Train tickets in many Chinese cities have gone paperless. Hearing the news, Sun Kunyu, 51, is half happy, half lost.
Sun, a worker at the China Railway Kunming Group Co., Ltd., has been collecting train tickets for three decades. "With the advent of e-tickets, paper tickets may soon be weeded out in the future, and my hobby might come to an end," said Sun. "But I'm so proud of the rapid development of our railway network."
Sun's family has a special connection with the railroad. His grandpa participated in the construction of a rail line, and his father is a railway maintenance man.
In 1990 Sun joined the railway company in Kunming, capital of southwestern China's Yunnan Province, and became obsessed with collecting train tickets.
"Every small ticket carries a story and a memory, which draws my interest," said Sun. He has been a frequenter of local flea markets and has spent a lot of money on tiny, old, out-of-print tickets.
To date, he has collected over 50,000 tickets. His earliest collection is a handwritten ticket from 1950 and the latest is a high-speed train ticket from Kunming to Dali in 2019.
"What could represent the development and transformation of our railway network? I bet tickets are the best narrators," said Sun, while displaying his treasures. "To me, collecting tickets is recording history and change in society."
Currently, 26 railway stations in Yunnan and most bullet trains have implemented e-ticket services. Passengers only need to swipe the ID cards they used to purchase the tickets to enter the station.
"It's really convenient and advanced," said Sun. However, he is still upset about having to end his decades-long collection.
However, Sun found a new way to keep his passion alive -- publishing a book on train tickets. Every day after work, he indulges himself in checking references about the history and culture of train tickets. He is even thinking of opening a museum themed on train tickets.
"I'm proud of this era," he said. "The form of my collection might change, but that will not alter my passion for train tickets and the development momentum of China's railway network."