Economic Daily: The Slow Train in Spring

Published:2024-05-05 【字体:

      In late spring, the earth is cloaked in green, adorned with vibrant mountain flowers as white as snow and as pink as rosy clouds.

  Around 11 a.m., villagers from Wengdang Village in Wanshui Town, Kaili City, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou Province, carrying baskets or wearing backpacks, gradually gather at the platform of the Jialao Railway Station, awaiting the arrival of train No. 5639.

  Jialao Railway Station is a fourth-class small station on the Hunan-Guizhou Railway. Although dozens of trains pass through it daily, most roar past without stopping. Only two trains, No. 5639 in the morning and No. 5640 in the afternoon, actually stop for passengers here. These unique slow trains are operated by the Guizhou Passenger Transport Depot of CR-Chengdu. Since their inception in 1997, they have been running between Guiyang City of Guizhou Province and Yuping County of Tongren City, stopping at all 16 stations along the way. However, the journey covers just 337 kilometers and takes over 7 hours.

  Around 11:30 a.m., as the time for the slow train's arrival approaches, station staff organize passengers to queue up for security checks, maintaining order. Since the station does not sell tickets, passengers have to board the train first and then purchase tickets on board. Hu Guichuan, the train conductor, has been working on the slow train for over 27 years and has served in over half of the positions on the train. According to Hu, the passengers are very honest. Although tickets are not sold at such small stations along the route, passengers voluntarily purchase tickets after boarding.

  "The fare is only 6 yuan, and it takes only half an hour to reach Kaili City, much faster and cheaper than taking a bus from the village to the city," says Wu Shoufen, a regular passenger of the slow train from Wengdang Village. She takes the slow train to the city to sell vegetables every few days, earning over 20,000 yuan a year, which is enough to cover her family's daily expenses.

  For over a decade, Wu Shoufen has been taking care of her two children at home while her husband works outside. Selling vegetables sustains their household expenses. "I'm not lazy, so I can always make some money so long as this train runs," Wu says.

  The uninterrupted operation of the slow train over the years has helped Jin Yunlong, a villager from Ganba Village, Lushan Town, Kaili City, born by the railway, lift himself out of poverty. He first started growing vegetables and then began raising chickens. Now, his family's annual income exceeds 100,000 yuan.

  "In the morning, I pick vegetables and catch chickens. After finishing, I take the train No. 5640 to Kaili City. I get off the train around 4 p.m., just in time for the afternoon market," says Jin Yunlong. Although he bought a tricycle last year, "still, 60% of the vegetables are transported by the slow train."

  This year, Jin Yunlong plans to expand his production scale and intends to lease more than 10 acres of neighboring orchards to develop chicken farming.

  In Miao and Dong villages along the route of the slow train, villagers like Wu Shoufen and Jin Yunlong abound. Poultry, vegetables, fruits, and local specialties from deep in the mountains are transported to nearby towns by the slow train, gradually forming a "vegetable market" on the train. Many passengers will come to the market specifically to buy a few pounds of produce.

  To help villagers along the railway line prosper, Hu Guichuan and his colleagues have turned themselves into salesmen. They have formed a WeChat group with over 100 members, mainly catering to entrepreneurs from Guiyang City. "After arriving at stations with relatively more vegetable sellers, such as Tongmuzhai, Jialao, and Baolaoshan, we walk back and forth in the carriages to take pictures of the vegetables, and then send them to the group. If someone is interested, we help them buy it and deliver it to Guiyang," Hu says.

  Hu Guichuan says the train attendants are familiar with many people along the railway line and have even become friends with some of them.

  At the beginning of this year, based on the actual needs of the passengers, the railway authority transformed the carriages of the slow train, removing the seats from one carriage to facilitate the placement of vegetable baskets, creating a mobile "village market," which further integrates into local industrial development.

  Now, this dynamic slow train has become a moving scenic spot for rural revitalization.

  The leisurely train, embodying the warmth of China, steers villagers towards a better future.