The passengers look like refugees; laden with cheap cases, sagging boxes and anxiety. In each surge forward, they jostle and shove. Even the new-found city swagger of young men dissolves in the steady drizzle.
Zhao arrived here with friends on January 26, as the numbers at the station began to swell to 700,000 or more. They queued in the rain and slept on the street, but the 45-year-old was buoyant as she talked about her happiness at fulfilling her dream of helping her daughter and leaving factory life.
Anyuan village in Gansu, north-west China, has little to offer its residents; no wealth, not even a reliable water supply. But for Zhao it was her only real home and she was determined to make the 34-hour train journey.