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Published by membersonly, 2018-04-25 01:41:40

1303i

28th April 2018

INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1303 28 APRIL 2018

BRANCH LINE NEWS

INTERNATIONAL

This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.

Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY

________________________________________________________

Between 1914 and 1918, millions of soldiers passed through Paris Gare de l'Est in transit, including soldiers on leave
and the wounded. In the hall of the left wing of the station there is a monumental painting called ‘Départ des poilus,
août 1914’, a work by the American artist Albert Herter which illustrates the departure of French soldiers to the front
in August 1914. It was painted in memory of the artist's son, a volunteer soldier in the French army, who was killed
at the front at Bois-Belleau in the Aisne region in 1918, in the last few months of the war. The painter included
himself on the right of the painting, with a bouquet in his hand, while his wife is on the far left with her hands
clasped together. Their son is the person in the centre of the painting, proud and enthusiastic with his arms in the
air, in the doorway of a carriage. With a flower in his gun and his cap held high in the other hand, the volunteer
soldier catches the eye. His bravery and charisma contrast with the sorrow of the women in tears on the platform.

EUROPE
[152] Belgium/France - New service to Maubeuge planned (then to Paris)
http://www.brusselstimes.com/business/10827/namur-paris-train-service-to-be-ready-by-december
The aim is to include in the 2018 transport plan trains that travel once again between Namur and Paris,
passing through Maubeuge, Aulnoye, Saint-Quentin and Compiègne. The Namur – Paris link is aimed at
helping to fill the gap left when the Thalys Walloon service (Liège-Namur-Paris) was scrapped two
years ago. Initially two train pairs would operate daily between Namur and Maubeuge for onward
connection to Paris, but by December it is hoped these will become through services. Euro-gricers will
note that if the proposed service comes to pass it will reopen the cross border section between
Erquelinnes and Jeumont which is presently freight only.

[153] Belgium – Work resumes on GEN
Work has resumed on the construction of the Regional Express Network (GEN), a suburban rail
network that will improve train services between Brussels and the towns and villages within a 30km
radius of the capital. Part of the Regional Express Network is already in use. However, the project’s
completion has been beset by delays. Over the past three years construction work has been halted
due to budgetary constraints but now work has restarted again on the upgrading to 4 tracks of the
Brussels to Ottignies (Walloon Brabant) line at Hoeilaart in Flemish Brabant. Upgrading will continue to
four tracks on line 161 between Brussels and Ottignies. Line 124 between Brussels and Nivelles
(Walloon Brabant) is also to be upgraded to four tracks along its entire length. Finally, line 50A
between Brussels and Sint-Katherina-Lombeek will be completed. Belgium’s railway infrastructure
company Infrabel says that the Regional Express Network should be completely in use by 2031.

[154] Czech Republic - Lovosice to Teplice will not be restored
The Czech Ministry of Transport definitively rejected the plans for a possible renewal of the line from
Lovosice to Teplice, closed for nearly five years after a 40 metre landslide at Dobkovice caused by
construction of the D8 motorway. The Ministry had previously claimed that the line would be repaired.

The problem appears to be at least twofold: low passenger numbers before the closure, and the Usti
regions desire to upgrade the lines infrastructure, thereby greatly increasing the cost. So bus
replacement Radejčín to Lovosice will continue unless the Usti region put their money where their
mouth is and fund the work themselves.

The landslide at Dobkovice

[155] Czech Republic – Heritage railway extends for the final time
Between 1917 and 1924 an 11km 600mm gauge railway was built from Mladějov na Moravě to the
mines at Hřebeč. Railway operation ended with the closure of the entire Mladějov industrial area on
31 December 1991. Heritage railway operation started initially in 2004 from Mladějov to Nová Ves,
extending to Josefka in July 2015 and Hřebeč-Gerhard in May 2017.
Now the railway has reopened for its full length from the start of the 2018 season, although the
service is split, with steam Mladějov to Nová Ves and diesel from Nová Ves to the terminus at Hřebeč
doly. Dates of operation are 19 May, 2 and 30 June, 7, 14, 21 and 28 July, 4, 11 and 18 August, 1, 15
and 29 September 2018. Times can be found at http://www.mladejov.cz/verejne-jizdy
[156] Czech Republic - Trains return to the Čelákovice – Mochov line
The 4km branch from Čelákovice to Mochov route was built by the Austrian Railway Company for
freight transport to the sugar factory in Mochov and entered service on 11 February 1883. After the
sugar refinery was dismantled in 1957, it was replaced by a cold store. Passenger transport started on
14 May 1939 but regular passenger transport operated by Czech Railways, was terminated on 9

December 2006. In the years 2007 to 2017 occasional trains ran operated by KŽC Doprava, referred to
as the ‘Polabský motoráček’, meaning Mochov motorbike. Increasing road congestion for commuters
to Praha has led to the reintroduction of a weekday peak hours service from 3 April 2018, operated by
KŽC Doprava and shown in timetables as service S24. Details and timetable at:
http://www.kzc.cz/vlak/linka-s24

[157] Finland/Norway – New freight link in the far north?
Finland and Norway are exploring the possibility of developing a rail freight link between the northern
Finnish town of Rovaniemi and the ice-free Norwegian Port of Kirkenes. The line would be the first rail
link between an EU state and an Arctic port. Arctic shipping routes are opening up as a result of recent
climate changes. According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, the project should be completed in
2030. A budget of 3.6 billion Euros has been allocated for the construction. Moreover, Finland has
considered linking the railway to the undersea railtunnel due to be constructed between Finland and
Estonia. From Estonia, it could link to Rail Baltica, realising a direct train connection to Warsaw. Up to
now, the Northeast Passage was rarely used for shipping due to the amount of ice. However, a rise in
temperatures has opened up the waters for around four months a year. This makes it possible to travel
from Norway to South Korea in 19 days, about thirty per cent faster than through the Suez Canal.

[158] France – No trains on the "Virgule de Sablé" until at least September 2018
BLNI 1291.402 reported on the temporary closure of the Raccordement de la virgule de Sablé-sur-
Sarthe, 30km west of Le Mans. This forms a connection between the Bretagne-Pays de la Loire LGV
(towards Rennes) and the connection to Sablé (towards Nantes) allowing trains between Nantes and
Rennes to avoid Le Mans. The problem is that trains are ‘disappearing’ briefly from the train
monitoring system. The latest news is that efforts to resolve the problem have been unsuccessful and
the virgule (which translates as comma) will remain out of use until at least September 2018 with a
lengthy bus replacement journey instead.

[159] Germany – Berlin Brandenburg airport finally has an opening date
October 2020 has been announced as the definitive opening date as by then (inter alia) the airport will
have been cleared for evacuation in a fire. That means that the DB station and associated lines can
finally open.

[160] Germany – Notes on the Halle and Gotha tram systems
Halle tram diversions
A visitor on 6 March found that the direct line between Am Steintor and Marktplatz was closed
(posters didn’t give a reopening date) resulting in a number of diversions and unusual curves. Line 5
was one of those affected and was diverted via Reileck. The Kröllwitz bound service ran via the loop at
Adolfstrasse and the return service used the direct south to east curve at Reileck. Line 1 took the same
route and also used the north to west curve north of Am Steintor. Lines 2, 6 and 10 were also affected
by the closure.
Halle inter-urban tram line 5
A snowy March morning was spent travelling inter-urban route 5 to Bad Dürrenberg and its branches.

Tram 5 to Bad Dürrenberg at Halle Hauptbahnhof on a snowy 7 March

During the day there is a 15 minute service, with alternate trams stopping short at Halle-Ammendorf
and going through to Bad Dürrenberg.
Starting on an Ammendorf tram, your reporter covered this very short branch and loop. After a brief
pause, although long enough for a repair man to replace a defective wing mirror on the tram, it
returned north in time to alight at the first stop back on the main line and pick up the following Bad
Dürrenberg service.

Trams at Halle-Ammendorf – the one on the left is the service tram having its wing mirror
replaced. The other appeared to be on test.

It was noted that the double track loop at Bunewerke appeared out of use as weeds could be seen
poking above the snow cover. [The 2012 edition of Schwandl’s Tram Atlas Deutschland shows this as
out of use – Ed.]
The large works here, presumably the reason for the loop, seemed derelict. The short branch
Merseburg Süd is only served by northbound trams, but these are timed to provide a connection with
the southbound service at Leunaweg, where there is a triangular junction. Unfortunately the
northbound tram stop is on the south to west curve, so connecting here misses a bit of track. In
consequence your reporter travelled on to Am Haupttor where, fortuitously, there was an adjacent
café which provided a warm place to wait for the next northbound tram. There is no equivalent
connection from Merseburg Süd into the southbound service, and again the stop is part way round the
curve, this time the west to north one, so he alighted a few stops north at Merseburg/Zentrum before
continuing his journey south. Unfortunately most of the loop at Bad Dürrenberg has recently been
closed, with just a short stub of line remaining to a two platform terminal adjacent to the railway
station. The loop itself has been de-wired and buffers at the end of the platform lines prevent its use,
although the tracks are still there.

Loop at Bad Dürrenberg, showing stops preventing its use

Tram 5 at Bad Dürrenberg terminal platform.

Strassenbahn Gotha and Thueringerwaldbahn – rare curve in regular use during the summer.
This remarkable system was threatened with closure at the end of 2017 and, although reprieved, a
visit was considered to be a priority. The intention was to cover all of the normal routes, plus a couple
of rare curves, but the plan fell apart on arrival as the line from Hauptbahnhof to Huttenstrasse had
closed for roadworks on 1 March and doesn’t reopen until 30 September. The result of this is that,
during this period, routes 1 and 4 run to Ostbahnhof via the normally rare east to west curve at
Huttenstrasse. A tram replacement bus runs from Hauptbahnhof to Hersdorfplatz. Despite this
disruption your reporter still had time to cover the long inter-urban line to the spa town of Bad Tabarz,
as well as the branch to Waltershausen (although not the connecting curves), and to return on one of
the services via Kreiskrankenhaus, so at least picking off the targeted unusual curves.
The line to Tabarz is particularly rural beyond Waltershausen-Gleisdreieck and runs alongside the
Friedrichroda branch for around 5 kilometres. The single ended tram that your reporter travelled on
was obliged to use the loop before arriving at Tabarz, although this would appear to be the normal
method of operation here.

Thueringerwaldbahn service 4 on arrival at Tabarz

The Waltershausen branch, however, requires the operation of a double ended tram (otherwise it
would have to reverse round the triangle at Waltershausen-Gleisdreieck) and, as a result, was able to
run straight into the platform at the branch end and reverse. The loop here did look as though it saw a
bit of use, however.

Tram 6 at Waltershausen, with the loop in the foreground

[161] Netherlands – Port of Rotterdam to expand capacity
The Port of Rotterdam Authority has awarded the contract to construct the substructure for the
Theemsweg route, a steel vertical-lift bridge for trains, cars and slow-moving traffic and an important
link on the Betuweroute. At the same time, it has started constructing the infrastructure for the
Container Exchange Route which will link the rail terminals, deep sea container terminals, empty
depots, and distribution companies at Maasvlakte, the man-made extension of the port. The project is
of great relevance, as the railway to and from the Port of Rotterdam is about to reach its maximum
capacity due to the expected increase in rail freight transport and ocean shipping to and from
Brittanniëhaven. The construction of the Theemsweg route provides a solution to this bottleneck.
Traffic will be re-routed across the Rozenburgsesluis and via Theemsweg. This will improve the railway
connection between the western port area and the hinterland, as it is a connection on the
Betuweroute as well as an access link to Brittanniëhaven for ocean shipping. It is expected that works
will start during the course of 2018 and be completed by 2020. The contract is a subproject of the
Theemsweg route construction: following completion there will be a phase in which the
superstructure is constructed, which includes the railway and all associated systems.

[162] Romania – Another branch closes
Softrans withdrew from the Craiova to Motru route from 1 April 2018. The train had comprised an
electric loco with one coach working two return journeys per day. The reason for the withdrawal is low
passenger numbers. Announcement at: http://www.softrans.ro/mersul-trenurilor.html
This removes passenger services from the 30.7 km branch between Strehaia and Motru.

[163] Romania – Timisoara tram closure
Of note to those into trams, line 5 from Ronat to Balta Verde is now shut, de-wired and the balloon
loop at Ronat lifted.

[164] Switzerland - Solothurn to Moutier safe
The Weissenstein Tunnel will be closed for renovation between June 2020 and November 2021,
meaning that the threatened Solothurn - Moutier line should have a secure future. It is not clear
whether the entire line will be closed, or whether trains will terminate and start at Oberdorf and
Gänsbrunnen, at the ends of the tunnel.

[165] Switzerland - Klosters (Sasslatsch Nord) — Susch (Sasslatsch II)
This curve is to be used by regular services between Landquart and Pontresina from May 2018 until
September 2019. During this period the line to Scuol-Tarasp will be closed to allow reconstruction of
the Giarsun and Magnacun tunnels.

REST OF THE WORLD

[166] Algeria - Desert tram line launched in Ouargla
A new tram line has been inaugurated in the city of Ouargla. Located in the Sahara Desert, the line is
9.7km long, includes 16 stations and will be operated by Enterprise Métro d’Alger (EMA). A Spanish
consortium comprised of Rover Alcisa, Elecnor and Assignia Infrestructuras have built the light rail
system following the award of a €228 million contract in June 2013. The trams can transport more
than 400 passengers and have been modified to operate in the region’s climate where they have to
operate in sandstorms, temperatures of up to 49 degrees, intense solar radiation and high levels of
dust and sand in the air. Technical modifications have seen the air conditioning system reinforced, the
windows equipped with a solar protection film, the traction and braking systems modified for greater
impermeability, and exposed parts – such as the pantographs – protected.

[167] Ecuador - Some observations from a ride over the Guayaquil and Quito railway (G&Q)
Our member was a participant in a recent PTG Tours holiday to this legendary and iconic railway
linking the two main cities of Ecuador. It had fallen into disrepair and suffered landslide damage, so
was largely closed for many years, however in 2008 the government took control and started a rebuild
and the line finally reopened throughout by 2015. The only trains now are purely tourist operations
over individual sections of the line. There are no service trains for locals nor any freight and it was
soon easy to see why as the train crawled slowly over dodgy track which cannot possibly compete with
fast, frequent and very cheap bus services. The only way to travel throughout in one go is to buy the
“tren crucero” (cruise train) package holiday which PTG duly did. This takes 3 days to travel the 446 km
and is padded out with lots of tourist side trips, to which PTG added even more days of non-railway

sightseeing. As a luxury Orient Express style holiday staying in expensive hotels and eating meals in
expensive restaurants and getting a taste of a little known country it could hardly be faulted and was
impressive. As a hard core gricing trip rather less so. The group did the one way trip in the Guayaquil to
Quito direction. The PTG group was small, only 10 people including 2 ladies, and was joined by 7
independent Swiss and German travellers, making a lightly loaded train since the normal capacity is 50.
Our member was unsure whether the rolling stock was new or rebuilt, but the bodywork is splendid
and modernistic inside and is in a garish red livery with grey roof which is rather incompatible with the
steam locos for photographic purposes. The Tren Crucero sets have 4 coaches – 2 seating saloons with
one-a-side seats which are movable armchairs rather than conventional railway seating, one
buffet/lounge coach with a transverse sofa and extra large glass windows and lastly an observation
coach with more comfy seating and a completely open verandah at the rear. Different types of
coaches are used for the shorter distance workings. Haulage is largely diesel these days using some 12
wheel (triple bogie) locos built by GEC Alsthom in France in 1992. There must be some significant
lateral movement arrangement on the bogies to get round the curves, some of which are very tight.
Steam haulage is available but sadly only on short sections of the trip. There is no operational ban as
such to prevent steam haulage, just an economic one – our member was quoted steam haulage costs
of $73 per km, diesel just $5 (the currency of Ecuador is the U.S. dollar). Following recent restorations
they claim now to have 7 operational steam locos all built by Baldwin of which disappointingly the
train had only two, though two more were seen. Incidentally these have been converted to burn diesel
in the firebox- a world first (?). The line was opened in stages between 1873 and 1908 and is of course
3’6” gauge and single track throughout. There is no signalling and all points are hand operated by the
crew. Many stations have a crossing loop with some additional loops at other often remote places,
though there appears little evidence of actual usage. Most stations also have a “wye” (triangle to turn
locos). When our member enquired as to the method of controlling train movements on the single
line, presuming radio, he was told not - radios are no good in the mountains – it is written train orders.
This was a surprise as he did not observe any operations staff (station master or such like) anywhere at
all, just security men. Like most South American countries Ecuador has a rampant crime problem with
definite no-go areas in cities. The G&Q railway, also known as Tren Ecuador, has all its stations and
depots guarded by the red shirted guards of private security company “Armiled Seguridad” who are
armed. Thus the stations are maintained in excellent condition with no vandalism or graffiti. Buildings
again appear modernistic and not very railway like and again, he was unsure whether they were new
build or restorations. Armiled Seguridad have another unusual function. Two or more guards
accompany the train as motorcycle outriders, riding ahead to block road traffic at the numerous level
crossings, even those which have working barriers, and then leapfrogging the slow moving train to the
next crossing. The whole line reminded him very much of the Hedjaz Railway – similar gauge, decrepit,
no longer any public service trains and the railway runs right down the middle of the street through
each town, although the G&Q now has a dedicated track bed created by laying kerb stones along each
side to keep out the road traffic which is horrendous. The word gridlock does not even begin to
describe it. He suspects this is a recent innovation, likewise the level crossings which in the UK we
would classify as ABCL (automatic barrier crossing locally monitored). This equipment looks modern
and most of these did actually work while most still had their barriers intact! The G&Q does not
actually reach Guayaquil but starts from Duran station on the other side of the very wide Guayas river.
This station, like Riobamba and Quito is in a guarded, fenced off compound. The group turned up early
for their 8:30 departure, to find diesel 2406 ready to go with an 8:00 to Alausi. So 2 trains in 30

minutes! After that their train was dragged into the single platform by red liveried 2-6-0 no. 14
Baldwin 19347 of 1901 which pulled them 20km to the first stop, Yaguachi, where it was swapped for
diesel 2405 to continue across the fertile coastal plain to Bucay for the night. A pathetic total of 87 km
in one day. Day 2 was the exciting one, the climb up the Andes including the famous zig-zag up the
sheer side of the mountain known as the Devils Nose. Our member had always imagined that this was
the summit of the line but in fact it is barely half way up at 6023 ft., the line continuing to climb, but
less spectacularly, to the eventual summit at Urbina at 11840 ft. From Bucay they set out and stopped
at Huigra to cross 2406 returning from Alausi - the only train crossed in 3 days. Soon after, around km
122, came a sudden juddering halt. The train had derailed all 4 coaches! Now they knew why the two
train guards spend the entire time leaning out of open doors vigilantly observing the passage of the
train. Thinking how Network Rail would deal with this situation – line closed for days, rail incident
officer, getting a road crane in, train withdrawn for inspection, RAIB investigation etc. – it was
instructive to experience the local way of dealing with this by using some curved iron re-railing devices
just placed on the track to guide the wheels back on the rails one bogie at a time as the loco dragged
the entire derailed train along the ballast! Far from being evacuated the passengers were actually not
allowed to leave the train, so our member did not see exactly how this worked. Anyway they did it and
in an hour and a half they were on their way again. Only for 5 kilometres however, as they fell off
again! This time they fixed it in just 20 minutes and off they went, though it was obvious they had
smashed the sleepers in the track behind them. What do they do when it is the loco which derails?
Mercifully they were spared that experience. Thankfully they cleared Sibambe (noting the junction for
the closed line to Cuenca) and the Devils Nose was travelled successfully, but then came the
devastating news - the line was closed between Alausi and Guamote for “geological reasons” and so
they would be put on a bus thus missing a 38 km section. This was the one thing our member had most
dreaded. They arrived at Guamote to find another train waiting but no loco. Eventually it turned up
and disappointment turned to anger. It was 2405 which had worked light engine over the “closed”
line. If he had known that in advance our member would have demanded a cab ride. At Colta they
returned to steam with 2-8-0 no. 58 Baldwin 75590 of 1952 nicknamed “the Black Monster” to
Riobamba where the station is, surprisingly, a terminus on a mile long branch with 4 (!) platforms and
a small museum. The next day they started off again with no.58 to Urbina summit, then 2405 took
over again. The initial section from Riobamba has been completely relaid with concrete sleepers and
speeds were the best of the trip. The rest of the journey into Quito (Chimbacalle station) was
uneventful. The 373km northern extension was opened in sections to the port of San Lorenzo by 1956
but has closed except for an isolated 60 km section from Otavalo to Salinas based around the loco
depot in the city of Ibarra. They were told that the government aspires to reopen more of this line but
not how far or to what timescale, as the final part of “Tren Crucero” They were to have a special train
from Otavalo to Ibarra, but more disappointment, with diesel 2402 and 2 coaches rather than the
promised steam loco no. 18, and from San Roque not Otavalo. At least this time the reason was
genuine, as they observed from their bus the totally destroyed bridge with the track just dangling in
mid-air across the gap. Two days later they did the final section from Ibarra to Salinas and return, this
time on a normal public excursion but still with 2402 and 2 coaches. Ibarra station is a modern one
platform edifice on a 400 metre siding at right angles to the main line and the junction faces Otavalo
with no passing loop to reverse – so the train ran through a gate behind the loco depot, round a
balloon loop and back out the front gate – compare with Eastleigh! The line runs largely downhill

alongside a gorge with various horseshoe curves and is very scenic. PTG is offering this tour again in
November 2018.

[168] Peru – New infrastructure projects announced
The Peruvian Ministry of Development has announced it is to invest the equivalent of around 51
million Euros into new freight and passenger rail networks. These new rail networks will be completed
in 2022, and comprise three key projects. The first one is the railway tunnel between the capital Lima
and Huancayo, the main city in the central Peruvian Andean region. The new line will cut the travel
time between the two cities from 12 to 6 hours. The second project is a line between Barranca and Ica,
crossing Lima, which will be 475 kilometres long. Ica is one of the main agricultural areas in Peru,
supplying Lima and using Callao port to export to the USA and Asia. The third planned infrastructure is
the 65-kilometre line between Tacna and Arica, which spans the Peru-Chile border. Tacna is the main
agricultural and cattle hub in southern Peru, using Arica as its main port in the Pacific Ocean and as its
gate to the Chilean market.

[169] South Korea -Yeongdeok to Pohang line opens
The 44.1 km Pohang – Yeongdeok section of the Donghae Line which is being developed to run from
south to north parallel to the east coast was opened with a ceremony on 25 January. The single-track
line, designed for 150 km/h operation, is initially being used by 14 passenger trains per day with a
34 min journey time.
A 122.2 km continuation north from Yeongdeok to Samcheok is scheduled to open in 2020. To the
south, the 36.7 km Taehwagang – Ilgwang section of the Donghae Line is scheduled to open in late
2019, connecting with the 28.5 km Busan – Ilgwang route which opened in December 2016.

[170] USA – S&NC in trouble
The Saratoga & North Creek Railway notified its local partners that it planned to halt its operations
after the 7 April “snow train” run between Saratoga Springs and Thurman. The company would not
operate tourist trains after that date, but does not plan to lay off its employees at that point. The
announcement came after company President Ed Ellis told Warren County leaders that mounting
financial losses would force a closure, unless the company can sell a rail line it owns in Essex and
northern Warren counties for $5 million to develop freight business for mined stone. The line is known
as the Sanford Lake, or Tahawus, line. The railway has also contracted with Revolution Rail Co., which
offers rail bike rides on the Tahawus line, for rail bike trips. The company’s voicemail and Facebook
page show business as usual for a late-May seasonal opening, and apparently the railway’s decision
about its operations will not affect the rail bike business.

[171] USA - The Great Northern Luxury Locomotive Lodge
All is not what is seems – click on the link to see how this old diesel locomotive has been turned into a
hotel room in Montana http://www.gn441.com/livingroom.html

[172] Vietnam – Service cuts
As of 02 February 2018 the last train pair from Long Bien to Quan Trieu was withdrawn, leaving the
line without a passenger service. From the same day DD05/DD06 Hanoi-Dong Dang were also
withdrawn leaving the international service to Nanning as the only passenger train north of Kep. The
long threatened Halong service is still running.

[173] Vietnam – Funicular railway opens in north west Vietnam
Located 350km northwest of Hanoi, Sa Pa town in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai is
1600 metres above sea level. The town is dominated by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range which
features Indochina’s highest mountain, Fansipan at 3142 metres above sea level. This is a popular
tourist destination reached by a rather dangerous mountain road, then a cable car. Now the mountain
road section has been bypassed by a 2km ‘mountain railway’ – a funicular railway from the look of it –
opened on 31 March 2018 connecting the MGallery Hotel in Sa Pa Town with the Muong Hoa cable
station to Fansipan Peak. The two-carriage train can travel at a maximum speed of 10m per second
and serve up to 2,000 guests per hour.

The Muong Hoa rail route starts from MGallery Hotel in Sa Pa Town and ends at the cable station to Fansipan Peak.

I

The carriages have classic European interiors with antique lights, ceiling fans and huge glass windows.


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