Train Travelogue – 2014

David has his share of rail-related dreams. “I’d like HSR from Beijing to London, going across all these countries,” he stated an example. Closer to home, he’d like to get all his model trains working at home. He said, “I really would like to live in this home where I see trains from the world over running the moment I’m back.”
Xinhua Daily Telegraph (14 April 2014; Mandarin Chinese feature, Always Catching a Train )

DAVID FENG’S 2014 TRAIN TRAVELOGUE

  • National or territorial/regional rail networks: Austria (Salzburg, Vienna), China Mainland (Baoding, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dujiangyan, Guilin, Ji’nan, Liuzhou, Nanning, Qingdao, Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Tianjin), Spain (Barcelona), Switzerland (Zürich), United Kingdom (Edinburgh, Great Missenden, Glasgow, London, Watford)
  • Metro/tram networks: Austria (Vienna U-Bahn), China Mainland (Beijing Subway, Chengdu Metro, Chongqing Rail Transit, Tianjin Metro), Portugal (Lisbon Metro), Spain (Barcelona Metro), United Kingdom (Edinburgh trams, Glasgow Subway, London Underground + DLR and Tramlink)
  • National/territorial/regional rail mileage this year: Sorry, still being calculated

Qingdao’s very new north station was the best introduction for David Feng into the year 2014, as he was one of the very first guests of the new station as it opened to the public in early January 2014. He continued this trek to all of northern China for the first few months of the year. And then it was further south — and southwest.

David’s next trip would take him back to Chengdu and Chongqing, but also further to the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi. There, he visited stations in Guilin, Liuzhou, and Nanning, including giving a Rail English lesson in Nanning, and helping station crew improve English-language services in Liuzhou.

He also paid a visit to Tangshan’s redone station, although his trips in the summer would take him back to where the railways all began: the UK.

David and wife Tracy moved to London in August 2014, and settled for two years in Travelcard Zone 5 in northwestern Beijing — that’s Harrow by the Metropolitan line. Armed with an Oyster card (and, starting in 2015, an Annual Gold Card), David made full use of ticketing options in the UK to get as much mileage as possible — pay-as-you-go and daily caps were very much helpful to get across the many Travelcard zones.

Amongst his first trips outside the Travelcard zones included the use of a mobile ticket issued by Chiltern Railways, which he had to activate before use (a bit different than, say, an airline e-ticket!). This trip was to Great Missenden; other trips included Watford, amongst other destinations. By the end of only four months, he would have already travelled on the majority of National Rail train operating companies with Oyster card support around Greater London.

In December 2014, he went to Edinburgh, then travelled by train to Glasgow. He made full use of Edinburgh’s tram, with his hotel not too far off. The views of the route along the way impressed him; it did remind him a little of the high speed railway line between Nanjing and Hefei, back in China.

He did not forget “the rest” of Europe, however. In late August and early September, David’s travels would take him to Switzerland, Austria, and then Spain and Portugal, where he travelled on national railway services in all countries except for Portugal. This included a trip in the railjet high speed service operated by Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), which he took from Zürich Main Station to Salzburg, Austria.

In 2014, David continued exploring more of China and the rest of the world via the metro networks. He would complete the entire Chengdu network as-is, but the network in nearby Chongqing would be the biggest “shocker” to him.

In essence, to travel the entire length of Line 3 — starting from Chonqging Jiangbei International Airport via Central Chongqing to the southern terminus at Yudong — was an experience for him unlike any other. The way Niujiaotuo station was built turned out to be most impressive for him — straddled between “the rocks” and the Jialing River.

In London, David travelled on almost all London Underground lines, including “the Drain”, or the Waterloo & City line, and the newest part — the Piccadilly line to Terminal 5. Throughout the TfL network, he also travelled on the DLR, London Overground, and even the Emirates Air Line; he also clocked in a few trips on Tramlink when he was down in Croydon tending to residence permit matters. He also travelled on the Glasgow Subway, as well as the city metro systems in Vienna, Barcelona, and Lisbon.