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Train journey into history (2)

By Zhao Lei (China Daily)

08:33, December 27, 2012

The train's internal temperature was maintained at a comfortable level, with a low of 18 C.

The train is equipped with special washrooms for the disabled and can serve four different types of cuisine.

Zhang Wei, an electrical engineer from Cangzhou in Hebei province, left home at night and traveled three hours by coach so he could "have the unforgettable experience of being on the first train on the line".

He was impressed with the facilities and service, but not with the price. His first-class seat cost 1,383 yuan ($221), more expensive than an economy-class air ticket. Seats in the second-class cabin cost 865 yuan.

The new rail line has lured quite a number of passengers from airline companies.

Yang Zengyu, a businessman in the construction sector who boarded the train at Zhengzhou, said he prefers taking the train to Guangzhou than flying.

"A journey on the train is more pleasant. The price is fine. Also, the rail network has expanded so quickly that the trains go everywhere. Even for frequent flyers like me, railways are an attractive alternative," he said. "It would be even better if we could access the Internet on the train."

Lu Zemin, from Renqiu in Hebei, took a train to Beijing at 6 am to travel on the new line. "It used to take me 33 hours to travel on the train from Beijing to Guangzhou in the 1980s. During those 33 hours in a shabby, congested car, I had to crawl under the seat to sleep when I was really tired," he said.

"The journey time was cut to 22 hours several years ago. Now I can enjoy a nice nap and when I wake up I will be in Guangzhou."

One passenger, a retired woman who preferred not to be named, said she often took the train between Beijing and Zhengzhou to visit her mother.

"I've witnessed the designations of trains evolve from K to D, and now we have G, which means the speeds are increasing all the time," she said.

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