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Railway officer safely tracks the passage of transcontinental freight trains

By ZHOU JIN in Horgos, Xinjiang| China Daily| Updated: December 1, 2023

As efforts are stepped up at the border port of Horgos in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to quicken the speed at which China-Europe freight trains operate, related policies are playing crucial roles in ensuring the safe passage of the trains and maintaining stability at the facility.

Geiensi Tuluhan, a railway policeman with the Urumqi Railway Public Security Bureau at Horgos station, has followed in his grandfather's footsteps in guarding the border between China and Kazakhstan.

Despite frigid winters and scorching summers, he and his colleagues patrol and inspect the last 65 kilometers of the route used by the freight trains to pass through Horgos border port.

Tuluhan's duties include inspecting cargo containers to determine if they are dangerous or contain contraband goods, safely maintaining the railway line, and performing fire safety inspection work.

"I am honored to be responsible for the safe operation of China-Europe freight trains at the border, and this is also a way of contributing to my hometown," the 34-year-old said.

In 2019, Tuluhan decided to leave his job at a police station in Yining city, Ili Kazakh autonomous prefecture, Xinjiang, to apply for work at the border station. He said his decision was influenced by childhood memories of time spent with his grandfather — a herdsman who voluntarily guarded the border.

"I remember riding horses with my grandfather, who patrolled the border while herding sheep. If he saw any damage to the protective netting or signs at the border crossing, he immediately reported it to the soldiers," Tuluhan said.

As Tuluhan can communicate in several languages, including Russian, English, Kazakh and Uygur, his application was accepted.

Although his grandparents died many years ago, he said that when he stands on the border, he feels as if he is with them again.

At the border port, Tuluhan is more than 100 km away from his wife and children, but he feels it is his duty to help protect the freight trains' safety.

The number of such trains passing through the bustling border port has surged in recent years. Facing Kazakhstan across the Horgos River, the port is the closest and most convenient route linking China with Central Asia and Europe.

"Initially, we patrolled mostly on foot, as there were only four to five trains per day, but now, as we have to inspect up to 20 trains every day, it's practically impossible to do this solely on foot," Tuluhan said.

As a result, the local police station established a command center — incorporating video surveillance and foot patrols — and strengthened coordination with customs and immigration inspection authorities to eliminate safety hazards.

"Although our work is not directly related to customs clearance for the trains, we are the unsung heroes behind the scenes performing essential work to safeguard the outermost parts of our homeland," Tuluhan added.