Working as a bilingual conductor on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed rail fulfiled Wu Yifan's childhood Olympic dream.
By Yao Lan and Cao Yibo
BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- It never occurred to Wu Yifan that a train can take her so close to the Olympics -- her childhood dream, though the 26-year-old conductor for the special train service of the Beijing Winter Olympics may miss most of the sports competitions of the Games due to her tight work schedule.
"It's a pity, after all, the snow events venues are just a dozen miles away from where my train passes by every day, but it's a great honor I could be a part of the Games, doing my job," said Wu, referring to the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-speed Railway, which was built to better connect the three-venue clusters across downtown Beijing, its northwest Yanqing district and co-host Zhangjiakou, Hebei province during the upcoming Winter Olympics.
On Dec. 30, 2019, the world's first intelligent high-speed railway with a maximum designed speed of 350 kilometers per hour officially went into operation. Wu is not only the conductor but also an English-language guide for the railway service.
Her day often begins early in the morning at the platform at Beijing North Railway Station. The red letter patches "CHINA" and "Beijing 2022" on the back of her white down coat, seem to have driven the winter chills away.
Wu stood still in her Olympic-themed uniform, wearing safety glasses and masks, with her hands tucked in her pockets. At 7:58 a.m. a train slowly crawled into the station -- it's time for Wu to start her work.
"Dear passengers, welcome to take the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-speed Rail's G8811 train from Beijing North Station to Taizicheng Railway Station." By the time the boarding announcement sounded and the empty platform became busy, Wu was already standing in front of the carriage.
In crowds, she skillfully guided boarding, helped passengers find seats and organized luggage racks.
It takes one hour and four minutes via the railway for a single journey between Beijing to Zhangjiakou, a daily routine for Wu.
It took a decade, however, for the former teacher at the English training school in Xi'an, the ancient capital of China in western Shaanxi Province, to realize her Olympic dream.
Wu was 13 when Beijing held the 2008 Summer Olympics. "My parents love sports so I just followed them. I remember at that time when China won a gold medal, I was so excited that I jumped up from my chair in front of the TV," she recalled.
Beijing was awarded the rights to host the 2022 Winter Games in 2015 and is the only city in the world to hold both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
To Wu, China's Olympic journey from yesterday to today has made her proud.
"The Olympics is a grand occasion. From the moment of being qualified and preparing for the event, to successfully holding the event, it is not always easy. It serves as proof of a stronger country," she said.
Wu quit her job in Xi'an in 2018 and became a conductor in the China Railway Beijing Group to stay closer to home in the northern city of Tangshan. To pursue her own Olympic dream, she joined the "Snow Dreams" crew, which was founded on March 1, 2020 to serve the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-speed Railway, before going through a series of rigorous training sessions to become one of the first 12 crew members.
The century-old railway, now the world's first driverless high-speed railway, has long borne the memories of Chinese people, chronicling China's journey from a weak country to rapid development nowadays.
In 1909, Zhan Tianyou, known as the "Father of China's railway," led an all-Chinese team to finish the construction of the Beijing-Kalgan (Zhangjiakou) railway two years ahead of schedule. It was the country's first railway designed and built by Chinese.
More than a century later, the train speed from Beijing to Zhangjiakou has accelerated from 35 km/h to 350 km/h.
Bearing in mind all of this history and pride, Wu has pushed herself in learning English, sign language, the rules on epidemic prevention and control, as well as emergency response -- everything related to the upcoming Olympic Games to get herself prepared for the event.
What is the highest speed of the train? What preparations have been done for the Olympic Games? What services are provided in the smart train? All the answers are written in English on a piece of paper in Wu's hand.
"Working in the Beijing-Zhangjiakou intercity railway has taken me one step closer to my dream. This is the place where my story with the Winter Olympics begins," Wu said, adding that she believes in "No pain, No gain."
To improve her English skills, she put stickers everywhere in her dormitory -- "mirror" on a mirror, "water heater" on a water heater.
"We have an English WeChat group. Wu Yifan is the group leader and urges us to work on our English every day. She is also our off-line English teacher," said Wang Yali, another "Snow Dreams" crew member, noting Wu is undoubtedly the best bilingual conductor of the team.
Wu is always keen to provide the best service to passengers from all over the world. So far, she has worked as a bilingual guide for more than 30 passenger groups, sometimes three groups a day.
She recalled her most unforgettable experience to work for an Olympic family member -- a young woman from Russia. "I poured a cup of coffee for her to break the icy silence and then we started to talk and ended up friending each other on WeChat," said Wu.
"Breaking boundaries and making friends. How nice!" she added.
On Wu's dormitory, wall writes the countdown to Beijing Winter Olympics.
"It's less than a month away, and I'm ready," she said.
(Xinhua reporters Huang Zhen and Liu Jinhai also contributed to the story.)