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On the Railway: The maintenance staff keeping it safe

Lifestyle2018-02-09

China's Spring Festival travel rush sees millions of passengers on high speed trains. But few have any idea that behind their smooth travel is the hard work of tens of thousands of maintenance workers who work night and day in sometimes tough conditions. One such worker is Meng Xianpen who works on the Shenyang-Dandong section of the high-speed rail network. At around 11 p.m., when many people are already tucked into bed, his workday is just beginning. “We work at night during what we call the 'time window' when the trains are not operating. Our job is to fix problems and prevent safety hazards,” Meng said. Railway worker Wang Meng checks facilities. After a brief team meeting around 9 p.m., Meng and his colleagues will go through the specific tasks of the day, which normally entail things like changing a deformed bolt, measuring the height of the overhead power line system and removing ice drops on the track. During this time of the year, northeast China is unbearably cold. Meng and his team walk an average of 20 kilometers per night along the railroad. Beyond battling the cold, conquering fear is another challenge for him. “I fear a lot when I am climbing the 26-meter-high electric pole and having to stay up there for two hours," Meng said. "The cold weather makes it even worse. My gloves sometimes stick to the pole because it is too cold up there. And my heart always beats really fast. Each time it is like torture.” A wedding photo of Wang Meng and his wife. Cold and danger are not the only hurdles. A drastically different work schedule than what most people have is another. Meng gets off work around six in the morning, when his wife Fang Tongtong is just getting up and about to start her workday. Fang says she barely sees her husband. “We got married last year and frankly we fight a lot about his job," she said. 'I remember last summer, he was not home for an entire week because there was flooding. I didn’t talk to him that week because I was upset with his job. Sometimes he receives an emergency call and leaves in the middle of dinner." Wang Meng at work. Fang is trying to persuade her husband to quit this job and take up a new career - anything that's less intense. Or she said they could move to Beijing, where they first met, and start a small business together. But the 31-year-old is not ready to leave his job yet. “I’ve been working as a maintenance worker for eight years," he said. "Both my dad and grandpa were railway workers. It's like a family thing and I am passing it on from them. Also I feel a lot of responsibility on my part especially during Chinese New Year when there is a big surge in the number of passengers taking our train. It is my job to make their journey safe.” (CGTN)

China's Spring Festival travel rush sees millions of passengers on high speed trains. But few have any idea that behind their smooth travel is the hard work of tens of thousands of maintenance workers who work night and day in sometimes tough conditions.

One such worker is Meng Xianpen who works on the Shenyang-Dandong section of the high-speed rail network. At around 11 p.m., when many people are already tucked into bed, his workday is just beginning.

“We work at night during what we call the 'time window' when the trains are not operating. Our job is to fix problems and prevent safety hazards,” Meng said.

Railway worker Wang Meng checks facilities.

Railway worker Wang Meng checks facilities.

After a brief team meeting around 9 p.m., Meng and his colleagues will go through the specific tasks of the day, which normally entail things like changing a deformed bolt, measuring the height of the overhead power line system and removing ice drops on the track.

During this time of the year, northeast China is unbearably cold. Meng and his team walk an average of 20 kilometers per night along the railroad. Beyond battling the cold, conquering fear is another challenge for him.

“I fear a lot when I am climbing the 26-meter-high electric pole and having to stay up there for two hours," Meng said. "The cold weather makes it even worse. My gloves sometimes stick to the pole because it is too cold up there. And my heart always beats really fast. Each time it is like torture.”

A wedding photo of Wang Meng and his wife.

A wedding photo of Wang Meng and his wife.

Cold and danger are not the only hurdles. A drastically different work schedule than what most people have is another. Meng gets off work around six in the morning, when his wife Fang Tongtong is just getting up and about to start her workday. Fang says she barely sees her husband.

“We got married last year and frankly we fight a lot about his job," she said. 'I remember last summer, he was not home for an entire week because there was flooding. I didn’t talk to him that week because I was upset with his job. Sometimes he receives an emergency call and leaves in the middle of dinner."

Wang Meng at work.

Wang Meng at work.

Fang is trying to persuade her husband to quit this job and take up a new career - anything that's less intense. Or she said they could move to Beijing, where they first met, and start a small business together. But the 31-year-old is not ready to leave his job yet.

“I’ve been working as a maintenance worker for eight years," he said. "Both my dad and grandpa were railway workers. It's like a family thing and I am passing it on from them. Also I feel a lot of responsibility on my part especially during Chinese New Year when there is a big surge in the number of passengers taking our train. It is my job to make their journey safe.”

(CGTN)

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