The International Steam Pages

Steam in China, October 1999

Stephan Menius reports on the INTRA-EXPRESS tour to Northern China 1999. Main stops on our round journey were Baotou, Benhong, JingPeng, Anshan, Fushun and Tangshan. The tour was guided by Mr. Zhang from CITS, Changchun. 


Beijing Capital Iron & Steel Works : Four steams engines left. 
Baotou suburbans : T 941 and 943 (both anticlockwise) still JS. Rumours said, that also a clockwise train is still JS hauled, but it was not observed.
Shiguai branch : Still 100 % JS
Dongsheng : no electrification ; all Aobaogou trains triple QJ
Benhong : JiTong line's western turning point
Jing Peng, Anshan : normal
Shenyang : hardly any CNR steam
Fushun, Tangshan : industrial SY operations

Notation :

In this report, train numbers without letters are used for freight. Passenger trains have the letter "T " in front of the number. Freight numbers mentioned below were told us by railway employees or noted from the station's train list. 

Tour Details :

Sunday 17 October

Arrival Beijing Capital Airport with Air China flight CA 932 from Frankfurt around noon. Then by bus to the forbidden city. It was closed due to the preparations for the "Musikantenstadel", a festival offering traditional music from Germany, Austria und Switzerland (!). 

Monday 18 October

Beijing Capital Iron & Steel Works

In the morning, we visited the Capital Iron & Steel Works south of Beijing. Two SY ( 0610 and 0726 ) were seen under steam with 0908 cold and in bad condition hidden behind some wagons. SY 0610 was in very good condition and seemed to have been overhauled recently. Immediately after our arrival, SY 0726 left the yard and did not appear again. Next to the depot, 0-6-0Ts  XK13  115 and 131 were dumped. XK13  115 seemed to be complete, whereas XK13  131 was not so.  Staff claimed, that only four steam engines are still serviceable and in use (two of them SY 0726 and 0610). Several class GK and V1003 diesels were present. Steam is used quite seldom, diesels dominate. 

Locos :   

  SY    0610 , 0726 , 0908 (dumped) 
  XK 13    115 , 131

Around noon, we left for Dahuichang Limestone Works.

There is both a standard gauge and a narrow gauge operation. 

*  standard gauge :  no locomotives under steam. SY 0251 and YJ 287 cold next to the shed. 
*  narrow gauge   :  #2 and #4 were steamed and waited for work. Work should not start before 16:00 on this Monday. 
                              #1 and #3 were stored next to the shop, but seemed to be useable. 
                              #01, the fifth locomotive, was dismantled.

Around 15:30 (before line work started), we had to leave Dahuichang for Beijing Xi station, to get our train to Baotou. We took train 177, departure 16:47 Beijing Xi and DF 4 hauled. 

Tuesday 19 October

Arrival Baotou Dong 05:46 in morning. Into the dark, we saw  

 T 941   JS 8237   06:30   loop passenger (anticlockwise) 
 T 803  JS 8009  06:53  passenger to Shiguai

both leaving Baotou Dong station. Sunrise about 7:00 o´clock. 

T 931 (clockwise) had no steam. 

BaoShen Line

After breakfast transfer by bus to Shabazi/ Singing Sands. Spent the day linesiding there. Staff at Shabazi told us the train numbers and timings of the trains.

There is a new tourist train 205/ 206 from Hohot to Dongsheng. The train consists of 11 blue and white livered wagons and is QJ hauled between Baotou and Dongsheng, of course. The trains are going via Baotou main station, passing and stoping at Baotou Dong station on their way between Baotou and Hohot.

 T 205      T 206 
 08:00    Hohot  19:07
 09:52    Baotou Dong   17:31
 10:09    Baotou  17:03
 10:30    Baotou  16:47
 11:24    Shabazi  15:55
 12:20    Dongsheng  14:57

Most freights are numbered in the 30xx range between Dongsheng and Baotou, in the 31xx  range south of Dongsheng. 

Sightings :

 T 851   QJ 2670   09:10   sb   
 3020  QJ 6194   09:30  nb  
 T 205  QJ 6711  11:20  sb  
 3022  QJ  ?  13:00  nb  
 3019  QJ  ?  13:40  sb  
 3024  QJ 6348  15:20  nb  
 T 206  QJ 2670  16:00  nb  
 3023  QJ 6287  16:30  sb  including some oil tankers 
 T 852  QJ 1611  17:15  nb  

(Anders Nordebring says that 1611 (cabside) also carried the number 6248 on the buffer beam - see Train 851 next day! RD)

Sunset around 17:30. Transfer to Dongsheng.

Wednesday 20 October

Spent the day around Aobaogou. Until afternoon, we saw three uphill trains, all double headed with banker. Downhill trains were all double headed. 
Around Aobaogou, new telephone poles are being installed. They are installed parallel to the railway line in distance of at least 10 to 20 metres to the line. The poles do not follow the curves of the railway line and also go up and down through the valleys (not over the viaduct). So, there is in fact only one point next to Aobaogou, where the poles spoil the photo spot. At moment of our visit, the telephone cables were still missing, only the (concrete made) masts were erected.

Sightings : 

 T 855   QJ 5287  06:50   sb 
 Single loco   QJ 2977  07:10  sb
 3127  QJ 6289 + QJ  6194   09:00  sb
 3114  QJ 7044 + 3068 + 2977   09:15   nb 
 Single loco  QJ 6247  10:00  sb
 T 851  QJ 6248  10:45  sb
 4378  QJ 6249 + 2670 + 6247  11:20  nb
 3129  QJ 6711 + 7044  12:15  sb
 3134  QJ 6289 + 6194 + 2977  14:45  nb

After that, we visited Dongsheng shed. Dongsheng shed is situated at Baotou end of Dongsheng station. Staff there told us, that two further QJs were bought recently (maybe 6193 and 2938, which are not mentioned in earlier reports). Staff also confirmed, that are no plans to change the operation into electric power. According to the staff, it is much more likely to buy new diesels, but there are as well no plans to buy new diesels. Instead of new diesels, they prefer buying QJs until now. 

Locos seen in Dongsheng shed : 

under steam : QJ 6348 (4 axle tender), 6287, 6194, 6289, 6248
under repair : QJ 6018, 6193, 6014, 1891 (high deflectors), 2938 (next to the workshop)
dumped       : QJ 6040

Furthermore, there were two steam cranes. One of them was used for coaling the locos.

QJ 2670 (and at least another QJ) were sitting into the station the whole time of our visit. QJ 2670 later headed passenger 852 to Baotou. 

All locos noted during the 2 days : 

QJ : 1611(? see note above), 1891, 2670, 2977, 2938, 3068, 6014, 6018, 6040, 6193, 6194, 6247, 6248, 6249, 6287, 6289, 6348, 6711, 7044

In the evening , bus ride back to Baotou. 

In Baotou Dong, the evening loop train T 943 (anticlockwise) and T 806 from Shiguai arrived behind JS. 
So at least T 941 and T 943 (both anticlockwise) are obviously still steam hauled. 

Thursday 21 October

In the darkness of the morning : 

 T 941   JS 8278 ( ? )   06 :30   loop passenger (anticlockwise) 
 T 803  JS 8322  06:53  passenger to Shiguai

JS 8324 was shunting in Baotou Dong. 

Shiguai branch

After breakfast by bus to Houba. All trains on the Shiguai line are still JS.

 T 804   JS 8322   10:00   passenger to Baotou 
 4437  JS 8009  13:40  freight, empty, to Shiguai 
 4438  JS 8009 + 8325   16:30   freight, loaded, to Baotou 

After that, back to Baotou Dong. 

 T 805   JS 8322   18:25   passenger to Shiguai 

CNR-locos at Baotou (all JS) : 8009, 8278 (?), 8322, 8324, 8325, 8327

In the evening, we took pasenger 564, departure 19:54 from Baotou Dong to Jining Nan.  Arrival Jining Nan 00:32.

Friday 22 October

The next morning, we visited Benhong.  Benhong is loco changing station at the Jining end of the JiTong line. At Benhong, the JiTong leaves the CNR Jining Nan-Erlian -(Ulan Bator) line. Trains from the east (from JingPeng/ Baichi) arrive behind steam and are taken over by CNR diesels (DF 4) here. Benhong is situated into a restricted military area. Normally ,there is no access for foreigners. Our group was one of the first western groups, who got permission to visit Benhong. At Benhong, we were only allowed to walk around into the area of the station and were guarded by 0some military officers. 

Benhong is servicing point for the JiTong line's QJs. Benhong seems to have no own locos, but the visiting Baichi engines are serviced there. Benhong servicing area has no shed. There are only some service tracks (for coal and water supply) where waiting locos sit around and wait for their next train. The servicing station is situated south of the station in direction to Jining. For turning the locos, there is a wye next to the servicing point. There were waiting locos into the station, too.

We arrived at Benhong station around 10:30 o´clock. QJ 6354 was sitting into the station (probably arrived from Baichi short time before our arrival), while QJ 3076 was shunting into the station. This engine has a 4 axle tender and no deflectors (looks like huge JS) Then :  

 T  712    QJ 6633   11:25   arrival with passenger from Tongliao   (DF 4 took over)

Arrived behind supershine QJ 6633. After departure of T 712, we went to the servicing area :  QJ 6354, 6214 and 6633 (supershine) waited there. While being there, several DF 4 hauled passengers and freights on the Jining- Erlian line passed by. Around 13:00 a QJ hauled freight left for Baichi/ Tongliao, while a second train was prepared for leaving towards Baichi, too. 

Then, we wanted to go to the servicing point again, but our military guard became nervous. So, we were sent to the canteen to enjoy our taken noodle soup there. The reason seemed to be a large military train, which passed the station while we were eating. After that, we were allowed to walk across the station without restrictions again. 

After our "meal", the second freight for Baichi had left the station, too. So, we walked to the servicing point. When we were at the servicing station, QJ 6987 and QJ 6850 there (probably arrived from Baichi). . 

Around 16:00, passenger T 711 (Jining Nan-Tongliao) arrived behind DF4 and was taken over by QJ 6633. We took our places into the YW- coach. At the beginning of our jouney, we were not allowed to open the window (because of the restricted area, we guessed). Some kms away, we had no problems to open the window ...  En route, we passed some freight. One of them was hauled by QJ 7021.   

Baichi engines, seen at/ near Benhong : QJ 3076 (no deflectors), 6214, 6354, 6633 (supershine), 6850, 6987, 7021

Saturday 23 October


Around 08:00, we arrived at Daban behind QJ 7007. QJ 6631 took over T 711 and left for Chabuga. QJ 2645 (without deflectors) was waiting into the station. Our bus took us to Daban shed. We were told, that at the moment, 108 QJs belong to the JiTong line. It was said, that about 20 engines were bought recently. 

Locos at Daban shed : 
cold : QJ 1760, 2388, 6079, 6351
under steam : QJ 6301, 6576, 6577, 6735, 6878, 6884, 6992, 7002, 7007, 7010
dumped : QJ 6632, 6630, 6027, 2706 (tender from 6876), 6050

Two steam cranes (numbered 5203 and 5212) were in use.

 10 :00   QJ 6878 + 6577   dep.  freight to Haoluku 

Then, we took our bus and went to a location about 5 kms west of Daban station. There are some quite nice cuttings into the hilly landscape.

 4161   QJ 7012 + 6925   ca. 12:00   to Daban
 5702   QJ 6735 + 6517   ca. 12:15   to Haoluku 

Then, we went to Pingdingmiao station. Pingdingmiao is the first station from Daban in direction to Reshui. We took our noodle soap, while about 40 inhabitants of the village watched us ... Pingdingmiao has semaphores, the landsape is still hilly and quite nice.

 5708   QJ 6876 + 6389   ca. 14:00   to Haoluku
 4157  QJ 6887 + 6996  ca. 15:00  to Daban

On our way to Reshui, at Wendouheshuo (the station between Pingdingmiao and Linxi ), a QJ+QJ hauled to Daban passed. 

Jing Peng

At Reshui, we saw 5708 again : 

 5708   QJ 6876 + 6389   ca. 17:15   to Haoluku 

During the following 2 and a half days, the following number of trains during daylight were seen :

   to Haoluku 

   to Daban

 Oct, 24 th 



 Oct, 25 th



 Oct, 26 th



At every morning, we asked at Reshui station for scheduled train operation for the day.

Sunday  24 October

Action :

In the morning around 08:15, we saw a railcar near Reshui. It seemed to be used for track maintenace purposes. 

 2820   QJ 7143 + 6375   to Haoluku   Reshui (2x), Shangdian 
 4137  QJ 6639 + 6687  to Daban  Shangdian (Reshui side)
 4139  QJ 6638 + 6996  to Daban  Shangdian (Jing Peng side)
 4112  QJ 6274 + ??  to Haoluku  Shangdian (Jing Peng side)
 5044  QJ 6135 + 7041  to Haoluku  Xiakengzi, single locos
 4141  QJ 7137 + 6110  to Daban  Xiakengzi
 4102  QJ 6878 + 6577  to Haoluku  Xiakengzi
 5046  QJ 6735 + 6517  to Haoluku  Xiakengzi
 2818  QJ 6389 + 6870  to Daban  Xiakengzi
 2829  QJ ?? + 7143  to Daban  Xiakengzi, Shangdian

During the night, we heard several freights from our hotel.

Monday  25 October

The next morning, as usual, we asked at Reshui station for trains : the station's list showed more than 20 trains during night shift !!

Daylight trains (not bad, too, but compared to the night ... ) :   

 ???  QJ 6878 + 6639   to Daban  Reshui
 4116   QJ 6274 + 6358   to Haoluku   Reshui
 2825  QJ 6996 + 6760  to Daban  Liudigou
 4108  QJ 6577 + 6135  to Haoluku   Liudigou 
 ???  QJ ? + 7041  to Daban  Liudigou
 2837  QJ 6638 + 6351  to Daban  Xiakengzi 
 4151  QJ 6763 + 7040  to Daban  Xiakengzi
 ???  QJ + QJ  to Haoluku  Xiakengzi
 4125  QJ 7143 + 6375  to Daban  Xiakengzi
 ???  QJ 6735  to Haoluku  Xiakengzi
 ???  QJ + QJ  to Daban  Xiakengzi
 ???  QJ + QJ  to Haoluku  Xiakengzi

Tuesday 26 October

Trains : 

 4020   QJ 7143 + 7040   to Haoluku   Reshui 
 ???  QJ 6389 + 7012  to Daban  Luidigou
 4120  QJ 6517 + 6375  to Haoluku  Liudigou
 4155  QJ 6687 + 6760  to Daban  Liudigou
 2830  QJ 6274 + 7041  to Haoluku  Liudigou
 2832  QJ 6135 + 6577  to Haoluku  Liudigou
 2820  QJ 6351 + 6638  to Daban  Reshui
 4122  QJ 6876 + 6925  to Haoluku  Reshui

Around 14:00 we left Reshui by bus and drove to Linxi : 2820 had just left. So we went on to Chifeng, where we took train T 210 (Chifeng-Dalian), departure 21:15. 

Locos at Daban/ Jing Peng  (all QJ) :

 dumped    2706, 6027, 6050, 6630, 6632
 dumped (maybe useable)    1760, 2388, 6079
 under steam   2645, 6110, 6135, 6274, 6301, 6351, 6358, 6375, 6389, 6517, 6576, 6577, 6631, 6638, 6639, 6687, 6735, 
  6760, 6763, 6876, 6878, 6884, 6925, 6992, 6998, 7002, 7007, 7010, 7012, 7040, 7041, 7137, 7143

Wednesday 27 October

We arrived at Shenyang at 08:55. At Pindia near Fuxin, QJ 6708 was under steam (probably shunting). Huanggutun saw no steam engines but many, many DF4, when we passed through. 


The weather was very bad : it rained nonstop and it was very dark. At Shenyang, we boarded our bus and went to Sujiatun where we visited the steam locomotive „museum“. The engines there are in very bad condition - and their condition is getting worse and worse ... 

At the time of our arrival, JS 8050 left Sujiatun shed. It was due to go to Huanggutun for shunting. JS 8050 was the one and only CNR engine, we saw at Sujiatun on this day. Even the scrap locos (JS and QJ), which were present next to the museum last year, have disappeared, too. 

Sujiatun repair shop had GJ 1018 under steam. QJ 1316, JF 3475, SY 0782 and SY 1399 were under repair into the shed. QJ 1316 was in very bad condition the year before. It is quite amazing, that it is repaired now. 

 under steam    GJ 1018 (workshop), JS 8050 (CNR) 
 under repair (all in the workshop)    QJ 1316, JF 3475, SY 0782, SY 1399 

Anshan steelworks

Later, we went on to Anshan steelwork. We were only allowed to visit the well known site near the steam depot . The following locomotives were shunting : 

 PL 2   244
 SY   0114, 0115 (supershine), 0131, 0306, 0433, 0440, 0835, 0836, 0902, 1035, 1036, 1037, 1568  
 YJ   289

After that, we visited a crossing next to the steelwork and to the tramwayline. There, we watched some electric trains from the steelwork, because we were not been allowed to take photos of electric locomtives inside the steelwork. Because of the poor weather, we gave up and had a ride with the tramway before returning to Shenyang. 

Thursday 28 October


After breakfast, we went to Fushun by bus. There, we visited the open cast pit and its railway system. Most coal trains are hauled by locomotives from Skoda and LEW (Germany). Steam is used for track construction only. Fushu has a kind of electric rapid transit system, too. There is at least a line, that make half a circle around  the open cast pit. Rolling stock in use for this service are as well Japan built railcars (built in the 1930s) as chinese built railcars. The chinese railcars operate most of the trains during the day, whereas the older japanese ones are used only in peak hours. The shed for the electric railcars is situated at „Sheku“ (or "Cheku", as lettered into Quail-Map). Steam locomotives in use : 

  SY    0153, 0629, 0714, 0869, 1415 

A big surprise at Fushun was to see active CNR steam (class JS) : at least JS 6473 worked a freight near a connection to CNR. 

After a bus ride bach to Shenyang, we took T 96 from Shenyang Bei, departure 22:00, to Fengrun.

Friday 29 October

Arrival at Fengrun at 05:46. Then by bus to the

Tangshan Steelwork

Operation there is quite busy. Tangshan steelwork seems to have only very few diesels, but a big fleet of SYs. So, most duties are steam. Tangshan has at least one Changchun built SY (3006). The SYs mainly haul trains with liquid steel or cinders within the area of the steelwork. 

  under  steam (all SY)     0674, 0777, 0981, 0982, 1020, 1070, 1071, 1090, 1107, 1127, 1311, 1516, 1582, 1669, 1740, 3006 
  under repair    SY 1138, JS 8413 (built in 1988)

Tangshan Coal Mine

The second location at Tangshan, which uses steam is the coal mine. We saw no diesels there, but it is possible, that some may be there, too. Steam is used both on the freights and the worker's passenger train between the coal mine and the new shaft, a distance of about 6 km. At Tangshan coal mine, some coal trains seem to be worked with two SYs as double header. We saw SY 0031+SY 0355 together on a heavy coal train, while SY 1679 was on the passenger duty to the new shaft. Tangshan Coal Mine has a quite interesting  loco : SY 0964. It seems to have a boiler from a JS. At least, the chimney and dome parts were from an JS (or similar to that). Additionally it had a big number plate on its front - similar to many JS. The loco is looking like a JS - only number and tender show, that it is a SY. 

  under steam (all SY)    0031, 0355, 0356, 0964 (JS-looking, see above), 1679 

In the afternoon, we took T 620 from Tangshan (departure 16:28) to Beijing, arrival 20:38. 

Saturday 30 October

Departure 12:40 with China Air CA 931 from Beijing Capital Airport to Frankfurt.

Rob Dickinson