Odyssey of Steel - Lin Yangchen
стали одиссея

Saigon to Scotland by train
Lin Yangchen

Calling stations marked with 🚂
includes unscheduled stops
distances are approximate




Odyssey 2018 (20365km)
via Beijing · Pyongyang · Russian Far East · Moscow · London
scroll down for 2017 via Ulaanbaatar




North-South Railway, Vietnam (French-built in 1936, reopened 1976, single track)

Track gauge: 1000mm

15 September 2018
🚂 Sài Gòn 0km (Reunification Express)
🚂 Biên Hòa
🚂 Bình Thuận 175km
🚂 Tháp Chàm
🚂 Nha Trang 411km
🚂 Tuy Hòa
🚂 Diêu Trì 630km
🚂 Quảng Ngãi 798km
🚂 Tam Kỳ
🚂 Đà Nẵng 935km (French invasion, 1858)
🚂 Huế 1038km (one-time imperial capital)
🚂 Đông Hà
🚂 Đồng Hới 1204km



🚂 Đồng Lê
🚂 Huong Pho
🚂 Vinh 1407km
🚂 Thanh Hóa 1550km
🚂 Ninh Bình 1611km
🚂 Nam Định
🚂 Phủ Lý

17 September 2018
🚂 Hà Nội 1726km


The active track between Hà Nội and Long Biên.



Track gauge: 1435mm

🚂 Gia Lâm
🚂 Bắc Giang
🚂 Đồng Đăng (Vietnamese border)



🚂 Pingxiang (Chinese border)
🚂 Ningming
🚂 Chongzuo
🚂 Nanning 2035km (train Z6)
🚂 Nanning East
🚂 Liuzhou
🚂 Guilin
🚂 Hengyang
🚂 Changsha
🚂 Wuchang
🚂 Zhengzhou
🚂 Shijiazhuang 4249km

20 September 2018
🚂 Beijing West 4530km


Firewood for Peking roast duck.

🚂 Beijing
🚂 Tianjin 4667km
🚂 Tangshan 4784km
🚂 Shanhaiguan 4907km
🚂 Jinzhou 5029km
🚂 Shenyang 5423km
🚂 Benxi 5517km
🚂 Fenghuangcheng 5590km
🚂 Dandong 5650km (Chinese border)



🚂 Sinuiju 5652km (Korean border)


Lunch with new Korean friends in the Korean restaurant car.

In 2004, a freight train carrying explosive cargo detonated at Ryongchŏn station along this route, hours after Kim Jong Il's train had passed through. The massive blast reportedly destroyed thousands of buildings and killed more than a thousand people. It was believed to have been an accident triggered by contact with a power cable during shunting. According to Israel's Mossad, one of the wagons held weapons-grade plutonium accompanied by Syrian officials. Lead coffins were later seen being loaded on a Syrian military plane.

🚂 Dongrim
🚂 Jongiu

23 September 2018
🚂 Pyongyang 5879km
Kim Jong Il traveled from Pyongyang to Moscow by train in 2001.


The 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel.


Pyongyang Metro.





🚂 Pyongyang West
🚂 Sopo
🚂 Tongbukri
🚂 Pyongsong
🚂 Sunchon
🚂 Sinchang
🚂 Sinsongchon
🚂 Sinyang
🚂 Yangtok
🚂 Soktang Onchon
🚂 Kocha
🚂 Ungok
🚂 Go En
🚂 Juso
🚂 Hamhung
🚂 Majon
🚂 Sinjung
🚂 Ryoho
🚂 Saepori
🚂 Hong Un
🚂 Sinpo
🚂 Yanghwa
🚂 Kang Sang
🚂 Sok Hu
🚂 Sinpukch'ŏng
🚂 Kunja (unscheduled stop due to loss of electrical power)
🚂 La Hung
🚂 Danchon
🚂 Liong Dae
🚂 Kimchaek
🚂 Op Ok
🚂 Won Pyong

🚂 Kil Ju
Closest approach to Punggye-Ri nuclear test site

🚂 Myong Chon
🚂 Ryongpan
🚂 Odaejin
🚂 Kyongsong
🚂 Ranam
🚂 Ch'ŏngjin
🚂 Ch'ŏngam
🚂 Ryongin
🚂 Pugo
🚂 Samhae
🚂 Pangjin
🚂 Fuchang
🚂 Rajin





🚂 Sonbong
🚂 Ungsang

Track gauge: 1520mm

27 September 2018
🚂 Tumangang (Chinese-Korean-Russian triborder) 6692km



🚂 Khasan (Russian border)



🚂 Gvozdevo
🚂 Sukhanovka
🚂 Provalovo
🚂 Olenevod

🚂 Ussuriysk
Junction with the main trans-Siberian line. Here the Tumangang–Moscow and Vladivostok-Moscow trains were joined for the journey to Moscow.

Trans-Siberian Railway (train 99)



🚂 Ozernaya
🚂 Sibirtsevo
🚂 Mychnaya
🚂 Spassk-Dalny
🚂 Shmakovka
🚂 Ruzhino
🚂 Dalnerechensk
🚂 Gyberovo
🚂 Luchegorsk
🚂 Bikin
🚂 Vyazemsky

30 September 2018
🚂 Khabarovsk-I (48°29′N 135°05′E)
Easternmost stop. This is farther east than Vladivostok.

🚂 In
🚂 Birobidzhan
🚂 Bira
🚂 Izvestkovyi Zavod
🚂 Teploe Ozero
🚂 Birakan
🚂 Izvestkovya
🚂 Obluchye
🚂 Kyndyr-Khabarovsk
🚂 Arhara
🚂 Byreya
🚂 Zavitaya
🚂 Ekaterinoslavka
🚂 Belogorsk I
🚂 Svobodny
🚂 Iedyanaya
🚂 Shimanovsk
🚂 Ushumun
🚂 Tygda
🚂 Magdagachi
🚂 Taldan
🚂 Skovorodino
🚂 Urusha
🚂 Erofey Pavlovich
🚂 Amazar
🚂 Mogocha
🚂 Ksenyevskaya
🚂 Sbega
🚂 Zilovo
🚂 Chernyshevsk
🚂 Ky'anga
🚂 Priiskovaya
🚂 Shilka
🚂 Solntsevaya
🚂 Karymskoye
🚂 Chita 2
🚂 Khilok
🚂 Bada
🚂 Petrovskiy Zavod
🚂 Gorhon



🚂 Zaigraevo
🚂 Zaudinskiy
🚂 Ulan Ude
🚂 Selenga
🚂 Timlui
🚂 Mysovaya
🚂 Baikalsk
🚂 Slyudyanka

3 October 2018
🚂 Irkutsk
🚂 Irkutsk Sortirovochyi
🚂 Angarsk
🚂 Ysolye-Sibirskoe
🚂 Cheremhovo



🚂 Zalari
🚂 Tyret'
🚂 Zima
🚂 Kyityn
🚂 Tylyn
🚂 Nizneydinsk
🚂 Taishet
🚂 Yarty
🚂 Reshoty
🚂 Ingashkaya
🚂 Ilanskaya



🚂 Kans-Eyneseiskiy
🚂 Zaozernaya
🚂 Yar
🚂 Krasnoyarsk
🚂 Achinsk
🚂 Bogotol
🚂 Tyazhin
🚂 Mariinsk
🚂 Anzherskaya
🚂 Tayga
🚂 Urga
🚂 Bolotnaya

4 October 2018
🚂 Novosibirsk



🚂 Balabinsk



🚂 Ozero Karachinskoe
🚂 Chany
🚂 Tatarskaya
🚂 Omsk
🚂 Nazivaevskaya
🚂 Ishim
🚂 Zavodoykovskaya
🚂 Yalytorovsk
🚂 Tyumen



5 October 2018
🚂 Ekaterinburg



🚂 Kyngyr 14610km
🚂 Perm II



🚂 Verechagino
🚂 Balezino
🚂 Glazov
🚂 Kirov
🚂 Kotel'nich I
🚂 Sveycha
🚂 Shabalino
🚂 Gostovskaya
🚂 Syprotivni
🚂 Ponazyryvo
🚂 Yakshanga
🚂 Sharya
🚂 Manturovo
🚂 Brantovka
🚂 Neya
🚂 Nikilo-Poloma
🚂 Antropovo
🚂 Galich
🚂 Sudislavl
🚂 Kostroma
🚂 Nerekhta
🚂 Yaroslavl

6 October 2018
🚂 Moscow Yaroslavsky 16146km (Trans-Siberian Railway terminus)




Red Square, Moscow.



19 October 2018
On this day India's Jalandhar-Amritsar Express ran over a crowd celebrating the Hindu festival of Dussehra, crushing many to death.

🚂 Moscow Belorussky (Strizh)

🚂 Smolensk 16576km
Site of the plane crash of Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154 in 2010 that killed president Lech Kaczyński and his entourage of top military and government officials.



🚂 Orsha 16695km
🚂 Minsk 16907km





🚂 Brest 17252km (Belarusian border)
Bogies self-adjust from Russian to standard gauge as the train rolls slowly through an auto gauge changer.




🚂 Terespol 17259km (EU border in Poland)
🚂 Warsaw Wschodnia 17468km
🚂 Iława Główna (unlisted stop)
🚂 Poznań 17775km
🚂 Rzepin 17931km



🚂 Frankfurt (Oder) 17954km

20 October 2018
🚂 Berlin Ostbahnhof 18064km
🚂 Berlin Hauptbahnhof 18069km (ICE1050)



🚂 Berlin-Spandau 18080km
🚂 Wolfsburg Hbf 18247km
🚂 Hannover Hbf 18321km
🚂 Bielefeld Hbf 18431km
🚂 Hamm (Westfalen) 18498km
🚂 Hagen Hbf 18545km
🚂 Wuppertal Hbf 18571km
🚂 Köln Hauptbahnhof 18617km (Thalys 9472)





🚂 Aachen Hbf



🚂 Verviers-Central (unscheduled stop)
A cable fault on the high-speed line forced the train to divert.

🚂 Liège
🚂 Bruxelles-Midi 18800km

(Eurostar 9149)
Operated by the original Eurostar TGV (depicted in the mural below).
Only two of these celebrated trains were still in service.
Their engineering and design qualities are unique in the world.







🚂 Lille Europe




The train reached a sustained 190 mph (306 km/h) as measured by cellphone global positioning system. This was the top speed recorded on the Odyssey of Steel.

🚂 Ashford International

21 October 2018
On this day Taiwan's Puyuma Express derailed near Taipei with loss of life not seen on that country's railways for many years.

🚂 London St. Pancras 19173km














South Kensington Underground station.

East Coast Main Line (opened 1850)

🚂 London King's Cross
During the two world wars there was a direct train between London and Thurso. It was called the Jellicoe Express and carried Royal Navy personnel.

🚂 York
🚂 Darlington
🚂 Newcastle 19571km
🚂 Berwick upon Tweed



🚂 Edinburgh 19805km
🚂 Haymarket
🚂 Falkirk Grahamston
🚂 Stirling
🚂 Gleneagles
🚂 Perth
🚂 Pitlochry
🚂 Kingussie
🚂 Aviemore

22 October 2018
🚂 Inverness 20108km

Far North Line (completed 1874)

🚂 Beauly
🚂 Muir of Ord
🚂 Conon Bridge
🚂 Dingwall
🚂 Alness
🚂 Invergordon
🚂 Fearn
🚂 Tain
🚂 Ardgay
🚂 Culrain
🚂 Invershin
🚂 Lairg
🚂 Rogart
🚂 Golspie
🚂 Dunrobin Castle
🚂 Brora
🚂 Helmsdale
🚂 Kildonan
🚂 Kinbrace
🚂 Forsinard
🚂 Altnabreac
🚂 Scotscalder
🚂 Georgemas Junction
🚂 Wick (diversion due to earlier train fault)

24 October 2018
🚂 Thurso 20365km












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Odyssey 2017: via Ulaanbaatar (16548 km)


5 May 2017

🚂 Sài Gòn 0km


Saigon street food. ©Lin Yangchen


Conducting a Saigon symphony. ©Lin Yangchen


Saigon railway station, the start point of the Odyssey of Steel. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Bình Thuận 175km
🚂 Nha Trang 411km
🚂 Diêu Trì 630km


A slow day. ©Lin Yangchen


Diêu Trì station, with a hint of Cubism. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Quảng Ngãi 798km
🚂 Đà Nẵng 935km
🚂 Huế 1038km
🚂 Đồng Hới 1204km
🚂 Vinh 1407km
🚂 Thanh Hóa 1550km
🚂 Ninh Bình 1611km
🚂 Hà Nội 1726km


Drivers conducting the pre-departure checklist in a Chinese-built D19E (120 km/h) bound for Saigon. They served the author a glass of strong Vietnamese tea. One of these locomotives was wrecked in the Dien sanh train crash. ©Lin Yangchen


Overtaking on the Cầu Long Biên (1902), an iron cantilever bridge designed by Daydé & Pillé (Paris). The bridge was a strategic axis heavily bombarded during the Vietnam War. ©Lin Yangchen


Hanoi, before the morning rush-hour. ©Lin Yangchen

7 May 2017

🚂 Gia Lâm
🚂 Đồng Đăng
🚂 Pingxiang

8 May 2017

🚂 Nanning 2035km
🚂 Nanning East
🚂 Liuzhou
🚂 Guilin
🚂 Hengyang
🚂 Changsha
🚂 Wuchang
🚂 Zhengzhou
🚂 Shijiazhuang
🚂 Beijing West 4530km


Yuan-Dynasty (1206–1341) urban design survives in central Beijing, where a man runs a shop in one of the traditional courtyard houses lining an alley or hutong (胡同). ©Lin Yangchen

10 May 2017

🚂 Beijing (train K3)

In the 1960s, Red Guards from all over China arrived at Beijing station in great numbers, on pilgrimage to catch a glimpse of Chairman Mao Zedong (Jung Chang, Wild Swans).

🚂 Zhangjiakounan 4734km
🚂 Jiningnan 4904km

Trans-Mongolian Railway (completed 1955 following an ancient tea-caravan route)

🚂 Zhurihe 5078km

The People's Liberation Army base here is the largest military training base in Asia. Two months after I passed through, the army held a massive parade here to celebrate its 90th anniversary.

🚂 Erlian (Chinese border) 5237km

Track gauge 1435mm --> 1520mm


Bogie change from standard gauge to Russian gauge at Erlian. The cars are separated and raised by jacks. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Dzamin Uud (Mongolian border) 5247km
🚂 Sainshand 5482km
🚂 Choyr 5709km
🚂 Ulan Bator 5956km


Ulaanbaatar station in the left-hand window of the Mongolian restaurant car. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Zonhala
🚂 Darhan 6237km
🚂 Suche Bator (Mongolian border) 6335km
🚂 Naushki (Russian border) 6358km
🚂 Dzida 6402km
🚂 Ulan Ude 6613km

Trans-Siberian Railway

🚂 Slyudyanka 6945km
🚂 Irkutsk 7069km
🚂 Zima 7319km
🚂 Nizhne-Udinsk 7575km
🚂 Ilanskaya 7878km
🚂 Krasnoyarsk 8156km
🚂 Malinsk 8541km
🚂 Taiga 8729km
🚂 Novosibirsk 8918km


Train K3 en route from Beijing to Moscow. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Balabinsk 9221km
🚂 Omsk 9545km
🚂 Ishim
🚂 Tumen 10117km
🚂 Yekaterinburg 10443km


A coal truck resupplies the train at Yekaterinburg. While the train is powered by an electric locomotive, coal is used for cooking and making hot water. ©Lin Yangchen

The Ufa train disaster happened not far from here. In 1989, two passenger trains were passing through when sparks from the wheels ignited propane and butane leaking from a pipeline, killing 575 people and injuring 800.

🚂 Perm II 10824km
🚂 Balezino 11030km
🚂 Kirov 11271km
🚂 Nizhni Novgorod 11781km

In 1988, a Soviet freight train carrying 120 tonnes of explosives, including hexogen, detonated in nearby Arzamas. The blast killed or injured more than 1,500 people.

🚂 Vladimir 12031km
🚂 Moscow-Yaroslavsky 12221km

15 May 2017

🚂 Moscow-Kiyevsky
🚂 Suzemka (Russian border)
🚂 Konotop
🚂 Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi 13093km


Kiev railway station. ©Lin Yangchen


Ploshcha Lva Tolstoho station, Kiev Metro. ©Lin Yangchen

16 May 2017: Kiev Express

🚂 Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi
🚂 Korosten
🚂 Sarny
🚂 Kovel
🚂 Yahodyn (Ukrainian border)

Track gauge 1520mm --> 1435mm

🚂 Dorohusk (EU border in Poland)
🚂 Chełm
🚂 Lublin
🚂 Dęblin
🚂 Warsaw Wschodnia
🚂 Warsaw Centralna 13783km


Warsaw Metro. ©Lin Yangchen


Warsaw Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Poznań
🚂 Frankfurt (Oder)


The Berlin Wall. ©Lin Yangchen

17 May 2017

🚂 Berlin Hauptbahnhof (ICE 954)
🚂 Berlin Spandau
🚂 Hannover
🚂 Bielefeld
🚂 Hamm
🚂 Hagen
🚂 Wuppertal
🚂 Köln 14829km


The celebrated TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, 320 km/h) pulling into Köln Hauptbahnhof for the Thalys TH9448 high-speed service to Paris-Gare du Nord. The TGV set the world speed record of 574.8 km/h in 2007 for a conventional train on steel wheels, and still holds it. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Aachen
🚂 Liège
🚂 Bruxelles-Midi 15012km
🚂 Paris Gare du Nord 15276km


Opposite the Gare du Nord. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Paris—Gare du Nord (Eurostar 9055)


Eurostar first class, at or near the train's service ceiling of 300km/h. ©Lin Yangchen

🚂 Ashford
🚂 London St. Pancras 15356km


The famed St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, which fronts the Eurostar terminal. ©Lin Yangchen


London Underground (Westminster station). ©Lin Yangchen
See my London Underground Photo Exhibition.

19 May 2017

The "Highland Cheftain" service, introduced in 1984, is powered by the fastest diesel engine in the world, the Class 43 InterCity 125 (238 km/h).

🚂 London King's Cross
🚂 York
🚂 Darlington
🚂 Newcastle 15754km
🚂 Berwick upon Tweed
🚂 Edinburgh 15988km
🚂 Haymarket
🚂 Falkirk Grahamston
🚂 Stirling
🚂 Gleneagles
🚂 Perth
🚂 Pitlochry
🚂 Kingussie
🚂 Aviemore
🚂 Inverness 16291km


Inverness, from the author's room on the top floor of the Pentahotel. ©Lin Yangchen

20 May 2017

🚂 Beauly
🚂 Muir of Ord
🚂 Conon Bridge
🚂 Dingwall
🚂 Alness
🚂 Invergordon
🚂 Fearn
🚂 Tain
🚂 Ardgay
🚂 Culrain
🚂 Invershin
🚂 Lairg
🚂 Rogart
🚂 Golspie
🚂 Dunrobin Castle
🚂 Brora
🚂 Helmsdale
🚂 Kildonan
🚂 Kinbrace
🚂 Forsinard
🚂 Altnabreac
🚂 Scotscalder
🚂 Georgemas Junction
🚂 Thurso 16548km


Thurso, the northernmost station on the British National Rail network and the final station on the Odyssey of Steel. British Rail Class 158 (140 km/h) with aluminium chassis. ©Lin Yangchen

Acknowledgements
Seat 61
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