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Lost and found leaps into action during travel rush

By LUO WANGSHU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-23 08:11
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Chen Lingling (left) returns a bag to the owner of the lost property in Fuzhou Railway Station in Fujian province. JIANG QU/FOR CHINA DAILY

During this year's Spring Festival travel rush, Chen Lingling found herself busier than ever, diligently recording and returning lost belongings to absentminded passengers.

The 30-year-old manages the lost and found center at Fuzhou Railway Station in South China's Fujian province.

"Passengers have been misplacing all kinds of items, ranging from small essentials like ID cards, water bottles, mobile phones and clothing, to larger items such as backpacks and even suitcases," she said.

Chen's responsibilities include collecting lost items, documenting them, affixing labels and ensuring their safe return.

Since the beginning of the Spring Festival travel rush on Jan 26, the number of lost items has notably surged. "During off-peak times, we typically handle 10 to 20 lost items a day, but during the Spring Festival travel rush, this number has increased to 40 to 50," she said.

"Passengers leave items behind everywhere, some in the waiting hall, some on the train and some on the platform," she said. Once these items are sent to lost and found, she meticulously inspects each one in an attempt to identify the owner's information. While she occasionally strikes it lucky and finds a clue, there are times when she patiently awaits inquiries from passengers.

Chen diligently records item details, including where they were found and the train number, and uploads them to an application, facilitating easier retrieval for passengers.

At the lost and found center in Fuzhou Railway Station, several four-tiered shelves house an array of everyday items inadvertently left behind by forgetful passengers.

"It's like a grocery store," she said.

While most items are reclaimed, less valuable ones are stored in the station's warehouse. Lost items are retained for a year before being sold or disposed of accordingly. Last year, Chen documented over 12,000 lost items.

Throughout the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush, China's railway network is anticipated to accommodate 480 million passenger trips.

To aid passengers in reclaiming their lost belongings, the railway department has added features on the 12306 application, the ticket purchasing and railway service platform.

Passengers can file reports via the application, providing descriptions and photos of the missing items, along with the location of loss and contact information. They can also track the progress of item retrieval. The railway department also disseminates information about missing items on the application, enabling passengers to stay informed.

He Jingting from the China Academy of Railway Sciences, responsible for developing and operating the 12306 system, said: "Once items are found, notifications will be sent out via a call or text message."

Passengers can also contact the 12306 hotline or seek assistance at the station or on the train. Upon retrieval, passengers can collect their items at the station or request railway staff to transfer them to a nearby station. Alternatively, items can be delivered through parcel services.

"Every expression of gratitude from passengers upon reclaiming their belongings is deeply meaningful to me. As most lost items hold sentimental value for their owners, preserving, locating and returning these items is a profoundly rewarding endeavor," Chen said.

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