The International Steam Pages
Steam in China, May 2000
Laurie Ball reports a month in China accompanied by Peter Odell - most of which sounds as if it was after my own heart (not sure about the lack of a bath though! RD)
Beijing - Tongliao - Jing Peng - Da'an Bei - Baicheng - Tonghua - Tiefa - Kaiyuan - Haicheng - Fuxin - Jing Peng - Baotou - Tianjin and back to Beijing.
Monday 1st May
Arrive in Beijing at 1320 Ex China Airlines from London. Quick transfer to the city and depart in the evening on 467 to Tongliao.
Tuesday 2nd May
Wake just after 0630, and only 1 steam hauled freight observed on route to Xinlitin (QJ 6885 on oil tanks). A further QJ seen on an engineers train on the outskirts of Tongliao. Meet Peter as planned outside Tongliao station. His observations of freight traffic the previous day between Tongliao & Xinlitun suggest that only the occasional trip freight is now steam hauled. Purchase hard sleeper tickets to Haoluku, depart at 1040 behind QJ 6478 on 712 - hard sleeper pleasantly de wedged, although filled up on route. QJ 7036 & QJ 6763 observed on Zhelimu shed, QJ 6385 & Q J 6988 crossed on Tongliao bound freights on route to Chabuga. QJ 6631 forward from Chabuga, and the usual QJ 7007 from Daban.
Wednesday 3rd May
Alight at Haoluku at 0100. QJ 6912 takes 712 forward, and 711 soon arrives behind QJ 2624. QJ 7007 takes the train forward and we ride as far as Liudigou, arriving on time at 05.21. Stay on the lineside at the Reshui end of the pass until dusk at 1900. During this time 5 up hills(including 1 single header) and 5 down hills (including 1 single & 1 double headed light engine) observed. Weather sunny & warm. The following locos noted:- QJ 6389 + QJ 6110 QJ 6828 QJ 7009 + QJ 6274 QJ 6876 + QJ 6356 QJ 6388 + QJ 7041.Stay at the original Binguan set back from the road by the Jing Peng sign. Y 70 for a twin room. No problems experienced with so called 'leather jackets' on any of our days in the area.
Thursday 4th May
One of the few bad weather days in the months bash. Out of the hotel at 05.10, but apart from seeing the passenger run down the hill at 05.30, nothing else happened until the first up hill at 07.50. 1 more up hill and 2 downhills seen before 11.00, by which time the wind and a sand storm prevented photography. Decide to use the opportunity to transfer to Jing Peng. The weather remains miserable throughout the afternoon. Stay in a good value hotel at Jing Peng (just off the main road where the taxis congregate). Y 80 for a twin room, hot water from 21.00.
Friday 5th May
No problems with the weather today - sunny start, although windy during the morning. Spend the day near the viaducts and side valley between Xiakengzi and Shangdian. Between 06.45 & 18.00 4 down hills and 4 up hills observed, including:-QJ 6760 + QJ 6388 QJ 6998 + QJ 6110 QJ 6925 + ??
Saturday 6th May
Another day on the Jing Peng side of the pass - traffic finally starting to pick up after the holiday, with 7 up hills (coming each hour at one stage !), and 4 down hills between 06.15 and 17.30. Most of the day spent at the summit of the big hill that over looks the curved viaduct, so numbers not seen ! Decide to leave tonight for Baotou on 712 at 23.21 from Jing Peng. On arrival at Jing Peng station realise that this is a bad decision as the booking hall is wedged out with students returning to Jining. Get on the train anyway, but completely full and standing with the hard sleeper also wedged. Hastily replan bash and decide to get out at Haoluku (getting a bit of a habit !), go forward to Tongliao and visit Baotou at the end of the trip. QJ 7007 as booked on 712.
Sunday 7th May
Get on 711 at Haoluku and no problems getting a hard sleeper to Tongliao. Doss to late morning. QJ 7007 to Daban, QJ 6911 forward to Chabuga, and QJ 3073 on to Tongliao. On arrival at Tongliao unable to go forward to Da'an Bei until the early hours of Monday morning, so fester in an hotel opposite the station - Y 120 for a twin room.
Monday 8th May
Early start and at the station in time for 342/343, 01.12 to Da'an Bei. Find that the train is an hour late, but considering its come from Hangzhou over 2000 km away can't really complain!. Arrive at Da'an Bei at 06.30. 952 06.05 mixed to Taipingchuan passed on route behind QJ 7086, this and the mysterious Y267/Y268 tourist train were the only passenger trains seen steam hauled on our visit.
Summary of Observations (firstly from the bridge at the South end of the station, and
latterly from 08.30 at the level crossing at the North end).
Monday 8th May (Continued)
Shortly after departing Da'an Bei we pass the return working of Y268, running about an
hour early and completely empty. 545/548 also arrives into Baicheng an hour early -
obviously speeded up since being dieselised ! On arrival at the building site that alleges
to be Baicheng station, it soon be comes apparent that steam has finished here. A quick
run around the shed confirms this with the following dumped locos in situ:-
Tuesday 9th May
With the planned track bash around Da'an Bei ruined by the new diesels, get out on 952
06.05 mixed to Taipingchuan (QJ 7086 once again). 705 06.20 to Ranghulu standing at the
other end of the platform DF 4 hauled. 952 wedged out with locals, but we are quickly
moved into the staff car at the front of the train. At Qian QJ 6435 + QJ 3251 passed on a
double header towards Da'an Bei.QJ 6571 & QJ 7119 also passed on freights on route to
Taipingchuan. On arrival JS 8230 noticed as yard pilot, QJ 992 dumped by the
Wednesday 10th May
Arrive in a wet Tonghua at 07.00 JS 5751 in the station, looking as if it arrived on
792 ex Guosong. We depart on 805 0736 to Jian, DF 5 hauled. Alight at Yayuan and return on
808 with JS 8158 (0757 ex Hunjiang).
Thursday 11th May
After a few hours sleep return to Hunjiang overnight via Quanyang. (JS 8103 seen there). Back at Hunjiang by 07.00. 808 from Linjian arrives at 07.38 behind DF 5, but departs behind steam once again at 07.57 (JS 5731), which we take through to Tonghua. JS 5480 seen at Tonghua Dong, and JS 8154 Tonghua pilot. 645 is DF4 once again, so we hang around in Tonghua until 13.25 and return to Hunjiang on 601 express with JS 5731, and come back straight away on 652 from Dalizi in order to observe the afternoon departures from Tonghua. However no other steam hauled passengers observed until 602 arrives back from Hunjiang with JS 5731. 653 18.30 to Hunjiang also noted DF5. Stay at the Da Jing Jou Guest House, to the left of the station next to the China Rail Hotel. Good value shine hotel at Y 112 for a twin. The hot water very welcome as first bath since Jing Peng !
Friday 12th May
Early start in a taxi at 04.20 bound for Gusong. Much of the journey down dirt roads and the driver gets lost on the way, but we find the station and make 792 05.46 Gusong - Tonghua by 10 minutes. Relief that after coming all this way by road its hauled by JS 5751. Take this through to Yayuan, for a DF 5 on 807 06.10 Tonghua - Linjian as far as Laoyang, from where 808 is once again steam hauled through to Tonghua with JS 8158. A couple of hours extra sleep in the hotel, and then back to the station for 601 13.25 to Hunjiang. Diasaster when a DF 5 backs on (had been JS the past 2 days). Take it through to Hunjiang anyway, where the same DF 5 runs round for 602 16.18 back to Tonghua. With nothing else available until our overnight out, ride 995 15.48 to Songshuzhen again (JS 5485) as far as we can, and then back into Hunjiang. Very pleased when 653 18.30 ex Tonghua arrives JS hauled - JS 8158 then produces for 220/217 20.13 to Changchun - nice to depart Hunjiang steam hauled on a 16 coach sleeping car express ! (Is this the last steam overnight on China Rail?). Diesel of course forward from Tonghua.
Saturday 13th May
Alight at Siping at 03.30. Forward onto Kaiyuan to investigate the local line to
Xifen/ Anmintun. Arrive at Kaiyuan just after 05.00 to find the following service now operates on
Sunday 14th May
Spend the morning linesiding around the station area before departing Diobingshan at 12.00 by bus back to Tieling. Back to Kaiyuan for the 16.40 to Xifen. Similar situation as yesterday morning with JS 8159 / JS 8205 shunting and JS 8046 on the passenger. Tickets for this line have to be bought on the train. Pleasant evening trundle to Xifen, good mountain views at the far end of the line. JS 8242 crossed on a freight. At Xifen stay in a cheap hotel 200 yards along the station approach rode - Y 30 each.
Monday 15th May
Retrace our steps behind JS 8046 again back to Kaiyuan on the 06.20 train from Xifen. On arrival at Kaiyuan buy tickets for train 620 through to Haicheng. The plan is to head through to investigate the branch to Xiuyan (and beyond ?). Shortly after departing Kaiyuan pass QJ 6434 heading Northbound on an engineer's train. On the outskirts of Shenyang, at both ends of the Shenyang local railway (that has been reported as being closed) notice SYs in steam (at Hushitai and Xintaizi). Therefore at the last minute decide to alight at Shenyang and investigate. Luck is not on our side however, as the by the time we decide to get off we have already passed Shenyang Bei. This shouldn't have been a problem, as the timetable shows an 11.00 train to Hushitai. However, on arrival at Shenyang, find that it has departed at 10.43. No other trains stop at Hushitai until late afternoon, so rather than hang around we push on to Haicheng. Arrive just after 15.30. Initial indications don't look good with no sign of any trains on the departure board for Xiuyan. The station staff also say that no trains go there. By now its lashing down with rain, and we spend the next couple of hours getting a taxi to the point where the Xiuyan line branches off. This is in a factory complex with nothing other than coal wagons berthed in sidings. A quick walk down the line finds no clues. Walk back along the line to the junction with the main line, through another coal yard, and find the connecting 'spur' covered in coal!, which definitely confirms that no passenger service runs. Still pouring down with rain, so soaked and fed up get a taxi back to Haicheng station. Depart in the evening on train 336, 19.47 to Jinzhou. Arrive just after 22.00 and get taken to a cheap back street hotel by a local. Y30 for the pair of us!
Tuesday 16th May
Back to the station for the 04.49 to Fuxin. On route QJ 6672 seen at Bajiaotai and QJ
6753 at Qinghemen - both shunting pick up freights. Arrive Fuxin at 07.00. QJ 7116 in the
yards and JS 6479 & one other shunting. Leave our luggage in the cheap hotel opposite
the station (Y40 for a twin). Spend the rest of the day covering all the track of the
Fuxin system - in between moves lineside on the busy section between Wulong and
summary of all locos seen shown below. Although we didn't fully explore the area, we were
unable to locate the JF. All staff we asked denied that it was still in the area.
Wednesday 17th May
Return from Fuxin to Tongliao on 581 07.00 from Fuxin. Between Xinlitun and Zangwu QJ 6872 passed on a southbound freight. Zhangwu shed only had 2 QJ s visible and around 6 DF4. Ganqika quite busy with engineering work in progress - QJ 6478 and QJ 7115 at either end of a ballast train. QJ 6771 also in the station, and QJ 6485 passed on a southbound freight. Arrive into Tongliao at 11.15. Hang around until 17.18 when we depart on 722 to Daban. This train seems more or less a glorified ECS - only stopping at a few stations, and hardly any passengers. QJ 3073 to Chabuga, QJ 6631 onto Daban. At Daban don't expect to find a hotel near the station, but get directed to the railway hotel which is next to the shed ! Y120 for a twin room - ensuite with luke warm water.
Thursday 18th May - Tuesday 23rd May
After being on the move more or less constantly for the past fortnight decide to stay
at Reshui for the next few days. As little to report from previous visits these days shown
in summary only. For our second visit to Reshui we were not allowed in the cheap Binguan
that was used previously (no room), so the 3 floor hotel next door used instead. (To the
left of the shine railway hotel). Y 120 for a twin. Rooms 302 - 310 offer the best view of
the railway !!
Wednesday 24th May
After our final day linesiding depart in the evening for Jiningnan. QJ 6996 on 712 out of Galadestitai.
Thursday 25th May
QJ 6912 forward on 712 out of Haoluku, QJ 6633 from Zhengxiangbaiqi. Between Zhengxiangbaiqi and Benhong QJ 6358 and QJ 6214 passed on freights. Stop on the outskirts of Benhong for over 2 hours due to engineering work in place. QJ 3076 yard pilot at Benhong. Finally get into Jiningnan at 14.30. Straight out on 203 15.15 to Baotou - more delays on route with the train arriving into Baotou just over an hour late at 21.00. Pleased to see 943 suburban still steam with JS 8009 arriving just after us. Baotou station a building site with massive new station under construction. Get taken to hotel just to the left of the chaos, but after much argument decide they can't take us. After a bit of a search around the area find no other suitable hotels, but manage to doss down in a sauna type place for Y 30 !
Friday 26th May
Back to the station for 851/854 to Shemnu Bei. From the timetable displayed in the
coaches the following alterations observed:-
For the return journey to Baotou (852/853) QJ 6289 produces as far as Dongsheng. Between Shemnu Bei and Daliuta QJ 6515 & QJ 7152 seen on construction trains. Both locos had writing on the tenders. QJ 6713 also at Daliuta. Between Daliuta & Dongsheng QJ 7044 + QJ 6194, and QJ 1891 seen on Southbound freights. Beyond Dongsheng QJ 2670 worked the train on to Baotou. 3 southbound freights passed between Dongsheng and Washiquanan. After the late arrival at Shemnu Bei the train ran an our late throughout, then held outside Baotou station for a further 15 minutes waiting platform. After last nights experience, catch JS 8280 on 853 circle at 2104 into Baotou Dong. Stay opposite the station - Y 96 for a twin room with hot water.
Saturday 27th May
941 circle departs at 06.30 JS hauled. 803 06.50 to Shiguai worked by JS 8280. Depart
on 931 06.53 circle for Baotou (DF4 hauled). JS 8327 pilot at Washiquanan. Catch 851/854
once again from Baotou - today with QJ 6287. One northbound freight crossed on route to
Dongsheng. QJ 6452 forward and alight at Aobaogo. Leave our luggage with the station
master and spend the rest of the day by the viaducts to the north of the station.Weather
hot and sunny all day. The
Sunday 28th May
Another hot and sunny day. Catch 855 to Aobaogo (QJ 6193) at 06.37 and then
Monday 29th May
Arrive into Tianjin Xi at 11.00. Purpose of the visit is to A) check out the Tianjin
local railway, and B) have somewhere a bit cheaper than Beijing to stay for the final
night ! Catch a taxi to Liqizhuang station, past the skyscrapers and Macdonalds of modern
Tianjin. Not the sort of place you would expect to find a steam worked line, but on
arrival find 1988 built QJ 7194 in the station plus 3 ancient coaches. However staff tell
us that there is no train until 07.00 the next morning. Catch a taxi to the other end of
the line and find a new station under construction at BeiDagan. Confirmed that the only
service that runs on the line is:-
Tuesday 30th May
Whilst Peter heads off to cover 551 I return to Beijing on the 0700 high speed double decker. Out to the airport by 11.00, and board China Airlines 14.15 to London at 13.45, only to sit on the runway for the next 3 hours - back into London just after 20.00.
An enjoyable month in China although the weather was hotter at times than expected ! In the future I can't see that any of the China rail locations are going to be worth visiting. Jing Peng as enjoyable as my previous visit, and Baotou might perhaps need a bit more time next time. The whole trip proved to be extremely cheap with only around GBP £325 spent in a month - I know not everyone may agree with our choice of hotels, but it proves that the country can be travelled cheaply and relatively comfortably. Thanks are due to Peter Odell for his company, Chinese timetable translating skills and for having someone to moan at when things went wrong !