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TOPIC: trains

Migrant Lives

A Train Journey With Bengal Migrants Looking For A Living Far Away

Finding a seat on the Karmabhoomi Express is close to impossible. A closer look at why so many migrant workers travel on it, and out of Bengal, offers a grim picture.

WEST BENGAL — Welcome aboard the 22512 Kamakhya-LTT Karmabhoomi Express — a metaphor, if any, of the acuteness of Bengal’s unemployment problem.

It is 10.28 pm at north Bengal’s Alipurduar Junction and the crowd has swollen to its peak. This is when the Karmabhoomi Express appears at the station. It is bound for Mumbai. Finding a seat on it is close to impossible. It is always chock full and there are always hundreds struggling to get a spot in the unreserved general compartment.

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Protests Derailed: A History Of Polish Railways Getting Political

Polish state railways have been accused of deliberately keeping protestors from reaching the capital for an anti-government protest march. This is not the first controversy the railways have faced.

Last June, Polish opposition leader and former President of the EU Commission Donald Tusk called on Polish citizens to protest against the “authoritarian” steps taken by the ruling party, PiS. Estimates by state organizers approximate that 500,000 participants marched in Warsaw, with smaller marches occurring in other Polish cities.

“Do you have enough of [PiS’s] lies, theft and corruption?” Tusk asked in a video published on his Facebook page. "Then come to Warsaw on the 4th of June… we will show them our might”.

In the days leading up to the protest and on the day of the event itself, passengers and groups of demonstrators blamed state railways for delayed train permits, inaccessibility for those with disabilities and a deficit in the train's ability to transport participants to the capital.

“This is how rail functions in Poland,” an anonymous passenger told Gazeta Wyborcza, “It is impossible to get to Warsaw for the March at 12 p.m. from Szczecin.” The same passenger told Wyborcza they were “speechless” at the realization, adding that “it’s an outright exclusion of rail communication”.

This is not the first time that the state-run rail lines have come under fire for allegedly political acts.

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Two-Track Nation: What Italy's Trains Say About The Limits Of Progress

Crossing Sicily by train can take as long as flying from Rome to New York. The tracks and carriages are outdated, the trains rarely leave on time. Meanwhile, the country's high-speed train lines are state-of-the-art and decidedly punctual. It's a metaphor (and more) for Italy's two-class society.


ROME — In the upscale lounges and silent carriages of the Frecciarossa high-speed train lines, which connect Rome to Milan non-stop, you can't even imagine the country's regional train lines.

They travel on another network of tracks, have different signs, are prisoners of narrower boundaries. Above all, they follow their own time schedules.

Italy is on two different time zones when traveling by rail: that of the streamlined convoys of Trenitalia and Italo that more or less respect what is promised on the departures board, and that of regional trains, which subvert all expectations by questioning not only the “when” (it will arrive) but also the “if.”

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'Hell Amid Olive Trees,' Deadly Italy Train Crash Coverage

L'Unità, July 13

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food / travel

The Landmark Tokyo Station Hotel Marks Its Centennial

One of Tokyo's cultural treasures celebrates 100 years of hosting renowned writers and other celebrity guests.

TOKYO — In the 100 years since it first opened, The Tokyo Station Hotel has been the site of memorable moments for countless guests and has watched over the capital city through changing times. Located inside Tokyo Station's Marunouchi Building, which is designated as a significant cultural landmark, it has attracted renowned writers among many other guests.

As the centennial is marked this month, staff members have renewed their determination to make The Tokyo Station Hotel a place that will be remembered for the next 100 years as well.

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Fanny Jimenez

Train Suicides, Helping Conductors Who Can't Stop In Time

MUNICH – After soccer star Robert Enke took his own life in November 2009, public dismay at the news was considerable. At a memorial service in the Marktkirche church the next day, followed by a funeral march in Hannover attended by some 35,000 people, fans were out in force for the German national soccer team’s goalkeeper.

Unknown to the general public, Enke had suffered from severe depression for years. The mood of the march was also characterized by intense sympathy for his family whom Enke had apologized to, asking for forgiveness for taking his own life in a farewell letter addressed to them.

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Smarter Cities

City Moves: 7 Public Transport Innovations

We all want to get places faster, cheaper...and cleaner. Travel and commuting are parts of busy lifestyles and some cities have taken measures to make it much easier, and the journey more enjoyable, for their passengers.

Whether it’s WiFi on the subway so you can check your emails, smartcards so queues don’t back up, or eco-friendly designs, all these measures on public transport make a difference in people’s lives. Here’s a look at 7 cities where smart decisions are keeping a better life on track.

Chen Jieren

China's Railways Minister, And A Runaway Train Of Corruption

The sensational details surrounding the case of disgraced Liu Zhijun have captivated the public and media. But the real question is why is this the norm?

BEIJING - Former Chinese Railways Minister Liu Zhijun has been charged with abuse of power and accepting bribes.

The case has captivated the public and the media, which have tended to focus on the sensational questions surrounding the case. How many mistresses did Liu have? How big a fortune did he amass? What was his relationship with businesswoman and philanthropist Ding Shumiao? But fewer seemed concerned with the most important question: How was such an unbelievable case able to develop in the first place?

Liu’s story is the result of a twisted political environment that’s generated, and will continue to generate, such incredible cases.

In the absence of democratic elections, Chinese officials turn to nepotism. This means if they want to get promoted, they’ll look to a higher official rather than the people they’re responsible to. They’ll also forge political alliances that will come in handy when the heat is on.

During Liu’s term, he weathered many crises that would have been fatal blows to other officials. For instance, Liu’s brother Liu Zhixiang, former director of the Wuhan Railway Bureau, took bribes of more than 30 million yuan ($4.8 million) and plotted the murder of a whistleblower.

Either of those things would have been enough to sentence Liu Zhixiang to death, but he survived and was given only a 16-year sentence thanks to Liu Zhijun’s patronage. Meanwhile, Liu Zhijun came out of the scandal unscathed.

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Ivan Buranov

Moscow Makes Big Plans To Ease Its Mega Traffic Woes

MOSCOW - The traffic jams in Russia’s capital have become world-famous in the last several years, so bad that in 2010 the Federal Government decided to address the problem directly.

At the time, then-President Dimitri Medvedev commissioned a plan for the development of Moscow’s transportation system through the year 2020 that aims to get Muscovites and suburbanites to leave their cars at home and take suburban trains and light rail.

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food / travel
Fernando Soriano

The Trains Of Argentina, Riding With The Ghosts Of Glory Days

BUENOS AIRES - The train works. And almost every time it leaves from Constitution Station in Buenos Aires, it reaches its destination, Mar del Plata, 410 Kilometers to the south. It works, which means that it functions in the most basic sense of the word: it moves.

It repeats the trip every day of the year, which is why the service is called ‘daily.’ On the way to Mar del Plata, the six hour and 20 minute train is more accurately described as ‘nightly.’ It works. The train rocks brusquely from side to side, in a disconcerting movement that imitates an earthquake simulator. Every once and a while the movement is vertical and the passengers’ rear ends are momentarily unstuck from their seats, like when are airplane hits an air pocket. The train runs along the tracks, although the sound it makes is more like a metallic groan of being dragged along.

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