There is a stereotype that the railway transport of the Celestial Empire has stepped into the XXII century and carries all passengers at a speed of 400 km / h on trains from the Marvel universe. There are some grounds for such an opinion. For example, the Beijing-Shanghai Express and a number of other high-speed trains run at a similar speed. And, nevertheless, most of the Chinese continue to travel by rail at unhurried speeds of 70-80 km / h in trivial second-class carriages. However, they seem banal to the residents of the PRC, and for the Russians they will almost certainly seem exotic …
Traveling in second-class carriages is the most affordable for the Chinese in terms of cost: here the situation is not much different from Russian realities. But the reserved seats themselves in the PRC are very distinctive.
Today, the Chinese analogue of Russian Railways, China Railways, uses two types of them: old and new. The old ones are somewhat reminiscent of Soviet-style cars; they still carry about two-thirds of the passengers. In the mid-tenths in China, reserved seats of a new type began to be produced, which, indeed, are super comfortable and modern.
In this article we will talk about both. It is possible that some of the readers of the Tourweek resource will have a chance to travel on them.
Old Chinese reserved seats
It is interesting that when buying a ticket not in advance, but at the station on the day of departure, the passenger does not know until the last moment which car he will get: new or old. Probably, this is the manifestation of the peculiarities of the Chinese mentality and the socialist principle “take what you give.” The probability of an old reserved seat falling out is about 70%, simply because there are still more of them on Chinese railway lines.
The first thing that will surprise a Russian in such a car is the absence of side shelves. Instead of them, folding chairs are installed in the aisle, on which you can sit alone and look at the beautiful landscapes outside the window.
The Chinese had to abandon the side seats not at all out of concern for passengers. The fact is that the British began to build railways in the Middle Kingdom for the first time, so the European standard of 1435 mm gauge took root in China. This is almost 10 cm less than the so-called. “Russian track”, which means that the cars in the PRC have to be made narrower than in Russia. Because of this, the semi-wardrobe plus the “sides” in them simply do not fit in width. But on the other hand, in the Chinese reserved seats, it turned out to make a wider passage, and if you fold the side chairs, passengers have access to a real avenue. Periodically, conductors with carts walk along it, offering passengers to buy simple food and drinks. Third-party sellers of “glasses nn-nada glasses?” they are not allowed into the carriages.
Well, the main difference is the three-tiered sleeping bunk. To ensure a high capacity, passengers are put to bed on the third shelf, where luggage should be placed according to Russian standards. Bags have to be tamped under the lower tier, and also placed on a special shelf located above the side seats. However, in China it is not customary to take huge suitcases on the train, therefore, there is usually enough space for luggage.
By default, it is considered that passengers traveling on the upper bunk have the right to sit on the “sidewalls”. Therefore, in the daytime – almost all the side seats are occupied, and in the evening the inhabitants of the third tier climb to their heights along special stairs.
Another exotic feature of the Chinese reserved seat is the presence of a thermos-drinker with hot water in each compartment. It does not contain boiling water at all (the temperature is only 70 °), but it is quite enough for the preparation of local “doshirak”.
Like the Russians, entering the carriage, the Chinese immediately begin to lay out food and drink tea, only not black, but green jasmine. Because of this, according to the stories of travelers, the smells in Chinese reserved seats are specific, but generally acceptable. Even in old cars, good air conditioning is provided, every 3-4 hours the conductor sweeps the corridor.
New Chinese reserved seats
Since 2017, the lines of “China Railways” have been equipped with luxurious second-class carriages of a modern type. Sleeping places in them are organized according to the principle of a capsule hotel and are closed with curtains. It is interesting that in comparison with the old reserved seats (where there are no “sides”), the new carriages are organized exactly “exactly the opposite”. In them, absolutely all the seats are side, and the passengers lie along the car, as if in a line. Thanks to this, it was possible to expand the width of the beds to 75 cm, and the central corridor became even more spacious.
New generation cars run mainly on high-speed lines, where there are no sharp turns. Thanks to this, engineers have created unambiguous trains, in which, in fact, there is only one, but an extremely long carriage.
The most common series of such trains is “Fuxing Hao”, which can be roughly translated as “Youth”. This model has two length standards: 209 and 414 m. Only one carriage has this length. In the first case, it has 440 seats, and in the second – 880! It is quite clear that in a single supercomposition there are several exits and toilets at once.
In sleeping places, or rather, in the passenger compartments, everything is thought out to the smallest detail. Ladders and handrails are provided for the inhabitants of the upper shelves. At night, the passenger can isolate his capsule from the outside world with a corrugated fabric screen. In the resulting room, he has at his disposal individual lighting, a clothes hanger, a small table and a block for charging gadgets (a USB connector and a regular socket). There is even an orthopedic back under the head that can be adjusted for a comfortable seating position.
The berths of the China Railways trains are equipped with branded pillows with buckwheat filling, and each passenger is provided with disposable slippers.
An unambiguous city car will seem like an anthill to someone, but it has undeniable advantages. For example, if the nearest toilet is busy, you can easily walk to the next one without crossing the rumbling and dirty carriage joint.
The night regime in Chinese reserved seats is observed as strictly as possible. In the evening, only minimal lighting remains, but if necessary, the passenger can turn on the lamp in his capsule. If at night someone starts to make noise or, even more so to drink, antisocial actions are rather rudely suppressed by the guides, and if they cannot cope, then the police. In this regard, the Chinese orders on the railway are noticeably tougher than the Russian ones.
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