A special train transporting apples from the deep mountains of Yunnan province brings wealth to farmers and promotes rural vitalization.
Every morning in winter, local farmers wait at Yunnan’s Zhaotong Railway Station with big bamboo baskets piled high with apples and hope for good sales.
The railway, which opened in 2003, reaches 407 kilometers between Zhaotong and Guiyang, Guizhou province. The ticket price is cheap and the speed is low — 40 kilometers per hour. The train, which passes over 10 stations in small villages located in mountainous areas, has become the most important channel for local rural residents to connect outside world.
Zhaotong is famous for its apples, and many residents make their living with the fruit.
Ma Xiaoyu, 30, has planted apples since childhood. “Without the train, it’s difficult for us to transport the apples or to sell them at a good price,” Ma said.
Ma Yongzhi, 54, director of Xiaolongdong village in Zhaotong, said farmers once had to wait for clients to visit and buy, and they often demanded a low price. About 90 percent of the 2,636 families in the village plant apples. Annual production has reached about 18 million kilograms.
About 30,000 to 40,000 kilograms of apples were transported by rail, and incomes in the village have reached 40 million yuan ($6.3 million), Ma Yongzhi said.
Xiang Xiaobo, chief conductor on the train, said information registered by farmers helped match demand from buyers. The train also promotes Zhaotong apples in broadcasts to passengers, so farmers can sell some on the train.
“I see farmers laugh more, and their houses have become larger. I feel happy for them,” Xiang said.