Forty years of reform and opening-up has witnessed China’s substantial economic and social advancement. As the main artery of the national economy, the Chinese railway has experienced a surprising acceleration. Born in the 1970s, I observed Chinese railway development from green trains’ speed of tens of kilometers per hour to high-speed trains’ over 300 kilometers per hour amid the reform and opening-up.
I am a demobilized serviceman who has had more than 20 years of military experiences. Since December 1991 when I took the green train for the first time to join the army, I have formed close ties with the train. At that time, the green train was absent of air conditioning, with windows half opened and speed less than 100 kilometers per hour. From my home Guang’an in Sichuan to the troop in Shandong Yanzhou, it took for two days and two nights, rendering me tired yet quite excited.
After being admitted to the military academy, I had vacations twice a year and took this green train back and forth. However, as train rides became frequent, the excitement began to fade. The first difficulty was buying tickets. After queuing in extremely long lines at the ticket office of the railway station then, we still didn’t necessarily able to buy them. Moreover, in order not to miss the Spring Festival vacation, I even had to buy tickets by seeking relations. The second difficulty was getting on the train. Tickets didn’t ensure your boarding as there were fewer trains yet massive passengers squeezing like sardines at aisles, toilets, and sometimes under the seats or on the luggage racks. The overloaded trains sometimes didn’t stop when arriving at the station, leaving many people even climbing in directly from the window. The third one was comfortability. I remember that when I went from Nanjing to Xiangfan by train during a winter vacation, the train was squarely filled with crowded people and various “unique” flavors, impeding any of our movement even to the toilet.
Later, red trains and blue trains appeared, with faster speed and better equipment. On April 18, 2007, the first 200 km/h EMU train departed at Shanghai Station, marking China’s entering into the era of high-speed rail. In October 2008, I was appointed to work at Jinan, the provincial capital of Shandong, from Weifang. In addition to frequent trips to and from the two places, chances for my business trips by bullet trains and high-speed trains also increased. In retrospect, the days of taking green trains in the past are quite different from current days of taking bullet trains and high-speed trains. Instead of queuing to “scramble for tickets”, we can now book tickets on the online real-name system, leaving ticket scalpers unemployed. Instead of suffering from the past “slow”, noisy, and poor-environment green trains, now we can take the constant-temperature and comfortable bullet trains and high-speed trains that everyone has a seat, which was unimaginable before. From comfortless green trains to cozy high-speed trains, we are experiencing unprecedented changes in transportation mode. China’s high-speed rail and “China Standard” are making the people proud and the world admire step by step.
Reflecting the brilliant achievements of the 40 years of reform and opening-up, changes in China’s railway also record advancements in traffic development and the times. Relevant data reveals that in 2017, the service mileage of China’s railways has reached 124,000 kilometers, and in 2018, 3038 kilometers of new high-speed railway lines will be added for the Spring Festival, enlarging the total railway carrying number by at least 30 million people, of which about 60% will be traveled by high-speed trains. The fast-changing “eight vertical and eight horizontal” Chinese high-speed railways are realizing people’s longing for a better life and carrying the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation to move forward!