The Central Southern Chinese province of Jiangxi is in a rather awkward part of the country. Bordering three of the nation’s better well-off provinces, Jiangxi itself has been rather slow in getting its transport network done right. The current 4×4 HSR network only has one solitary west-east 350 km/h (217 mph) line, the Shanghai-Kunming HSR.
Some years back, a new 8×8 HSR network plan was officially approved. This added a few more 350 km/h HSR hub cities in Jiangxi, including Nanchang, the provincial capital, and Ganzhou, a bit of Jiangxi which is just maybe a few hours shy of Guangdong, that one of the most populated and well-off provinces in Southern China, if not across the entire land. With Ganzhou to be a new HSR interchange pretty much rising from the middle of nowhere, local entities in the city wanted to make this a huge deal, so they invited me — and […] I keynoted a rather unique HSR forum: they actually held it in the open (under the auspices of local businesses)…
So after a very brief welcome by the organisers, I went onstage keynoting the entire forum. The 10-minute talk focused on quite a few things I wanted to get across: Ganzhou’s position in the national rail network, attracting international brands thanks to improve rail links, and cases of successful HSR transfer connections and benefits to the cities — with Weihai, Shandong in China being the local example, and London (two stations: London Bridge and the Stratfords) and of course Zürich, Switzerland, being the two international case studies certainly worth a look. ▶
I was invited to be part of a special, public beta train service from Nanchang to Fuzhou, on the new Xiangtang-Putian Railway. The new railway line creates a direct passenger-cum-freight link between the Jiangxi capital of Nanchang and the Fujian capital of Fuzhou. This was key to this part of southeastern China — which, despite it being not far from the coast, was unbelievably mountainous.
For much of Jiangxi, the view was that of flatland — although the train did go through quite a number of tunnels. Once we were near the border with neighbouring Fujian, though, the terrain became visibly more rugged and mountainous, and the tunnels increased in number and in length. To take even a “passing by” shot on my iPhone’s GPS-enabled camera (with a “proper” geotag) became a struggle on its own!
As the train neared the coast, the terrain got noticeably flatter until we could see waterbodies in sight — I think that was the coast! Just after 12:30, we rolled into Fuzhou Railway Station. A friend I have there, who worked at the station, was quite surprised to see me again — having just met not too long ago! ▶