On the train from Beijing to Shanghai the smoggy air masks the landscape on the road, but when seeing things clear, both cities cannot be more each other’s opposite.
The smog of Beijing became visible when standing on the Great Wall, watching the city covered up by a layer of dust; but it gets worse on the train from Beijing to Shanghai. The train had to go through a thick curtain of smog, waiting to get ripped open by the train, to unveil another part of the scenery; meter by meter.
But the train could not care less, at an amazing speed – over 300 km/h – it breaks through the smog cloud. In less than five hours the train takes me from China’s political centre to its economic centre, from Beijing to Shanghai. Nevertheless, a second economic centre is on the rise, Shenzen, nearby Hongkong. [Which I’ll explain later when writing on Honkong]
I cannot believe that there is a production restriction on heavy industry [as explained in a previous post], since several dark smoke plumes are part of the scenery on the entire road. Maybe the ban only applies for big cities, or maybe the rumour about the continuous production of the state factories is not just a rumour.
The train I’m on is called a Bullet train or Fast train, and makes part of the longest high speed train network in the world, counting over 25,000 km of railway, half of it even allows trains with a speed above 250km/h. Mostly they drive about 300km/h, but they can easily reach up to 350km/h. The line between Beijing and Guangzhou is the longest high speed railway and covers 2,298 km, this year (2018) it should be extended to Hong Kong.
The high speed train network forms part of China’s entire train network, which is the second largest in the world, and counts over 127,000 km of railways. Moreover, the train stations here are connected directly with the other means of public transit, taking the passengers into the heart of the city.
As a result, trains become an attractive and comfortable mode of transportation, while being sustainable as well.
Spreading their Wings and Fly Away
Eventually, after 1,318km in less than 5 hours, I arrive in Beijing-South, one of the various big train station in the city, connecting the wide spread country. Leaving the train I got swallowed by a huge mass of people, walking in various directions. Nevertheless, as a swarm of bees, the apparent chaotic movements are guiding all of them towards their destination. After being together for several hours, all passengers are spreading out over the city of Shanghai.