Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bullet Train in China

I am currently house sitting at my Dad's place while he and Nancy are traveling in China. The following is from his recent email. -Roger Frank

Bullet Train - China
We arrived at the Suzhou Train station in plenty of time prior to its scheduled departure. Hongying assures us the trains run on time.

As we approach the entrance with our luggage in hand we join the crowd around the opening to the massive station. The guard allows only two persons to enter the area where four x-ray machines are in operation. In typical Chinese fashion there must be 40 or more people crowding around the opening without any line or sense of organization. Pushing with a hand or elbow is acceptable not to be taken for rudeness. It's just the way it works anywhere you would expect a line in the US. In China it's everyone for themselves.

We got to the turnstile twenty minutes early and we were second in line. Well it appeared to be a line. The turnstile lights up, and that is the signal for about twenty some passengers to form a clump of humanity around a machine that will allow one person at a time to enter. About five people cut in front of us. We all move about twenty five feet forward only to gather around the escalator to go down to the train loading platform.

In a few minutes a bullet train quietly zips into the station. It's on one set of tracks over from where we are waiting. This train looks sleek and streamlined. It was a preview of ours which shows up ten minutes later.

Our reserved seat tickets says car 8. We only have to walk about 40 feet and board this up to date train car. On time we pull out of the station. What a smooth quiet ride no rocking no jerking. All announcements are in Chinese and English. I think they are getting ready for the North American and European travelers.

After two smooth stops and starts we arrive at the Hangzhou station on time. Hangzhou's population is 8 million.

My overall impression is that this is travel at its finest. Well, I'm sure not all China trains are like this one but they have shown it can be done. If our government shifts some money from subsidizing air travel to trains then people will want to travel by rail.

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