Li Lianlin, a 28-year-old businessman from Chongqing Municipality, says "I haven't traveled by train for years because it used to be slow and dirty with an unpleasant smell in the carriage."
"The most important change is that now you feel at home on the train," he adds.
But, everything was different when he traveled from Chongqing to Beijing recently. There were shining windows, a comfortable sleeper with bed lamp over head, electronic screen installed on each side of every carriage and announcements giving information such as the weather forecast and the time of arrival at the next station, which most passengers are interested in.
Chinese trains for a long time were described as "snails" as they used to run at speeds of 50 to 80 km per hour. In addition passengers often complained about the poor service.
High-Speed Passenger Train Put into Use in South China
The market has changed Chinese railways. With the rapid growth of highway and aviation industries, the Chinese railway system underwent a crisis in recent years.
Train speeds were increased in 1997. Today the fastest speed is 140 km per hour, 40 percent faster than that in early 1990s.
Speed brings benefits to passengers and there are many facilities and services provided for passengers on modern trains.
Li found a small bag to hold a mobile phone in the train toilet. He was able to rent a small laser VCD player for entertainment, at a cost only 10 yuan (about 1.2 U.S. dollars) per hour.
"It can make the long journey more interesting, said a train staff member, adding, "I hope you have a pleasant memory of traveling by train." Li was indeed impressed by his recent experience.
A slogan on the train hits the mark by saying: "We can't shorten the distance, but we can save time for you."
(People's Daily December 13, 2001)