Tag Archives: Trains

Searching for Wujin’s Train Station

Question: In the Changzhou Prefecture, how many train stations are there?

Answer: Two? Changzhou Station and Changzhou North?

Wrong!

Answer: Three? Changzhou Station, Changzhou North, and Qishuyan?

Wrong again!

The keywords in the question are “Changzhou Prefecture.” So, that includes the city of Liyang to the south. They have high speed rail on a different route to Shanghai. So, while they have a station, you can’t actually take the train from Changzhou to Liyang. If you are using public transportation, the only option is a three hour bus ride. So, the answer is likely more around “four.”

I thought about this because I once tried writing trivia questions for Quiz Night at OK Koala. However, some of the questions in my music section seemed to revolve too much around the post-rock bands Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mount Zion.

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Godspeed’s most recent album. Think bleary instrumental rock that also uses violins and cellos. It’s the perfect soundtrack to writing a memoir about overcoming a midlife crisis (which I have been doing a lot of, recently). I was also listening to this while writing this post.

 

While they are currently my favorite bands, I realized that much of my quiz reveled in needless obscurity only I would likely know, and so I never finished it. I did want to fact check one thing, however.

 

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Apparently, Wujin has a train station. A Chinese friend, a few years ago, told me that she grew up near it. So, I decided to see if I can find it. The other issue is this: Baidu Maps can sometimes not be trusted. I have spent a lot of time traipsing through empty fields looking for “Martyr’s Memorials” that simply didn’t exist. As for Baidu, the app claimed it was a long-but-straight-forward trip.

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Roughly, 35.5 kilometers from my apartment in Xinbei’s Huai De Ming Yuan housing estate to a part of southern Wujin that is actually closer to the city limits with Yixing than it is Changzhou’s city center. Much of the trip took me along Heping / Changwu Road. (The name changes, once you cross the bridge into Wujin). For the most part, it was simple ride even after I turned off of Changwu Road. Until….

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I ran into some construction. These shipping containers I think functioned as like a makeshift foreman’s offices. It was completely blocking the road. I nearly gave up, but if you notice off to the right, you can actually see a train. So, I looked to see if there was a narrow path around. There was. This was on the other side.

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I thought the rest was about simple. However….

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The building I suspected of being the train station obviously was not. There is another thing to consider. There are plenty of narrow farm roads in the area. I tried to stay off them, but I couldn’t help myself.

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My photo archive always needs more Chinese scarecrows!

Essentially, vineyards make up a large part of this area. These are likely not wine grapes, as they look a lot like the type I see sold along the side of the road. I don’t mean that in a bad way, either. That’s just to say: it’s a local agricultural product. That was reinforced once I actually found the train station.

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One vineyard had been harvesting it’s crop and loading it onto a freight truck. Well, what about Wujin’s train station? Don’t get your hopes up.

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It looked pretty abandoned. That got me thinking, though. What about the train parked there? My guess is this: if this place is used at all, it’s for freight only. It is so far removed from an actual population center that it makes absolutely no sense for passenger traffic.

As for my proposed trivia question. How many train stations in Changzhou? Technically, five as of this counting. However, this place in Wujin is so obscure, it almost doesn’t count. There is a way around that: reword the question. How many high speed rail stations are there in the Changzhou Prefecture? The answer to that is still four, I think. Changzhou Station, Changzhou North, Qishuyan, and Liyang.

No Love for Qishuyan Station

Changzhou has three high-speed rail stations. The most commonly used can be found in the city center, in the Tianning District. This station services passengers wanting to to use the line between Shanghai and Nanjing. You can also get to other places like Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Hefei from here.

The other major station is in Xinbei. In English, this is most commonly called “Changzhou North.” It’s a totally different rail line connecting Shanghai to Beijing.  The stops are all different, too. Yes, the trains stop in Nanjing and Wuxi, but they don’t stop at the central stations in those cities. (Respectively, its Nanjing South and Wuxi East). Once you pass Nanjing, the train heads north to places like Xuzhou, Chuzhou, Bengbu, and more with Beijing South Station as its terminal point.

Then, there is Qishuyan Station. It’s provincial at best. It’s tiny. And if you do not live in Qishuyan, this is a very annoying stop on the way to Shanghai or other points east. It’s only on the Shanghai-to-Nanjing line. Once you leave Changzhou’s central station, the train coasts very slowly for like five minutes and then stops.  Two to five people may board or depart.  Thankfully, not all trains stop here, according the schedules you can find on Ctrip.com.

I find the existence of this train station a little troubling. First, Qishuyan is no longer a district in Changzhou city proper. It got folded into Wujin last year —  at the same time when Jintan stopped being a independent and was absorbed into Changzhou’s redefined city limits. It’s almost if if the municipal government bet on Qishuyan being an important financial center, hedged it bets, years later, and then started backing away. So, now there is a high speed rail station nobody really uses. Honestly, check Ctrip.com for how many trains actually stop there.

Besides, in the years I lived in Wujin, I always thought having an honest “Changzhou South” station  made more sense. The Xinbei, Tianning, and Qishuyan stations are highly annoying to get to when you work in Wujin’s many, many factories and industrial parks, or at Changzhou’s southern college town. All three are either long bus rides or expensive taxi fares. They are certainly NOT convenient to get to.

But what do I know? Who am I to question grand scheme of urban planning in China? I’m just a silly laowai 老外, a foolish foreigner, right?

Right.

So, I will now shut up and teach my Oral English classes.