The Swiss knew that there was enough Swissness when I applied for Swiss nationality (well… maybe, maybe not, I’m just sayin’ to get Bern’s attention, heh…) because I “bought” an essential part of Swissness in the form of a two-year Generalabonnement (GA) on the Swiss Federal Railways. The GA basically makes you about 4,000 Swiss francs poorer per year, and in exchange for that, you’re spiritually free on the rails. (Nope, you still can’t do balancing tricks on the rails themselves — that would cost you your life — but what it means is that you can hop onto a train at any time without the need or hassle to buy a ticket — and you get the best thing on the rails: 1st class.)
Funny though, though: at the naturalization “thing” I was never asked if I was a rail nut. I’m not sure if I would have had the nationality any sooner did Bern catch wind of the fact that I’m on my way to finishing 10,000 km of rail travel for just 2010. And that’s in Far Far Away China, where any “good” rail systems are far from being a full-scale network. The thing about trains and Switzerland is that people swear by it (although they swear at it if it’s late by 5 minutes, which accounts for a scant 5% of all trains).
The Swiss are total train nuts. The average Swiss travels at least a couple thousand kilometers on the rails, and that’s if that Swiss citizen isn’t called David Feng. ▶
Most intercity trains from the Beijing South Railway Station take you only as far as central Tianjin. There’s still around probably 40 km or so of distance between the heart of Tianjin and its more coastal side in Tanggu.
I recently completed a trip to Tanggu, first by taking a train to Tianjin, then via taxi to Zhongshanmen. And where is that, exactly? It’s the current city terminus of Binhai Mass Transit Line 9, which connects central Tianjin at Zhongshanmen to the Tanggu terminus by Donghai Road.
The light rail was pretty fast, although the announcements were terribly annoying.
I didn’t go as far as Donghai Road; instead I got off at Tanggu station, which wasn’t too far away from the easternmost end of the line. ▶