The International Steam Pages


Steam in China, January 1999

Mike Tyack kicks off the New Year with a report from JingPeng and Baotou, December 26, 1998 to January 10, 1999.

The 14 days on the ground were spent in 2 areas only – 3 days at Baotou, principally for the JS action on the Shiguai line, with the ‘filler’ of the suburbans if necessary +  8.5 days at Reshui for my annual ‘fix’.

The group consisted of 8 English, 4 Australians, a token German (sorry Joachim!), and copious bottles of Baileys to celebrate the New Year.

BA transported the European contingent, and anyone travelling out of Heathrow needs to be aware of the enforcement of a 6 kilo ‘hand luggage’ restriction on BA flights. This caused serious consternation, repacking of camera equipment and participants boarding the aircraft draped with camera bodies & looking like onion-sellers – after all, who is prepared to take the chance of cameras & camera boxes going into the hold? As it was, one piece of luggage was not reunited with its owner until three days into the trip. You can get by without clothes – but cameras are another matter!

Ground arrangements were made with her usual efficiency by Mrs Sun of China Liaoning, and we were accompanied throughout by her brother.

BAOTOU.

My thanks to both Bryan Acford & Duncan Cotterill for their help and advice, which made our three days here far more rewarding than if we had started from scratch. Workings on the Shiguai branch were more or less identical to what we had expected, as follows:-

Monday 28/12/98

JS8320 0955 T804 W/B Passenger Houba
JS8008 1050   E/B Coal Empties W of Houba
JS8008 + 8327 1305   W/B Coal Load E of Houba
JS8021 1435   E/B Coal Empties Hongfengling
JS8021 1700   W/B Coal Load Shiguai

The eastbound freight in the morning followed the passenger. In mid-winter the sun had already set by the time the afternoon return left Shiguai.

A clear & cold day with stunning visibility all day long.

Tuesday 29/12/98

A hazy start to the day, with cloud increasing.

JS 8009

0955

T804

W/B Passenger

Houba

The morning freight did not run at all. Shiguai pilots were JS8325 & 8327. We were told that an afternoon freight was expected at Houba at about 1400/30, but, by this time the weather had given up the ghost completely, so, instead of being miserable waiting for a single train, we decided to adjourn to Baotoudong and assess the afternoon suburban activity. The smog, gloom and general Baotou ‘crud’ revealed:-

JS8279

 

1520

 

T945 ex Dong

QJ6519

 

1542

 

T755 to Linhe

QJ6834

(t/f)

1622

 

E/B freight off main-line into Dong yard.

JS8001

 

1635

 

T935 ex Dong

After dinner, a late evening visit to Baotoudong station revealed 4 arrivals between 2110 & 2150 as follows:-

JS8279

T923

JS8321

T943

JS8009

T806

JS8001

T933

Wednesday 30/12/98.

Dawned clear, although a little hazy closer to Shiguai, as the general grot drifted up the valley.

JS8005

0855

 

E/B Coal Empties

Xiadonggua

JS8321

0945

T804

W/B Passenger

E of Houba

JS8005 + 8327

1135

 

W/B Coal Load

Km 25 E of Houba

JS8003

1405

 

E/B Coal Empties

Hongfengling

We had already realised that the afternoon freight would not leave Shiguai in daylight, so returned to Baotoudong. Note both afternoon eastbound coal empties (28 & 30/12) were very light trains – only 5 or 6 wagons, compared with at least double that in the morning. We were too late back at Baotoudong to see T945, but arrived 5 minutes ahead of the Linhe passenger.

QJ6519

1545

T755 to Linhe

QJ6565

1610

loco & van headed north up the suburban loop

QJ6834 (t/f)

1612

E/B freight into Dong yard off mainline

JS8001

1630

T935 ex Dong

DF4

1723

T801 to Bayan Obo

QJ6834

1725

W/B freight ex Dong yard onto mainline

JS ????

1735

T805 to Shiguai

QJ6563 (t/f)

1740

W/B freight onto mainline

On a day when Baotoudong was so clear, you could see for miles & miles – if you really wanted to, that is!

New Years Eve 31/12 was spent in transit, the highlights being in reverse order:-

  1. The need not to visit the mens loo at Jiningnan Station – once in a lifetime is quite sufficient!

  2. The appearance of QJ7118 at Benhong

  3. Australian New Year preceeding Chinese New Year by 3 hours with the British New Year to follow 8 hours later.

JINGPENG.

Started off as you would expect – clear & cold, albeit at –20C a good 10C higher than I had been expecting. There has clearly been no snow there at all since early December, as all snow was old & hard-packed, which, at least, prevented the Reshui wind from removing what little remained. The Jingpeng side remains quite adequately covered, towards the summit on the Reshui side is surprisingly white, but further towards town it is dull China brown.

Booked and actual activity daily was as follows:

Friday 1/1/99

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

4125 / 0730

6639/6274

1100

4110 / 0702

QJ x 2

1100

4127 / 0900

7040/6760

1250

5042 / 0807

QJ x 2

1250

2817 / 1200

6876/6763

1440

5044 / 1030

QJ x 2

1320

4129 / 1332

QJ x 2

1725

2824 / 1230

QJ/6639

1720

4131 / 1530

 

 

5046 / 1332

6996/6884

1600

What a start – the dreaded 50xx series light engine movements in profusion. But all was not lost as 5042 turned out to be a short train.

Saturday 2/1/99

Started clear, with high cloud building up during the day.

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

4145 / 0630

6760/7040

0920

4114 / 0550

7041/7037

0935

4147 / 0830

7009/6876

1240

2830 / 1140

QJ x 2

1500

2851 / 1050

6274/7010

1400

2832 / 1245

QJ x 2

1735

2855 / 1550

 

 

2834 / 1340

 

 

 

 

 

4116 / 1450

 

 

Sunday 3/1/99

Clear early, but got hazier as the day progressed. Getting warmer!

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

4161 / 0610

7040/6760

0910

5044 / 0500

QJ x 2

0910

4125 / 0730

6274/6763

1110

4120 / 0630

QJ x 2

1140

4127 / 1200

6110/6828

1400

2818 / 0807

7137

1645

2825 / 1602 Not seen

 

 

4126 / 0847

6887/6135

1300

 

 

 

4132 / 0950

6998/7002

1340

 

 

 

4178 / 1410

 

 

The mysterious 2818 took 8 hours+ from Daban to Shangdian! Did one of the locos fail shortly after leaving Daban – by mid-afternoon, the station master at Shangdian was at a complete loss to explain its whereabouts!

Note 4127 taking just 2 hours from Haolouku – the following day the same train would be even quicker!!

Monday 4/1/99

The previous night’s weather forecast had showed a front sitting from east to west across China, with a massive Siberian high to the North, so it was no surprise when high cloud started to increase from dawn. Intermittent bursts of sun during the day. A strong wind developed as the day progressed. Warm – approaching zero during the day, which is ridiculous for the time of year!!

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

4139 / 0730

6687/6135

11.50

2820 / 0410

6996/7040

0830

4125 / 0830

6998/7002

12.50

4126 / 0610

6389/6576

1000

4127 / 1200

7137/6274

13.40

5042 / 0900

7009

1040

2817 / 1350

6763/6996

16.05

2822 / 1140

6876/7012

1610

4129 / 1600

Not seen

 

2824 / 1255

6577/6884

1640

 

 

 

4132 / 1402

QJ x 2

1755

Trains 4127 & light engine 5042 just go to show that there is a frequent variance between booked and actual departure times from both Haolouku and Daban.

Tuesday 5/1/99

Overcast, intermittent breaks in the cloud during the morning, completely socked in by the afternoon.

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

4145 / 0620

QJ x 2

0930

02828 / 0500

7041/6576

0835

4147 / 0900

7010/7002

1220

4134 / 0807

QJ x 2

1220

2853 / 1215

6996/6763

1410

5044 / 1050

QJ

1300

2857 / 1630

 

 

2830 / 1420

QJ x 2

1655

 

 

 

5704 / 1530

 

 

For the second successive day, a 12.00 approx departure ex Haolouku was through very early.

Wednesday 6/1/99

At last! A cold, clear morning, but with a brisk N to N/W wind. The temperatures had started to plummet to something closer to those expected: -20C.

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

4161 / 0700

7012/6135

1050

2834 / 0240

6135/6876

0755

4125 / 1100

6763/6998

1635

4138 / 0340

6388/7040

0935

4129 / 1500

 

 

4136 / 0645

6639/7009

1035

2823 / 1605

 

 

2818 / 1400

QJ x2

1800

 

 

 

5044 / 1530

 

 

 

 

 

2820 / 1730

 

 

A massive gap in proceedings from 1030 onwards – typical when the weather improves!. We were to find out why! The ballast wagons brought over (probably by 5704 the previous day & dumped at Jingpeng) were picked up by 4125 and offloaded in the Xiakengxi area.

DF4 at Jingpeng!! Not as bad as it seems, however! Train 4136 contained a brand new DF4D No 4010 (1998 works plate) in blue & cream livery as final item in front of the guards van. The engines were ticking over, presumably to prevent icing up, with crew in the cab. The assumption is that the DF4 was heading west to its new home

Thursday 7/1/99

Cold & clear with a brisk Northerly wind: -30C

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

4135 / 0513

7002/7012

1030

2826 / 0030

QJ x 2

0850

4137 / 0900

QJ x 2

1425

4104 / 0600

QJ x 2

1030

5701 / 1330

No sign in daylight

 

2828 / 0807

6884/6110

1255

 

 

 

4106 / 0850

7037/7137

1400

 

 

 

4108 / 1000

6576/6274

1430

Another very thin day east-bound with the ballast train (5701) nowhere to be seen.

Friday 8/1/99

Started misty, but cleared mid-morning. Cold, biting wing, gusting from the North/North West: -35C + wind chill. Now that’s more like it!

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

2823 / 0650

6576/6760

1000

2836 / 0807

QJ x 2

1055

5701 / 0930

7012/6876

1640

2838 / 0945

6639/7137

1350

2851 / 1030

7002/6577

1700

4102 / 1140

QJ x 2

1740

4155 / 1230

 

 

2840 / 1500

 

 

By 1130, neither 5701 or 2851 had left Haolouku, so what looked like a promising set of times was already in tatters! As on 6/1, 5701 reached Xiakengxi at about 1510, and proceeded to unload ballast for the next hour. 2851 had already reached Xiakengxi before 5701 had exited Tunnel 2!

Saturday 9/1/99

Cold, clear and STILL! –35C at daybreak.

Ex Haolouku

 

Shangdian

Ex Daban

 

Shangdian

4165 / 0620

6884/QJ

0945

4104 / 0630

6135/6388

1205

4167 / 0730

6760/6577

1035

4106 / 0807

6389/7040

1320

4169 / 1230

 

 

4110 / 0855

QJ

1400

4171 / 1400

 

 

4112 / 1340

 

 

There are occasions which live in the memory for ever. 6760/6577 exiting Tunnel 2 is one of them – crisp columns of vertical white exhaust standing proud against the hillside behind, both locos encrusted in a layer of ice and frost turning every wagon from black to grey, steam clinging limply to every wheel. Long may this spectacle continue!

An observation – the day’s schedule is normally confirmed to stations along the line by 5.30/6.00am. The expected day’s activity is lodged the previous day at about 16.00. If you compare the two, it is quite staggering just how many of the trains advised the previous afternoon have been retimed or cancelled by 6.00am!


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk