Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Travel / News

Slow train on fast track for success due to popular demand

China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-24 16:35
Share - WeChat
A train runs through snow-clad Baoji, Shaanxi province. [Photo by Yang Yongqian/For China Daily]

XI'AN — During the just-concluded Spring Festival holiday, tourists from across the country flocked to Northeast China's "ice city" of Harbin in Heilongjiang province to enjoy the fun of ice and snow activities.

Meanwhile, in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, some citizens opted to take slow trains to the nearby Qinling Mountains, to enjoy the snow-covered scenery there.

Zhang Xiaomin, from the city of Baoji, Shaanxi, was among them. She took the No 6063 train from the Baoji station last week together with her friends, heading for the Qinling Mountains.

"After seeing the romantic snow videos on Xiaohongshu (China's lifestyle-focused social media platform), I was full of yearning for this trip," says Zhang, adding that the train ticket was reasonably priced, at just 7 yuan (about $1).

This winter, the slow trains running deep into the Qinling Mountains saw a rise in popularity among locals and tourists. However, the trains have long served a function beyond leisure trips, providing an important means of transport linking those living in the Qinling Mountains with the outside world.

As a natural boundary between China's northern and southern regions, the Qinling Mountains stretch over 1,600 kilometers from east to west.

A crew member on the train writes couplets for passengers as gifts for Lunar New Year.[Photo by Tang Zhenjiang/For China Daily]

In 1958, the Baoji-Chengdu Railway, a railroad line linking Baoji and the city of Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan province, was completed and went operational. Since then, the 6063/6064 slow trains have been running on the line. With the highest fare costing 39.5 yuan, the trains cover some 350 km and stop at 32 stations, most of which are stops nestled in the Qinling Mountains.

Xiang Baolin, 59, is the chief conductor of the No 6063 slow train, and has worked on the train for more than 20 years. He says that although the train's maximum speed is no more than 80 km per hour, it is still the first choice for local residents because it is cheap.

The train is not just a mode of transportation for locals, but also a "mobile bazaar". Locals are encouraged to bring their farm products onboard and trade goods while commuting.

To facilitate their trading, some seats of the train have been removed, and posters containing the information on the supply and demand of agricultural products have been posted on the bulletin board.

Zhao Mingying, a villager from Yanzibian township of Shaanxi's city of Hanzhong, says that selling agricultural products once troubled him. He had to leave home before daybreak, trekking along the mountain roads and then riding a motorbike.

"Thanks to the slow train, I can easily leave the mountain to sell the agricultural produce. And with a bit of luck, almost half of the products can be sold onboard," Zhao adds.

Moreover, the train also acts as a "school bus" for children, as it goes close to 19 primary and middle schools.

"In 2017, we remodeled the tables in the No 6 carriage and made it a mobile library for the children. Our colleagues also teach them painting and calligraphy for free," says Xiang, adding that many of the students have been admitted to universities.

Xiang has witnessed the changes of the train over the years. "In the past, we had to burn coal for heating in winter," he says. "However, the train was equipped with air conditioners in 2022.

"I will retire next year. I hope that the slow train will carry more villagers in remote mountain areas, leading them toward a better life."





Most Popular
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349