More than 16,000 travelers, seeking to leave Shanghai through Hongqiao Railway Station, have been temporarily accommodated — usually overnight — in shelters provided by the government since mid-April.

Due to surging travel demand and low availability of train tickets, especially early this month, a large number of people were forced to spend the night in the open around the major train terminal in Shanghai.

With the aim of not only helping such people get some good rest but also as part of COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control measures, Xinhong Subdistrict of Minhang District, where the railway station is located, and the district police, have streamlined the services provided for them, Shobserver.com reported yesterday.

Currently, those with a negative polymerase chain reaction test result for COVID-19 within the last 48 hours as well as a confirmed train ticket for a trip within the next 24 hours, are accommodated at the P10 parking lot of the Hongqiao transportation hub where they will be able to take a train through a fast link later. Volunteer helpers, who get in touch with such passengers when they arrive at the station, are on hand.

Lately, 2,000 to 3,000 people have gone through this accommodation every night, according to Shobserver.com, run by the Jiefang Daily newspaper.

Those with valid PCR test results but no confirmed train tickets or having a booked train trip beyond the next 24 hours are accommodated at six temporary shelters, including hotels and those transformed from galleries and office buildings, if they test negative in a rapid antigen test at the site where they’re reached by the helpers.

Travelers who have no valid PCR test results and are not willing to go to the shelters can now spend the night at a temporary shed in the open with canopies at the west traffic center of the Hongqiao hub, which has PCR test services.

Around 20,000 to 30,000 people have boarded trains from Hongqiao Railway Station daily in recent days, among whom about 3,000 were accommodated in different ways, with food and drinks provided.

Cao Wei, of the Xinhong Subdistrict government, is the chief liaison person at one of the six shelters — a hotel on Tianshan Road W.

Apart from registering the travelers, whom he calls “his guests,” he also sees to it that rapid antigen self-test kits and purchased meals are distributed to them and helps them purchase train tickets as well.

Cao told Shobserver.com he is kept busy until 2am or 3am at the hotel, which can accommodate up to 200 people at a time.

“I send the ticket purchase requests from guests to the police every day before 9am, while some tickets we buy for them have to be returned since they have managed to acquire the tickets themselves,” he said.

Sometimes guests refuse to pay the ticket refund fees, in which case Cao said he would cover the cost himself.

“As long as they can take a train and go back home, it doesn’t matter,” he noted. “My biggest wish is to see them all off, because that would mean that I will be able to go home, too.”

Cao also arranges transport to deliver the “guests” to the station when it’s time for them to leave.

By yesterday, a total of 807 people had been accepted at the hotel, with 732 already departing.

At the west traffic center where several hundred people stay the night every day at the temporary shelter in the open, workers of the subdistrict government serve travelers by providing them with mobile phone charging ports and mobile toilets.

Zhang Jun, general manger of Xinhong Asset Management Co, which is tasked with supplying food for the travelers, said many kind-hearted people have stepped in to help.

“Individuals, companies and social organizations have been sending hot meals, instant noodles and snacks for the travelers,” he told Shobserver.com. “These are not the easiest of times, but luckily normal life will return soon.”