China’s slow public service trains contribute to poverty alleviation

A woman takes a slow public service train to sell her chickens. People's Daily Online/Wan Shaoyu

As the total mileage of China’s high-speed rail exceeds 35,000 kilometers and accounts for over 2/3 of the world’s total, the Chinese people are enjoying increasingly rapid and convenient transportation.

However, there are still 81 pairs of slow public service trains running across the country, picking up passengers at every stop in the country’s remote mountainous areas at minimum charges.

Train No. 6063/6064 is one of the 81 pairs of slow public service trains running between Guangyuan, southwest China’s Sichuan province and Baoji, northwest China’s Shaanxi province. Helping poverty alleviation and carrying students to schools, the rail line, running for over 60 years, is a guarantee of and witness to the wish for a better life of the people along its route.

Selling agricultural products from mountainous areas to the outside is an important approach for rural residents to shake off poverty. To facilitate the agricultural trade of them, the train has particularly offered an information board to match the supply and demand sides, where prices of crops are listed.

A woman surnamed Li from Guangyuan always takes this train for restocking peaches in Yanzibian township, Hanzhong, Shaanxi province. “The purchase price is 2.6 yuan ($0.37) per kilogram, and I can sell the fruits at 4 yuan per kiligram back home. The small business gains me extra income and makes my life better,” Li said.

A man surnamed Wang is also a frequent passenger of the train. “It only costs me 4 yuan to go to Yanzibian from Guangyuan, so I can have more profit,” Wang told People’s Daily, adding that the service of this train is specifically maintained for poverty alleviation.

To guarantee good education for children living in impoverished regions is also an important mission for poverty alleviation. Therefore, this train carries many students and their parents.

Ren Bin, a crew member of the train introduced that there are 24 schools along the 11-station route, so the train is also a “school shuttle” for the children.

Liu Sen, Wang Yibo and Ma Wenhao are three students who live in Baishuijiang township, Lueyang and go to a primary school in the seat of Lueyang.

According to Ma’s grandmother, the three children would always take the train together go to school and go back home. Whenever she’s kept busy, she would ask the attendants on the train to helps her take care of her grandson. “When he boards on the train, I feel assured,” she said.

The train brings warm and leads the people along its route to embrace a better life. It is a witness to China’s railway department’s promise that the people’s railway is for the people.

Liu Lianrui, conductor of the train, has observed how the life of the people was improved over the years.

According to Lin, villagers at first got rid of the worries of insufficient food and clothes. Then their houses were equipped with solar water heaters and connected to paved roads. Now, they are following up the world through smartphones and mobile communication and payment apps.

“Everything is worthwhile as long as the people here live a happy life,” said a crew member of the train.

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