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Engineer helps keep everything on track

By WANG XIAOYU | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-27 10:32

Though Guo Xiaoming was expected to retire in September, he did not hesitate to accept an assignment that would set his retirement back until early next year.

The expert in locomotive maintenance is currently working on one of the three Lifeline Express trains that provide free cataract operations for financially strained patients this year.

As such, he left Beijing in May on a train scheduled to call at Bayingolin Mongol autonomous prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Jincheng, Shanxi province, and Shaoguan, Guangdong province, before January.

Guo, an employee of the China Railway Beijing Group, was first assigned to help operate Life Express trains and maintain onboard facilities in 2014.

"Getting on a Lifeline Express train again meant more than one last deployment for me. I have witnessed a number of people regain their vision thanks to the doctors' skills and efforts. Being part of this mission makes me proud of my job," the 59-year-old said. "I guess I was chosen in the first place because of my rich experience with trains."

Although Lifeline Express trains only comprise four carriages, they have to run extremely smoothly to ensure that no operations go wrong.

"One day, the problem may be weak airflow in the air conditioner. On another, there may be a water leak or an unstable electricity supply," he said. "My job is very simple to some extent — fix whatever goes wrong and keep the train on the right track."

Being an engineer for a Lifeline Express train means being away from his family for more than nine months at a time.

"The train can stop anywhere: by a patch of farmland, near a river or at the foot of a mountain," he said.

In addition to maintaining the train's facilities, Guo carries medical equipment, helps seniors get on and off the train and purchases daily necessities for patients who forget to buy them in advance.

"Although I am the only engineer onboard, I never feel alone," he said. "All the staff members, including the doctors and nurses from Beijing and local hospitals, work as a team to overcome difficulties and we strive for the same goal of ridding patients of eye ailments," he said.

During his leisure time, Guo likes to sit in the train's meeting room and watch live broadcasts of operations beamed from the surgical carriage.

Wang Yuezhen, the head manager of the train, said half-jokingly that after more than eight years of watching cataract operations, Guo is a self-trained optical specialist.

"Sometimes, he is so absorbed by the livestream that he cannot help making comments, such as 'This cataract is so severe, it will be a challenging operation!' or 'What a perfect incision!'" she said.


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