Steam train in China

This item appears on page 69 of the April 2014 issue.

The Shibanxi Railway (aka Jiayang Coal Railway), an authentic, narrow-gauge steam line on which foreigners may book tickets, is located in the town of Shixi, south of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, south-central China.

Tickets are available at the station in Shixi and cost RMB5 ($0.80) for the local train or RMB50 ($8) for the tourist train with air-conditioned passenger cars. All trains are powered by any of the six steam engines that take coal and passengers from Shibanxi to Bagou, making six stops along the 20-kilometer route. 

At times, there are delays as the passenger train waits for coal trains to pass. The train usually stops in Jiaoba so passengers can snap pictures of the train and scenery. 

Shibanxi can be reached by charter train from Chengdu. Or you can follow the suggestion in the Sept. 5, 2013, article by CNN’s David Akast ( take a taxi from Chengdu to Shiyang bus station for RMB25, take a bus two hours to Qianwei for RMB68, then a local bus, taxi or motorbike taxi (RMB50) to Shibanxi, the line’s true starting point, or Yuejin, where the tourist trains start.