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Sino-Vietnamese Railway

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Title: Sino-Vietnamese Railway  
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Subject: Guangzhouwan, History of Yunnan, Japanese invasion of French Indochina, History of rail transport in China, Narrow gauge railways in China, Hai Phong Railway Station, Transport in Yunnan
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Sino-Vietnamese Railway

The Yunnan–Vietnam Railway (Chinese: 滇越铁路; pinyin: Dian–Yue tielu; Vietnamese: tuyến đường sắt Hải Phòng - Vân Nam綫塘鐵海防-雲南; French: Chemins de Fer de L'Indo-Chine et du Yunnan, "Indo-Chinese–Yunnan Railroad") is an 855 km railway built by France during 1904-1910, connecting Haiphong, Vietnam with Kunming, Yunnan province, China. The section within China from Kunming to Hekou is known as the Kunming–Hekou Railway (Chinese: 昆河铁路; pinyin: Kun–He tielu), and is 466 km long. The section within Vietnam is 389 km long, and is considered a part of Hanoi–Lào Cai Railway (Vietnamese: Đường sắt Hà Nội - Lào Cai塘鐵河内-老街). The railway used gauge due to the mountainous terrain along the route. Currently it is the only main line in China using metre gauge.


Prior to the construction of the railway, the standard travel time from Haiphong (the closest sea port to most of Yunnan) to Kunming was reckoned by the Western authorities to be 28 days: 16 days by steamer and then a small boat up the Red River to Manhao (425 miles), and then 12 days overland (194 miles).[2]

The railway was opened in 1910. The metre gauge section was originally administered in more or less the same way as the Indochinese networks, and if not for a "missing link" through Cambodia (between Saigon and Phnom Penh), it would have been physically possible for through trains to run from Kunming to Singapore, as metre gauge was used in Malaya as well.

Under pressure from Japan, France closed the line on 16 July 1940 to cut supplies to China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During the Japanese occupation Japanese National Railways Class 9600 2-8-0 locomotives were shipped to aid their invasion, and after the completion of the "death railway" it was possible for a time to send through traffic to Burma and hence to the Indian metre gauge network. This is now not possible, as sections of the railway were destroyed during the conflicts since World War II.[3]

During the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979, the railway bridge at the two countries' border was destroyed, and the trade between China and Vietnam came to a halt for a period of some years.[4]

Yunnan-Kopei Railway

A 60-cm gauge Gebishi branch line was built from Jijie to Gejiu[3] using Decauville equipment beginning in 1915. The 45 miles (72 km) route required eight tunnels as long as 2,296 feet (700 m) with 3 percent grades and 28-degree curves. Gejiu Tin-Mining Company freight required 33-pound rail. Baldwin Locomotive Works built sixteen 0-10-0 locomotives for the line between 1924 and 1929. These outside frame, slide valve locomotives weighed 85,500 pounds (38,800 kg)[5] including a 16.5-tonne 4-wheel tender carrying a tonne of coal and 1,000 US gallons (3,800 l) of water, and steam pressure of 180 pounds-force per square inch (13 kg/cm2) produced 14,700 pounds (6,700 kg) tractive force with 711 millimetres (28.0 in) driving wheels. Larger tenders were used in later years, and some of these locomotives remained operational until the branch was converted to metre-gauge in 1990.[6]

Present state

Twice-a-week cross-border passenger service (involving the passengers having to transfer from a Chinese train to a Vietnamese train at the border station) operated as late as 2000, but landslides caused frequent delays.[7] Eventually, in 2005[8] the passenger service on the Chinese section of the railway (the Kunming-Hekou Railway) was terminated,[9] [10] and most of the passenger coaches were donated to Myanmar.[8]

In 2008, passenger service on a small part (37 km long) of the Chinese section of the railway was resumed, but on a very limited scale. As of 2012, two daily trains run from Kunming North Railway Station on the meter-gauge tracks to Shizui (石咀) Station on the western outskirts of Kunming, and to Wangjiaying (王家营) east of the city.[8]

Freight service still continues to operate throughout the Kunming-Hekou Railway.[9]

According to Chinese news agencies, some investment continues to be made to keep the railway running. For example, it was reported in 2004 that 100 million yuan (USD $12 million) was to be spent to buy 10 new diesel locomotives for the railway.[11] As of 2008, upgrade work was said to be continuing on the Chinese side.[9]

According to a spring 2012 trip report, the rails on the Kunming-Hekou Railway now rest on concrete sleepers, and freight traffic is fairly intensive. On the other hand, outside of the immediate Kunming area where passenger service continues, passenger stations mostly appear abandoned.[8]

On the Vietnamese side, passenger trains continue to run from Hanoi to the border town of Lào Cai.[9][10]

In fiction

  • Bisezhai Station (碧色寨) by Fan Wen (范稳).[12]

See also


External links

  • The Yunnan-Vietnam Railroad
  • The Yunnan-Vietnam Railroad - with photographs
  • Chemins de Fer de L’Indo-Chine et du Yunnan by Leo-Giuliani (French) (Chinese)
  • Yunnan French Railway Snaps
  • Kunming - Hanoi on 1,000 mm gauge
  • French Railway In China pdf document
  • Kunming - Hekou Railway by K. Yoneya (Japanese)
  • Kunming - Hekou Railway by Mamoru Kuroi (Japanese)
  • Yunnan Railways at kurogane-rail (Japanese)

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