Friday, 25 May 2012

Shanghai to London- Part 2

Shanghai to Wuxi-
A 'Shinkensen' style train races past on another high-speed line
Having battled through the ques to purchase tickets it was time to head to Shanghai Railway Station. This station, fairly close to the city centre deals with both classic services and high speed trains on the route to Nanjing (Other high speed services depart from the out of town Honquiaio Station). At the larger Chinese stations one is no allowed onto the platforms until shortly before the train leaves- so 10 minutes before our departure I file down the escalator to meet my first Chinese high speed train. This amusingly turned out to be a rather more familiar sight than what one might have expected- a version of Siemens ‘Velaro’ train- to all intents and purposes a new generation German ICE.

Our 'Velaro' train leaves Wuxi to reach Nanjing

The scale of China’s high speed network is nothing short of breathtaking. As the train accelerates to over 300kph we pass an impressive array of diverging lines including a large high speed flying junction. Almost the entire route is elevated on top of concrete piers, which results in an excellent view from the windows. Arrival into Wuxi station continues to show the scale of the construction as a huge steel and glass trainshed spans the platforms. Like the whole line this new station opened around 2 years ago. Next door is the ‘old’ new station- built for the classic service some 10 years earlier. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Shanghai to London- Part 1

Shanghai Local Transport-
The 'Transrapid' at Longyang Road, shanghai

Inside the Maglev train cruising at at 430kph
Arrival in Shanghai was by air from London Heathrow- an overnight flight with China Eastern Airlines (who seem to be the cheapest direct operator on this route by far). No sooner had I arrived at Pudong International Airport and it was time to experience the fastest land vehicle of the trip- infact, the fastest land vehicle available to the public anywhere in the world- the Shanghai Maglev. The system which opened in 2004 transports passengers from Shanghai Pudong airport at speeds of up to 431kph (268mph) towards the centre of Shanghai. I say 'towards' the centre as the 7-8 minute journey actually deposits passengers at Longyang Road metro station- it is a further 20 minutes into the city by conventional subway train! Never the less, the ride is impressive- the point where trains cross half way into the journey being particularly exhilarating.  

A train on an elevated section of the circular Line 4
A train pulls into Lianhua Road on Line 1. Is it just me or
is that  livery strangely familiar to anyone who has ever
caught a German train??
Shanghai is host to a modern and efficient metro system, and also one of the newest in the world. Launched in 2005 and expanded ever since the Shanghai Metro currently consists of 11 lines which cover most of the city areas and include a circular line which connects to many of the point to point routes. Tickets are very cheap by western standards, a typical journey costing just 2yuan (around 20pence). Single ride tickets are issued on plastic chipped cards which are retained by the turnstiles upon completion of each journey to be re-used from ticket machines. A 'transit card' (similar to the London's 'Oyster' scheme) is also available.

Monday, 14 May 2012

'Calbourne' visits the Mid-Hants

I have always had a connection with the Isle of Wight- relatives living in Ryde have provided me a reason to visit each summer virtually every year of my life. It is therefore no surprise that over that time I have developed a fondness for the Islands railways- both the eclectic '38 stock which runs on the electrified service, and for the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. 
The IoWS (which is one of my favourites) has a beautiful collection of vintage locomotives and just as importantly, beautiful coaches to go with them. My favourites of course are the 'real' Island locomotives, of which only three remain: Terriers W8 'Freshwater', W11 'Newport' and the sole surviving O2 W24 'Calbourne'. When I discovered that the O2, which has only recently returned to traffic was due to visit my local railway- the Mid-Hants, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up with this unique locomotive. As an added bonus the sun decided to come out to play- something of a rarity recently!
Because the O2 is air braked only it's time at the Mid-Hants was spent working with the lines thumper unit, 205025 (a fine piece of kit in itself). The train worked extra shuttles between Alresford and Ropley which were slotted between the normal full line services provided by 850 'Lord Nelson' and Black 5 '45379'.
850 'Lord Nelson' on it's final approach to Alresford
W24 'Calbourne' heads towards Ropley from Alresford
'Calbourne' heads back to Alresford with the 'Thumper' unit
Black 5 45379 heads past fields of Rapeseed while working between Medstead & Four Marks and Ropley
'Lord Nelson' is seen running tender first towards Ropley
The O2 awaits departure from Ropley with the final service of the day to Alresford. This would also be the locomotives final passenger trip while at the Mid Hants.

'Calbourne' is touring several railways on the mainland during Spring 2012 before returning to the Isle of Wight for the summer season.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

It's all been a bit quiet of late...

It has all been a bit quiet of late on this blog... and here is why. I've been a little busy over the last month. Not work, or family or frankly anything boring like that. In fact I have been travelling half way across the planet a journey of more than 6,000 miles from Shanghai to London by train. 
It has been quite a journey and I must thank my friend Simon for the opportunity to undertake the trip, and even more for putting up with me and waiting while I try to capture every locomotive in sight on my camera!
I hope to post the story of the trip over the next... little while... but to start off with, and as promised in my previous post I present one of my most pleasing captures of the trip- Mongolian Railways 2M62MM-009 hauling a heavy freight north through Ulaanbaatar.