Catching the eye of a fellow tube traveller can often be a slightly uncomfortable experience, with many passengers opting to stare into space or remain glued to their smartphones.

But rail travellers in Chengdu could be forgiven for being a little more uneasy than most, after 20 heavily-armed SWAT police boarded a train with their loaded weapons at the ready.

SWAT officers aboard the Chengdu Metro. Photo: Sichuan Online.
SWAT officers aboard the Chengdu Metro. Photo: Sichuan Online.

Wearing black masks and body armour, and packing some serious heat, the officers were a formidable site as they took the tube to a training exercise.

Mainland media reported that the officers’ assault rifles were loaded with live ammunition during the trip to the “mission and responsibility” training exercise.

A few brave commuters were happy to pull out their mobile phones and take some snaps as the squad passed through Wenshuyuan Station.

SWAT officers at Chengdu’s Wenshuyuan Station. Photo: Sichuan Online.

Some netizens, however, ignored the strange site of masked men on a train and focused more upon the carriages themselves.

“Chengdu Metro looks great. If this were in Beijing their rifles would get squeezed down to handguns.”

According to China’s Sina News, the officers were “fast-tracked” through security checks.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others