The International Steam Pages


Shibanxi Holiday 2011

Shibanxi Heaven - The best steam narrow gauge railway in the world on DVD when it was totally real (2004-2007).

Shibanxi Gold - The best steam narrow gauge railway in the world on DVD as it evolves into a sustainable operation (2008-2011).


If 2010 was our 'annus mirabilis' then 2011 so far has been our 'annus horribilis'. This is not the place to document why, but it does mean that there was something of a black cloud over us when we arrived on the railway for our annual visit on March 14th. Fortunately by the time we left on April 6th, they had largely dispersed.


Follow the links below according to your preferences...


There can't be too many readers who are not well aware of the railway's attractions but if you are new to Shibanxi, you might like to consult:

This time, we hit the ground running owing to John and Stephanie Raby's excellent accounts of their own visits from late February.

Individual visitors please note that despite what has been said elsewhere, the best approach to the railway remains taking a bus from Shiyang Bus Station (a short taxi or 804 bus ride from Chengdu Airport). Buses now go down the new expressway to the Qianwei North junction (2 hours journey time) - you can get them to stop here and take the usual local green bus directly to Shixi/Sanjing. It's madness to consider changing in Leshan even if you get a bus direct from the airport.


Shibanxi Heaven - The best steam narrow gauge railway in the world on DVD when it was totally real (2004-2007).

Shibanxi Gold - The best steam narrow gauge railway in the world on DVD as it evolves into a sustainable operation (2008-2011).


News from the line:

  • There are currently 5 working steam locomotives: 7, 9, 10 and 14, plus a somewhat shrill ex-Penghzhou 8 - click here for some initial pictures.

  • There are now 10 tourist coaches which are best described as brown rather than red owing to 'aging' and layers of dirt.

  • The number of Chinese visitors to the line and the area in general continues to increase and trains are liable to severe overcrowding even during the week. Numerous extra trains are run at weekends and holidays when every serviceable vehicle is pressed into use, with some extra workings to Mifeng only.

  • The loop at Xianrenjiao has been reinstated as a normal crossing point, fewer trains are crossing at Jiaoba.

  • The new road from above Jiaoba has made a dreadful mess of the hillside above the line, there are some new photo opportunities but care has to be taken with the foreground.

  • A new viewing 'platform' is under construction in the middle of the Caiziba horseshoe.

  • During March there have been up to 4 coal trains a day, we even saw one on a Sunday squeezed in between the tourist trains on a sunny day.

  • Pedestrian 'traffic lights' have been added to the tunnels on the upper section of line - ignore them at your peril when the red light shows.

  • Amazingly despite all of the above, we have found the place delightfully unchanged as far as its ambience is concerned. When the new road from Mamiao described on John Raby's page is completed, this may well change everything, but I doubt it will happen quickly.


Rob and Yuehong Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk