A high-speed train arriving in Beijing from Xuzhou in the eastern province of Jiangsu on 4 January, Jiangsu China.com posted on Weibo account.

As people struggle to breathe and see, even high-speed trains running through the smog-heavy regions of northern China cannot escape and reveal just how serious air pollution is.

Pictures of the usually white carriages have been posted on Chinese websites covered in dust and the pollutants filling the air.

A Communist Party provincial website, jsChina.com, posted a picture on its Weibo account of a high-speed train arriving in Beijing from Xuzhou in the coastal province of Jiangsu on Wednesday.

Also on Weibo, PeopleRailway.com, another government website, posted twice about how the trains had to be cleaned on the same day. The Beijing News today dubbed the dust-blanketed front of the train “smoggy gold” because of the golden glow the dirty train had after a trip.

Beijing has had the orange smog warning signal raised for more than 200 hours from December 30 and it is expected to remain up until January 7 – which would make it the longest period this warning has been in force. The municipal government extended the second-highest level warning twice, on both January 1 and 4. Red is the highest.

The pollution is likely to dissipate on January 8.

Overall air quality in Beijing improved in 2016, with 12 more days recording satisfactory air quality, the Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said in an online statement on Wednesday.

The annual average level of PM2.5 in 2016, a measure of fine particulate matter, dropped 9.9% to an average of 73 micrograms, but it is still 109% higher than the national standard.

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