History of Datong Station and Railroad - Datong did not have its own railway station before the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 AD, the development of Datong as the Coal Capital and train shipment center of the country and the construction of the current Station. The Steam Locomotive, a western invention was only introduced in China at the end of the 19Th Century, when they were needed to transport the materials and goods extorted from China by western companies and governments to the coast and China's harbors.
- Impression, Photos and Introduction -
This page was last updated: June 5, 2017
Datong Zhan - Main Train Station
Datong Old Walled City Schematic Map.
The Station is located in the North outside this Map.
The Front of the main Railway Station of Datong, Shanxi.
The daytime train from BaoTou, via Hohhot and Datong to Beijing awaits it's departure from the Platform.
View of the Platform and Train in both directions <->.
Mouse over Image - The Large parade ground like Station Square and the Main Entrance to the Station Building.
How to Get There -
The Datong Zhan, or
Railway Station of Datong
lies in the North of Datong
City , well away at some
distance from the Old city
and its Monuments. The
easiest way to find your
way without careful study
of a city map is by getting
outside and taking a Taxi Ride to your Hotel. Conveniently, taxi rates in Datong are considerably lower than in the big cities, and when a train arrives at the station, local cabbies gang-up and fight to get the customers. There is always a taxi ready at your service. If not - try CITS or take a hike, literally.
Part of the new City of Datong, which was created outside the City Walls during the early industrial development of China
when the City and North Shanxi became the Coal Capital and coal supplier of all factories in the country, the unexpectedly large Station dates from the post'-1949 era. Its main features (as shown) are a a concrete stalinist-like structure, with some chinese features.
Overview of the Station Square where traditional dancers and a band have gathered to say goodbye to a group
Province to the Capital of the Province at TaiYuan. In this way Datong railway station serves the region as a major transportation hub for traffic to the south as well as the inland West, and for a long time it was the only viable long distance travel option in the Province and far beyond. As a cheap and reliable mode of transport with reasonable comfort, even today the station is the life-line of many in the villages and a gateway to some form of Civilization. Hence, villagers and farmers abound onboard trains and regular stops are made at pittoresqe and remote villages to offload some local citizenry, before continuing the long journey West around the Yellow River basin or via TaiYuan, PingYao and Linfen South into Shaanxi Province or Henan.
Satellite Image based Map of the Gobi Desert and the Flow of the Yellow River showing Datong and other cities along railway lines near Datong.
Railway's were mainly financed by American and British conglomerates and
Inside Datong Zhan - the huge size of the Station is emphasized by the figures in the distance.
The Train to Beijing leaves from immediatly behind the Main Hall.
were a popular mortgage item used to gain access to further lucrative financial deals with the already heavily indebted Ching Dynasty Government.
As a result, China was weakened and subdued even further and the western and later Japanese companies layed a network of railways extending from the coast, enabling them to get much needed raw materials to their industries, and conveniently transport their finished commercial products back into China for sale.
By 1936 AD most of China's coastal cities and North-Western "Manchuria" (Now North-Hebei, LiaoNing, Jilin and HeilongJiang Provinces) were well connected to the railway network. In Shanxi in particular there was a railway line leading from the East, via ShijiaZhuang in Hebei, towards TaiYuan in the South of Shanxi Province. Due to the rugged terrain of North-Shanxi, and high and steep granite walls
separating North-Shanxi from Hebei Province (Wu Tai Shan Range), it was still impossible to lay any tracks there. Datong at the time, was reached by road from TaiYuan through Ningwufu Inner Great Wall Pass, only. The journey from TaiYuan up north to Datong would take several days if not a week, even by car. Datong was a remote and small village city untill somewhere in 1930/1935 AD an impressive path was cut and blasted through the mountains of Hebei Province, constructing a railway directly East-ward through granite mountains and along steep cliff faces above dauntingly white river streams to reach the plains of North Shanxi, just inside and South of the Great Wall of
China. The new track continues from there along a mountain-ridge until it meets up with the Great Wall and travels to Datong.
Current railway lines still follow this path, which has however been extened upon to fill the needs of modern industrial traffic. From the 1930's, through the Japanese and Civil Wars, Datong Station remained minute as compared to what it is today. The simple Station was only further developed in
"North China Front"
By James Bertram, 1936
( available from our Online Store )
coordination with China's heavy industries during the 1950's and 60's, when as mentioned, North-Shanxi became the Coal supplying region of China. Since the further economic boom that started after China's opening up in 1985, the giant station and surrounding tracks have grown into a huge industrial size complex that can be followed to every major industry in the Area and that is still modernizing and improving today.
District of Beijing is the main station for train- connections from Beijing to the West and to the South. Connect West via Hebei Province through to Datong and then on to Inner Mongolia and Ningxia. Or go south to Shijiazhuang in Hebei and beyond.