The International Steam Pages
Steam in Paradise China Tour December 2001/January 2002
Ron Lingley reports:
Weihe more than lived up to its reputation and it will be a tragedy to lose this system. This unfortunately is highly likely to happen this year. Only the most temporary p.w. repairs are being carried out, with rails being underpinned with (offcut) wooden wedges. Even though the season had not long started, there were more than enough trains to chase and keep us busy all day long. 6 of the locos were seen in use. Weather excellent.
Monday 24th. December: Weihe - All C2.
Tuesday 25th. December: Weihe.
Wednesday 26th. December: Weihe.
The Tiefa system was a surprise in terms of the quality of shots achievable on this briefest of visits. It certainly deserves a more thorough investigation. With the SY passenger services as a backbone to the day's activity, it was also possible to find some impressive workings of a SY's capability with both loaded coal and long trains of empties. It appeared to us that the haulage by CF or TF facing locos was not as haphazard as had been previously suggested, and the workings are more predictable if both origin and destination are known. Given this knowledge, some of the more photogenic outlying locations could be investigated. Getting a permit is a must and well worth it as it gives you access to almost anywhere. SY0979 is the first locomotive to have been completely overhauled in the Teifa workshops and has emerged in decorated condition. Some pollution in Teifa on 2nd afternoon, otherwise weather excellent.
Thursday 27th. December: Teifa - All SY.
Friday 28th. December: Teifa.
Chengde was as good as usual. The visit to the steelworks was unofficial as distinct from last year's official visit and it is possible that this may not be repeatable in the future. Unfortunately the management are not interested in promoting the tourist potential of their installation. During our stay in Chengde, a high level banquet was held to celebrate the commencement of work on the Chengde town avoiding line for the steelworks. This is expected to take two years to build and is scheduled to use diesel traction when open. Enjoy it while it lasts, this is multiple steam power, constantly 100% on the limit of its capability. Strong winds on day 1 meant excellent visibility to add to the good weather.
Saturday 29th. December: Chengde
Sunday 30th. December: Chengde
Monday 31th. December: Jitong - All QJ.
Traffic levels were similar to last year with 3 good days and 1 poor. Fortunately this coincided with the 1 day of bad weather on the trip. Only 1 pair of light engines were seen and 1 pair with a very light train. 3 single headers were seen (all westbound). The practice reported recently, of the lead loco dropping off at the summit to assist a following single header was not seen. The new stations have helped smooth the traffic flow, and often now the only long gaps in activity are mid afternoons. A typically quiet period of the day on many lines in China. The improved external condition of locos has already been reported. During our visit, no significant snow remained on the ground this year and on some days the midday temperature was positively balmy by Jingpeng standards. If global warming continues it will be shorts and t-shirts soon even at Christmas!
Tuesday 1st. January: Jingpeng Pass.
Wednesday 2nd. January: Jingpeng Pass.
Thursday 3rd. January: Jingpeng Pass.
Friday 4th. January: Jingpeng Pass.
Saturday 5th. January: Jingpeng Pass. (Short day on
The end of another highly successful visit, and much credit as always to Weishu Li for smoothing our path and maximising our opportunities.
The decision to miss out Dongsheng this year in favour of Weihe proved almost clairvoyant. One year nearer to the end of steam in China? - Who knows? There are not many good signs around!