Luo Lin, the head of the crew on a high-speed train running between Beijing and the southwestern city of Chengdu, always has extra duties during the Spring Festival holiday.
On the train that travels at an average speed of about 250 kph, she changes diapers for babies, chats with children and plays games with them. Many a time when the train arrives, she walks them out of the station to meet their parents.
Since 2016, Luo has voluntarily provided care for hundreds of young passengers during the annual Spring Festival travel rush, when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel for family gatherings.
“Many grandparents take kids to see their parents working in Beijing for the Spring Festival,” said Luo. “It’s much easier to get tickets from Chengdu to Beijing than the other way around.”
To cope with the growing number of child passengers during the travel rush, railway authorities in Chengdu initiated three years ago a volunteer program to provide care for them onboard. Today, like Luo, over 300 crew members have doubled as babysitters on the nearly 10-hour ride.
Having worked on trains for nearly 20 years, Luo knows all too well the potential safety risks for children on a moving train: a bowl of instant noodles full of hot water, stairs between upper and bottom bunks on sleepers and the gap between trains and platforms.
During a ride in 2016, Luo noticed that a baby kept crying in the cabin, leaving his elderly relative clueless. She held the boy in her arms, trying to figure out what had gone wrong.
“Upon holding the boy, I found the diaper extraordinarily heavy. Then, I learned that the diaper had not been changed for the entire night,” Luo recalled.
With the help of her colleagues, Luo took the baby to the nursery on the train and cleaned his bottom up with wet tissues. “You are so lucky to have met a caring ‘mum’ on the train,” Luo remembered the elderly relative said to the boy.
On another ride, Luo recalled, when she was taking care of a child with a fever, she could not help thinking about her daughter and wept, for she also had a fever the day before and was sent to hospital.
“When I take care of children on the train, I often think about my daughter,” Luo said with a sense of remorse for not being able to spend more time with her.
In the eyes of her daughter, Luo is a strong, loving mother, but also one who cannot always be around.
“You always have a smile on your face, showing the bright side to the passengers while keeping the tender side to yourself,” Luo’s daughter wrote about her in an essay.
“At home, you are my mother. At work, you are everyone’s mother,” Luo’s daughter said to her. Enditem