The International Steam Pages
Steam in China, December 2000 - January 2001
Wuhai, Baotou, JiTong
Dec 23rd 2000 - Jan 8th 2001
Another individual tour to China. This time, we were 6 persons with 4 returning to Germany on Jan 2nd 2001. Flights with Lufthansa this time.
Wuhai Xi - Jilantai, Dec 24th- Dec 25th 2000
The branch line from Wuhai Xi to Jilantai is still 100%
QJ-worked. Traffic levels are
variable with a maximum of three trains in each direction during daylight hours.
The line / Linesiding :
Wuhai Xi - Jilantai The first 15-20 km of the line out of Wuhai Xi are steeply graded. For the
first 10-12 kms the line crosses the wide Huanghe River Valley. The following kilometers
(at least as far as until km 16) are quite spectacular (mountainous dessert) with cuttings
and embankments plus a superb viauct at km 15.7 (not a concrete one !) crossing the valley
in which the main road to Shitanjing / Dawuko is situated. Beyond km 15.7, the line is not
accessible by road. Next road access is supposed to be at Benjing (km85). Between Benjing
and Heishatu, you will find a nearly unpopulated plain or stony dessert (Hardly any human
beings live there, but you will find a lot of (wild ?) camels).
Wuhai Xi - Huangbaici branch line :
The line : This approximately 10-12 km long branch line leaves Wuhai Xi in
north-westerly direction. In addition to the "Huangbaici Coal Mine" at the end
of the line, there are several further coal mines or "Coal Stabling Points". The
first Coal Stabling Point is situated at the station of Xinqu ("New District")
some 4-5 km north of Wuhai. Between Xinqu and Huangbaici, there must be another coal mine
or stabling point but was not seen. Next to Huangbaici Coal Mine, there is another coal
mine which is rarely served ("hardly never if ever" according to staff). Between
Huangbaici and Xinqu, some nice photospots can be found : a very large cemetary on the
hills next to the line plus a nice barrier post in the village of Huangbaici + cutting +
coal mine in the background. From Wuhai Xi, take urban bus No. 3. It goes to Huangbaici
parallel to the railway line.
Wuhai Xi Yard and Shed :
Wuhai Xi has got 3 JS as pilots. Sometimes, all 3 engines are in use at the same time,
sometimes not even one. Based on our observations at Wuhai Xi Yard, one engine serves the 2
coal stabling points just south of the station while the other two engines shunt at the
northern end and work the trains along the Huangbaici branch line. Police at Wuhai Xi
station is not very happy to see foreigners taking photos of steam locomotives. (They
wanted to make us go to "Baotou Xi Museum" (= Scrap Yard), where we should take
our photos of steam locomotives ...) Be careful around the yard !
As reported by Hans Schaefer, both the QJs and JS at Wuhai Xi bear a Linhe Depot code.
4 QJs and 3 JS were present and under steam but no dumped or cold engines. The QJs do
nothing else than line work towards Jilantai. This meant in our case that 1 QJ worked the
mixed with the other 3 engines waiting at Wuhai Xi shed - but all under steam ! The 3 JS
were pilots at Wuhai Xi. Staff confirmed that a forth JS was at Jilantai for shunting
(this engine was not seen).
Individual engines noted were :
Our tour :
We arrived at Wuhai in the moring of Dec 24th at 09:40 on board K177 from BeijingXi. Just after sunrise, we passed Linhe depot. On both days we stood at Wuhai, there were no freights running along the Jilantai line. So, the mixed was the only train. As the return working from Jilantai runs in darkness, there was only one photographable train per day : the outbound mixed at 09:25. Due to our arrival time in Wuhai, we missed the mixed on Dec 24th. So we had only one lineside photo (the mixed on Dec 25th) during our 2 days ! A quite frustrating visit. The rest of our time at Wuhai was spent watching the JS movements around Wuhai Xi, for train chasing towards Benjing (unsuccesfully, of course) and taking photos of wild camels in the dessert ... We left Wuhai on Dec 25th, Train 4608 to Baotou Dong (dep. 22:19, arr. 04:52).
Baotou and Dongsheng Area :
Well known. Therefore only some brief thoughts:
Shiguai Branch Line, Dec 26th & Dec 31st 2000
100% JS. Frequency of freights vary. Sometimes there is even no daylight freight (e.g.
on Dec 21st and Dec 31st) but two pairs may appear as well (e.g. on Dec 22nd - Dec 24th).
In December, Shiguai bound freights were noted in the station book at Houba either between
11:00-12:00 or 13:00-14:00 with the later path more being more likely if there is only one
freight. In general, return workings arrive at Houba two hours later. The Baotou - bound
freights no longer are garanteed
During our visit all suburban trains were DF4 hauled (green ones). The "engine board" at Baotou Dong on Dec 26th included as few as 3 JS : JS 8279 for the Shiguai passenger, JS 8005 pilot at Baotou Dong and JS 8320 as spare engine. Other engines on the board were 3 DF5 and 6 DF4 - including DF4Cs now (for the Bayanobo passenger).
Singing Sands / Shabazi / Guannianfang, Dec 27th 2000 & Jan 1st 2001
No changes. 3-4 daylight freights in each direction. Note, that the K993, K994 Huohehaote-Dongsheng express do not stop at the "Chiang Sha Wen" (Singing Sands) halt although this stop is published in the timetable ! (I do not know whether the passenger (7515, 7416) stops there. We preferred to walk the 5km to Guannianfang instead of "hoping" for a stop at ChiangShaWen when K993 raced through the station ...)
Dongsheng-Shashegetai Dec 28th - Dec 30th
Engines noted :
CNR Baotou :
JiTong - JingPeng Pass
Due to the bad experiences at Wuhai, we decided to spent our last days at a "sure" location. So, we ended up at the "idiot hill". Few to say about Reshui:
Snow-Drift : On January 1st there had been a serious snowstorm in the JingPeng Pass
area. The line was blocked by snow-drifts near the horseshoe curve on the JingPeng side and
maybe elsewhere, too for more than 12 hours.
Reshui - Hotels and the Mafia
We stayed at the Railway Hotel (120Y/double). Be careful when staying at this hotel as they have tight connections to the Aodu-Travel-Service-Mafia. It took less than one hour after our check-in on Jan 3rd until the "Mafia Men" knocked at our room and asked for money for a "photographing license" (50Y per day and person). We did not pay, of course and even managed, that they did not revisit us as we were very careful ... Andreas Walla`s experiences how to treat officers of the former GDR`s "Staatssicherheit" (this was the GDR`s version of the Russian KGB) were invaluable ...
Some tips for behaviour to avoid to get in touch with the mafia :
JingPeng (Keqi) - The better alternative to Reshui
Due to the unsatisfying situation at Reshui, I will not come back to Reshui. In my point of view, the better option is to stay at JingPeng (or Keqi) when visiting the JingPeng Pass. Advantages of JingPeng are :
1) Keqi is a much larger town than Reshui. You have better opportunities for shopping
and dining as well. Furthermore, a larger number of taxis is available there than at
Reshui (better choice, better basis for negotiating). .
For me, this was my last stay at Reshui. Next time, it will be Keqi ...
Engines noted :
Additional notes :