home.
"They had finished a year of hard work and they knew they were heading home."
Mr Xu's employer, the Zhejiang City Express newspaper, originally dismissed the photos, arguing they weren't unique. So Xu Kangping posted them on his Instagram account. From there, they spread across multiple Chinese websites.
"My photos reminded people of their past experiences of travelling by train. They all expressed sympathy towards these migrant workers and the hardships they face on their way home," Mr Xu said.
"Some suggest the government should improve transportation conditions for migrant workers. For example, maybe they make trains more comfortable so people have a place to sleep or maybe create specific sections for children."
One family, in particular, faced an epic journey to return to their home village for the 30 January New Year's Eve celebrations.
"One family I spoke to was this migrant couple who work in Taizhou, in Zhejiang province," Mr Xu said.
"They were travelling with their newborn baby, a girl named Liu Wanqing. She was only 20 days old. She was probably the youngest passenger on board."
"The baby's father was named Liu Yinan, a 23-year-old worker in a factory that makes large machinery parts. He makes about $16 to $32 [£9.70 to £19.50] a day doing hard labour.
"After the family left the train, they would have to take another five-hour bus journey in order to get home. But they rented a car instead for the baby, so it was another three-hour car journey before they finally made it home."
The Chinese authorities have made attempts to make it easier for migrant workers and students to buy train tickets ahead of the annual Chinese New Year trip home.
But relatively few can afford to travel in anything but the cheapest class of train travel, making the idea of comfortable travel an elusive concept for millions.