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China air pollution

‘What have you gone through?’: Photos of China’s smog-covered high-speed trains go viral

Newspaper publishes pictures by photographer travelling from Shanghai to Beijing as north of country remains shrouded by severe smog

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 1:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 5:13pm

Photographs of high-speed trains in Beijing covered in a thick layer of grime after passing through the severe smog that is shrouding the north of the country have gone viral in China.

The Economic Daily newspaper published a series of pictures on Wednesday showing the outside of two high-speed trains covered in dirt, which immediately took the internet by storm.

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It said a photographer travelling on a train from Shanghai to Beijing on Monday afternoon had taken the pictures.

Many social media users later uploaded similar pictures to show how high-speed trains travelling in northern China were being left covered in grime.

Ma Jun, a director at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, told the Beijing Youth Daily that the grime was likely to have been caused by smog.

The latest round of smog not only had a high density of fine particulates, but also a high level of humidity, he said.

As pollutants absorb more water, they swell up and tend to stick to the surface of a train which moves at a high speed.

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“I can confirm that the grime does come from the smog,” Ma said.

However, later he said that the theory relied on the assumption that the high-speed trains were regularly cleaned.

The Beijing Youth Daily also talked to an employee at Beijing South Railway Station, who said that people were employed to wipe down the outside of trains whenever they arrived at the station.

The outside of trains were thoroughly cleaned whenever they were stored at the end of each day, he said.

A second station employee told the newspaper that the smog had made cleaning much more difficult and time-consuming.

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Another railway employee was quoted as saying in the report that the smog pollution covering trains tended to be more severe in the mornings and near sunset, with long-haul trains usually dirtier than those travelling shorter distances.

On Weibo, a similar report published by Sina News has been shared more than 2,650 times.

A user posted a picture of a grime-covered train in Shanghai on which someone had written: “What have you gone through?”