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Meihekou is much better than I expected. It is hard to see how you could get more use out of 4 SY's, it's amazing that they look so good considering that they are in the jiwuduan only briefly.
We found Louis Cerny's map and Florian's report of much help. The passenger trains to the main branch remain the same. Here is the timetable to 4th mine (Sijing);
The action is intense in the early morning in the Yijing yard. Don't overlook the little electric railway that runs here either. The light gets better on the main branch as the day goes on. The steepest grade on the railway is on the tight curve just out of Yijing going to Sijing, but working locos are tender first here.
There is also good action on the "street running" section just west of Yijing heading west.
Weather is cold (-20) and clear, and snow-covered. It's dry with sandstorms less than 100 km west of here, near the city of Siping.
There is a convenient hotel on the left as you walk out the train station. It is right after the 24-hour open restaurant, stairs to 3rd floor. Basic room Y60 with 1/2 cm padding on bed, best room Y100 with working water and 5 cm padding.
A MUCH MUCH better hotel is the Xing Gan Han Shi Xi Yu, this is a spotlessly clean and modern bathhouse/hotel which is about 450 meter walk out the station park to the right, and on the other side of the road. All the amenities, hot pool, sauna, the rooms are magnificent for....Y60 ! Full body massage available by one of the young ladies for Y100.
We had a taxi driver who was careful, polite, and fair. We hired him for
Y300 for the day and thought this was a great deal considering the km we
went. Hired him to arrive at 0130 for night photos, he got there early,
rested, and brought food, and stayed out longer than we asked him to.
Simply the best taxi experience I've ever had in China, I can't recommend
this young man enough.
His name is:
Jia Hong Li taxi # 35068 Tel # 0448 2375376
Meihekou means "coal river mouth", and is called Meihe (rhymes with Weihe) by the locals, for short.
DF4 7693; 7694
QJ 7031 - 7032 - 7075 - 7125
At the track adjacent to the office at Pei-tun depot was a huge pile of wood of various sizes, I never thought to ask what is was for, but I think it is for lighting up engines. Maybe out of the gloom of the Jingpeng news, we can only hope that the engines listed last year for workshops may now end up going.
This small city is south of Nanjing, on the way to Wuhu. It was recently found to have steam, specifically SY class 2-8-2's, by Louis Cerny. He guessed that there might be 30-40 of them here, but such does not appear to be the case. One worker (boilerman) said that there are 28, while another (assistant driver) said 20. I believe both are right; there appears to be 20 working locomotives 7 that are parts sources, and 1 in stationary boiler service.
Here is the locomotives that I saw:
in steam: SY 0054, 0627, 0729, 0784, 0788, 0790, 1281, 1670, 1361, 1481, 1670, 1715
Out of Use, parts sources: SY 0047, 49, 0138, 214, 0254, 0503, 0789
Stationary boiler loco: SY 0129
Also on the railway are some GK1 and GKC1 diesel switchers;
GK1 0011, 0012, 0046, 0082, 0111
I was told that there are 16 diesels.
There was DF7C 5656 in blue and silver seen switching the tank car yard and to the CNR yard. In addition, many other movements were seen in one day in the industrial park but numbers of locomotives not noted.
The city of Ma'anshan is beautiful, with overhanging tree-lined streets, and meandering waterways. The industrial park is nestled between the west side of the city and the east bank of the Yangtze river. The park is very large, and bustling with activity. Many of the factories are brand new, and they are constructing more. These include steel mills, rolling mills, and a "mei jia hua gongsi" which maybe someone else can translate, perhaps a coking plant ? There is also cement works and a concrete factory. While I was in the interchange yard, several cars of rail and ties were seen. I asked a trackworker if they were made here but he said no, they are for new railway track within the industrial park.
There seems to be no problem walking around. I hired a taxi as the area is
large. On several occasions I walked into yards to photograph SY's, and was
waved over by workers at the factories.
I explained what I was doing there, and they seemed satisfied. On one occasion I was waved up to a third floor balcony to say hello, and got a much better photo from there. Of course, I didn't walk far from the tracks, and certainly not into any dangerous areas. Some places have gates which the taxi driver said we couldn't access. I was not able to locate the slag-tipping area.
I am supplying a map here but you can get one of the city at the passenger station for Y3, which will have the road names on it. As far as the railway goes, it is mostly accurate (most glaring errors are showing a connection with CNR when there is none, and diamond-crossing is actually an over-under bridge). It is far from complete, however, and doesn't show yards or all spurs. In addition, they are building quite a lot of new track. The maze of industry can be bewildering.
A good place to start is at the main interchange yard, just west of the passenger station. The steam and diesel servicing depots are here, on the west side of the yard. At the far end there is a new factory being constructed. The double track that leaves this yard and curves to the left makes SY's work hard, as it climbs a short but steep grade. On the southeast side of the yard is the main repair shop, and SY 0129, which looks in good condition in stationary boiler service. I didn't see any SY's in this shed when I was there, only 4 GK1's.
The yard can be busy, on the afternoon of March 8 I saw 4 SY's switching at once, along with 2 GK1's. A note if using a taxi; make sure you park on the leeward (far) side of a crossing. On two occasions I saw crossing gates closed for nearly an HOUR, while crews switched cars. As you can imagine, it became a huge traffic jam with vehicles backed up for hundreds of meters.
On the second day I didn't watch the steam at all, but concentrated my interest on the main line. I had heard that most ND5's were out of service, but you wouldn't know it from looking here. They hold down ALL of the freight assigments through Ma'anshan, while passenger workings are held down by DF11's and cranberry-colored DF4D's. The ND5's are diesels made in the US by GE and are distinctive-looking, with teal-green paint schemes. They haul impressive loads on the single-track mainline. A nice feature they have are their air horns, which sound quite mellow and pleasing compared to the strident ones on the DF's. The ND5's also have a large presence on the main line west of Nanjing, and at least one, 0211, was seen gleaming in new paint. From this, it seems that the Chinese plan to keep them around for awhile.
Ma'anshan's local railway is an industrial railway. The SY's don't go very far and the trains aren't very long, and with the warm climate you aren't likely to see much steam exhaust. That said, I still enjoyed it. After coming from -25 C in Jilin it was nice to walk around in thin pants and a t-shirt. The SY's probably have a secure future here for awhile, with all the new factories being built. I also found the diesel action on CNR quite satisfying. A nice place to spend my Shengri Kuai Le, 41 sui.
I used Zhu Ke Hong, blue taxi E80939, tel # 13965393918. Good service,
Y200 for the day, and a sharp eye out for locomotives hiding away inside
I stayed at the Hun Dong Hotel, Y138 double. A good room with my own key, good location, but no "service" to speak of by the desk staff.
Another Hotel that you might try is the Post and Telecom Hotel, also for Y138 double, which is 200 meters to the left as you come out of the railway station plaza. Also near here, across the street and to the right of the hotel, is a park along a waterway, with relaxing music and couples dancing every night outside from 1900-2130. Nice to sit and watch this. It is right next to the ZhiZuChangLe bathouse, which I cannot rate as I haven't tried it (yet !).
If you want to try something interesting, there is a VERY large bathhouse about 10 km south of the railway station, and not too far from the CNR mainline. It is by far the largest I have seen yet, and the first I have seen with a buffet lunch afterwards. Whole families were here thoroughly enjoying themselves, all told about two hundred were in the dining hall at one time, all of us in our pajamas, and the food was excellent. Cheap ! Wash, shampoo done, pedicure, full massage 1.5 hours, and all-you-can-eat lunch was Y110. Telephone is 0555-2108577. Ask the taxi driver to take you there ! If you tell him where and what it is he will know, or phone ahead.
I am sorry to report that just as I was leaving the main CNR yard, I had an encounter with the police. I had been waved up onto the orange DF7 yard switcher, and after an hour I got off at the hump at the SW part of the yard. From here, I could see a troop of police coming in the distance. I could have easily avoided them, but to do so would have required me to step across the tracks in front of an oncoming train. Easily done, but doing so would have justified them kicking me out for unsafe practice, so I stayed where I was. Some coincidences then occured which I have to pass along, they are too weird. First, after looking at my passport, the sargeant noted that we had the same birthday, which was... today ! How strange is that ? Then, another policeman showed up who spoke passable english, and it turns out that he had just come from a tour of the US, and had visited my home city of Boston ! Anyway, we had a pleasant conversation, I told him why I was here, which he seemed to believe, but he told me that I could not take pictures of the CNR diesels unless I got permission. Ok, I asked, how do I get a permit ? You have to go to Nanjing, we do not have the authority here. Ok, what is the address and telephone number ? I am sorry, we do not have that, but you must first go there to get the permit. I must say that the english-speaking policeman looked a little embarassed at all this, especially when I asked if he had been prevented from photographing in the US. I asked then, should I tell all my friends to avoid coming to Ma'anshan ? Oh no, tell them to come, but do not take pictures of the railway, or first get the permit (which we cannot tell you how to get ) from Nanjing. Spend money and take photos of what we want you to see !
So should you avoid Ma'anshan ? Well, Louis Cerny didn't have a problem, and I didn't either until someone saw me get on a locomotive in the CNR yard. If you visit the industrial railway or photo from the platform at the passenger station or at crossings you should be ok.
Much thanks to Louis Cerny for finding Ma'anshan, and to Bruce Evans who lives just across the water here and helped scan the map for me.
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