A Short Journey by Rail in Hubei

I have wanted to travel by train in China for a long time. I finally got my wish. When I came to China to start my new job, I was worried about taking the train because I had a lot of luggage. So my hosts from the school picked me up at the airport in Wuhan, it was a long night time car ride to Shiyan for all of us. Later,  it turned out, I had to have a medical examination in Wuhan, so it was arranged for me to go there and back by train.

My go-to contact at the school, a  local teacher at the school, was my guide for the trip. We found a taxi, and soon arrived in the railway station in Shiyan. The tickets had already been purchased, so we sat in the waiting area for a while and chatted. When the gates opened, there was quite a scramble, in spite of the fact that everyone has assigned seats! However, on the platform, passengers boarded the train smoothly and politely.

It was a beautiful, sleek, streamlined, white electric multiple unit train, two double ended sets coupled back to back. It’s known as the CRH. My first impression once aboard was that it was very similar to being aboard an airplane, but with much more leg room. It has the same fold down dinner trays and so on, but the luggage rack is open, rather than having doors. There are two seats on one side and three on the other. My seat was very comfortable. I rode in coach, and I think you can purchase a seat in a slightly more spacious and comfortable class.

Once we began to move, I felt the smoothness of the track. There are almost no detectable bumps to speak of, until almost 60 KPH is reached. For a lot of the trip, the train runs at about 155 KPH, and the 700 Km journey takes only about 4 hours. There is almost no noise from the track or engines, mostly you can just hear the whir of the air conditioning unit. The vibration and swaying of the train is so little, that you can comfortably walk around to stretch, visit the bathroom, or visit a view window if you have been deprived of a window seat.


Suburban scene

The Shiyan to Wuhan train travels through some very interesting countrysides and urban landscapes, so it is worthwhile to get a seat with a view. The area is full of large hills and small mountains, so there are plenty of tunnels and overpasses. While in a long tunnel, you will suddenly leap out into a small valley, sometimes inhabited and sometimes not. Due to the track speed, it is often gone again in the blink of an eye.

Woman on path

Woman jogs on country lane

Some things you can see are, traditional Chinese hillside graves, farmers tending plants and animals, stunning tree covered hills and valleys with tiny farm plots, several large rivers plied by large boats and barges, large bridges and overpasses and other projects under construction, views of large cities, many quaint track side buildings connected with railway operations, uniformed crossing guards and occasional observers, curious, or watching the trains with their children.


River overpass under construction

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