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Russian Documentary Host Marvels at China’s CRH Bullet Train

7 April, 2016  Source: Guancha Syndicate


    Just two or three days ago, a news item entitled Australian Basketball Team Amazed at China’s High-speed Rail drew great attention from the netizens. Actually China’s high-speed railway has also won high praise from a Russian host who acclaims CRH (China Railway High-speed) bullet train as a miracle in railway history.            


On February 28, a documentary series named Travel Around China with Yevgeni Kolesov was launched on C1R. As host of this documentary, Yevgeni Kolesov, who’s given a nick name Uncle Ye, has been working in China for more than 20 years. Now he’s got an opportunity to take the Russian people on a tour of China using his camera, from its 5000 years of history to its large population of 1.3 billion people and over US $10.36 trillion GDP.      


One episode about China’s railway was broadcast on April 3. Despite of high praise and deep admiration, it contains some misunderstanding about China and Chinese high-speed railway.  


Travel Around China with Yevgeni Kolesov was broadcast on C1R.


“You must think this is an airport. But NO! This is a railway station! And stations like this can be seen almost everywhere in China!”


In the latest episode, Uncle Ye came to Guangzhou Railway Station to have first-hand experience of China’s high-speed train. 


    As mentioned in the introduction of this documentary series, China plans to speed up its train to 1000 kilometers per hour. Now the train travels at 300 to 350 kilometers an hour (Explanatory Notes from Guancha Syndicate:It refers to superconducting maglev train which is still a concept for now), much faster than the Sapsan bullet train in Russia(Explanatory Notes from Guancha Syndicate:The Sapsan bullet train has an operational speed of 250 km/h, running on the line of St. Petersburg-Moscow-Nizhniy Novgorod). China has carried out a plan to build its high-speed rail network since ten years ago. The CRH bullet train is regarded as a miracle in railway history.           

Uncle Ye at Guangzhou Railway Station


“You must think this is an airport. But NO! This is a railway station! And stations like this can be seen almost everywhere in China! China has built the fastest railway in the world. But where is the world’s longest railway? Yes, it’s also in China,” said Uncle Ye at Guangzhou Railway Station.


In 1994, Uncle Ye got his first chance to take a train in China. At that time, the train was running at 50 kilometers per hour. While at present, the speed of CRH bullet train is over 300 kilometers per hour.        


What’s it like to take a train in China? Uncle Ye will show you the answer.

Let’s follow Uncle Ye to experience China’s CRH bullet train.


After security check, Uncle Ye arrived at the waiting hall. “At the beginning, I feel as if I were in a science fiction movie. It’s like a palace made of reinforced concrete. Stations like this can be seen everywhere in China. But the construction budgets are different. For instance, the Chinese government spent one billion dollars to build Beijing Railway Station, while Guangzhou Railway Station cost 120 million dollars. China’s largest railway station is planned to be built in Xi’an by 2018. It covers an area of 533,000 square meters, as big as 75 football fields. Can you imagine that? ” acclaimed Uncle Ye.(Explanatory Notes from Guancha Syndicate:The overall investment of Beijing South Railway Station is about RMB 6.3 billion yuan. As for that of Beijing Railway Station, there hasn’t been any exact official data yet. According to Huashang Daily, the expanded Xi’an Railway Station is about 52,000 square meters.)

Beijing Railway Station


“You don’t see so many people here, because the room is big enough and you won’t feel crowded at all, ” said Uncle Ye as he entered the waiting hall.

China’s High-speed Rail Network


People can easily buy their tickets at the railway station. There are not only ticket counters but ticket machines here. Details about how to buy a ticket are presented beside the machine. “Scan your ID card, choose your destination, pay for the ticket and take it. That’s all.”


Details about how to buy a ticket are presented.


Uncle Ye also notices that there are many signs on the wall of China’s railway station, saying “No Climbing” or “No Beating”. To Uncle Ye, this is “very funny”.   


All kinds of signs are put up in the railway station.


Of course, smoking in public places is explicitly banned. But Uncle Ye caught a man smoking on the spot. “This young man with a cigarette in his hand seems to be afraid of nothing. Hey, police officer, he is going to run!” joked Uncle Ye. 


A young man was caught smoking in the waiting hall.


The drinking fountain also draws Uncle Ye’s attention. “The railway station offers drinking water, and this is no exception. But the drinking fountain is installed next to the restroom. Um, it just smells so ......” said Uncle Ye.


Everyday, millions of passengers arrive at hundreds of railway stations like this to go on a trip by train. But everything is in order, which is really different from what Uncle Ye expected. People are focused on their own business, waiting for the train calmly. The railway station is clean and tidy, despite of a large number of passengers. In Uncle Ye’s opinion, this is because all the Chinese people are very “obedient”.         



Everything is in order in the waiting hall.


“Several years ago, some Chinese tourists dropped litter in Venice, London and other cities, producing much negative effect. As a response, the Chinese government made joint efforts with travel agencies to impose a penalty on those who throw litter around, which put an end to their unfavorable behavior instantly,” said Uncle Ye.


    But Uncle Ye did remember the disorder in China’s railway station. In February 2008, nearly 300,000 passengers were stranded in Guangzhou Railway Station, just because of “a few centimeters of snow,” said Uncle Ye, “300,000 people! That’s almost the whole population of one city in Russia......”


300,000 passengers were left stranded at Guangzhou Railway Station in 2008 as a result of the heavy snow.


In the waiting hall, Uncle Ye was amazed at the strong commercial awareness of Chinese people. For instance, Children’s activity area was set to help reduce parents’ burden and advertise the products at the same time; cigarettes, lighters and drinks were sold at a higher price in the smoking area; all kinds of advertisement boards were put up inside the hall. “With so many commercial advertisements here, the total budget for just one month is even bigger than that of a medium-sized city for one year in Russia. There are auto exhibitions, too. Of course, the hall is big enough to hold such activities. It’s even larger than any airport in Russia.”

Uncle Ye at the High-speed Railway Station

 Auto Exhibitions inside the High-speed Railway Station

“Look at these ‘communist’ banners! Cracking down the scalpers is very important,” said Uncle Ye.


After an “inspection” of the waiting hall, Uncle Ye broke into a trot to the CRH bullet train. He had bought a second-class ticket to experience common Chinese people’s trip. “Look, it’s so cozy to take a train like this,” said Uncle Ye as he lay on the seat. “The train ticket can be divided into three classes. We bought second-class tickets. The seats are like those on the airplane. But the space is a bit larger. There are small tables and adjustable seats. Amazing!”


    While having his test ride, Uncle Ye told the audience that at the beginning, China asked German and Japan enterprises to help build its high-speed railways. But soon China mastered these technologies and sent the foreigners away. Then China started to build its high-speed railways independently and saved lots of money. Now China is helping India and European countries to build railways. So Uncle Ye labeled the Chinese people as “cunning”.        


However, as explained in A Record of High-speed Rail, there are four companies producing high-speed train sets in China, namely CSR Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd., CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co., Ltd., CRRC Tangshan Co., Ltd., and Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd.,among which Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd. is a Sino-foreign joint venture similar to FAW-Volkswagen or Shanghai-Volkswagen. Its technologies are brought in by foreign companies and involves no technological innovation. The other three are Chinese companies and they’ve made a transition from technology transfer to technology absorption and from re-creation to overall innovation.                  


The “7·23” high-speed train accident in 2011 is also mentioned. It’s known that a number of officials were held accountable and China’s railway started to slow down the train and put the speed under control after the accident.     


Uncle Ye has lived in China for over 20 years and knows that the Chinese people attach great importance to eating. So he went to the restaurant car to take a look. “There is no tasty pie here. All around you is armored concrete and glass,” said Uncle Ye.


“While the world was in the midst of economic crisis, China has started to invest over 100 billion dollars annually to build its high-speed railways since 2009. What about Russia? We only have oil, natural gas and slow trains,” said Uncle Ye.


“There is no tasty pie here. All around you is armored concrete and glass. The station staff get ready for the arriving train, see the passengers off and wait until the next train comes. We can feel people’s unwillingness to leave,” said Uncle Ye as he stepped down from the train and arrived at the modern platform. 


With a much smaller number of passengers and a longer running time, many trolleys can be seen at the platform in Russia, selling foods and fruits. But as China has more passengers, food stalls are set inside the railway station to ensure security and sanitation.       


“In Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ can be translated into ‘危机’, meaning danger and opportunity at the same time. The boom in Chinese railway is a perfect example. While the world was undergoing a financial crisis, China was boosting investment and infrastructure construction and creating new jobs to sustain a 9% growth rate annually. What seems a crisis for some countries is just an opportunity to make strategic decisions for China. Shouldn’t Russia learn something from China’s experience? ” added Uncle Ye at the end of this episode. “We really should think about what we can learn from China. ”


Travel Around China with Yevgeni Kolesov appeals to a great number of people. On a Russian social network vk, many netizens leave messages to Uncle Ye, acclaiming his program as “marvelous”.      


In fact, Uncle Ye is not only a popular host in Russian TV programs, but has made his appearance in China. His son Gordey Kolesov, whose Chinese name is Ye Weiguo, is well known as a child prodigy. Last year, the Kolesov family appeared on the stage of “CCTV Family Humor Contest”. As a child prodigy speaking five languages, a second-prize winner of chess contest, and a third-prize winner of pen calligraphy contest, Ye Weiguo left a deep impression on the Chinese audience.   

 

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