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Steam in China - News

This page covers news from 1st January 2024 onwards.

Other news pages:

Previous reports on this page were published in good faith, the reporr from 'Ostbahn Мартинчик Бохнигов' received on 13th/15th January 2024 attempts to set the record straight for the railway historians.

Sandaoling Steam is effectively finished.

Sandaoling (25th March 2024)

Regular correspondent Ostbahn Мартинчик Бохнигов reports on the continuing occasional use of steam in the Year of the Dragon, with links to 3 pictures.

From 27th February 2024 there was a limited time encore. On the first day JS 8089 brought 8077 and 8080 to Nanzhan. It took 3 days to unload their coal for final storage. Then on 1st March, all 3 locomotives were returned to store in the repair shop.

27th February 2024


29th February 2024, the last day that 3 steam locomotives were bathed in the light of the setting sun together in Nanzhan while two enthusiasts were standing on the tender of 8089 watching the sunset.


1st March 2024


Sandaoling (21st February 2024)

For an alternative (and not always entirely accurate) view of the closing days (and years) please read this account:


Sandaoling (3rd February 2024)

This Group has a huge number of images covering the last 10 years or so of operation.


Sandaoling (2nd February 2024)

I have now added to two pages of pictures of the final days at Sandaoling:

1. 'Ostbahn Мартинчик Бохнигов' Part 1

2. 'Ostbahn Мартинчик Бохнигов' Part 2

Sandaoling (15th January 2024)

According to Chinese enthusiast SHE, the last JS in service, 8089, went to the repair shop at 14.00 on 15th January 2024 and the fire was dropped. It's not impossible that it will be used again but 4 of the 5 new HXn5b diesels and 2 of the older DF8B are capable of handling the traffic and another DF8B is expected back from overhaul at Baoji loco works 'soon'.

Sandaoling (14th January 2024)

Just yesterday, Friday 12th January, I returned from Sandaoling including the New Blue Loader.
My heart is full of thanks to the P.R. of China and my friends there for having invited me.

This account covers the period from late 2023 until January 2024.


In fact, no "New Diesels" arrived in "October".
The first 2 of 5 HXn5b arrived on December 19th, the other 3 just on January 12th and 13th.
Of the old 4 blue DF8B Diesels (manufactured in 2009 by the same factory in southern China) only two (DF8B 0247 and DF8B 0248) are in Sandaoling or have been seen there in months, the other two - DF8B 0249 and DF8B 0250 - are somewhere in repair/maintenance, not available for use.

Of the last 6 potentially operational steam engines JS 8077 got derailed in summer and could never return into service. JS 8080 was stored as fallback reserve in the workshop, but hasn't been returned to use. JS 8195 from the East-pit times is also still stored in the workshop in what appears to be good condition, but essential spare parts were removed, like parts of the braking system inside the cab, hence has not been usable since 2022. The best engine with most recent main inspection was JS 8314 that sadly was damaged when a truck crushed it while it was serving Erjing line steam (not "shunting" as some claim). This led to a severe lack of usable locomotives, where only two old diesels were available and from 26th November till the arrival of the first new Diesels on 19th December only two usable steam engines JS 8089 and JS 8366, rather than three, making a total of just 4 locomotives available for all types of operation for almost a month.


1 locomotive for Erjing (had to be steam):
However, Erjing sees 2 daily and 2 nightly train pairs plus it was 100% forbidden for diesels until 9th January (due to diesels having been considered as being too heavy for the track for many years, after a derailment accident had happened many years ago). Until 9th January diesels could go there only after personal written authorization by the general manager of the mine.

1 locomotive for Nanzhan shunting (can be combined with any of the other schedules, if not enough locomotives are available, independently if diesel or steam)

1 locomotive for CNR (had to be diesel)

2 locomotives for Shadunzi (had to be diesel)

2 locomotives for the New Blue Loader (usually diesel at the front and steam as banking engine)

As you can see 7 locomotives (steam and diesel together) were required but only 4 (two diesels, two steam) were available.
All the nonsense you may have read about end of Line Steam by October were complete 'fake news'.

When the first two diesels arrived on 19th December, the very first thing the Mine's management wanted to know was, will the HXn5b be too heavy for Erjing??
Otherwise steam would have to continue!
So they ran one train pair to Erjing on 20th December with the general manager of the mine being onboard in the cab!
Afterwards Erjing stayed 100% steam-only until 9th January.

At first after the arrival of the very first two of five new diesels on 19th  December they were only tested for shunting (and on 20th December Erjing).
On 26th December JS 8366 was decommissioned and the regular use of the HXn5b_028 and HXn5b_029 started on 23rd December on the lines to Shadunzi and the New Blue Loader at the front, in the latter case still with steam as banking engine till 2nd January.

After the NewYear's holiday, beginning with 2nd January no steam would go to the New Blue Loader even as banking engine, because the management designated it as HXn5b line testing from 2nd January till 10th January, with Erjing now being HXn5b only but steam going again to the New Blue Loader as banking engine.. On 9th January even the heavy old diesel needed to serve Erjing (as back in 2015), since JS 8089 was under repair in the workshop 2 days in a row, but went in and out twice, with boiler problems.

An exception was 6th January, when the lack of engines was so dramatic (even after the arrival of the first two HXn5b on 19th December), that steam served both the Erjing and the New Blue Loader lines on the same day.

Latest on the spot UPDATE from Sandaoling 13th January

New Diesels HXn5b_7028 and HXn5b_7029 arrived on December 19th. But today I saw the arrival of the last two Diesels. HXn5b_7032 had arrived yesterday (Friday) morning but HXn5b_7030 and HXn5b_7031 just arrived this afternoon 13th January. The crew said that these new diesels will be on duty from Monday 15th January and there may be a ceremony then but they are not sure about that. After JS 8366 got taken out of service on 26th December, the only active steam engine was/is JS_8089 and it went to the New Blue Loader twice on 13th January. All trains to Erjing have been diesel since 10th January. Cab-rides and fireworks are now totally impossible after they had been forbidden on 8th January as a result of complaints officially filed to the mine's general manager. Now to ensure this, there are security staff on the steam locomotive even at the weekend. From tomorrow 14th January till 15th January steam will probably be limited to Nanzhan shunting and after that, in all probability, there will be no steam.

A very detailed illustrated SitRep for the situation from October 2023 till January 2024 is under construction and should be available soon.

Ostbahn Мартинчик Бохнигов

Sandaoling (4th January 2024)

The latest date for the final 'end of steam' is 15th January 2024, it may, of course, happen a few days before or after. Sufficient HXn5b diesels have been delivered and crews are undergoing final training. No doubt a few dedicated enthusiasts will make their way there before the final curtain falls, it will be a significant moment in world industrial history and without the internet it may have passed almost unnoticed..

I won't be shedding any tears, I moved on more than 10 years ago but I do understand how others must be feeling now. Anyone reading this will, like me, most likely have seen the long term love of his/her life pass into history.

Previous News (Jan 2014-Dec 2023)

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