The International Steam Pages
Steam in Baotou, December 1999 - January 2000
Florian Menius reports on a private tour to Baotou. The "group" consisted of 2 persons only. Basic arrangements (accommodation, meals, taxis) were organised through Mr.Zhao, CITS Baotou. At all, we saw 51 steam locomotives during our 7,5 days of stay, nearly all of them were seen under steam.
Bao-Shen line : no changes
Baotou CNR steam :
Baotou Dong shed has a small allocation of JS, DF 4 and DF 5 but no QJs. Baotou Dong`s engines have a total of 8-10 diagrams. Out of them, 4-5 are JS, 2 DF4 and the rest DF5 worked.
Locos, based at Baotou Dong shed are at least :
Further locos are allocated (e.g. 2 DF4s) to Baotou Dong shed. There may be further JSs and DF5s, too (including JS 8005, 8322, 8324), which were not seen. The Shiguai (JS 8325) and Xinxiancheng (JS 8331) pilots may belong to Baotou Dong shed, too, but were not recorded on Baotou Dong sheds "board" (see below for details).
Typical duties, worked by Baotou Dong shed`s JS are :
* suburban passengers T 941
and T 943 (both anticlockwise, consist of 6 wagons)
For passenger timetable (valid from October 10th 1999 until March/April 2000) see Baotou Passenger Timetable (link broken 5th April 2019)
DF 4 handle the two other diagrams for suburban passenger trains. T 921 and T 923 consist of 13 coaches whereas T 931, T 933 and T 935 have 12 and T 945 6 coaches (as T941 and T943 have, too).
The DF 5s are shunting at Xinxiangcheng and haul freights over the northern ring line. Departures of freights over the ring line from Baotou Dong towards Erdaoshahe are (at least) around 12:00 and 14:00. Both are banked by JS between Baotou Dong and Erdaoshahe (see below for details)..
Baotou Xi shed was not visited, but it should still have some JS as we saw 2 JS (numbers unknown) shunting at Baotou Xi station.
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 :
Saturday 25 December
Arrival Beijing Capital Airport with Austrian Airlines flight OS 595 from Vienna at 06:10 in the morning. On board, there were hardly any non-Chinese people - except the two railfans, who spent Christmas Eve on board of an A 330. We took the airport bus to the International Hotel and visited the CITS tower where we got our tickets for T 177 Beijing Xi - Baotou, departure 16:47 on the same day. We did not want to sit around a half day in Beijing waiting for departure of our train. So, we went to Dahuichang although we expected to see no action there on Saturday evening. We took the east - west metro (fare 3 Yuan) to Bajiacun station, where we took bus 385 to Dahuichang (fare 2 Yuan). Bus 385 terminates at "Dahuichang East Station", which is situated directly next to the narrow gauge line. Walking down the line, we reached the locked narrow gauge shed (# 01 dumped). To our big surprise, #2 and #4 were under steam and waited next to the unloading point behind the shed. Staff told, that operation would start at 14:00 - as reported previously.
While awaiting 14:00, we walked down to the standard gauge operation. SY 0251 and YJ 287 were present, the latter one dumped into the shed and in bad condition. SY 0251 was under steam. Its crew kept alive the fire. So we hoped SY 0251 would have to work again on this day. Asking the staff brought out, that they expected no further work for SY 0251, but it was kept standby - with 3 employees waiting there, too. Chinese efficiency ?
At 14:00, the narrow gauge line started operation on time. Between 14:00 and 15:15, we watched 4 uphill trains of empties plus two uphill light engine movements. Later, we met the first Japanese traveller ...
Because of the departure of our train to Baotou, we took a taxi back to Beijing Xi station (about 40 Yuan). We had to change the taxi in the outskirts of Beijing (some taxi drivers have no license for Beijing). Near the steelworks, a SY was was seen shunting out of the taxi.
Locos seen at Dahuichang :
Departed from Beijing Xi at 16:47 (T 177). SY 0162 and SY 0604 are dumped immediately east of Beijing Xi station. While having lunch into the dining car, we met the second Japanese party heading for Dongsheng ...
Sunday 26 December 1999
Arrival Baotou Dong at 05:38. Met Mr.Zhao, our local guide at the platform. Then we watched the departure of the two morning passengers :
JS 8320 and another (unidentified) JS were shunting at Baotou Dong station. Our plan was to chase the suburban passengers. So we told our taxi driver to go to Baotou Bei station, where the anticlockwise train (T 941) is waiting for more than 30 minutes according to the timetable. At a bridge a few hundred metres north of Baotou Bei station we waited for the train. But it did not arrive. We went to the so called "Baotou Bei" and asked for the train. We were told that the train had already passed the station, although it should be waiting into the station according to the timetable. Two days later, we found the solution : there are two stations which are called Baotou Bei. The station where we had been is lettered as Gongli 8 station into the timetable, but it is known (and also lettered on the building) as Baotou Bei station. The Baotou Bei station into the timetable with the 30min stop and the crossing of the clockwise passengers is situated a few kms south of Gongli 8 and is (still) known as Songjiahao station. So if you intend to visit Baotou Bei station, you should be careful ...
Then, we went on for Houba. We just arrived when T 804 (Shiguai-Baotou Dong) had passed the station some minutes before. We visited the station`s chief and asked for freight timings. Normally, freights are scheduled to pass Houba station around 13:00 in direction to Shiguai and around 15:00 in direction to Baotou. Freights on the Shiguai line terminate at Xinxiancheng station on the northern ring line avoiding the steep climb between Baotou Dong and Erdaoshahe (in direction to Erdaoshahe). Into this climb even the 6 coach - suburban passenger drops down to a speed of about 30 km/h. Cloudless sky and sunshine at Houba. At Houba we met the third Japanese party ...
After that we drove back to Baotou. Just for fun, we stopped at the railway crossing near Erdaoshahe. To our surprise we were told there, that 4438 had not passed the crossing yet. It is very surprising, that the downhill freight needed more than one and a half hour from Houba to Erdaoshahe. We waited some 20 minutes at the crossing :
In the evening, we had planed to ride on suburban train T 943 (dep 18:34, arr 21:25) around Baoutou. But a photo event in the restaurant produced a later dinner than planed, so that we missed the train. Now, good luck began !
So we decided to visit Baotou Dong shed and to try to make some night pictures. So we took a photo of a QJ at night and walked to Baotou Dong shed. Reaching the shed is easy : at the little gate some 200m west of Baotou Dong station, just cross all tracks of the Baotou - Hohot mainline. The last track is the connection track to the shed. Walk along this track for some 30m and then turn left. A further 50m straight on, you reach Baotou Dong shed`s control tower. There we showed our picture to one of the employees. He told us to ask at the control tower. There we showed our photo again and ... were invited to a cup of tea. We spend half an hour into the control tower having a friendly talk to the employees there. Then one of them gave us a guided tour through the depot area, where we took plenty of night shots. Afterwards, we went back to the control tower, had another cup of tea, showed them some pictures of European railways and ... discovered a board, which had some numbers and timings on it. There were shown train numbers, departure times and the engine for the following day. We read : T 931, dep. 06:53, JS 8001 - one of the 12 coach suburban trains ! Together, there were 11 duties signed onto the board. 8 of them should be steam hauled on Monday 27th with 7 different JS in use !
Locos seen at Baotou Dong shed (all under steam) :
Monday 27 December 1999
We could not believe, what we had read the evening before. So in the morning, we went to the little gate first to check out what was happening. It was true : A JS shunted 12 coaches within the station. So it was clear, that we would not go to Houba in the morning. We told our driver to go to Baotou Bei again, but he refused. Monday to Friday, beginning at 07:00, the roads around the steelwork are blocked for the steelwork`s workers so that no car can pass through. So we went to Xinxiancheng station on the northern ring line. DF 5 1420 was pilot at Xinxiancheng. We went to the eastern end of the station. There, we realized a big factory using SYs for shunting. The factory`s shed is located next to the connection to the CNR at the eastern end of Xinxiangcheng station. The factory was guarded by some military officers, access to the shed denied. But waiting next to the entrance was ok and from time to time, a SY came out of the factory. We saw : SY 0677 and 1968 built SY 0080. As expected, the two passengers arrived behind JS :
While waiting for the SYs to come out of the factory and because of the sunny weather, we waited for the third suburban passenger, too. We expected it DF4 hauled ... but
it was JS hauled, too ! So, all suburban passengers were steam again on Dec 27th !
We were still waiting for SY 0080 to come out of the factory, when we were inivited by local railway staff to have a cup of tea with them. We showed them some pictures again and went back to the factory again half an hour later. While waiting for SY 0080 again, at 10:00 JS 8331 arrived hauling a freight from the east (from Sidaoshahe direction). At the same time, at the other end of Xinxiancheng station, smoke was visible, too : JS 8279 arrived with the caboose for the Shiguai freight train. Minutes later, SY 0080 and steam crane Z152-15T came out of the factory, some further minutes later JS 8331 pushed back its train to an industrial railway east of Xinxiancheng, we guessed. Then, JS 8279 shunted into the station and put together its train to Shiguai. All that within 30 min !
4437 should depart around 11:00 from Xinxiangcheng to Shiguai. Around 11:00, we left Xinxiancheng and went to Houba again.
We tried chasing 4438 again but this time it was some minutes faster than our taxi. In the evening, we visited Baotou Dong station again. It was (nearly) like in former times : 4 steam hauled passengers daparting, 2 arriving within 2 hours.
In the meantime between T 805 and T 943, when T 945 and T 935 arrived at 17:55 and 18:02, we visited our friends from Dong shed control tower again : only 4 JS were written on the board for Tuesday 28th handling the above listed duties.
Tuesday 28 December 1999
Nearly the whole day was spent on the Shiguai branch around Houba. Sun shined all the day.
After T 803 had passed, we drove to Shiguai station. Shiguai is very unpleasant place for steam fans : the city is said to be laid in a restricted area with police and military officers everywhere into the city. We went to the servicing point for half an hour only (waited for sunlight ). JS 8280 and JS 8325 were sitting around and received attention by their crews. Then back to Houba :
We didn`t wait for the banker´s return to Shiguai and got 4438 again at the crossing near Erdaoshahe. In the evening, we had a ride on T 943 (dep.18:34, arr. 21:25) behind JS 8008 around Baotou (and discovered the "second" Baotou Bei station thereby). Baotou Xi station saw at least two JS under steam.
Wednesday 29 December 1999
Left Baotou at 07.00 and went to Singing Sands. The river had unusually much water (frozen, of course), but our taxi was not able to go further on than to the cable car`s station. We walked over the ice, but arrived at the southern end of the tunnel two minutes late, when T 851 passed by at 09:15 (we saw it passing by from the river bed). There was a mix of sunshine and overcasted sky (especially around noon).
five minutes after 3023 had passed, sun disappeared from the viaduct. There is still some maintenance work into the tunnel. For that reason, train timings and numbers are written onto wall at the northern end of tunnel. Timings there are given for Guannianfang station, the next station to the north of Shabazi. But be careful ! Although timings were quite accurate for most trains, you have to have in mind, that in Guannianfang, trains do not cross each other (although it would be possible). If crossings are listed for Guannianfang, they have be either in Shabazi or the next station north of Guannianfang. We left Singing Sands around 17:00 for Guannianfang station, where we watched T 852 passing by :
Then back to the coal road and further south to Dongsheng, where we arrived around 19:15.
Thursday 30 December 1999
A phone call to Aobaogou station in the evening before gave timings for uphill freights for 09:00, 12:30 and 14:00. During the day, we met two further Japanese parties (No. 4 and 5) ...
In the evening, we had a (unofficial) visit to Dongsheng shed :
Friday 31 December 1999
Spent another day around Aobaogou and Shashaghetai. We met another Japanese group (group number 6) ... On one occassion, 23 railfans from 3 different groups were waiting on the same hill for train 3126 ... Between 11:00 and 14:30 a massive gap was recorded with only two bankers going to Shashagetai, followed by 3 uphill workings within an hour. Weather was a mix of overcast and sunshine as it was the day before.
Finished observation and went back to Dongsheng. We were told, that the Dongsheng - Daliuta passengers now stops at Aobaogou, too. The Daliuta -Dongsheng in the evening now runs some 25 minutes later; scheduled timing at Aobaogou is 19:06. Before returning to Baotou, we hoped to see 3132 departing at Dongsheng station. But obviously, it had already left the station, when we arrived at 16:45. So had a brief visit to the shed again. At least 7-8 QJs were under steam, including QJ 1891, 1969, 6018 and 6289. We left Dongsheng around 17:00 and headed for Baotou, having a horrible ride on the coal road. Arrival at Baotou around 19:30. Spent the the night at the Westlake hotel and were woken up by the fireworks at midnight.
Saturday 1 January 2000
Getting up at 05:45, we left the hotel at 06:30 and went to Baotou shed to ask for trains. January, 1st saw 4 JS onto the board - no changes ! Weather was quite bad : overcast, grey in grey for the whole day, sometimes snow fell plus the usual Baotou smog. Snowstorm at noon, two minutes sun around 14:00, chill wind in the afternoon ...
Our first shoot should be the suburban passenger T 941 again. So we went to Baotou Bei station ( = Songjiahao station ), the station, where T 941 stops between 07:58 and 08:34 and crosses T 921 and T 931. Songjiahao station is situated next to the steelworks, a SY from the steelwork was seen shunting into the CNR yard. CNR locos were DF4 and DF5.
Then we went to the crossing next to Baotou Xi station, where we got T 941 again.
On our way back to the city of baotou, we saw SY 0264 inside the steelwork and our car failed ... Repairs took nearly an hour, so that we arrived at Erdaoshahe some minutes too late (again some minutes only !) to see T 804 Shiguai-Baotou Dong, departing Erdaoshahe at 10:47. So, we went to Erdaoshahe station to ask for the freight to Shiguai. Local railway staff was very friendly and very interessted in "foreigners". Erdaoshahe staff got our last pictures of european trains (no chinese trains were wanted, even not the "local" picture from Houba ...). We were told, that around 12:00, the Shiguai freight (train 4437) would arrive and a diesel hauled, JS banked train should arrive at the same time from Baotou Dong.
DF5 1716 is built in 1999. Some months before, this train would have been JS+JS, I suppose. DF5 1716 uncoupled immediately after its arrival at Erdaoshahe station and went back to Baotou Dong as single loco. JS 8001 uncoupled, too but took the coal wagon plus a further one which stood into station and pushed them out of the station in direction to Baotou Dong (we supposed it is serving a industrial track). After that, JS 8001 went back to Baotou Dong, too leaving the tankers into Erdaoshahe station. Staff told us, that both locos would come back around 14:30 hauling another freight from Baotou Dong to Erdaoshahe (second part of the tanker train ? ). Then JS 8001 would go back to Baotou Dong, whereas the diesel (we hoped JS 8001 would do it) would haul the tanker train from Erdaoshahe to Xinxiancheng.
We didn`t wait for the arrival of this train and left Erdaoshahe after having our (daily) noodle soup and a further talk to the local CNR staff for the steelworks. Mr.Zhao, our guide had told us, that due to the holiday (January 1st), there would be no security and police into the steelworks and there should be no problems to visit the steelwork´s shed (we wanted to see one of the YJs). Mr. Zhao was right. There weren`t any problems, neither when entering the steelwork nor when taking photos.
Locos seen at the shed and nearby, all under steam (builder dates in brackets) :
All locos were under steam, but none of them had work ! They all were sitting around and waited. We went on to the blast furnace hoping to some action there. But only one GK diesel movement was recorded during about 20 minutes with SY 0824 and SY 1293 (built 1984) - both under steam- sitting around and waiting ... The steelwork seemed to be not in full operation. According to Mr.Zhao, the crossing next to the blast furnace, is one of the busiest places within the steelwork.
Later we made a round trip (by car) within the steelwork in search for steam, but nothing was found. Due to the bad weather and disappearing light, we left the steelwork around 16:00 and went back to Baotou Dong station, where we arrived around 17:00. Entering the station through the litte gate to the west, we watched JS 8280 departing with T 805 to Shiguai at 17:23.
After dinner (Baozi), we boarded T 564 (Baotou-Beijing) at Baotou Dong station, departure 19:54. Trains 563/ 564 is the last pair of trains between Baotou and Beijing going via Kangzhuang- Badaling - Nankou pass (others trains terminate at Hohot). T 564 has new, air-conditioned red- and white coulered coaches.
Sunday 2 January 2000
Nankou pass was passed between between 8:00 and 9:15 (just after sunrise), including change of direction at Qinglongqiao station. T 564 was hauled by Henschel NY 06 diesel and DF 4 - one at each end - between Kangzhuang and Nankou. at Nankou, the DF4 was uncoupled. Nankou shunter was DFH 2 0023. Arrival of T564 at Beijing main station at 10:34 on time. We took the airport bus (fare 16 Yuan), which departs next to the International Hotel some 200m from Beijing main station. We boarded Swissair SR 199 (MD 11), departure 14:45 to Zurich. which was less than 30% booked. So we had four seats on our own, ideal for having a enjoyable sleep on board after 7 and a half day of steam in Northern China. Arrival at Zurich at 18:30, then connecting flight SR 3538 to Frankfurt.