If you’re a train enthusiast, I’m sure you will love what you’re about to see. Today I want to take you to the Changhua Roundhouse in Taiwan. I’m told there are only three of these type of train depots around the world that are still in use today. Two of them are in Mexico and this is the third one.
彰化扇形火車站建於日治時代1922年，是現今世上三個仍然運作中的扇形火車站之一，另外兩個位於墨西哥。 從彰化火車站到扇形車站，大約要走十至十五分鐘路程。聽說若果你幸運的話，可能會遇上有火車進來，可以親眼目睹車站中間轉盤的運作。可惜我兩次都沒有這麼幸運。 彰化扇形火車站既是歷史的一部分見證台灣鐵路發展， 亦可以對照出當年彰化作為台灣交通樞紐的地位。
WHAT IS A ROUNDHOUSE?
Roundhouses are a particular type of depots to store and service trains, so called due to their semi circular building with a massive turntable in the centre. Sometimes they are called fan shaped depots which I think is a much nicer, albeit less technical name. This particular roundhouse in Chuanghua was built in 1922 during the Japanese colony days and is now a protected building.
A WORKING ROUNDHOUSE
Today, Chuanghua roundhouse is still in operation, and I’m told if you’re lucky, you might see a train come into the depot and how the turntable operates. I’ve been here twice, but sadly on both occasions I’ve never seen a train come in. Too bad, maybe I need to come back for a third time, as you know what people say, third time lucky!
There are 12 bays in the building, of which two are occupied by old steam locomotives. These are the black ones in the photos. DT668, parked in bay #8 is from 1944, whilst CK124 in #11 is even older, from 1936. On my first trip to the roundhouse, I took some photos with these two golden oldies, but sadly I have nothing to show you as I lost all the photos on my old phone when it broke down. Note to everyone – back up the photos on your mobile phone if you’re not doing it already!
Although this is an operational depot, visitors are allowed to walk around freely on the track and outside the bays, but the actual bays are cordoned off. I guess I could have jumped down the track and walked inside, but I figured that might not be a wise thing to do …
THE OBSERVATION DECK
The best place to get a view of the entire site is the observation deck by bay number 1. There were two floors on the deck, giving you a slightly different perspective of the site, and also more room to move around as it can get quite busy.
I’ve been here twice, and each time there are some visitors, but not overly crowded. Like a lot of great interesting places in Taiwan, many of them are quite under rated and you don’t get that many overseas tourists here. I guess that’s good, in the sense that it won’t get too crowded or over commercialised, but on the other hand, I believe these gems, particularly a living museum like this deserves more recognition.
If you are interested in visiting, Changhua is only twenty minutes by train away from Taichung in central Taiwan, and the actual roundhouse is about ten to fifteen minutes walk from the train station. Entry is free, all you need to do is register at the main gate.
Till next time, bye!!!