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Pulp Asian Trains

Page history last edited by Michael 1 year ago

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     Chinese and adjacent railways in 1935. Green tint indicates the areas under strongest Nationalist control; pink indicates Japan and Japanese-controlled areas.

     Shenyang, in Manchuria, was also known as Mukden or Fengtian.

     Red-center railway line is the Shanghai Express (including its connection on the Nanking Express). Note that we haven't found any record of the actual schedules on the Chinese railway network from before World War Two. Schedules below are just guesses, based on a few known trip durations and some guesswork as to route length.

 

The Chinese Ministry of Railways

 

     The gap between Lochang and Lukow is scheduled to be completed in 1936.

     Railway tracks in China will often take a roundabout route past temples or graveyards. In some provinces, about 10% of the land is taken up by ancient tombs, temples, or other sites which cannot be disturbed.

     War in central China disrupted rail service for six months in 1930; many bridge, buildings, locomotives and railway cars were destroyed or damaged. And bandits, Communist insurgents, warlords, the Japanese, the weather, earthquakes, etc. continue to disrupt or delay service from time to time.

     The Chinese minister of railways is Sun Fo, the only son of Dr. Sun Yat Sen.

     Freight services in China are mostly handled in two-axle, four-wheel boxcars, flatcars, etc., rather than the eight- or twelve-wheeled cars typical on North American railways. Chinese freight cars can carry no more than 22 tons of cargo; a Chinese freight locomotive has 22,300 pounds of tractive force, and can pull about 33 loaded Chinese boxcars up a 1% grade.

     Third-class "carriages" in China are often open-topped wagons, resembling freight gondolas in Europe. First-class carriages are built to European or American standards.

 

Fares and Accommodations

 

     The major lines handle passengers first, second, and third class, and a number have a fourth or coolie class that might be called a workmen's or laborers fare.

      Rates below are per kilometer. The fares on the Tientsin-Pukow can be considered typical of the average and are as follows:

 

  • first class M$0.06

  • second class M$0.04

  • third class M$0.02

  • coolie class M$0.01

 

     On the Peking-Suiyuan, where the passenger travel is light, the fares are M$0.065, $$0.04 and M$0.023 for the first, second, and third class, the coolie class not being handled. On the Shanghai-Nanking, where water competition prevails, the fares are the lowest, and for the four classes are as follows: M$0.0425, M$0.0235, M$0.0115 and M$0.0075 respectively. The first, second, and third class rates on the South Manchuria Railway are 5 sen, 3.5 sen, and 2.8 sen respectively, 1 sen being equal to 1 Mexican cent.

     The sleeping car fares are somewhat variable ranging from M$2 on the Peking-Mukden route, for the night's ride from Shanhaikwan to Peking, to M$6 for the 750 mile ride from Peking to Hankow. The percentage of first and second class travel is very small on all lines, the third and coolie classes constituting the very large bulk of the business -- usually well over 90 per cent of all the commercial travel on all lines. All the lines are much better equipped for handling all the passenger business offered, of all classes, than they are for handling all the freight business offered, particularly heavy and bulky commodities.

     The Canton-Kowloon Railway has good and expeditious service between Hong Kong and Canton, similar to that between Shanghai and Nanking and with about the same low fares on account of water competition.

     The meter gauge line from Haiphong to Yunnanfu has about as expeditious and comfortable service as would be expected through the country traversed.

     The service on the other lines is very varied. The Shantung Railway has slow and limited but comfortable service. The Canton-Samshui and the Sunning Railways both handle largely passenger travel, nearly all third class, with only a small amount of freight.

 

Nanking Express

 

     This is daily express train connecting Shanghai (on the coast) with the Nationalist capital at Nanking, along the Jinghu Railway ("jinghu" is short for "capital and Shanghai"). Some of the coaches are for passengers who will cross the Yangtze at Pukow for the Shanghai Express. A fast train with powerful locomotives and excellent service in the first- and second-class coaches; a couple of third-class coaches are the same as elsewhere in China, except faster. While the Nanking Express doesn't feature the extravagant security measures of the trains north of Nanking, there are usually two or three armed, undercover Chinese agents of the Public Security Bureau aboard.

     There are no sleeper cars on this train, but there are restaurant cars.

     The line is fairly level, but there are 300 bridges in about 200 miles of track.

 

p.m. times in italics

station

arrive

depart

notes

Shanghai

--

8:00

Shanghai North station

Chengkiang

2:15

2:20

(modern Zhenjiang)

Nanking

3:00

--

 

 

p.m. times in italics

station

arrive

depart

notes

Nanking

--

8:00

 

Chengkiang

8:40

8:45

(modern Zhenjiang)

Shanghai

3:00

--

Shanghai North station

 

Shanghai Express

 

 

     Before 1933 there was no bridge or rail ferry over the Yangtze River east of Yibin (in Szechuan province, at the head of navigation for river steamers); and in fact no bridge across the lower Yangtze was built before the 1950s.

     Thus, passengers on the Shanghai Express disembarked at Nanking (south of the river) or Pukow (north of the river), and rode "regular" ferry boats across the river between. This added considerable time to the trip; from Shanghai to Peking took 44 hours.

 

Railway and ferry lines near Nanking.

 

     Starting in 1933, a rail ferry (the SS Yangtze) carries passenger coaches across the river from Nanking to Pukow. The rail ferry is 370 feet long, and can carry 12 passenger cars with baggage and passengers aboard; this shortens the trip from Shanghai to Peking to 36 hours.

     South of the river, the passengers (and coaches after 1934) are actually on the Nanking Express.

     Full fare for first-class from Peking to Shanghai is $35.25 Mexican. The schedule below is for service after the rail ferry begins operation. Minor stops for fuel, water, food, and security inspections are not shown.

 

p.m. times in italics

station

day

arrive

depart

notes

Nanking

A

--

3:00

via ferry to Pukow; embarking and crossing takes 2 hours

Pukow / Nanking North

A

--

5:00

a suburb of Nanking, on the north side of the Yangtze River

Sutsien

 

   

marked as Suchow on the map

Tsinan

     

(modern Jinan)

Chen-chiang

     

(modern Zhenjiang)

Yenchow

     

(modern Yanzhou)

Tientsin

B

6:45

7:00

closest seaport to Peking

Peking

B

8:00

--

 

 

p.m. times in italics

station

day

arrive

depart

notes

Peking

A

--

8:00

 

Tientsin

A

9:00

9:15

closest seaport to Peking

Yenchow

     

(modern Yanzhou)

Chen-chiang

     

(modern Zhenjiang)

Tsinan

     

(modern Jinan)

Sutsien

 

   

marked as Suchow on the map

Pukow / Nanking North

C

6:00

--

from here passengers (and coaches from 1933) are ferried to Nanking

Nanking

C

--

8:00

coaches and passengers attach to the Nanking Express

 

     The train is very important to the Chinese government, both as a useful connection for official travel and mail, and as a prestige symbol; quite a lot of soldiers guard the platforms and ride on the train. Wagon-Lits provides first- and second-class sleeper cars; the railway provides the locomotives, and the government provides the rest, which includes third-class coaches. An example of the train's composition during a dangerous period:

 

  • 2 flatcars or gondola cars, with sandbags and some troops

  • an armored car with cannon and/or machine guns, plus at least 16 troops

  • a Pacific-class steam locomotive, built in the United States by Alco

  • baggage car

  • 4 first-class sleepers

  • restaurant car

  • an armored car with cannon and/or machine guns, plus at least 16 troops

  • 2 second-class coaches

  • second-class restaurant car

  • 2 third-class coaches

  • an armored car with cannon and/or machine guns, plus at least 16 troops

 

     In "safer" times, the train will leave off all the armored cars, and flatcars, but will have a third-class coach for a couple dozen soldiers and Public Security Bureau agents. 

     If the train is on schedule, the trip from Jingjiang to Peking takes 15 hours -- however, delays due to floods, bandits, war, etc. are common. A reasonably nice hotel at Nanking -- the three-story tall Centre Hotel (completed 1930) -- is provided for railway passengers whose train arrives too late to connect with (or from) the Nanking Express.

 

State Railways of Indochina

 

     The railway system in this French colony is built to 1 meter gauge; all but the Yunnan line (along the Red River, from Hanoi into China) are owned by the colonial government. In the central and southern provinces, the locomotives are often wood-fired; in the north, they use coal.

     There are four passenger classes. Carriages are of three types:  1st, 2nd, and 3rd mixed; 3rd class only; and 4th class -- used only by poor Vietnamese -- which are just a big open interior with a long bench on each side; luggage is piled in the middle.

     A coastal line from Saigon to Hanoi has been planned for many years, but is not yet in service; the expected completion date is 1936. Service from Hanoi to Saigon will take 42 hours.

 

South Manchuria Railway Company

 

 

     The headquarters of this railway is at Dalian. Until 1925, this company also operated the Korean railway system. It's the largest, most profitable company in the Japanese empire, and has many industrial subsidiaries. In the 1920s, more than a quarter of Japanese tax revenue came from this company; in turn, the company's income is notably dependent on ... soybean exports. Half of the world's soybeans come from Manchuria.

 

The Asia Express

 

     The newest, fastest train in Asia is the Asia Express, which runs from Dairen/Dalian (aka Port Arthur) to Changchun in 8 and a half hours (eventually it runs further north, from Changchun to Harbin in 4 and a half more hours). It runs at up to 83 miles per hour -- the fastest of any train in Asia -- and has welded carriages, streamlined locomotives, and air conditioning.

 

The Japanese renamed Changchun to Xinjing in 1932.

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