Designated High-Speed Train Compartment for Children Excites Netizens
In a major breakthrough for what is perhaps one of the most consistently divisive issues on Chinese social media, a special “childcare compartment” has been introduced on some high-speed trains in China.
According to recent domestic media reports, a high-speed train from Xiamen to Shanghai on Jan. 29 had converted a dining area into a designated compartment for children for the first time. The children were joined by train attendants, who played games and read books with them.
A customer service agent for China Railway told Sixth Tone on Friday that not every train will offer such a compartment.
“We haven’t received specific notice regarding the childcare compartment. Some trains have it, some do not,” the agent said, adding that “many” people have inquired about the service.
Calls for children-only compartments on domestic trains have been around for years. Clips of children kicking seats, running around, shouting, and touching other rail passengers often go viral on Chinese social media, sparking a backlash against the children and parents.
With this year’s Spring Festival travel rush already underway, news of the special compartments has excited netizens seeking a more peaceful journey home this year. According to China Railway, an estimated 480 million rail trips are expected to be made during this year’s travel rush, known as chunyun.
“I often curse those parents who cannot keep their kids quiet and would shout at them,” said Zhang Yunxi, a 21-year-old student whose trip home from the eastern Jiangsu province to the northern Shanxi province requires an eight-hour train journey. “It’s great if the (childcare compartment) can keep those children gathered together away from tired people like me.”
In the past year, videos of frustrated travelers confronting rowdy children and their parents have often gone viral. Those who speak up for other passengers are often described as “high-speed train heroes” or “high-speed train judges.”
On popular video platforms like Douyin and Bilibili, tutorials teaching people how to confront the children and their parents have received millions of views. Some have recommended the tactic of threatening the parents with fafeng, or “losing one’s mind.”
The possibility of a wider rollout of childcare compartments may also be welcomed by parents themselves. Liu Xiaoyan, a 42-year-old mother of two young boys, hopes to see more trains offer such services to ease the burden on her.
“I can never be fully prepared for a long journey on a train with my two sons … I’m really sorry for disturbing others, but there’s not much I can do to keep them silent the entire time.”
Editor: Vincent Chow.
(Header image: Children in the designated childcare compartment on the train from Xiamen to Shanghai, Jan. 29, 2024. Xinhua)