eThe International Steam Pages

Nenjiang-Heibaoshan Local Railway

Florian Menius reports from his visit in early March 2002:

Observations :

The 156km long branch line from Nenjiang to Heibaoshan is 100% steam operated. A fascinating branch line that reminded me to Kaiyuan-Xifeng with its atmosphere...

The line :

156km long. Extends northwards from Nenjiang. The first 6.5 km are parallel to the CNR mainline to Jiagedaqi which diverges in northwest direction at this point.

Track is in poor condition. Wooden sleepers (partly broken), small profile rails, only 10m-rail sections assembled. Sleepers bedded on slag and sand, an old-style telegraph pole next to the line..

The depot :

Situated at the southern end of Nenjiang CNR yard. It is divided into a CNR and a " local railway section", the latter one being closer to the Qiqihar mainline.

The local railway has got a two track workshop, active locos are parked outside.

Organisation :

You carefully have to distinguish between CNR and the local railway. The local railway is known as "DiTie", a abbreviation for "Difang Tielu" (=local railway). The 2 companies do not know what the other does! It is senseless to ask CNR staff for train timing etc. The DiTie-Offices are situated some 150m south of Nenjiang station following the road towards the depot.

Operation :

I was told at least ome dozen times that there is no longer a passenger train to Heibaoshan. It lost the competition with buses which take 4 hours for Nwenjiang-Heibaoshan compared to 6:36h for the train (in 1998). Freight trains need 6 hours one way. (So they are very slow and probably easily "chaseable" by taxi ..).

According to DiTie staff, some 3 to 5 freight trains per direction operate within 24h. Freight trains are quite short. I observed 13 and 14 loaded wagons respectively.

Some locos are outstationed at Heibaoshan (subdepot).

Locos :

DiTie owns 11 class JS locomotives. Out of them, 8 are "operational", 3 derelict at Nenjiang depot. All operable JS are high deflectored and in poor external condition. The JS include both "early JS" (1950s and 1960s built), the mid 1980s batch (63xx-65xx) and the latest batch (8xxx, 1986-88).

Individual locos :
JS 5604 : derelict at Nenjiang
JS 5684 : derelict at Nenjiang
JS 5741 : under repair (Memjiang workshops)
JS 5896 : derelict at Nenjiang
JS 6012 : working (not seen, said to be at Heibaoshan)
JS 6547 : under repair (Nenjiang workshops)
JS 8113 : working
JS 8153 : under repair (Nenjiang workshops), recent arrival from Shanghai bureau, Huainan depot(still bearing the depot code)
JS 8247 : working
JS 8248 : working
JS 8298 : working (not seen, said to be at Heiboshan)

CNR part of the depot contains 3 derelict QJs : QJ 3095, 6129, 6133

Infrastructure :

Many luedians, bathhouses and cheap binguans around the station.

Bus station is 1 km away in the town center. Urban bus No 1 goes there. The bus station is very hidden and reminds to an scrap yard for buses and lorries ...

3 buses per day to Heibaoshan departing at 06:00, 13:00 and 15:00. Almost no minibuses ! Only official ones or taxis ! Taxis are somewhat strange here. One refused to take me to Jinxing (20km out of Nenjiang), another one wanted 80Y for 5 kms ... So I walked ..

Future : Steam will last another 3 years - according to DiTie staff.

Conclusion : A nice railway. Not spectacular, flat countryside but very charming. Might happen that I stop here again when returning from Ganhe.

Further details after my return to Europe and probably in Bruce Evans" s report who surely was the " 52 year old foreigner" who visited the depot at Nenjiang 2 hours before I arrived there ...

Rob Dickinson