Slow train to revitalize rural China

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 27, 2023

Passengers board Train 6433 at the Xinglong Railway Station on Aug. 24, 2023. The train is pulled by a diesel engine locomotive and, due to limited demand, has only three passenger carriages compared to the usual 15-16 carriages. [Photo by Chen Boyuan/]

Each morning at 7:03 a.m., a local train departs from the Xinglong Railway Station in the rural area of Chengde in northern China's Hebei province and heads for downtown Chengde. The next three-hour journey, covering 101 kilometers, will see Train 6433 call at every one of the 12 stations along the route, earning it the nickname "slow train."

Most of this train's passengers are farmers living along the route who wish to sell their homegrown produce at higher prices in urban Chengde. They board the train carrying baskets and bags filled with freshly plucked vegetables, fruits, and other farm produce. The train has remained in operation with fairly low fares for more than three decades for the single purpose of supporting farmers and helping them improve their living.

The full fare of the journey is 6.5 yuan (89 cents), and for most passengers who board the train halfway through, one single trip ticket only costs 2 yuan, affordable to those who commute every day. 

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