Thursday, December 29, 2011

Interested in Working Steam?

Interested in working steam? Want to visit China? John Raby has a list of reasons why you should join his tour to Sichuan Province which visits the Shibanxi line that runs from 5-15 March 2012.

"1. It's the place I chose for my 60th birthday last year because it's one of the best narrow gauge steam railways (real or preserved) in the world
2. real steam ng, trains in a landscape, friendly people, good food
3. walk everywhere and anywhere
4. no cars
5. the nicest place I know in China
6. some great little locos that think they are big, working their socks off
7. passenger, coal traffic, tourist trains, additional cargoes – pigs, refrigerators, brick, bamboo (and even corpses!)
8. five tunnels to walk through (bring a torch) and 1 reversal
9. electric coal trains and steam under the wires on the bottom section
10. haircut in Bagou, stay with the doctor in Mifeng
11. hiking trails with views of the line in the hills between Sanjing and Huangcun
12.small coal mine at Huangcun with hand tramming (and 300mm and 600mm gauge)"

This is the second time that this tour has run, so you can read about the 2011 trip on John Raby's blog. Even if you cannot take the trip, I recommend reading the blog just for the pictures and perspective on life in small-town China.

The fully refundable deposit for the tour is 400 British pounds with the tour itself priced in Chinese yuan. The main tour costs 11,000 yuan for 10 nights and is to be paid in China at the start of the tour or my bank transfer to the Chinese guide, Zebedee. Minus the £400, that means ¥7,000 will need to be paid in China. All meals, transportation, and tours are included in this price. Most of the rooms will be singles, although you will need to pay a small surcharge to guarantee a single room every night. Tour arrangements assume that participants will fly into and out of Chengdu in western China. Apparently, this is easy for people coming from the UK, but may be more of challenge (and more expensive) if you are coming from the US.

Both pre and post tours are available at an additional, reasonable cost. (At current exchange rates, this entire tour costs less than $1,800.)

The deadline to book is February 1. Contact John Raby at jraby at if you are interested in more information.