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Skiers on fast track to feed their passion

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-01-08 14:36
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High-speed railway connects snow sports fans with resorts and Olympic venues across country.

Dai Yutong, a skiing enthusiast from Northeast China's Jilin province, still likes to talk about two big events that happened in 2015: Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Hunchun high-speed railway station opened in his hometown, its first railway station.

"It brought us closer to the ski resorts, which gave me more reasons to ski," said Dai, who lived in the Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture of Jilin province, a northeast border county with a population of more than 200,000.

Seven years later, Dai and his ski-crazy friends were surprised again. On Dec 24, 2021, the section between Dunhua and Baihe stations of the Shenyang-Jiamusi high-speed railway was opened.

With the Fuxing bullet train winding through the snowy forests, it only takes two hours and 18 minutes to travel from Changchun, capital of Jilin, to the new Changbaishan Station.

It will connect ski resorts around Changbai Mountain with 19 cities and the resorts are expected to receive tens of millions of tourists per year, said Geng Deyong, director of the culture, sports and tourism bureau of the Changbai Mountain protection development management committee.

"By train I can now visit cities and ski destinations in Jilin easily," said Song Ran from Beijing, who arrived at Changbaishan for skiing. He added that the days of long journeys from the county to ski resorts were gone.

By winning the bid to host the Winter Olympics and the construction of high-speed railways, ice and snow sports lovers are much closer to the ski resorts, Dai said.

Statistics show that by the end of 2020, China's high-speed railways covered nearly 95 percent of cities with a population of more than 1 million. Their operating mileage is about 38,000 kilometers, nearly double that of the 19,800 km it had at the end of 2015.

In line with engaging 300 million people in ice and snow sports in China, which was pledged as part of Beijing's Winter Olympic bid, the number of ski resorts increased from 500 in 2015 to 700 in 2020. The number of skiers has increased from 12.5 million to 20 million.

In recent years, China's local governments have taken the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics as an opportunity to optimize their industries and promote ice and snow tourism, culture, equipment manufacturing, economy and trade.

"It is less than 300 km from downtown Beijing to Zhangjiakou's Chongli. When I helped Chongli plan its first ski resort in 1995, it took me up to seven hours to drive there along the highway. Now it is far more convenient to go skiing by high-speed train and come back within one day," said Shan Zhaojian, an 83-year-old pro skier.

He believes that the combination of the Winter Olympics and high-speed rail has not only brought convenience to public travel but has a positive effect on the economy, people's livelihoods and environmental protection.

One week before the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, as a key support project of the Games, was completed.

In 2019, the high-speed railway linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou became the world's first intelligent high-speed train with a top speed of 350 kilometers per hour.

With the operation of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, it only takes 50 minutes to travel between Beijing, the city's Yanqing district and neighboring Hebei province's Zhangjiakou-the three competition areas of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

According to Sha Miao, deputy general manager and chief engineer of CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, these trains not only have intelligent attributes such as automatic station departure, automatic operation of intervals (the distance maintained between trains) and automatic door opening, but support the functions of watching live events, wireless charging and intelligent light adjustment.

The trains are also equipped with ski equipment storage, doping sample storage and barrier-free facilities.

"The Winter Olympics connect the world and high-speed rail makes it easy," Sha said. With the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics around the corner, Sha said: "We will do our best to maintain the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway and further accelerate the development of China's ice and snow industry."

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