January 30, 2010

Ping Si Railway Branch


The Ping Si railway branch is located in the Southeast Mountain of Taipei County. It is the shortest and oldest branch among the three small railway branch lines in Taiwan. This railway branch is also one of the most attractive tourist destinations.


The 12.9 kilometers length Ping Si branch was originally built by Taiyang coal mining company to transport the coal. However, due to the transportation demand, it started to transport local residents. After the Nationalist government settled in Taiwan, the railway was taken over by the Taiwan Railway Administration. Ping Si railway officially became the passenger line.


Ping Si line was built along the beautiful Keelung River Valley that has a rich and varied geological landscape. This line started from San Diao Ling along through Dai Hua, Shi Fen, Wang Gu, Ling Jiao, Ping Si and Ching Tong train station. All the small towns the train goes by still have the old mining trace and maintain a simple and unadorned look.


This small train came everyday was the main transportation for the local residents. However, due to the mining industry’s downfall and out flux of local population, the demand of this train was declined, and Ping Si railway branch was no longer needed. Now, people started to remember the past, which has motivated the tourism industry. This historical mining railway has become a focus again. Ping Si branch has become not only a tourist attraction place, but also a popular spot for wedding photography.


When you take Ping Si branch railroad, if you pay attention, you can see the station master who holds a big circle ring hanging a bronze medal is waiting on the platform for the train to arrive.


When the train stops, the driver and station master will exchange the bronze medal. In fact, this medal was named “Tablet”, which provides permission for the train to go through.


This train operation system was made during the Japanese Occupation Era. The “Tablet” was the safe signal for the train.


The “Tablet” is placed in the "Electrical Tablet Blocking Device". It needs two station masters to work together to remove the “Tablet”. Before the train comes to the next stop, the station master will operate the device to request the pass from the next station. Once the next train station confirms back to him with an electrical signal that there are no vehicles on the way to the next stop, then the “Tablet” can be removed from the device.


I personally witness the station master in Shi Fen train station operating this antique railway equipment that was left from Japanese Era and is still functional. Photograph taking was not allowed, so I did not record the process with the photos.

Photo by Archer[水瓶子的城市旅行]

Photo by Archer[水瓶子的城市旅行]


There are so many attractions that can be visited in Ping Si. I will be sharing more in a later post~ Read More


lechua said...

how interesting especially the exchange of bronze medal! it's great that u're sharing such in-depth information... did u have to ask them before taking the photos above on the medal exchange?

dennis said...

looks like a nice place for a little getaway

kristen and micki said...

To Lechua-Thanks! The driver and station master are used to having photos taken by the tourists, so I did not ask. However, I did ask if I could take photos in the operation room when he operated the device since the office is not open to the public.

kristen and micki said...

To Dennis-Ping Si is a tourist attraction place. Lots of culture and wonderful scenery can be discovered. It is very packed during weekends, so weekday visit would be better to avoid the crowd~~

shloke said...

I LOVE trains. This is a beautiful article! Love the way you narrate your experience. The pictures cum narration = mini documentary.

I've added your link into my blog roll! Looking forward to read more exclusive coverage from Taiwan :)


Anonymous said...

Really interesting railway!
I didn't know that the bronze medal exchange was inherited from the Japanese.

Did you know that Japanese imported railway and postal systems from the UK in the past? That's why they also drive in the left.

But the medal exchange thing is very Japanese, since we don't have it in the UK.

kristen and micki said...

Hi, Mylo You have an excellent blog from Malaysia as well. It is added in our blog roll too! I look forward to reading your posts from the beautiful Malaysia~~

kristen and micki said...

Hi, Lodoncaller
I thought all Monarch countries drive in the left, do not know they are related to the railway import~~~~ :)

Zhu said...

Taiwan has such an interesting (and complicated/ conflictual) history! From the Dutchm the Portuguese, to the Chinese, the Japanese... must be a lot of heritage everywhere.

The location is nice, but I can't imagine taking wedding pictures there!

kristen and micki said...

Hi, Zhu
Indeed Taiwan is a multi-cultural place, has lots of precious cultural assets and heritage, but not too many people know about these, which became the purpose of having this blog.
I think Ping Si becomes a popular wedding photography spot because of the nostalgic trend is going on now. A simple and unadorned background of Ping Si’ could fit that style ~~~ :) :)

Anonymous said...

RE: Sichuan Opera Dance / 俏花旦 / Tarian Opera Sichuan / 俏花旦

4 times?! You must really love Chengdu. Ha ha...
I took a ferry from Nanjing all the way to Yichang (宜昌), it was a long, really long journey! 3 days 3 nights!!

Yichang is so close to Sichuan, so local food was fiery hot!

kristen and micki said...

To londoncaller- That sounds like you went on Yangtze River cruise~~ :)

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

I love historic trains. That exchange of ring with a hanging bronze medal is uniquely interesting - you were able to capture photos just at the right moment!

kristen and micki said...

To Nomadic Pinoy- Thanks! Indeed the Tablet Blocking System is very unique. Just a few people know about this system. Tourists come here to enjoy the scenery; they may not be aware of the train here is still operated by this historical system. There were some special events here; visitors rode on the old steam engine train to feel the old good time. That was very fun!

BH said...

Do you alight at each station and hop onto the next train? Is it possible to do the Pingsi line with 3 children? Youngest is 4.

BH said...

One more question. If we're traveling from Taipei, we will board a train to Ruifang. From Ruifang, is there a direct train to Pingsi or I need to take another train from Ruifang to San Diao Ling?

kristen and micki said...

Hi, BH, sorry for replying you a bit late, since I was out of town.
Pingsi line is scheduled, you can check out the schedule online or at the train station. You may pick 2 stops for a day; it would be difficult to go through all the stops within a day.

There should be no problem to have children on the train; however, it is crowded during the weekends or holidays especially if you will have the stroller on board.

You can aslo take the train directly to Pingsi from Ruifang, no need to change train at San Diao Ling. Houton Station is another beautiful place to visit with charming villages and Coal Mine Museum. We don’t have a post for this station, but you can check the information online.

Aisha S said...

Thanks for the article! Learn about the current test pattern, types of questions and difficulty level of each section through indian railway test series.

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