Usually it’s supposed to be “remixed” properly as Beijing + Tianjin + Hebei or the rather awkward-sounding Jingjinji. Except for this time, Hebei did take centre stage.
You will have remembered I had some pretty solid “Hebei roots and connections”. Oh for sure, I was born in the Chinese capital, which is Beijing, not Hebei. Yet apart from highway and railway mileage, my wife also has her roots in the province, and I presented the Beautiful Hebei contest three months after winning our 2022 Winter Olympics bid. The UK Hebei Association also recommended me as a co-host to a spring festival gala for the Chinese community in Portsmouth just a few months into 2016. To them, I was a serious doer. So it was no wonder they decided I belonged to something much bigger.
I am aware of how these organisations for returned overseas Chinese work, and they were aware of my Swiss nationality in addition to Chinese roots. (I became a member and thus the sole member from Switzerland.) The perfect pill for understanding? A previous policy in Chinese-language media with regards to my special ties to China and Switzerland: political loyalty to Bern, concern and care by heritage to Beijing.
Which leads me into my afternoon talk. It was as much as a talk of “what’s next?” as a “summary of frustrations” (to the benefit of North China, in actual fact). I went over many things in the round-table event…▶
I’ve seen quite a fair bit of railway stations by now — the good, and the bad; the well thought-out, and the absolute horrendous. Yujiapu fits none of these four because it’s magic that’s bound to take you away.
OK so not quite. I got in early on the train out from Beijing South. Because I wanted to get some real work done, I travelled in Business Class (pretty much all the time, really). The journey out was not too dissimilar with the previous HSR-then-regular-rail journeys I did, except of course we now travelled on the new 350 km/h (217 mph) line, passing through Junliangcheng North station enroute. And then we parted ways, with the HSR trunk line to Northeastern China heading further northeast, whilst we stayed further east, then slightly due southeast, with Tanggu the first station that could be served.
But the bit after Tanggu was new. We went underground and of course, that could mean only one thing: Yujiapu was an underground HSR station. Of course, it was a “regular” underground station with nothing fancy such as platform edge doors, so it was just putting the train station underground rather than above ground. I didn’t have enough time to snap a pic as I got out of the train. ▶
Today, I gave the northernmost end of Tianjin’s Line 3 a peek. That would be the station of Xiaodian (小澱 / 小淀), hitherto known to me on station signage only as the northernmost terminus of the metro line (as all lines in China, like their Parisian counterparts, go by termini when it comes to travel directions).
Much of Line 3 is underground, except for the southernmost part (from South Tianjin station to the University City) and the northernmost bit (from Hua Bei Group station to the Xiaodian terminus). So when this thing came above-ground through to the Hua Bei Group station, I wanted to know which part of Tianjin we had just hit upon. I know Line 3 headed northeast to the Yixingbu interchange, where Tianjin’s Outer Ring Road meets the Beijing-Tanggu Expressway, but I was on the lookout for any bit of life beyond Tianjin’s Outer Ring. ▶
Call it the 287 kilometres of HSR that mattered. That actually built bridges.
The month of December is when China’s HSR network will break that crucial 10,000 km barrier, and the new Tianjin-Qinhuangdao High Speed Railway started this breakneck “HSR Month”. A few other new lines, including Xi’an-Baoji, Xiamen-Shenzhen, and a new link from Hengyang East to Nanning, will make China’s HSR trains go just about all over the place.
The new Tianjin-Qinhuangdao HSR that opened today seems to be a mere minnow — it is just over 250 km in length. Yet these crucial miles connect two of China’s most important north-south HSR lines: Beijing-Harbin and Beijing-Shanghai. They are merely preparing the new line today: look for the real train service zoo in late December, when Harbin-Shanghai services will be offered. ▶
There is just absolutely something to be loved by morning train C2273, leaving Beijing in the mid-morning, and bringing passengers to Tanggu — something I took a picture of recently (during the October Break).
As a Swiss, we have mountains, but to travel to the nearest “real” coast, it would be probably a four-hour boat trip north on the Rhine from Basel before anything decent like a real coastline could be seen. We are a bunch of miserable landlocked people (although we do have many picturesque lakes). So as a Swiss, to be able to travel on a train for less than an hour, and leave Beijing (with mountains to west, north, and a little to the east) and end up not far from the coast, was just something amazing. ▶
Darling, you want these for the new home? Straight from Tianjin — Charming Hometextiles.
As seen on the Beijing-Tianjin Expressway… It is amazing the names some of these companies don on themselves. Near the same freeway I have seen such wonders such as ads from MILK GOAT (yep. No joke!…) and the ilk…
The Chinese pronunciation of the local name 千榕 is qian rong, but that seems not to be a reason to call this “charming” just because they might remotely sound the same… ▶
Right now I’m in Tianjin, and the train that leaves at 15:10 will whisk me back to the Jing. That’ll bring my train mileage up to 13,168.33 km, but most importantly, that would have been the 100th time I would have travelled by train this year alone.
Must be amazing. I have to say: it’s not like this hasn’t happened before… that was ten years ago in Switzerland. But for this year alone, these are some amazing figures.
More to come once I’m back in Beijing. ▶
Most intercity trains from the Beijing South Railway Station take you only as far as central Tianjin. There’s still around probably 40 km or so of distance between the heart of Tianjin and its more coastal side in Tanggu.
I recently completed a trip to Tanggu, first by taking a train to Tianjin, then via taxi to Zhongshanmen. And where is that, exactly? It’s the current city terminus of Binhai Mass Transit Line 9, which connects central Tianjin at Zhongshanmen to the Tanggu terminus by Donghai Road.
The light rail was pretty fast, although the announcements were terribly annoying.
I didn’t go as far as Donghai Road; instead I got off at Tanggu station, which wasn’t too far away from the easternmost end of the line. ▶