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Zhoujiawan, the main station for the line is not too far from the town: it's about 4km. There were 6 engines
under steam in the early morning. I did not stop at the station. We immediately went out to look for possible photo spots.
The driver was very helpful as he worked for the construction of the tunnel of the line. So he knew the location pretty well. I have to say, it was the worst road I ever rode. Vehicles without 4 wheel drive probably cannot pass the road. The speed of driving is less than 20KM an hour.
The line is similar to Aobaogou, but it's more scenic as the hills are higher and the valley deeper. After leaving the station, westbound trains will climb all the way to the Panlong tunnel, also called "tunnel 1". Then there is a decline followed by a second climb just before entering "tunnel 2". In general, the eastbound trains are climbing on their way to Zhoujiawan.
Sun was up at 7:35, beautiful light on the tracks. But unfortunately there was no activity. Before "tunnel 1", there are several good locations for morning shot. It looks pretty good!
Construction of the line started in Dec.1998 and was finished in Dec2000. Operation started in Dec.2000, too. Total length is 72km long to the collieriy at Zhoujiazi. Stations: Haizigang, Fuxingcheng, Shagedu, Hushi xiyingzi.
Tunnel 1 is named "Panlong", it is 830 meters long and built in 1999. Tunnel 2 is named "Guipan". Unfortunately, I did not reach it, so I didn`t find out its length. But I was told it is over 900 meters long. On both sides of two tunnels there are deep cuttings. So, it`s difficult to take photos but opportunities exist, of course.
At Haizigang, I was told that a empty train would arrive soon. So, I headed to the Tunnel 2. A few minutes waiting, I could see the clag. I took a photo of the double headed train just before they reached the tunnel. The leading engine shut off pretty early while the second engine was still working. It was a long train, which will be split into several parts when coming back, loaded, of course. The train passed the tunnel at 11:32.
I tried to find out what would happen now. I asked at Shagedu. Staff was friendly. They told me that a pair of light engines would come soon. The light engines (QJ 7067 and 6613) passed the station at 14:08.
I was told that a loaded train was expected, too. I drove back all the way to the Tunnel 2 via the old road. Unfortunately, the 23km took me 1 hour and 25 minutes, and I still had not found the railway line again. I had heared any steam engine working. I was sure that the train had not passed yet, so I waited at the tunnel until 16:35 by when the light had gone. I gave up and drove back to town.
I went to Zhoujiawan station again to make sure to miss nothing. The yard was empty when I was there, two QJs in steam
(QJ 6572 and 7054) plus 4 engines stored ones (QJ 6827,6995,6944,6655).
Chatting with the staff here, I learned about the pattern of traffic for the railway line:
There are between 1 and 4 loaded trains from the colliery to Zhoujiawan each day but only 1 or 2 long empty trains back to the colliery. Other engines will be sent as light engines.
The line is definitely not busy. The maximum is 4 loaded train per day according to the railway staff. But it does not mean that they all run in daylight! But no train at all during daylight is unusal too. So I had had very bad luck.
Asking the railway staff at the station, I was told there was no more traffic. So I gave up. On the way back, at the
highway 245km, a northbound train shows up again!
What information did the railway give me? Should I trust them any more? I read the reports from people who visited the line before. I was prepared that trains will run early. A absolutely frustrating day!
confirmed that they change shift at 08:00, engines comes out of shed after 08:30. At 08:55, JS8054 left Shenxi westwards.
At 08:59, SY1002 began shunting, and left westwards, too 11 minutes later. JS 5644 returned at 09:19. After some shunting,
JS6429 headed west at 09:38. At 9:55, JS8030 arrived from Yaomeng power plant from the east. I believe more activities
happened. But the poor light and background made me walk down further east. I passed the shed, which contained the
following engines: JS6252, JS6292, SY 1010 cold, JS 8065, QJ6786, JS8122 and SY1687. When I noted the numbers, the passenger
train from "13th Mine" arrived at 10:08 (JS8031).
I walked down towards the Tianzhuang area. SY0758 shunted in Tianzhuang yard.
10:26 QJ 7186 left westbound
10:46 QJ6813 arrived at Tianzhuang
11:22 JS 6225 arrived, too, JS6525 shunted
11:56 JS 6525 left Tianzhaung west bound
After lunch, I decided to visit the western part of Pingdingshan. I walked to mine No.1 but did not see any train. I gave up after 1 hour. The line is steeper here, but very difficult to photograph. I walked to mine 4 and 6. I finished linesiding at 15:40. Light was weak and hazy the whole day.
Trains, I heard or photographed:
13:17 JS? West bound
13:34 JS 8062 arrive in Shenxi from mine 4 or 6
13:48 heard a east bound train to Shenxi
14:26 heard a west bound train
14:42 freight head to Baofeng
JS 5644 west bound at level crossing of mine 4
15:28 Freight to Baofeng line, parked in station, but did not see engine.
Having travelled for over 1 and half months, I'm really exhausted. Though I was not lucky regarding the weather, I still like the places. Especially Jingchengjiang where traffic and scenery certainly will attract more gricers.
If the traffic improves in Zhungeer-Dongsheng line, some master shot will be possible there.
By the way, instead of building a railway to Dongsheng, the local authorities consider to build a railway connection between Zhungeer and Huhehaote. I was told that construction will start soon. The reason for this change is, that they need a close connection to China Rail.
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