The International Steam Pages

Narrow gauge steam in China, April 2000

Hideki Sakurai writes:

Yabuli on 24th April

I confirmed 1998 winter was their last season. Track lifting has already been completed.

There are two new sawmills built in the former switchyard facing Yabuli station. The two sheds turned into lumbermills as well. The former station (below) is now used as the central office of those mills.

In the switchyard there remain rusty engines and wagons besides thousands of removed rails. Some of passenger coaches are used for mill workers' resting rooms. They said those scraps would keep there until the further notice arrives from the top.

Dongfanghong on 25th April

Since you add a bit skeptical comment to my previous information I got in this March, I 'double-checking' travelled down to Dongfanghong. What I felt at first is that I should have been there before 1998 winter. Actually they started removal in Sep 98 but the last train run in Jun 99. The below is a current feature of past Dongfanghong station which now used for a small sawmill. The former switchyard facing the reverse of this station is now large soybean field.

I was so surprised the size of the railway operation. Their engine shed was almost double as big as Weihe. Again I found rusted steams, hundreds of timber wagons (piled up as below), a small diesel engine, etc. etc..

Two families live inside the wall of this ruin for watching those scraps. Some parts are their private vegetable gardens now.

A small remark: This prefecture has been opened for foreigners (I think the permission came into disuse about two years ago) but still very strictly watches foreigners' activities. My friend from London and myself are obliged to bring up our passports at the Security Bureau office of the Communist party. Safe for safe I recommend you to go to that office just citing your visa and passport before visiting the ruins.

Weihe (late April)

Probably you are going to receive plenty of Weihe reports from your friends particularly this Easter holidays. I heard total 20 Europeans had visited at Weihe before and after Easter. So I would like to read them rather than writing a report in my poor English. Finally I put several notes I heard.

1) Due to heavy snow in this season, their felling schedule was delayed by nearly one month. Timber train runs until end May.

2) The operation in 1st week of May might be slowdown due to Chinese national holidays.

3) A train master asked me to spread...... Don't try to board a train from any place which is not a proper station. Some stops such as a timber loading point near the summit between Pinglin and Shuangfeng or so called '39KM stop' between Dongfeng and Quingshan are not stations at all. Some trains stop there for their business purpose. Most of trains pass through them. He was upset by this behaviour. We should be aware.

4) From a station master of Pinglin ...... A person who tried to take a photo standing between rails was almost hit by a train just departed. He said that if a foreigner is injured or killed by a train, the railway facilities could be off limits for foreigners. We should keep his word in mind.

5) There is no Xinli station. Xinli is a part of Zhenzhushan village located south end. Some peoples, even Chinese guides, mix Xinli with Zhenzhu(shan).

Rob Dickinson