Along the Tracks(1)

By Luo Jian
Published: 2008-01-04

Tiexi District of Siping. Interlaced rails recall a glorious past.  

Railway tracks flow like veins all over northeastern China. For those living here, railway represents a way of life.

The mineral-rich northeast region has long been regarded as the cradle of heavy industry in China. Here, cities are linked by interlaced railways and many places are named with a pre-fix of Tiexi, meaning "west of the tracks" in Chinese.

Trains thunder through these Tiexi districts, carrying coal, steel, and all kinds of machines. Factories once crowded along side the tracks, then came the workers, and followed by the opening of various facilities--cafeterias, public bathrooms, hospitals, theaters, libraries…

For decades, people in the Tiexi disctricts lived a secured and routine life working at the factories.

Since early 1990s, however, these state-owned factories began to be deserted or shut down as the country embraced market-oriented economy. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs.

Today, the tracks are still lying there quietly, but for those living along them, life is not quite the same.

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