Suning (肃宁, Stn 325): A Very Chinese Modern-ish Station!

Where is it? Southern Hebei, Northern China
What calls here? Classic Rail trains on Beijing-Kowloon Railway

There is something I have come to love about Suning Railway Station: the fact that the station is very Chinese in its look — or certainly as I arrived at the station square by car.

The settlement of Suning is actually a mini rail hub of sorts. There is the Shuozhou-Huanghua rail station further north, which is — no surprise! — Suning North, a cargo-only station. The main passenger station in town, this one on the Beijing-Kowloon Railway, is of course Suning (Main).

In Pinyin, the name of this station looks almost the same as a major electronics retailer (苏宁 for the e-tailer; 肃宁 for the station — it’s only when you read it out loud, or see it written, that you find out that there’s quite a difference!)…

Digital displays are increasingly common across stations, and are very much standard at High Speed stations. So it was nice to see them being retrofitted or added to Classic Rail stations, where they altenated between the welcome message, and the particular train service due on at a platform.

Like at Renqiu station, there were two platforms — the side platform, number 1, and the island platform, number 2. However, this station was very much busier than the last one, and incidentally, I came at a time when basically there were trains coming in not long after the last one left!

Cangzhou West: Times are Everything…

Cangzhou West (Cangzhouxi) Railway Station is one of a handful of High Speed stations which feature a clock (the others Next Station: China has been to featured Tianjin’s main station, which also hosts HSR trains. (Most stations don’t have one any more — for very obvious reasons!) The very modern station is designed so it is a very abstract representation of two lions — not unsurprising, as Cangzhou is known for its Steel Lion.

David has actually visited the station in 2013, and since that visit almost four years back, there have been some improvements; notably, splitting the boarding area so that there are now two departure gates instead of one. What used to be one main, central departures gate has now become Gate 1, which is for northbound trains (including those via Tianjin to northeastern China), whilst a newer Gate 2 has been opened for southbound trains. A semi-permanent barrier has been put in place so to ensure passengers always use the correct gates for their intended train.

Railway services mostly use the south part of the main station building, as the whole edifice incorporates a coach centre as well. Right in front of the exit is also a sizeable bus hub, so passengers aren’t too far from their connections. The upper level mezzanine at Departures Level has also been opened up a fair bit, so you can take the opportunity to also snap a pic to see how big the departures hall really is.

Much loved also is the miniature station garden — certainly not as huge as those at other stations, but a bit of greenness is certainly better than none. Finally, most loved is the parting shot of both the clock on the station building, and the smaller equivalent at platform level. Nice!…

Tangshan North: Redone and So Much Better (Station 11)

Visited & filmed: 08 May 2017 (with some footage from other dates)

If you wanted to recreate a station and totally impress people, then do it the Tangshan North (唐山北) way. This station, also known as Tangshanbei on some signs (as it’s the Pinyin name), was miniscule, sported a separate, mini ticketing hall, and had rather antiquated waiting facilities — until a 2015 revamp completely changed it beyond recognition.

Tangshan North station in 2011

A huge hall, not unlike a regional airport, greets passengers, and after the quick security check, the integrated ticket hall is also accessible, now with a fair bit more counters and machines as well. Then it’s just a quick hop through Ticket & ID Check to the waiting hall, now spread over two levels.

Tangshan North Railway Station Gate 1
Departure Gate 1 on Level 1 (Trains to northeastern China)

Gate 1 on Level 1, or the ground floor, serves trains on Platform 1, which include all trains to Qinhuangdao and beyond to northeastern China. Gate 2, upstairs on Level 2, serves trains on Platforms 2 and 3, with just about all headed further west to the Chinese capital, Beijing. Right by the escalators, there’s an info desk. On the wall, there are huge red characters as station slogans — seldom seen in such a modern railway station.

Tangshan North Railway Station Gate 2
Departure Gate 2 on Level 2 (Trains to Beijing)

The footbridge is designed in such a way that it appears as totally “blotted out” from the outside, but a decent amount (and yes, certainly decent amount) of sunlight makes its way on to the wide passageway over the tracks. Escalators, digital displays, platform car markers: It certainly looks like that the renovation and expansion works got the station what it needed in more modern times. The platform canopies have been raised and redone as well, although they kept it old school, like before the station refresh, and the support poles remain at the centre of the platform.

For those leaving the station, there’s now a fully separated exit, and to pick people up, you do need to head to the gigantic “mouth” or “tunnel”, as that leads to the arrival gates. (There are some rather steep stairs, though.) Be sure to locate your correct exit, as there are separate ones on the upper level for those leaving the main hall or ticket offices!

Outside the station, there’s a part David felt he liked a little (although it could be slightly larger): the station gardens, and by that, the buildings of nearby railway offices which have the Chinese railways logo slapped onto a red star. In these days of high speed screamers, these legends of years gone by certainly aren’t present too much any more…

David left on a sleeper… for a slightly more relaxed one-hour trip straight back to the Chinese capital. Enroute, he caught sight of Jizhou South (蓟州南) station, due to be re-opened soon, as they might say. When that’s done, he’ll be sure to be back for more… at Jizhou South…