The Age of the Train
October 18, 2010 - Michele
Just as I read that destinations on the Silk Road are hosting a speed networking event for the first time at World Travel Market, Graham sends through further first-hand insights on the Silk Road visitor experience.
Chinese trains are grand things; the midnight express from Shanghai, already 30 hours into its journey. Railway attendants stand to attention along the platform edge. Two huge diesel engines with klaxons and lights blaring, twenty carriages long, brakes hissing. A sea of humanity jostling to grab a seat for the long night ahead. Happily we have reservations for ‘hard sleepers’ with allocated berths and duvets, all supervised by a smartly uniformed lady. Fitful sleep amid the clanking and snoring and the ubiquitous mobile phones
In the morning a coal-fired geyser dispensing hot water for tea-making and oversize pot noodles. As we rattle through the mountains, past oasis towns in the desert we see the vast scale of investment in new and improved railways. Electrification, new viaducts, embankments and gullies, marshalling yards, locomotives. And we talk about China’s declared ambition to construct a high speed line from the cities of its east to the heartland of Europe.
A great adventure. This is a new age of the train in China; perhaps the future for long-haul tourism?