Bullet Trains: The Secret Of China’s Growth
The experience of traveling on one of world's fastest trains
Kolkata: As the train route for India’s first bullet train has been identified now, it is believed that sooner or later, India will have its own bullet trains. Taking this opportunity, here I am sharing my first brush with China’s High-speed Train.
Before, I begin any further, let me share, that the Bullet train is addressed as a high-speed train in China.
In May 2015, when I had landed in Beijing and was trying my best to get acquainted with the city, a friend of mine – Aakash Salampuriar came over to meet me. He was there on a scholarship. On meeting, he asked, “Did you check out the high speed train?” I replied, “You mean, bullet train, no, not yet,” to which he reacted, “You should.” I immediately nodded in yes, but Aakash added, “When you will travel by China”s high-speed trains, it will be an unforgettable journey experience for you.”
However, it took me a fortnight, for my first travel by a high-speed train to happen. But, it was the most important line — Beijing to Shanghai, as I had to go Wuxi, a city in Jiangsu province. It’s only 117 kilometers away from Shanghai, and because of its massive growth, its also termed as Little Shanghai. Wuxi and Suzhou are two neighbouring cities, and here you can find offices of all the 500 companies of the world.
It was my company’s human resource person who took me to Beijing Nan (South) station. However, once I reached the station, I realized that had I gone to the station unaccompanied, then it would have been very difficult for me to travel. As the station was so huge and crowded, entering it and reaching the platform seemed like a really tough task.
Beijing Nan was inaugurated in 2011, and now the trains leave to every part of China from here. The cleanness is a thing to notice here, especially when, around a lakh commuter use the place daily. It was once published that, around 2.2 lakh people travel from China’s national capital to its financial capital daily using high speed train.
The cleanliness comes from two forces working together. One being the cleaning staffs who work round the clock to ensure that station is clean. The second is, the travellers themselves, who take utmost care to dump their wastes in the dustbins installed all around.
Well, a high-speed train reduces the journey time to one-third of the normal time taken to travel. Hence, it remains a chair car one. This helps in accommodating more people, and increasing the chances of getting a quick reservation.
Tickets between the two stations are priced at RMB 550, which is not at all expensive seeing the journey time. The tickets QR Code as well as the name of the traveler printed on it.
Interestingly, no passenger can enter the platform at their own will. One can enter the platform premise only 15 minutes ahead of the train’s departure time. A passenger, who reached at platform gate just five minutes ahead will not be allowed to get inside, even train is about to start. But, you can exchange your ticket for the next available one, without any deduction being made in your fare.
While entering the train, mostly stewards will welcome you outside, well dressed and mannered like airlines.
Inside the train, as expected (clean platform gave the hint) not only the coaches were very clean but also the toilets. There were staffs available round the clock, and they made sure to clean the coaches and toilets it in short intervals.
Now, coming to the most important part – speed and journey time, almost similar like airplanes.
The maximum speed that I traveled was 309 kilometers per hour. But still at that speed, you will find not much feeling inside, only outside view from window will make you realize it. And with this speed the train covered 1200 kilometers in just 5 hours 10 minutes, to reach Wuxi. It takes 5 hours 30 minutes to reach Shanghai, by the same train. And yes, it get delayed very rarely, and maximum for 5 or 10 minutes.
To understand better, the distance between Delhi – Howrah, which is 1400 km can be covered in less than 6 hours in China.
China has a network of high speed railway track spanning around 20000 kilometers, which is spread across all the provinces (states) of China.
On January 6 this year, China has unveiled the world longest high speed railway line — 2760 kilometers between Beijing and Kunming, Yunnan capital, now it takes only 13 hours to complete the journey.
After leaving the train, I had only one though – if such a facility will be provided in India, then so much time will be saved and could be utilised to do other things in life, since our trains not only take a lot more time, but it also gets delayed often.
No wonder, most people in China, now prefer taking a high-speed train, as they do not have to spend much time for check in, security check ups etc and at the same time get to carry unlimited weight as luggage.
It will be interesting to see when bullet trains get started in India and how its tracks reshape our lives.