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老外看上海:矛盾的春运潮

2019/9/23 2:56:47

老外看上海:矛盾的春运潮

 

I don’t want to sound too Scrooge-like so close to the Lunar New Year, but I’ll personally be quite happy to see the holiday come and go so we can finally see an end to the flood of travel-related stories that inundate news this time each year. The last 3 weeks have seen our local media report on just about anything and everything with a travel-related angle, pandering to the millions of out-of-towners who have already started their exodus from Shanghai to their hometowns.

 

现在接近春节,我也不想太扫兴,但我将非常开心随着假期结束,这样洪水般的春运就会终结。每年的这个时候,总会被关于春运的新闻淹没。过去三周,本市媒体报道各种关于春运的新闻,数百万外地人开始从上海大批离开回到各自的家乡。

 

On the one hand, the reports underscore the remarkable advances in China’s transport network over the last decade to accommodate the hundreds of millions of people who have moved from the countryside to big cities like Shanghai. But on the other hand, the obsession with travel-related stories this time of year also reflects a cattle-like mentality in many Chinese industries that sees everyone jump on the same bandwagons until the next fad comes along.

 

一方面,这些报道凸显出,过去十年中国的运输网络有显著的进步,能够让数亿人在农村和上海等各大城市间往返。但是另一方面,每年的春运也反映出在中国许多行业存在老黄牛般的心态。大家踏上同一股潮流,直到下一波春运潮的到来。

 

Over the last few weeks, it’s been nearly impossible to open a newspaper or watch the TV news each day without being flooded by the latest reports on everything from train ticket machines to extended subway hours and highway tolls.

 

过去几周,每天打开报纸或看电视新闻,几乎都是关于春运的报道,从火车票售票机到延长地铁时间和高速路收费问题。

 

The frenetic news cycle reached a fever pitch early this season when the central government declared that Chinese New Year’s Eve on January 30 wouldn’t be a public holiday, meaning travelers heading home that day would have to pay tolls to use the nation’s highways. That decision prompted outrage not only in Shanghai but nationally from millions of people who were expecting toll-free roads on their drive home.

 

狂热的新闻在这个时期达到了顶峰,当时中央政府宣布今年1月30号的农历除夕不是国家法定假期,这意味着那天开车回家的旅客不得不支付高速费用。这一决定在上海和全国都引发了异议,数百万人期待开车回家时高速免费。

 

The travel story kicked into high gear after that, with anything travel-related suddenly becoming the basis for a story. One day at the height of the frenzy saw one local paper report on everything from the plight of passengers traveling to Harbin, to reports of increased security at train stations and problems with a new ticketing system. Many reports centered on individual people, including one sentimental story recounting the last Lunar New Year period for a woman who had worked on the Beijing-Shanghai rail line for the last 30 years.

 

从那之后,春运进入快车道,与春运相关的话题突然成为新闻的基础。某天在高峰时候,一家当地报纸报道关于春运的很多事情,从前往哈尔滨乘客的困境到火车站不断加强安保和票务系统的新问题。许多报道集中在个人方面,包括一则伤感的报道,讲述一名在京沪铁路线上工作了三十年的女乘务员在火车上经历了最后一个春运。

 

One photo of people sitting on the floor of a packed carriage, and another of people handing items through open windows to their friends inside a train, brought back memories of how difficult travel in China used to be, not only during the Lunar New Year but throughout the year.

 

一张图片显示人们坐在拥挤车厢的地板上,另一张图片是人们将行李通过开着的窗户递给火车上的同伴,这些让我回忆起在中国旅行曾经是多么艰难,不仅是春节期间,而且是一整年都如此。

 

When I first came to China in the 1980s, the entire travel process was filled with obstacles. Finding an updated train schedule and buying a ticket were just the first of many difficulties, involving special trips to the station and long waits in lines only to often learn that the class or destination you wanted wasn’t available. The process was even worse for most Chinese, who had to provide numerous documents from their work units just to buy many train tickets. Plane travel was even more difficult due to the limited number of flights.

 

当我二十世纪八十年代第一次来中国时,整个旅行过程充满了障碍。找到一份更新的列车时刻表和买一张车票仅仅是许多困难中的第一步,还涉及到去火车站的过程,以及长时间排队等待后才得知你所想去的地方有没有票。这个过程对大多数中国人而言更加糟糕,他们不得不让工作单位提供很多文件才能购买火车票。由于航班的数量有限,坐飞机更加困难。

 

Once you had your ticket, the actual trips were equally challenging. Most people traveled in packed carriages by hard seat or with standing-room tickets, even for journeys of several days. People lucky enough to get sleeper tickets could look forward to uncomfortable beds and days spent in smoke-filled carriages littered with garbage, peanut shells and other items discarded by travelers.

 

一旦有了车票,实际的旅途也同样充满挑战。大多数带着很多行李的旅客坐硬座或者是站票,甚至要在火车上经历几天的行程。足够幸运获得卧铺的人,床位也不舒服,车厢还弥漫着烟味,而且充满垃圾、花生壳和乘客丢弃的其他东西。

 

Fast forward to today, when train tickets are easily available online, and can be purchased at agents throughout the city for less tech-savvy travelers like myself. Sleeper cars and comfortable seats are readily available for anyone who doesn’t want to fly, and the new high-speed rail network offers quick and efficient service to most major cities. For those who want to drive, the nation also offers a national network with thousands of kilometers of modern highways.

 

“快进”到今天,人们能够在网上容易地买到火车票。对于像我这样不怎么接触高科技的乘客,也能通过整个城市的代理机构购买火车票。对于不想坐飞机的人,卧铺车厢和舒服的软座能够容易获得,新的高速铁路网为多数大城市提供了快捷和高效的服务。对于想开车的人,中国也提供了全国网络,拥有数千公里的现代高速公路。

 

The improvements are quite remarkable over such a short period, even if they have come with a few controversies along the way. All this brings me back to my original point, which is that China’s travel revolution is a huge achievement, but also one that should find a place in the history books and not become such big news every Lunar New Year. Call me a Scrooge, but there really should be better stories to tell each year during this major annual holiday.

 

在如此短的时期,提升非常显著,即使在整个发展过程中有一些争议。所有这些将我带回到最初的出发点,这是中国旅行改革是一个巨大的成就,而且应该被载入历史书,而不是每个春节成为大新闻。说我扫兴也罢,但每年这个重大节日期间,确实应该报道更好的新闻。