China-Tour, Jan 15th-29th 2002
Baotou (Jan 16th-18th 2002)
CNR steam has not finished yet. On both Jan 17th and 18th a CNR JS was seen shunting in the large freight yard at Baotou Xi (west of Ajila depot). It was well visible from the steelwork`s slag tip.
According to (unconfirmed) information by a CITS guide, the freight to Shiguai occasionally is still steam hauled. Furthermore, it is said there is still a JS based at Shiguai. But there has to be some doubt, of course...
Bernd Seiler adds : "The local collieries at Shiguai have got two JS (no CNR locos). One of them is in daily use. From Shiguai station there are 3 brach lines to different collieres :
The JS faces westwards. So line 1 is funnel first on loads, lines 2 and 3 on empties. There is a miner`s shuttle train, too. It runs between the terminus of line 1 and those of line 3. The train consists of one coach only (JS+1 YZ). Departure at line 1`s terminus is 7:30 in the morning (funnel first). Timings of return workings and possible further trains are not known."
- line 1 : eastwards, acts as extension of the CNR line. About 2-3 km long and serves 2 mines, an intermediate one and one at the terminus. Heavy grades against empty trains beyond the intermediate mine and panorama spot from the opposite side of the valley possible.
- line 2 : north-east-wards but leaves Shigui station westwards and curves around the city of Shiguai, unexplored.
- line 3 : northwards, leaves Shiguai station westwards, too and turn north then. Serves at least 1 mine.
Baotou Steelworks (Jan 17th/18th 2000)
Only 1 YJ (YJ 232) in use. The second YJ (YJ 115) was cold and apparantly no longer serviceable in the depot. Her duty was taken over by a GK1F-diesel. On the other hand, JS
58001 is still operable. (On Jan 18th, it was inside the workshops in very good condition). Many SYs including each one decorated and one deflectored engine in use everywhere within the steelworks and at the slag tip.
Wanshuiqannan (Jan 16th/17th 2002)
2 QJ shunting, but no further steam spare engines. On Jan 16th, only 1 steam train (QJ 7053) : 9:30 downhill at Xiangshawan and back to Dongsheng at 14.00 Uhr. Everything else diesel!
On Jan 17th until noon only 1 steam train, too. Arrival at Wanshuiquannan at 08:00 (QJ 6169), departure at 10.30 following the express train. No additional diesels were noted. At least 6 diesels are needed between Dongsheng and Baotou (9496,9497,9501,9502,9504,9506). There might be some more steam south of Dongsheng.
Benhong (Jan 19th 2002)
No problems when taking photos at Benhong (both station and depot area) and at the lineside near Benhong. No indication of closed area. Railway staff very friendly.
Freight trains about 50/50 steam/diesel. A nice bridge can be found at the first village next to Benhong (see F.Menius, Sept 2001).
DMU Hohhot-Daban operates daily !
Baiqi (Jan 20th 2002)
Landscape unintressting. Visit to depot was no problem. We were inside for 4 hours, everybody was friendly.
Jingpeng (Jan 21st-26th 2002)
Few trains: only 1-4 eastbound trains during daylight, westbound 2-6. In the evening of the second day, we met "Jingpeng Mafia". We paid nothing, of course. But a group of 4 Germans willingly paid 2400 Yuan because "...for Plandampf, I have to pay, too ...". A English group paid via their guide, too.
(As long as there are such visitors, the mafia will be active here! There is definitely no easier way to earn money in China - and even without having to work physically ! 2400Y is three times the average monthly income of a Chinese worker... ).
If you do not pay, there a no troubles! (at
least not when you reside at Jingpeng - we stayed at Keqiketeng Binguan there). On the following days, we
were not bothered by the mafia again though we met them several times. Our taxi driver had no problems, too.
The mafia seems to be based at Reshui and is likely not to visit Jingpeng city. They have a female interpreter now.
I can only advise not to pay under any circumstances ! Just send them (the well known 2 men plus interpreter in the well known Santana) away or do ignore them. Though they will grumble and menace they won`t do anything else.
Till Mosler adds : "Site : Jingpeng Station, date Feb 3rd 2002 : DF4D 4054 hauling a special heavy cargo freight train loaded with parts for oil refinery reactor. Sunny weather on all 5 days, cold and many trains : 4 - 7 trains per day and direction during daylight. Chinese NEW YEAR is brewing up...
Chengde (Jan 27th-28th 2002)
Business as usual. On Sunday 27th there were fewer trains- maybe due to the weekend. Monday was normal again with 4 uphill trains until 13:00.
Individual travellling in China becomes easier year by year. Except for the day at Baiqi, there was cloudless sky during the whole trip. It was considerably warmer than usual and very windy - but consequently very clear.
© 2002, Peter Semmelroch