1 The process of formation
The process of formation Railway from Thap Cham to Da Lat associated with the process formation of the Vietnam Railway and Da Lat city.
The program of Indochinese railway was initiated by the Governor of Indochina Paul Doumer and it was carried out from 1896 to 1936. With legislation in 1898 could loan about 200 million franc budget with 3.5% interest rate, it allowed to carry out this program on a large size and the formation of main railways in Vietnam which have still been existed today .
The length of the railway from Ha Noi to Sai Gon - the backbone railway was 1.726 km and then, it radiated branches such as, Hanoi - Lao Cai connected to Van Nam(China); Hanoi - Lang Son connected to Quang Tay(China); Cham Tower- Da Lat; Nhi An - Loc Ninh, Gia Dinh - Hoc Mon. The total length of railway was completed about 2.443km with narrow gauge of One meter. The program of Indochinese railway was also expected to build the railway from Saigon - Phnom Penh, extending to the Thailand border linked with Bangkok railway. From that, creating an important strategic trade between China and Thailand and it could be continued to extend to Indonesia, the formation of the Trans-Asia railway through Southeast Asia. Although it has not fully carried out yet, this was expected and with a large vision to bring this idea has still been valid today.
After deciding to set up rest stations at the Lam Vien plateau, to solve external traffic problems to the city in the future, in parallel with the implementation of road construction projects, in 1901, the Governor Paul Doumer also directed research projects on construction of the railway linking the main railway from Hanoi - Sai Gon to Da Lat and decided to establish a branch railway from Saigon - Khanh Hoa to Da Lat. That same year, the Railway from Saigon - Khanh Hoa has been started to build, in 1908, completed 132km to Dinh river, and in 1913, finished to Nha Trang.
Many working groups were sent up to survey the railway from the plateau to the coast as Garnier group in 1897 and other groups of Baudesson captain in 1901.
After Paul Doumer came back his country, along with economic, political and military difficulties of France in the early 20th century, the implementation of construction projects the railway from Thap Cham - Da Lat has been interrupted several times .
The railway from Thap Cham - Dalat was built according to single railway, narrow belonging to type of a meter and be carried out in three periods:
3.1.1 Building the railway from Thap Cham to Xom Gon (1903-1916)
The roads started to build in 1903, but since 1908, it has just been carried out the construction of infrastructure of the first stretch of railway and the execution stopped in 1910 because of lacking money. In 1913, it was continued to rebuild thanks to the credit of the budget, completed to put rail (1915) and put into operation (1916) with two trains per week.
From Thap Cham station, the branch railway in the northwest, went around the Po Klong Garai Tower Hill, then went in the plain to the valleys of Dong Dai mountain ; passing Luong Nhon station (Km 06 +198.30), Dong Me (Km 13 +887.70), Tan My (km 21 +418.60), Quang Son (Km 29 +550.00) and Xom Gon (38.00 km)
Through Tan My, a bridge concluding 8 rhythms was made of metal, has beautiful architecture, was built on the concrete abutment to the railway passing Cai river which has unusually large flood.
3.1.2 Building the railway from Xom Gon to Song Pha (1916-1917)
The railway was extended to Song Pha (km 40 +591.70) in 1917. This was short and easy construction, except for the construction of a bridge at the gateway to Pha river.
At that time, the next journey from Song Pha to Da Lat was done by carrying palankeen and horses. Since 1919, the cars going Ngoan Muc, Dran connected to the Da Lat road in Fimnom has just been finished.
3.1.3 Building the railway from Song Pha to Da Lat( 1922- 1932)
In 1922, after a period of interruption, at the end of railway gave for Asian Construction Company (Société d’Entreprises Asiatiques - SEA) undertook the construction. The management of the project railway from Song Pha – Da Lat was given for M. Porte who was an excellent engineer by SEA, with the participation of the Swedish engineers who have many experiences in the construction of the railway in the mountains difficulties.
If the first railway passing the plain from Thap Cham to Song Pha was built favourablely, then the rest of the Song Pha to Da Lat has many difficulties in passing too many mountains with its height was very large, the construction was very hard because of terrain, forests and harsh climate. The railway was built according to mountain side winding with many curves belonging to small radius, overcame many tunnels, bridges and steep cliff walls. Although the direction of this railway was risk, inspiration as passing through the areas have many beautiful sceneries and spectacular.
The construction site of the railway from Song Pha to Da Lat had to dig five tunnels with its total length was 1.090m: the length of first tunnel was 163m and the length of the second tunnel was 70m on the Song Pha - Eo Gio; the length of the third tunnel was 630m on the railway from Hanh Station - Land Bridge, the length of the fourth tunnel was 98m and the length of the fifth tunnel was129m on the Land Bridge - Da Tho.
The cog railway system from Song Pha – Da Lat
The Da Lat railway was installed approximately 16 km of cog railway belonging to type Abt - two tongues on 3 segments of railway which have the largest slope from 10 to 12%: The cog segment of Song Pha - Eo Gio was approximate 9 km and the slope was 12% . The cog segment of Dran – Hanh station was about 4km and the slope was 11.5% . The cog segment of Da Tho - Trai Mat was about 2km and its slope was 6%.
When coming the Song Pha where reached for the height was 186 m. That time, landscape and terrain changed completely and the facing was ridges high lofty mountains which obstructed these railways to the plateau. Distance as the crow flies from the Song Pha to Eo Gio only was 7.6 km, but the height difference was over 805 m. The length of the railways passing Ngoan Muc mountain pass was 10km with a vertical slope, through the first cog railway and two tunnels: the first tunnel near Ca Bo and the second tunnel belonging to at the end of the cog near Eo Gio station. On this railway has been put a point of intersection and avoid the train up and down in Ca Bo (K’Beu - Km 46 +717.70).
After passing the Ngoan Muc mountain pass to Eo Gio station (km 50 +521.70) with the height was 991m, the next railway passing the railway was quite flat terrain to go to Dran station/ Can Rang (Km 55 +671.12) with the height was 1.016m.
The stretch of railway from Dran - Trai Mat was vertical up and down quite complex, it could be divided into three segments:
- From Dran to Hanh station (Km 61 +450.00) with its height was 1514m, the short railway was 5km and to be the second cog railway. The railway winding passing the hills to cross the height and avoid the obstacles of the terrain.
- From Hanh station to Da Tho with its length was 11km through Land Bridge station (Km 65 +937.43), went according to the ramp down repeatedly on the rail normally and passing three tunnels: the third longest tunnel the entire railway, tunnel No. 4 and No. 5 tunnel under Highway 20, to reach the Bo station (Da Tho, km 72 +510.65) with its height was 1.402m.
- From Da Tho to Trai Mat with its length was 5km more than the third rail cog. This was the last obstacle to the gate of Trai Mat (Km 77 +570.00) with its height was 1488m to the highlands.
The train to Da Lat
The last of the railway from Da Lat to Trai Mat has the length was 6.55 km with conventional rails. From Trai Mat Station, the railway bended round according to the hill of Sao Nam region, Chi Lang and acrossing under the bridge for cars of Tran Quy Cap railway to go to Da Lat station(km 84 +084.22) with its height was 1.550m.
After 25 years of construction with its cost was 8 million Indochina, in 1928, during the economic depression, the railway was inaugurated and exploited the entire railway step by step: the length from Thap Cham to Song Pha was 41 km, and it started to exploit in 1917; the length from Song Pha to Eo Gio was 10 km and has been exploited since 1928; from Ngoan Muc to Dran with its length was 5km and has been exploited since 1929; from Dran to Hanh station with its length was 5 km, and has been exploited since 1930; from Hanh station to Da Lat with its length was 23 km, and has been exploited since 1932.
An important highway of traffic had formed linking Dalat with other areas in Viet Nam passing the railway from Da Lat - Thap Cham and Trans-VietNam- Ha Noi – Sai Gon as the final highway between Tuy Hoa – Dai Lanh was inaugurated on 4/10/1936.
A temporary station was built near the position of the train station today, with the shape like the small railway stations belonging to France countryside. At that time, the exploitation of the railway and the stations by SGAI management. Today, this house has been dismantled after finished the new station.
The temporary station
The current station of Da Lat was built from 1932 to 1938 to replace the temporary station which was located on Nguyen Trai road.
The works were designed by Révéron and Moncet architects basing on architecture, size and lay-out was similar to the Deauville station city - Calvados region of northern France.
Along with Ha Noi station, Da Lat station was the most impressive architecture in Vietnam.