Hong Kong-London direct train service, newspaper article 1935

IDJ has sent a newspaper article from 1935 outlining the 12 day direct railway service from Hong Kong to London which was predicted to be open for service within a year of of the article’s publication.

HF: I have retyped the original article. Very occasionally there are words which I am not sure about, indicated by them being followed by square brackets [?]. I would be grateful if readers could correct any errors I have made.

Thanks to SCT for proofreading the retyped version of the original article.

Hong Kong London Direct Railway Article HK Telegraph 24th September 1935 Headlines From IDJ

Yet, within twelve months, it will become an actuality for all of us.

Work on the uncompleted portion of the Canton Hankow Railway is so far advanced, that Chinese railway authorities are now able to predict the opening of the through service on the Double Tenth – October 10 – next year, just over twelve months hence.

Completion of this line will bring Hongkong in direct railway communication with London, via the Siberian route.

A big step forward in the completion of the Canton-Hankow section was made on Saturday when the Lockchang-Pingshek portion was opened for traffic. The new section is the last within the Kwungtung frontier.

There remains now only the Chuanchow – Siangtan portion of the line uncompleted.

Hongkong travellers can, in fact, now travel overland to London if they wish by travelling by car between Chuanchow and Siangtan.

This stretch is the most difficult in the entire route. The roadway is completed with the exception of 30 difficult miles.

Actually, until Canton and Hongkong can come to some arrangement with regard to connecting the Canton-Hankow and Kowloon-Canton Railways there will always be a break, at Canton itself, of 3½ miles in the route from Hongkong to London, disregarding the cross-Channel break, over which travellers can now travel without leaving their railway carriages.

Some difficulty is being experienced regarding the break in Canton, and the Kwantung railway authorities may never agree to the construction of a loop line around the city to connect the two railways.

In that case it will be necessary for the traveller from Hongkong to disembark from the K.C.R. at Taishatau Station and travel by car to Wangsha station, a distance of 3½ miles.

When the Canton-Hankow section of the missing link is completed, the railway authorities in Hongkong will quote through fares from Hongkong to London.

Longest Rail Link

This will be the longest link from the heart of the Empire. The distance exceeds 8,000 miles.

Instead of the minimum of seventeen days to travel at present from Hongkong to London via Siberia, the transit time will be reduced to approximately twelve days. This will mean an appreciable speeding up in Siberian mails.

From Hongkong the traveller will journey via Canton Shiuchow, Hsinchow and Siangtau to Hankow, arriving at the latter city 24 hours after leaving Hongkong.

The route from Hankow will be to Peiping and Tientsin via Chengchow. Thence the traveller will journey over the famous Chinese Eastern Railway from Tientsin to Mukden and Harbin, transferring to the trans-Siberian at Manchouli. From Hankow to Manchouli will occupy 48 hours.

Across Siberia

The trans-Siberian journey, which takes the traveller right across Siberia and Soviet Russia to the Polish border, occupies exactly a week.

Stolpce, [?] on the Soviet-Polish border, is the western terminus of the trans-Siberian route and here passengers change to the waiting European train.

This train has a Wagon-Lit Company operating sleeping car for Warsaw and Berlin, also a through Wagon-Lit sleeping-car for Paris. Passengers for Vienna, Switzerland and Italy leave this train at Warsaw, while passengers for Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Spain, Portugal or London continue on the train to the Friedrichstrasse Station, Berlin.

British Engines

British engines of a larger type to those used on the Kowloon-Canton Railway, will be used on the Canton-Hankow section.

Orders for rolling stock for this section have already been placed in England by the Chinese Purchasing Commission on behalf of the Ministry for Railways.

Eight locomotives have been ordered from the famous Vulcan Foundry. These locomotives will be the well known Pacific 4-8-4 type, such as is used on the L.M.S. Railway at Home.

An order has, in addition, been placed with the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company for 34 standard gauge coaches, four 3rd class sleepers, five 2nd class day cars, five baggage and mail vans, five 1st class dining cars, five 1st class sleeping cars and five 2nd class sleeping cars.

The Pacific type locomotive, with tender,  weighs 164 tons, as compared with the 138 ton locomotive-tender used for the Express service between Kowloon and Canton.

Kowloon Railway Station C 1930s Courtesy Zolima CityMag

Kowloon Station c1930s Courtesy: Zolima CityMag

Source: Hong Kong Telegraph 24th September 1935

This article was first posted on 12th December 2020.


  1. Hong Kong to London by train in the 1920s quote from Jan Morris book Hong Kong and other information

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  2. The Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section) Part 2 – Construction
  3. The Kowloon-Canton Railway (British Section) Part 3 – the construction of Kowloon Station
  4. The Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section) Part 4 – The Early Years (1910 to 1940)
  5. The Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section) Part 5 – The Post War Years (1945 to 1978)
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  7. Kowloon – Canton Railway (British Section) – Kowloon Station Relocation
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  9. The Kowloon Canton Railway (British Section), Far Eastern Review article, 1909
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