The International Steam Pages

Steam in China, New Year 2003

This is a summary of Florian Menius's latest trip. The main report is on his own web pages which these days are the best source of information on steam in this country,, even better than these! 

1) Dahuichang (Dec 28th, Jan 10th, Jan27th)

no changes

2) Yuanbaoshan (Dec 29th, Jan 24th)

as reported

3) JiTong Railway (Dec 30th-Jan 2nd, Jan 20th-23rd)

business as usual with lots of trains.

4) Zhungeer (Jan 3rd-4th)

The best new discovery since 1996 when JingPeng was discovered ! Great landscape, hard working trains and gradients in both directions. There is a regular bus service between Zhoujiawan and Huhehaote every 25 minutes. Additionally, there is a passenger train along the electrified Zhungeer-Datong line between Zhoujiawan and Fengzhen. Pattern of operation is quite easy : a train of empties from Datong arrives (hauled by SS3 electric). Maximum load for 2 QJs are 44-48 empties or 24-26 loaded wagons. If necessary, the empty train is split into 2 parts. The two parts depart in close succession and go to the coal mine at Xiyingzi. According to the number of coal wagons at Xiyingzi, additional QJs are sent to Xiyingzi as light engine workings. As soon as all wagons are loaded at Xiyingzi, a succession of loaded trains appears: each 2QJs and 24-26 fulls make up a train. If a loaded train has got less than 24 wagons or is single headed only, it marks the end of the train. The first part of a loaded train is back at Zhoujiawan some 16-20 hours after the departure of the matching first part of the empty train. At Zhoujiawan, the parts of the loaded train are combined to one long train again and depart behind SS3 towards Datong. The dispatcher knows timings of loaded trains some hours in advance. He does not know when empty will run because he does not know when the next electric train is to arrive ...

Most QJs are in very bad condition. Given their condition, I fear they will not survive longer than 1 or 2 years ...

Due to the pattern of operation, you need some luck to get trains in daylight. I, for example, was very lucky. My first half day at Zhoujiawan :"Arrived at Zhoujiawan at 12.30 with bus from Huhehaote. When I arrived at the "Zhoujiawan station of ZhunDong railway", 13 QJs were present, 9 under steam and 6 out of them preparing to depart with empties for Xiyingzi. Two double headed trains of empties departed until 15:00 - within 2.5 hours after my arrival ... They were followed by 2 QJs l/e departing at 16:30. Next morning, I inquired about trains : 3 loaded trains were scheduled to arrive until noon : two double headed ones with  25 and 26 wagons each and a single headed one with 9 wagons. At 14.20, a 60 wagon freight left Zhoujiatun hauled by SS3 0673. No more empties were 
on the system with 12QJ on shed (1 was out on a permanent way train).

5) Wuhai (Jan 5th-6th)

Shunting at Wuhai has been dieselised (DF5 from Baotou depot now,  formerly JS). The same is valid for line work towards Xinqu and Huangbaici. Jilantai has got the last steam shunter in the area (JS). Line work WuhaiXi-Jilantai still 100% QJ. Unfortunately, there were no trains at all other than the daily mixed train. So, at WuhaiXi, I had 1 (downhill) train during daylight only. 

6) Qingtongxia (Jan 7th)

There is no second local railway at Qingtongxia in addition to DaGu railway. The track from Qingtongxia station to Qingtongxia city just across Yellow River is CNR property and goes to some industries. It is served by the Qingtongxia CNR pilot (DF5 of Yinchuan depot).

7) DaGu Tielu : Daba-Guyaozi (Jan 7th-8th)

The correct name of the railway is "DaGu Tielu" (DaGu railway) and not GuDa railway. I read this on several wagons, facilities and at the depot and was corrected by railway when asking for GuDa railway.

The power station halfway between Qingtongxia and Daba next to the CNR line is called "Daba Dianchang" (dianchang = power station). Daba Dianchang has got its own pilot loco : DF4 9178. It trips the wagons from the power station to the exchange yard some 2.5 km south of Daba CNR station. The track from this exchange yard leads to the "DaGu Tielu" part of Daba station which is west of but parallel to the CNR station. Here, wagons are exchanged between CNR and DaGu Tielu. There is always at least one QJ under steam at Daba as it serves as shunter for both CNR and DaGu station. A servicing point for steam locos is at the northern end of Daba station, a wye exists near the power station exchange yard. The DaGu line leaves Daba northwards, climbs onto a dam and crosses over the Qingtonxia-Yinchuan CNR line. For the next 45 km, the never reaches ground level again. It is always onto a high embankment crossing through boring, flat landscape. Rated by the potential for taking photos one of  the worst lines, I have seen so far ! "Highlight" is the Yellow River bridge at km 30. Forget this railway between Daba and Lingwu ! 

Beyond Lingwu, the character of the line changes. It becomes hilly, sand dunes come in sight and line follows a wide river valley where a water reservoir is currently being under construction. Far away from any road, the line follows the southern rim of the valley (in future probably the southern bank of the water reservoir) and climbs steeply (14%o). Deep cuttings and embankments follow one after each other. Around km 60 a kind a highland is reached. The road comes in sight again and is crossed near a nice viaduct some 6 km short of Guyaozi. Some areas with sand dunes are passed again. Another bridge is situated just 1 km before Guyaozi.

Guyaozi has got a medium sized yard (some7 or 8 tracks), a track to a petrochemical factory and the large depot area on its southern side. From Guyaozi, the branch to the the coal mine extends eastwards for some 4km. Unfortunately, this section is lined by barbed wire fences on both sides. So, almost inaccessible and not very photogenic! Railway staff was extremely friendly and very keen to see the third "waiguoren" being interested in their railway. At Guyaozi, an official from the depot stopped his activity in order to say "hello" and to invite to have a closer look at their locomotives !

DaGu railway owns 11 QJs, all being operational. Pride of the railway is QJ 7205 with brass boiler rings and decorations around the smokebox door. When being at Guyaozi, I was advised at least 3 times by different railway employees, that I should take a photo of 7205 ... - That's real pride !

In addition to the locos mentioned by Bernd, I noted QJ 7194 and QJ 7200, too. As Bruce Evans already said, QJ 7061, 7194, 7195 and 7205 have been acquired from Tianjin Local Railway in autumn 2002. According to notes at their tenders, they were overhauled at Tianjin between September and October 2002. DaGu railway is quite interesting railway concerning their locos, as you can see both very new and quite old QJs there.

Locos seen (under steam, unless indicated): QJ 1465, 2869, 7036, 7061(cold), 7194(cold), 7195(cold), 7200, 7205. At least one further engine was in steam out on the line from which I did not get the number. Bernd saw QJ 2690 and 6545 in November. So, one engine is still unknown ...

Traffic : about two return trips during daylight are usual. According to staff and confirmed by observations, there is usually a train from Daba to Guyaozi in the morning and a train back around noon. No fixed timetable exists. A single trip Guyaozi-Daba or return takes some 2 hours.

8) Baotou Steelworks (Jan 9th)

It is no problem to access the slag tip yard from Baotou Xi CNR. Just walk in through an unguarded gate. I watched SY 1676 disposing some slag there.

9) Salaqi (Jan 9th)

The branch line northwards from Salaqi (Baotou-Huhehaote line) belongs to CNR and is worked by the Salaqi shunter, a Baotou based DF5. In my case, it was brand new, 2002-built DF5 1929.

10) Beijing Metro (Jan 11th)

A new metro line has opend in Beijing. It starts at Xizhimen and passes Beijing Bei station. It is entirely on surface or elevated. So, you can perfectly use it for sightseeing ... The line (No.13 !) is being extended to Dongzhimen soon. As there is no interchange station between the circle line and the line 13 at Xizhimen, you have either to buy a new ticket there are purchase a "connection ticket" at 5Y which allows to change subway at Xizhimen without paying another time.

11) Weihe (Jan 12th - 18th)

Better than before ! Even without the passenger train ! Traffic levels were fantastic ! Number of loaded trains during daylight was great ! Out of 7 days we were at Weihe, 3 days boosted 5 loaded train during daylight, one day even 6 loaded trains ! Additionally, there were between 3 and 5 empty trains per day. Always trains! No light engine working as it used to happen in previous years. Additionally, 2 double headed trains were seen working through to Weihe with up to 17 log wagons plus caboose! Banking both at Pinglin and Shuangfeng happened much more frequently than in previous years. If you haven't been to Weihe, buy your air ticket tomorrow. Such great forestry railway operation will never come back. Nowhere in the world ! 7 out of 7 locos were in daily use. Sometimes, 6 were out on the line simultaneously! The additional log traffic does more than compensate the lack of the passenger train.

12) Tiefa (Jan 19th)

Forget it! Passenger timetable has changed with massive cancellations of  trains especially on the Faku line.

13) Waitoushan (Jan 25th)

SY 1012 operates a passenger service with 6 return trips per day between Waitoushan CNR station and "KuangWaiKeCheXian" (literally : passenger track outside mine) near the coal mine and close to the city of Waitoushan. Full timetable in my report. The train consists of 6 old style coaches with longitudinal seats inside : each two example to types YZ21, YZ30 and YZ95. Fare is 0.5Y, pay on the train. There is an electric system as well which uses Henningsdorf built electrics of both EL1 and EL2 type. A steep electric line climbs onto a nearby mountain. Map to accompany the report. Waitoushan is well worth a short side trip when being around Benxi or Beitai.

14) Shiqiaozi (Jan 25th)

No steam hauled line there!

15) Beitai (Jan 25th)

As reported. If you do not take photos of tender first or pushed trains, you can leave your camera at the hotel! Just sit down, enjoy and talk with the friendly railway staff.

Rob Dickinson