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  You are here: Home > China Travels News > China's time-tripping steam railway

Posted: Nov.17, 2013  By: SplendidChinaTours.com

Steamer Train,Sichuan,China

No city better exemplifies China's investment in its western interior than Chengdu, the booming capital of Sichuan, famous for pandas and spicy food. The city recently hosted the Fortune Global Forum and announced that visitors from 45 countries can enjoy a 72-hour visa-free stay, further cementing its rise as a major tourism destination. Yet only two hours from this metropolis of 14 million people lies a town that has remained fundamentally untouched by the economic changes that have transformed so many lives in China over the past 35 years.

Bagou -- a coal town that has seen its population fall from a peak of 20,000 to 1,500 in the years since the mine ceased operation -- is an anomaly in China. It's a town that's actually worse off in 2013 than it was in 1963. The vast workers' auditorium, miners' cottages (several built by the British in the 1930s), schools and hospitals are all empty and in a state of abject disrepair, but the fact that more tourists are arriving on the steam railway means the town's worst days may now be behind it. The narrow-gauge rail line was built to connect Bagou with the river town of Shibanxi in 1958 and has six intermediate stops along its 19.8-kilometer (12.3-mile) route. Although used primarily for the transportation of coal, it continues to provide a passenger service. In fact, until 2012 there was no road to Bagou and the town could be reached only by train or on a motorbike running alongside the tracks.

Source: CNNGo


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