I just took Train T61 to Shijiazhuang recently. As I stepped off the train, I did something that seems easy to accomplish at first — but needed a real effort: I travelled on trains operated by every single rail bureau or company on Mainland China. I made sure to do a quick summary to share with you what I think of each train operator.
People’s Railway Daily website – peoplerail.com (June 2013; Mandarin Chinese feature, David Feng and the Railways: Travelling with Different Train Operators)
DAVID FENG’S 2013 TRAIN TRAVELOGUE
- National or territorial/regional rail networks: China Mainland (Anyang, Baoding, Baoji, Beijing, Cangzhou, Changsha, Changchun, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dezhou, Dingzhou, Dujiangyan, Fuzhou, Harbin, Handan, Hangzhou, Jiaozhou, Jilin, Ji’nan, Kunming, Langfang, Qingdao, Qingzhou, Qinhuangdao, Qufu, Qujing, Nanchang, Shacheng, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shijiazhuang, Taian, Taiyuan, Tianjin, Weifang, Wuhan, Wuxi, Xiamen, Xi’an, Xuzhou, Yichang, Zhangjiakou, Zhengzhou, Zhenjiang, Zhuozhou, Zibo)
- Metro/tram networks: China Mainland (Beijing Subway, Chengdu Metro, Chongqing Rail Transit, Kunming Metro, Shanghai Metro, Shenyang Metro, Tianjin Metro, Xi’an Metro), Hong Kong (MTR)
- National/territorial/regional rail mileage this year: approx 60,229 km (approx 37,425 miles)
In 2013, David Feng was fully set free on the rails, visiting a great many cities across the country — ranging form Harbin in the extreme northeast to Kunming in the far southwest.
This year has seen his first-ever HSR trip to his ancestral province of Shaanxi, plus the cities of Zhengzhou, Yichang, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Changchun, Shenyang, and more.
He also added his Everyday Rail English lessons to many of his trips across the country, getting both mileage and giving back to the railways.
His many new destinations added hundreds of new stations. Some were just very quick transit stops; others were those where David spent a few hours waiting between trains. From a quick sip of tea at Kunming station’s pay lounge, to taking many pictures at the new HSR hubs of Chengdu, Shenyang, and Zhengzhou, he was sure to let no trip go undocumented.
In this year, David also completed trips operated by all 18 regional railway bureaus in mainland China, a milestone reached in May 2013, and written up online at peoplerail.com.
In February 2013, David travelled on international service K3, which left Beijing that day ultimately bound for Moscow. Alighting at the first stop, Zhangjiakou South, David enjoyed breakfast on the train, and tried all three classes of travel — Luxury Sleeper, regular Soft Sleeper, and — very much a unique feature of the train — Hard Sleeper Compartments.
Later that month, David joined the 100 millionth traveller on the Beijing-Shanghai HSR, on the morning service from Beijing to Ji’nan. On that train, David was interviewed by Chinese rail TV, and this eventually became a special on his rail travels across China.
In March 2013, David took a trip via Wuhan to Changsha, then completed region trips on the Hankou-Yichang Railway as far west as Yichang, with another trip to Nanchang in the nearby province of Jiangxi.
Three months later, he spent Summer Solstice on the rails, exploring the minor stations on the Beijing-Guangzhou HSR, including HSR stations in Anyang, He’nan, Dingzhou and Handan, Hebei, and suburban Shijiazhuang. This 7-leg journey made him get to know the HSR line, one of China’s longest, better.
David’s summer trips featured a one-week journey starting from Harbin, China’s northeasternmost provincial capital, to Kunming, in far southwestern China, transiting through Beijing. He was treated both to prepared meals on HSR, and on a wide variety of food — some tasty, others more exotic — on the regular train from Changsha to Kunming.
David was also an active part of special events organised by the railways. He took part in two events organised by Beijing Rail — a visit to the China Railway Museum, and a day out to the museum of legendary locomotives — as well as a public beta trip on the Nanchang-Fuzhou (Xiangtang-Putian) Railway, hosted by Nanchang Rail. David also travelled on the first train on the new Tianjin-Qinhuangdao HSR.
His Everyday Rail English lessons started off in March 2013 in Ji’nan, with the city’s HSR hub being the first station in China to benefit from his new standards of much improved English, and has since been given in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Wuxi, and Xuzhou.
David continued his travel on the many metro networks dotted around China. He gave the metro systems in Chongqing, Kunming, Shenyang, and Xi’an his first trips, back when they were mostly one- or two-line networks (Chongqing had a slightly larger network). What impressed him the most was the rather sharp curves in Chongqing’s Line 3 — and the extraordinary heights the line rose to in Central Chongqing!
He also posted live his first trip on the western section of Beijing’s Subway Line 14, opened ahead of time for the Garden Expo later in the year. The late 2013 opening of Line 8 down to Shichahai made this his new favourite stop in the city, close to the much more traditional parts of Beijing with the hutongs than the über-modern CBD.
The opening of Metro Line 3 services at Tianjin South Railway Station made that station much more accessible to David, closing a key transport gap for the city.