HARBIN, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- In Harbin, the capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, where winter's crisp air sets the scene, a group of passengers, bundled up and brimming with excitement, boarded the train heading for the tropical destination -- Hainan Province.
The journey would pass through 28 stations and two ferry ports, covering 4,300 km and extending over 46 hours. Known as the "Four Seasons Express," it exhibits the window scenery from the chill of winter to the bliss of summer.
A passenger surnamed Li, aged 74, booked a suite on the train for him and his three grandchildren, who often expressed awe while gazing out of the window.
"These kids are on vacation, so I decided to take them to Hainan for a break," Li said. "The train provides a convenient space for their activities, and the scenic journey, showcasing the diverse landscapes of the changing seasons, will create lasting memories for them."
Currently, there is a growing demand for train tickets, especially during the travel rush being experienced as a result of the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, said Liu Chaoquan, the train captain. Since the beginning of winter, there has been a surge in "seasonal passengers" heading from the north to the south, predominantly comprised of senior citizens and children seeking a warmer winter, Liu added.
"This emphasizes the need for our train crew to always be on high alert, particularly in prioritizing the well-being of both the elderly and young passengers," he said.
Throughout the journey, Liu mentioned that the attendants in each carriage would double-check passengers' sleeping arrangements and, if necessary, modify them, especially for individuals with either health or mobility issues.
This particular train had a considerable number of elderly passengers, including some in their 60s who accompany their parents in their late 80s or 90s for a relaxing getaway in Hainan, "so there is a high demand for lower berths, and we try our best to meet their requests," said Liu.
Even though the train is equipped with emergency medical supplies, the crew members have also been trained to handle various situations, reassuring passengers traveling across a 50 degrees Celsius temperature difference.
As the train travels southward, the scenery beyond the windows transforms from icy landscapes to lush greenery. Responding to the shifting climate, the crew members change from their long-sleeved shirts to their short-sleeved shirts. The highlight awaits as the train gears up for a unique experience -- crossing the sea.
At Yuehai Railway Beigang Wharf, the train is split into four sections, precisely aligning with the ferry's rails for a smooth transition onto the main deck.
Passengers would witness the marvel of traveling by train across the sea as the ferry navigates the Qiongzhou Strait, finally reaching its destination in Hainan.
On the upcoming Lunar New Year's Eve, Liu and his team are committed to serving passengers on their southbound journey. "Even though we can't share the big dinner with our families to celebrate the Lunar New Year, safeguarding passengers is our duty, and ensuring every passenger arrives safely at their destination is our greatest New Year's wish," Liu said. ■