South Yuanlin Station 南員林站 is an abandoned Japanese colonial era railway station located not far from the newly reopened Yuanlin Station 員林車站 in the heart of Yuanlin, a mid-sized city in central Changhua. It opened in 1933 as a small stop on the now-derelict Yuanlin Line 員林線 of the Taiwan Sugar Railways 臺灣糖業鐵路, which ran due west across the Changhua Plain 彰化平原 for approximately 9 kilometers to the Xihu Sugar Factory 溪湖糖廠 in Xihu. Apart from facilitating the transport of sugarcane and other cargo this old wooden station also provided passenger service until it was abolished sometime around 1976.
The railway curving through this part of town was built in 1919, predating the construction of the station by more than a decade. The sugar rail network ran on a narrow-gauge of 762 mm that was later supplanted with a third rail to accommodate traffic crossing over from the standard 1,067 mm gauge of the Taiwan Railway Administration 臺灣鐵路管理局 (which is, incidentally, also the standard for rail transport in Japan). This dual-gauge system has been paved over in the vicinity of the station but much of it can still be seen moving west along the modest rail trail extending west to the outskirts of town.
There would be little to indicate the original function of the old wooden station were it not for a rusty pair of railroad switches out front. Years ago there was also a water tower—the original sugar rail trains were propelled by steam engines—and concrete station platform, but all that has been removed to create a small parking lot for local residents. I am not aware of any specific measures to preserve or recognize the station as a heritage building so its fate is anyone’s guess.
Despite having visited Yuanlin dozens of times I didn’t learn of this station’s existence until perusing Chinese language blogs about the sugar rail system. As such, I am indebted to posts such as those here, here, here, and here in authoring this short piece. For more about Yuanlin (with a section on its railway history) check out this extensive post.
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