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LANZHOU－Zhang Chao, from northwestern China"s Gansu province, operates a locomotive just as his father and grandfather did before him.
"I"m lucky to be an engineer during a time when China"s railway system is developing so fast," the 30-year-old said. "While my grandfather had to take care of a lot of things, the only thing I need to do is run the train and send the passengers home safe and sound."
Zhang Ganchen, his 79-year-old grandfather, was among the first generation of engineers in China. Half a century ago, he drove a steam train that mainly carried oil and steel for national economic construction and development.
"One day in 1958, I saw a notice on the street recruiting engineers, and I applied," Zhang Ganchen said. "It took me 12 years to learn."
He had to be able to handle hunger, cold and heat, and be able to make repairs himself.
Snow is common in Gansu in winter. It would be freezing cold, and the wind would lash into the locomotive"s cabin, but Zhang Ganchen still had to lean his head out the window to observe track conditions.
"I think my father looked the most handsome when he was leaning out the window," said Zhang Limin, Zhang Ganchen"s son. "That"s why I also became an engineer."
Zhang Limin started working on trains in 1992, operating a steam engine like his father. But two years later, he switched to a diesel engine.
"The new train was equipped with heat in the winter and a fan in summer," he said. "The train also ran faster. It took my father more than 10 hours to run 200 kilometers, but it took me only five."
Zhang Chao still remembers his childhood impressions of trains.
"I actually disliked and even rejected trains when I was little, because I knew that my grandfather and father had an irregular routine and little time to be with the family," he said. "But the thing I talked about most with my classmates was trains. I was always proud to say that my father drove a train, and I gradually fell in love with trains."
In 2015, Zhang Chao became the engineer of an electric train after two years of training. Last year, he got his license to drive a bullet train and will begin driving one in April.
China"s trains are much quicker than they used to be. At the end of the 20th century, trains were running at a speed of no more than 60 km/h, but they"ve been running at speeds of up to 200 km/h since 2007. High-speed railway trains can now run as fast as 350 km/h.
China launched 10 new railways at the end of last year, expanding its high-speed railway network to 29,000 km. By 2020, the country"s high-speed railways are expected to extend 30,000 km, covering 80 percent of major cities.
Most of the toys Zhang Chao and his wife buy for their 1-year-old son are train-related.
"He will probably also fall in love with trains, and if he wants to become an engineer, too, when he grows up, I will support him," Zhang Chao said.blue silicone wristbandsrubber bracelets for a causerubber wristbands with logosilicone rubber wristbandssilicone diabetic alert bracelets