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Steam in China , August-October 2001

Part I : Inner Mongolia & Shanxi

Part IInner Mongolia & ShanxiJiTong Railway , Shuozhou-Shenmu , Yinta-Hequ , Dongsheng , Wuhai
Part IINortheastern ChinaChengde , Yebaishou , Beipiao , Tonghua , Xinzhan , Da`an Bei , Shuangyashan , Changchun

Florian Menius and Thorge Bockholt report on a tour to China in August, September and October 2001.


JiTong Linemore than 46 kms : Baiqi, Lindong, Chabuga
Shouzhou - Shenmualignment of railway lines
Yinta-Hequspectacular, QJ powered local line
DongshengDMU and 2 DF4s in use, new passenger timetable since Sept 1st, passengersreverted to steam
Shenyang-Harbin Mainlineeletrification completed throughout !! lack of electric locomotives
Yebaishouarrival of 2001-built DF5s
Beipiao-YiXianDF4Cs from Jinzhou have arrived, dieselisation to be completed by Oct 30th 2001
Tonghua"Songhua River Gorge" Xianrenqiao-Zhubaogang
Xinzhan-DunhuaQJs still active, low trafic levels, further 2nd hand DF4Cs have arrived
Da`an Beiarrival of 24 DF4s !! steam to be eliminated by Nov 2001 !
Shuangyashanunchanged, high freight volume
Changchun Tramway2000-built railcars introduced, refurbished 1930s car still in usethough

The tour : Again a 6-week-long individual tour to the well knownsteam locations in Northern China partly together with Thorge Bockholtagain. Flights with Aeroflot via Moskva Sheremetyevo2 (do not do this !Though using western planes (A310, B737 and B777) the worst confort, serviceand food I ever had on board of a plane ...).


CNR steam is disappearing faster than expected some months ago. Especiallythe rapid and unexpected final decline at Da`an Bei and the technical andoptical condition of the QJs were shocking. Lonely exceptions from thesedepressing sightings were Xinzhan`s well-maintained QJs and Tonghua`s JS.Surprising is/ was the manner of dieselisation - replacement of the "best"steam engines and surprising origin of substituting diesels - for detailssee below.

The largest CNR depot now is - very surprising to say this - Tonghua.Would you have expected this 5 years ago ??

Cheap Accommodation

As more and more larger Chinese towns introduce "foreigner hotel rules",that means that you are forced to go the expensive and often unappropriatlylocated "official binguans" instead of being allowed to stay at cheaperones which usually exist close to the railway stations. Latest entriesto my list of such "racist towns" are Lindong and Chifeng.
Therefore, I generally prefer smaller cities where only cheap lüdiansexist. Major problem of lüdians usually is the lack of a shower whichoften prevented me from going to lüdians in smaller villages.
By random, I learned the Chinese charakters for a "public bath, saunaand shower institution. The biggest surprise after having learned thesecharakters was, that we discovered such "bath houses" (... Julius Caesarand Co. say "hello" ...) exist at nearly every village ! Having a showerthere is cheap and confortable with well temperated water and well heatedrooms. Prices range from 2 to 5 Yuan ! So, with the common lüdian-priceof 10Y per person, you can have all vital things for an overnight (bed,hot water for the tea/coffee, shower) for 12-15 Y only! Only sleeping underbridges and in parks can be cheaper ... no acceptable alternative, of course.

JiTong Railway , Aug 29th - Sept10th 2001

A couple of locations along JiTong line were visited during the 2 weeks.Information is given section by section.

New Passenger Coaches

4 sets of 8 new "25B"-type coaches exist. Livery is the same as the HanluDMU or the 160km/h - indicating liverery of CNR`s "25K" - type, air-concoaches which form most "Tekuai" (T xxx) - express trains. A fine sightwith a QJ in front !
Consist of a set : 4YZ + 1CA + 2YW + 1YZ. No aircon coaches !
Fares : With the introcuction of the new rolling stock, a "supplement"of 2Y has been added to the YZ fare - regardless of distance.

The Hanlu DMU

My personal opinion : Incredible ! The cleanest and most confortable trainI ever had in China ! And this in such an remote. One thought - a verystrange sounding one :
One of the most modern passenger services is being subsidised by profitswhich are obtained by QJ hauled freights ...


JiTong Railway probably has one of the most advanced ticketing system nationwide.The "Chief of Train" of both the Hanlu DMU and the passenger train hasgot a pocket computer with a touchscreen like user interface. Both ticketsand sleeper upgrades are printed on a small piece of "thermopaper" whichlooks like an Edmonson ticket - but computer printed, of course.

Benhong-Baiqi , Sep 2nd &10th 2001


Both DF4Ds and QJs are employed here. On Sep 2nd - the day was spent linesidingbetween Baiqi and Chaogewenduoer - only 3 out of 9 freights had DF4D withan even better (steamier) split on Sep 10th (all freights seen QJ hauled)when we rode the passenger to Jining Nan.
Passenger trains are hauled either by QJ 6304 or QJ 6633, both shiny,decorated engines. The Hanlu can be seen during daylight, too.

The Line - line equipment

Signalling : As usual along JiTong line, most stations have gotsemaphores. Exceptions are Huade, Deyi, Shangdu and Chaobuhan.
Stations : a new station named Dadonggou is under contructionbetween Shangdu and Sanjiehaizi. It will get light signals, too. Chaogewenduoer,Huade and Sanjiehaizi have 3 tracks.
Watering facilities exist at Xinghe, Huade and Shangdu.

The Line - photo opportunities

Generally the countryside is very flat and featureless. Large parts ofthe line are lined by unphotogenic sand protection walls. Anyway, a fewexceptions/ possible photo spots can be found :


Only 2 out of nominally 6 DF4Ds were seen working with a third, unidentifiedone inside Baiqi`s maintenance hall.
In addition to the DF4Ds, at least the following 10 QJs are assignedto the Benhong section : QJ 6304, 6633, 6764, 6850, 6855, 6987, 7052, 7118,7140, 7162. QJ 6354 is pilot at Benhong.

Baiqi ,Sept 2nd 2001

Baiqi Area Map

Baiqi Yard
QJ 6353 is pilot at Baiqi. It serves several industrial sidings atBaiqi and remarshalls passing and engine-changing freights.

Baiqi Depot
Surrounded by slight hills, it is not necessary to ask for entrance.You can walk around the fence and take photos from outside using some longerlenses. Baiqi depot is more photogenic than Daban for example.
Near the entrance of the depot area, the water cranes, coaling andwaiting tracks for the in-service engines are located. Between the "servicearea" and the "maintenance hall", some tracks for stabling spare engines(both under steam and not) are located. West of the maintenance hall, the2 scrap engine tracks contained some 10 QJs, partly no longer identifyable.

According to Hans Schaefer, Baiqi`s current roster includes 6 DF4Dand 34 QJ. This probably are workable engines only as I noted 28 QJs understeam plus some 10 scrap engines. Hans Schaefer`s JiTongLocomotive List (http://home.c2i.net/schaefer/jitongtielu/dabanlocos.html Link broken by December 2021) contains further 6 QJs (2624, 6214, 6302, 6579, 6849,6854). QJ 7021 is supposed to exist, too.
QJ 7141 - the Bachmann modell - was noted as spare engine under steam.
A couple of previously unreported engines could be noted, too. Predominantlyscrap engines possibly aquired for spare parts only which have been reportedat Suihua, Jiamusi and Jixi before. All "dumped" QJs in the list belowhave got a red cross on the side of their cabs.

QJ6304, 6353, 6354, 6483, 6564, 6568, 6633, 6636, 6689, 6764, 6835, 6836,6850, 6855, 6912, 6987, 6997, 7043, 7052, 7088, 7114, 7118, 7136, 7138,7139, 7140, 7141, 7162
QJ (dumped)6838, 6846, 6900, 6965, 6642 or 6842 (at least 6x42)   plus4-5 unidentified ones
DF4D4054(2000 built), 4072(2001 built)

Just outside Baiqi station, there a 2 cheap lüdians. Though Idid not see it, a "bath house" will exist somewhere in the town, too.

Baiqi-Sangendalai-Haoluku ,Sept 2nd & 9th 2001

The only section which was not visited for an entire day. On Sept 2nd,when I was at Baiqi, a curiousity - at least for JiTong Railway - couldbe noted : A tender to tender, double headed freight leaving Baiqi towardsHaoluku. On Sept 9th, we spent some hours at Haoluku : single headed trainstowards Baiqi only.
Engines assigned to Baiqi-Haoluku section : QJ 6483, 6564, 6636, 6689,6835, 6997, 7043, 7114, 7136. QJ 6564 and 7052 were passenger engines.Haoluku Yard
Situated in the middel of the nowhere, the yard has a special charme.Departing trains towards Baiqi can be photed from a sanddune (see Hans Schaefer`s HaolukuMap). (http://home.c2i.net/schaefer/jitongtielu/haolukulayout.jpg Link broken by December 2021) Best around noon.

Haoluku - Restaurants and Accomodation
There is a great restaurant just next to Haoluku Locomotive ServiceArea, where some Mongolians have their houses.
A civil lüdian exists in front of Haoluku passenger station.Probably no "bath house" there (as there is no civil village at Haoluku).Having a shower might be possible in the depot area.

Haoluku-Daban , Aug 29th-Sep1st, Sep 3rd-4th, Sep 8th-9th 2001

Well known. There is very few to add to Hans Schaefer`s great Linedescription (http://home.c2i.net/schaefer/jitongtielu/linegeometry.html Link broken by December 2021) of this section.

New Stations

As mentioned before, 3 new stations being built. All 3 stations will havelight signals.


All materials for 3 station building sites are delivered by rail. Thismeans that a number of regular freight trains had 1 or 2 wagons with constructionmaterial (e.g. sleepers, rails, ballast) could be noted. These trains stopedat the building sites and the material unloaded, manually of course asusual in China. So the line was blocked about 2 times daily for some 2-3hours each with all trains stopped somewhere. Consequently, traffic levelswere quite high at other times.

Linesiding JingPeng Pass Area

In my last report about JingPeng (January2001), I mentioned that JingPeng might be a better basecamp for individuallinesiding. This is true.
The "Reshui Mafia" has not reached Keqi yet. I think it should be triednot to "invite" the Reshui Photo License Mafia to expand its activity toKeqi.
So, please, dear visitors who are prepared and willing to buy thesephoto licences, please keep on staying at Reshui ! As all guides and participantsof guided tours will pay to the mafia (through their guide(s) ) anyway,there is absolutely no need to stay at JingPeng as guided tours usuallyhave their own cars/ taxis. The only consequence that might result fromasking guides to stay at Keqi/ JingPeng is that then, the mafia probablywould expand its activity to JingPeng as well. This would - absolutely unnecessary - and harden the life of individual and/or low-budget travellers(such as myself for example) who are staying at JingPeng and not willingor able to buy these "photo licenses".
In my opinion, this is a kind of fairness : everybody should be ableto do it on his own way. Visitors with restricted time budget but goodfinancial situation should not destroy the low-budget possibility of othervisitors ...

JingPeng - Access to the "Pass"
In contrast to Reshui there are lots of suitably timed public buseswhich can be used for linesiding. In the morning, the first buses fromJingPeng bus station towards Reshui depart at 06:40 (to Tianshan), 06:50(to Pingzhuang) and 07:20 (to Chifeng) followed by further ones about every30-45 mins. The last bus to Chifeng leaves at 14:20, travel time to Chifeng6 hours, fare 30Y. Official fares : Jingpeng-Shangdian 4Y, JingPeng-Reshui5Y.
In the evening, appropriate buses work in the other direction. Trystopping lorries, too if you do not want to wait for a bus. Once, we returnedfrom Simingyi on a cement lorry (our photobags were inside the cab, ofcourse).
Conclusion : Linesiding does not have to cost more than 10Y a day ...

JingPeng - Access to JingPeng station
The road / path to JingPeng station branches off the Reshui-Keqi roadsome 2kms east of Keqi town. Access to the station is somewhat difficultin summer as the river is not frozen, of course and passable for jeepsand brave taxi drivers only.
Though a footbridge across the river exists, it is an adventure touse it. A special thrill is using it during night (when all passenger trainsdepart). Unless you have cloudless sky and full moon there is no lightat all...
A 3-wheel taxi to the footbridge costs 3Y though almost every taxidriver will try to charge doubled prices from foreigners !

JingPeng - Accomodation
Keqi City : There are at least 4 hotels (but probably some furtherones, too).

Close to JingPeng station : two lüdians (10Y/Pers)Staying at both lüdians, you do not have to cross the river if youtake one of the passenger trains.

JingPeng - Restaurants
All restaurants - even at Keqi - already have "foreigner prices", either+ 5Y for each dish or doubling the price ! Be very, very careful ! Askfor prices for each dish in advance and control the bill thoroughly !
Bad example : We had a small intermediate snack at a JingPeng restaurant: 1 plate "Guobaorou" (I had asked for the price in advance: 15Y), 4 potsof noodles and 4 beers. Final price according the restaurant owner : 70Y!!!! Suddenly, the Guobaorou should cost 20Y, each pot of noodles 8Y (2-3Y are normal !) and 5Y per beer (2-3 Y are correct) !! We didn`t pay 70Y,of course, calculated a price of 35Y (what wonder ! exactly half of therestaurant owner`s "foreigner price"), paid 40Y and left the restaurantthough the owner still wanted 50Y after some arguing ! Very unsympathicexperiences ...

JingPeng - Internetcafe

A internetcafe is located just next to the Keqiketeng Binguan in the ChinaPost Building. 2Y / hour ! Does anyone know a cheaper possibility to surfon the web ?

Jing Peng - Photo Opportunities

The section between JingPeng station and the large viaduct 7 km west ofJingPeng offers, though flat and not hard working engines, very photogenic:Scenery west of the viaduct is less rewarding. It becomes better againnear Haoluku will hills and sanddunes.


Engines assigned to Haoluku-Daban section :
QJ 6110, 6230, 6274, 6388, 6389, 6577, 6630, 6638, 6735, 6760, 6763,6828, 6876, 6878, 6925, 6986, 6992, 6998, 7007(passenger loco), 7009, 7040,7041, 7112, 7137, 7163. QJ 6230 was seen between Daban and Chabuga, too.

Daban , Sep 8th-9th 2001

Daban Yard

Both deflectorless QJ 6984 and deflectored QJ 6884 were noted as Dabanpilots.

Daban Depot

A entrance fee of 200Y was requested. The prices seems to be random asother reports / visitors had to pay 100Y only. As Mr. HeLiWen did not acceptour 100Y per person offer, we left the depot again. I do not pay 200Y forbeing allowed to take some photos of black QJs in front of black coal stocks! Especially not when having been at Baiqi some days earlier : more sceniclayout and for free (from outside of the fence)...
Some 10 QJs in apparently working order are stored at Daban depot behinda fence. Possibly for the Xilinhaote line.


All Daban based QJs have their brigades lettered on the cab - in contrastto Baiqi which have conventionally lettered cabs.

As reported by Hans Schaefer, Daban based engines work the Chabuga-Zhelimusection, too. Only difference of these so called "Chabuga engines" : theybelong to brigade 7 and 8 (Daban has got 1-6).

QJ6110, 6125, 6230, 6274, 6301, 6375, 6385, 6388, 6389, 6478, 6572, 6576,6577, 6580, 6630, 6631, 6638, 6639, 6735, 6751, 6760, 6763, 6828, 6853,6876, 6878, 6884, 6911, 6925, 6984(nd), 6986, 6988, 6992, 6996, 6998, 7002,7007, 7009, 7010, 7037, 7038, 7040, 7041, 7049, 7063, 7112, 7137, 7163,7164
QJ (stored)3073, 6135, 6795, 6840, 6844, 6978
QJ (dumped)2388, 2645, 2706, 6687(at Haoluku depot)


The JiTongTielu Binguan, situated between the station and the depot beneath the water tower (somewhat hidden) offers a reasonable double at 100Y. Twocheaper lüdians in front of the station exist, too.

Daban City

Bus No.1 which terminates in front of the JiTongTielu Binguan goes to Dabancity. Fare is 1Y.

Daban - Photo Possibilities

Daban-Pingdingmiao section is quite photogenic. Read Hans Schaefer`s Line Description for details. (http://home.c2i.net/schaefer/jitongtielu/linegeometry.html Link broken by December 2021)
An acceptable spot for the morning passenger from Jining Nan is the passenger stop some 9km west of Daban.

Daban-Chabuga , Sep 5th-6th2001

Two days were spent around Lindong and Yamenmiao. Read Hans Schaefer`s Line Description (http://home.c2i.net/schaefer/jitongtielu/linegeometry.html Link broken by December 2021) and Duncan Cotterill`s Report.

Lindong-Yamenmiao Map (based on Hans Schaefer`s map)


Lindong - Transport & Linesiding

As said before, Lindong station is some 4 km away from the city. A shuttlebus to and from the two daylight passenger trains operate but no connectionfor the nighttime ones.
Yamenmiao can be reached by bus along the road to Tianshan/Chabuga.The railway line is crossed next to river bridge at Yamenmiao. In the evening,there is a bus back to Lindong at around 17:30.

Lindong - Accomodation

Lindong City
Lindong is one of these racist cities where you have to stay at the official binguan. Though we found a very good and advantageously located lüdian (next to the road to Tianshan and the station) for 10Y/Pers with shower included, we were not allowed to stay there. Initially, we got the room. But the manager of the lüdian appeared and told us that the "Lindong Binguan" would be better for us... We angrily took our luggage and wanted to go to another lüdian. But the stupid manager had phoned the Binguan in the meantime and we were already awaited by an officialfrom the Binguan, who escorted us to the much more disadvantageously located binguan. Double was 120Y there, so 240Y for 4 persons instead of 40Y ... We consequently stayed only 1 night there and moved to a lüdian next to the railway station in the next morning.

Lindong Railway Lüdian
There are 2 lüdians just opposite Lindong railway station. Stayingthere was no problem as there are
a) no officials / police / public security officers around the stationand
b) you neccessarily have to stay at one of these lüdians if youwant to take one of the night passengers (and we wanted this).
As usual 10Y per person but no shower. 2 shops and 3 restaurants areavailable there, too. So theoretically you do not have to go to the townat all !

Lindong - Internetcafe

3 internet cafes can be found at Lindong. From the bus station walk northwards(towards the binguan, see Map) to the crossing with the column in the middel.Turn left here (westwards) and walk some 200m. On the left hand side youwill find all 3 internetcafes next to each other (like in the middel ages: butcher road, bakermen road, internetcafe road ...)

Locomotives Daban-Chabuga

Assigned to this section : QJ 6125, 6230, 6301, 6576, 6580, 6631, 6639,6911, 7002, 7010, 7037, 7063, 7164.
QJ 6230 was noted between Daban and Haoluku, too.
Passenger locos daily hauling the same train were QJ 6631 and 6911,both shiny and decorated engines. Together with the immaculate new coachesa very, very fine sight.
QJ 69116051Daban 08:19 - Chabuga 11:34
6058Chabuga 21:44 - Daban 00:48
QJ 66316057Daban 23:59 - Chabuga 03:52
6052Chabuga 15:30 - Daban 19:11

Chabuga-Zhelimu , Sep 7th 2001

A day was spent between Fuxingdi and Chabuga. Chabuga : the city is called Tianshan. HansSchaefer`s Line Description (http://home.c2i.net/schaefer/jitongtielu/linegeometry.html Link broken by December 2021)

Chabuga-Fuxingdi Map


Chabuga to Fuxingdi - The line

The area between Fuxingdi and the viaduct at km 767, halfway between Fuxingdiand Chabuga offers nice scenery with villages, Fuxingdi`s semaphores andhills as backdrop.
The viaduct at km 767 was not photographable in summer unless you havegot a 600mm long lense. Possible views were either hemmed by trees or toohigh corn plants. In winter, both spots should be possible, the "morningspot" after having killed some trees only.
Between km 767 and Chabuga, landscape is featureless but includes ahorseshoe in a sidevalley.

Chabuga to Fuxingdi - Linesiding

The viaduct is 8km away from Tianshan city center. Take bus No.1 or anyother bus along the road to Kailu and Tongliao at the bus station at Tianshan.
Distance between Chabuga railway station and Tianshan bus station issome 4 km.

Chabuga - Police & Accomodation

A lüdian is just next to Chabuga station. I am not sure whether Tianshanis a restricted town. There were many police or military officers present,a strange athmosphere in town. Around the station, the amthosphere wasrather welcoming. So, staying at the lüdian should be possible, Ithink if you say that you will leave again, soon (e.g. by nighttrain, commentsfor Lindong are valid for Chabuga/Tianshan, too).

Locomotives Chabuga-Zhelimu

Assigned to this section : QJ 6375, 6385, 6478, 6572, 6751, 6853, 6996,7038, 7049.
Passenger locos : QJ 6478 and 6996
Most engines noted above had Daban depot code on their tender and brigade7 and 8 signs on their cabs.
QJ 6576 was observed heading a Zhelimu to Chabuga freight. On the followingdays, it worked Daban-Chabuga. Due to its excellent condition I presumethat QJ 6576 returned from overhaul/ repairs.

CNR : Datong-Baotou-Wuhai Sep 10th, 16th 2001

Datong-Jining-Huhehaote is worked by Jining and Huhe based DF4B (freights),Huhe to Baotou : Huhe based DF4B, Baotou-Wuhai : Baotou based DF4C. DF4Dincluding some brandnew DF4D 31xx locos haul express trains.
Between Datong and Shacheng, the all station passenger has got a Datong based BJ. A very interessting engine from Zhanhjiakou depot could be noted at Datong : 1998-built DF4 2001. It is no orange DF4B as expected according to its number series. Instead, it has got DF4C chasis and white and dark blue livery. Livery is not identical to the 4000-series DF4C ! Bruce Evans adds : "The orange DF4Bs start at 2101. DF4 2001 is in fact a DF4C and is one of only 5 to 10 that wereconstructed at Sifang where the DF5s are built. "

DF4 (Jining)3539, 3464, 3483, 6005, 6007, 6030, 6031, 6037, 6038, 6108
DF4 (Huhe)1291, 1409, 1414, 1571, 1811, 1890, 2632, 3379, 3382, 3384, 7058, 7159,7291, 7301, 7308
DF4 (Baotou)3641, 4203, 4245, 4251, 4276, 4327, 4328, 4333, 4336, 4338, 4341, 7289
DF41889(Datong), 2001(Zhangjiakou)
DF4D0550, 0551, 3104, 3106
DF51265, 1408, 1651

CNR : Datong-Shuozhou-Taiyuan , Sep 10th 2001

Orange DF4 still dominate on passengers but some Taiyuan based SS1 could be noted, too. Freight traffic north of Shuozhou is predominantly 8Ks from Datong. Russian 8G electrics may still be used but weren`t recorded.

Shuozhou-Shenchi-Shenmu Bei ,Sep 11th-12th 2001

Forget everything printed in Quails Atlas for this area ! Last year, we explored the Shuozhou-ShenchiNan leg of this line. Descriptions below are additions to last year`s Shuozhou-Shenchi Area Description.

Shenchi-Shenmu Area Map

The following, more or less independant railway lines exist west of Shenchi:

Out of these lines, only the (Ningwu-) Shenchi(old) - Kelan is correctlylocated on Quails Map, page 5.

Shenchi Nan-Fugu-Shenmu Bei

This line is part of the 267km long coal railway from Daliuta Bei (km0) to Shuozhou (km 267) via Shenmu Bei and Shenchi Nan. There is no direct railway line between Daliuta Bei and Shenchi.
Electric service along the the last sections around Shenchi Nan was introduced in November 2000. DF4s and QJs were replaced by SS4, SS4B and 8K electrics (double units) then.
The whole line is single track. Oldest section is Daliuta Bei-ShenmuBei openend in 1991, ShenmuBei-Fugu opened around 1993/94. Tunnels and bridges designed for 1 track only. Fugu-Shenchi : opened in 1996, trackbed for doubling of the line existant : Fugu-Yinta and Nanpodi-Shenchi Nan.

Line description East of ShenmuBei, the line is highly spectacular with 40 tunnel and dozens of large viaducts. From Shenmu Bei to a summit between Nanliang and Xinchengchuan the line follows a valley on its northern rim. Many embankements here. The downhill section from the summit to Fugu at the HuangheRiver, follows are narrower valley in typical Shanxi style, terrassed landscape. The valley is crossed every 2-3 kms on large or very large viaducts. Highly spectacular!. Between Fugu and Baode, the HuangHe (Yellow River) is crossed by an 1.5 km long viaduct. From Baode on, the line is uphill again with grades of up to 20%o against loaded, eastbound coal trains. The valley is still narrow, the line has fewer viaducts but more curvature in unchanged loess mountain scenery. Between Yinta and Nanpodi , the line is immediately parallel to the Yinta-Zhuangershang line. Though the the line looks like an double track line here, each track is an "independant" line : the northern track (Shenmu line) is electrified, the southern one not. The Zhuangershang line sometimes leaves the Shenmu line for a couple of kilometers. Therefore, it is somewhat longer than the "Shenmu track".Both tracks have independant kilometer posts. Wheras the "Shenmu track" is km 142 at Yinta rising towards Shenchi(km 241), whereas the Zhuangershang line is km66 at Yinta with declining kilometer posts towards Zhuangershang (km0).
All stations on the other hand are used by both lines. At "2-track stations", the "diesel track" is electrified and acts as loop for the "electric track" for example.
Beyond Sancha the landscape becomes more and more flater and continues in this style. The section Shenchi Nan-Shuozhou has been described before (see Shuozhou-Shenchi Area Description).

Stations between Daliuta Bei and Shuozhou (comments relate to the following section):

My theory about lines here :
The Zhuangershang-Yinta line is definitely older than electrified track, has a lighter trackbed, more curves, more grades, older bridges and so on. My new "Shanxi" Map (which is not up to date, of course) shows a line branching off from the Kelan line at right angel in the area of Zhuanggershang, then a few kms northwards before turning westwards.
This is probably a simplified print of the large S-curve, the line decribes when leaving Zhuangershang. On the map the line now follows the valley via Sancha and Hanjialou to Yinta (correct). The electrified track from Yinta onwards to Baode/ Fugu is missing, but the Hequ line extends from Yinta to Jiuxian (not to Hequ).
So, my theory is/was : Somewhere (CNR or private, no idea) built the line from Zhuanggershang to Yinta first, probably for serving the large coal transhipment facilities at Sancha, Hanjialou and Yinta. Initial branching off at Zhuanggershang would agree to Quails Map, too. The line was built at low cost (secondary branch line).
Then, the local rlwy. from Yinta to Jiuxian was built. It look older than the electrified line, too. (confirmed by Bruce Evans : "We have some information which indicates that construction of the Shuanggershang-Huoshan Local Railway was started in 1980 and was then extended to Hequ")
Later, Shenhua built its line from Shuozhou to Daliuta. Maybe by random, it paralleled the existing Zhuanggershang-Yinta for most of its length.

Operation :

Between Shuozhou and Shenchi Nan, Datong based CNR 8K electrics haul all freights. They work the coal trains to and from Datong. At Shenchi Nan, all freight trains still change engines. Both CNR SS4 double-units from Shenchi Nan`s "Depot No.3" and SS4B (Zhuzhou built, 1999) double-units in property of "Shenhua Corp." haul the coal trains between ShenmuBei and Shenchi. Due to the weight of the trains (60 wagons, loaded 84t each = 5,000t !!) and the heavy grades of up to 20%o even against loaded trains, all trains need double-heading ! Yes, this means SS4B(A+B) + SS4B(A+B) + 5000t-coal train !! Frequency of these trains is incredible, too : every 30mins ! This means : crossings at almost each station ! The line is definitely worked at its maximum capacity ! There can be only few if any further single track line worldwide with a higher throughput ! 200,000 tons of coal daily ... wow !!
In addition to the SS4-hauled freights, some shorter freigths can be observed, too. They are hauled by 3x DF4 (e.g. from Depot No.3). These trains may use the Zhuangershang diesel track but are not very frequent (about 2-3 trains per day and direction during daylight).
Between Shenmu Bei and DaliutaBei/ Heitanggou DF4s, SS1 and SS3 (electrics : CNR, Beijing bureau) are used.

Passenger Train : The Datong-Shenmu Bei passenger is no longer BJ hauled. Orange, Datong based DF4 haul it now. Compared to last year, some passenger stops have added (e.g. at Shanggelao). Remarkably is the fact, that stops differ day by day. At some stations, the passenger stops only once a week (e.g. on Tuesday only). Timings are slightly different now :

L 827km L 828
09:02/03133Shuozhou Xi18:10/11
09:15/16143Guanzhuang (Stop Monday only!)17:56/58
09:25/26153Jiugetai (Stop Tuesday only)17:47/49
09:52/54175Shenchi Nan17:20/22
10:02/04187Xin __ zi (Stop Wednesday only)17:09/10
10:12/14196Nanpodi (Stop Thursday only)16:58/59
10:21/22206Hezhi (Stop Friday only)16:48/49
11:01/02244Lijiagou (Stop Saturday only)16:06/07
11:29/30265Wangjiazhai (Stop Sunday only)15:43/44
362Shenmu Bei


SS1 1175, 1181 and SS3 6025 were seen at Shenmu/ Daliuta. The DF1 and DFH5s were all stored at the depot at Fugu. Note, that the 2 DF1 which had been used on the Shenmu-Baotou passenger in early 2001, seem to be "jobless" again with the passenger steam hauled again ... The DF7s were Shuozhou and Yinta pilots.

QJ2950(dumped at Shenchi Nan, No.3)
8K013, 014, 056 (all Datong)
SS10679(Taiyuan, seen between Taiyuan-Datong), 1175, 1181
SS40524, 0525, 0527, 0573, 0574 (all "Zhonguo Tielu 3 Depot")
SS4B0005, 0006, 0007, 0008, 0009, 0011, 0012, 0013, 0014, 0015, 0016, 0019,0021, 0022, 0027, 0028, 0031, 0032, 0033, 0034 (all Shenhua Corp.)
DF 11372, 1526, 1911
DF40179, 0256, 0422, 0703, 2405, 2451(Datong), 6516, 7090, 7396(No.3),7397, 7583, 7610(No.3), 7613, 7662(No.3), 9489
DF70041(Datong), 0885(Datong)
DFH50071, 0072

Shenmu Bei - Yan`an

In contrast to information provided by the Chinese newspaper "People`s Daily", traffic along this line has not commenced yet !! This was confirmed both by local railway staff and the rusty tracks extending southwards from Shenmu Bei. The line is not electrified.

Yinta-Hequ Local Line , Sep 11th-12th 2001

Yinta Area Map

The line

I have to admit that I visited the Yinta end of the line only (first 9km). The local line branches off the Shenmu-Shenchi line at the western end of Yinta freight yard which is situated at the southern rim of the valley on an embankment. Just after the junction, a coal transshipment area with 2 sidings is reached. The sidings are used as a "stabling point" for the local line`s QJ (km 1), too. Just west of this "station" the valley is crossed on a nice viaduct (km 1.8). The line turns northwards now and enters a narrow valley. The line is situated at the eastern side of the valley some 30m above the riverbed at the bottom of the valley and surrounded by some 200m high loess mountains. At km 2.5, a hard incline with grades of up to 19,7%o starts. Many embankments and cuttings. Just before the end of the valley another nice viaduct crosses the valley before the line enters the summit tunnel (km 4.3). The summit tunnel is 2.4 km long, fortunately straight line. So, walking through it is possible but produces no good feelings, of course. At km 4.5 there is a 2.5km long summit tunnel with grades of up to 20%o from both directions.
After the tunnel, another narrow valley with an river at its bottoom is reached. Downhill with grades between 12%o and 19,8%o for at least until km 9.5 now : hard work for the southbound, loaded and funnel first working trains. Near the tunnel, river and railway are about at the same level. The further away from the tunnel the larger the level difference between them. Again high embankments and cuttings, great loess mountain scenery. At km 8.7, the line crosses the valley ona some 60-70 high, curved but only some 150m long viaduct.
I didn`t explore the area further north, but according to a very good map of Shanxi province, I had aquired at Shuozhou, the following will be on offer : the line follows the unaccessable, narrow gorge before joining the road from Hanjialou to Hequ at km 12-15. Then both the railway line and the road follow the valley down to the Huanghe river valley (about 30-35km). The last 20-30km are parallel to the Huanghe (Yellow River) in some 4-5 km distance - still going through the mountains according to the map. Total length of the line is some 60km. The first intermediate station is about 25km from Yinta (according to railway workers). I`ll soon be back again ...


Loaded trains (from Hequ to Yinta) are funnel first - luckily the southbound ones. According to railway staff, the local line has got QJs only. Bruce Evans adds that 8 steam locomotives had been here in 1998. Sounds realistic. (Sorry, I did not ask for today`s roster).

Traffic Levels
Sorry, no idea ! There was major track maintenance inside the tunnel. The line was blocked for 10 days consequently; expected to reopen on Sep 18th 2001. By the way : track maintenance was carried out by prisoners. A strange feeling when you walk through the tunnel and discover some "railway workers" there plus armed "guards" who force them to work properly...
Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful to get any information about "usual" traffic levels as nobody unstood my inquery about "normal traffic levels". Instead of, everybody answered me that there would be no trains for the next 10 days ...

The running shed is not at Yinta. There is only the mentioned "service area" here where one dumped QJ (2651) and 2 steamed "standby"-QJs (6218 & 6220) were present but did not move at all during the 20 hours, I was there and hoped for trains that never came ......

Access/ Linesiding

Yinta can be reached by passenger train (see timetable). Bus from Shuozhou to Hequ takes 5 hours ! It departs at Shuozhou bus station at 09:00 am. There is direct bus connection between Baotou Dong and Hequ, too.

Linesiding: Km 2-10 are accessible on foot only ! If you do not want to walk through the tunnel, you might try to take the road from Hanjialou towards Hequ and to reach the summit tunnel from this direction (I did not check out this).


QJ 2651 was last overhauled at Luoyang in Jan 1998 and featured a Giesl ejector. 6218 and 6220 : standard QJs with nicely painted red frontplates.

QJ2651(dumped), 6218, 6220


Yinta - though a small village only - has got at least 3 cheap luedians,partly even in caves ... 2 of them have showers, too.

Baotou-Dongsheng-Daliuta ,Sep 12th-13th 2001

DieselMotorUnit NYJ1 4012 A+B - The Hanlu

Shenhua Corp. has aquired a DMU for the Baotou-Shenmu line. In general, the unit (Sifang, 2001) is similar to JiTong`s DMUs. Livery is a turqois and white. The unit consists of 10 coaches (coach no. 1-10) :The unit was delivered in mid August, scheduled service started on Sept 1st 2001.

Fares for the DMU are extremely high! ShenmuBei-Baotou soft seat ticket for example is 61Y, Dongsheng-Baotou 34Y, hard seat Dongsheng-Baotou 20Y and Dalateqi-Baotou 11Y (bus 5Y). Therefore the train was nearly empty and everybody on board complained about too high prices ... At Dongsheng most passengers crowded onto the much cheaper Huhehaote (steam) express which leaves Dongsheng only 45mins later than the DMU.
I doubt whether the DMU can be successful under these circumstances...

Passenger Timetable

With the introduction of the new DMU, a new passenger timetable was introduced, too. Only the Huhehaote-Dongsheng K-train remained unchanged (and still QJ hauled, of course).
The former Baotou-ShenmuBei passenger was replaced by the DMU which operates as an express train between Baotou and Heitanggou with intermediate stops at Dalateqi and Dongsheng only. South of Heitanggou, it stops everywhere.
In order to serve the intermediate stations between Baotou and Heitanggou, a new passenger train has been introduced, too. It runs Dongsheng-WanshuiquanNan-Heitanggou-Dongsheng. Note that the train terminates at WanshuiquanNan again and do not be confused that the two legs of the northbound passenger have the same number. This train was shown in 1 column in the timetable leaflet - with a 12 hour stop at Dongsheng! Due to its reduced importance, the passenger has been shortenend : it consists of 4YZ plus XL with the great old-style RZ coach removed. Best news : the passenger is steam hauled again!
Note that both DaliutaBei (now "Shendong") and Heittanggou (new name "Wulanmude") have been renamed -at least officially. But everybody still uses the old names.

Timetable since Sept 1st 2001 :

K 993
K 994
Wanshuiquan Nan
Huanghedaxi (Yellow River Bridge)
Xiangshawan (Singing Sands)
Hao _ wan
Wulanmude (ex Heitanggou)
Shendong (ex Daliuta Bei)
__ jiata
Shenmu Bei

Freight Trains

Given the facts, that the Yan`an line has not opened yet and the Shenchi line is worked at maximum capacity with no additional trains possible, few has changed concerning freight volumes around Dongsheng. Lonely change is the use of 2 DF4s on freight trains north of Dongsheng.
South of Dongsheng, all freights remain triple headed. Only QJs were observed here. North of Dongsheng Following the new passenger timetable with 6 daily daylight passenger trains north of Dongsheng, the number of freight paths has been reduced here. On the other hand, vitually all paths are used. Freight timings for Shabazi station (sb freights take water). In general, freights reliably worked on time. Note, that DF4 may cover freight duties here.

The line

Well known. Some additions only :

Stations : All station buildings between WanshuiquanNan and Heitanggou have been refurbished. Instead of "concrete-coulerd" buildings, they are white and red now - uglier than before!

The line is electrified between Daliuta Bei and Heitanggou now. North of Heitanggou station, a large steam locomotive service area is situated. There seem to be no QJs workings south of Heitanggou any more. 5 QJs and 1 JS are dumped at Shenmu Bei.
Some possible photo spots excluding the well known Dongsheng-Shashagetai and Singing Sands areas :


New QJs have arrived : QJ 7053 (from Linhe, still wearing Linhe depot code), QJ 6567 (origin unknown) and QJ 6475 (ex Linfen).
As reported earlier, the first 2 2001-built DF4s have arrived. With the new pax timetable introduced they haul freights between Dongsheng and WanshuiquanNan or are sitting at Dongsheng shed for staff training, repairs or something else which seems to be not uncommon for new DF4s (similar to Baiqi/JiTong, too). During 2 days we spent around Shabazi, only 1 daylight DF4-movement was recorded ...

QJ2670, 2977, 3068, 6088(red frontplate again), 6178, 6194, 6247, 6287, 6404, 6452, 6567, 6785, 7053
QJ (dumped)3162, 6475
DF 49497, 9498
JS (dumped, ShenmuBei)5749
QJ (dumped, ShenmuBei)6515, 6817, 7152, 7155 + another QJ (maybe 6713)

WuhaiXi - Jilantai , Sept 14th-16th 2001

Unchanged. 3 JS still shunt at WuhaiXi, 1 at Jilantai and, "new discovery", at Linhe, too. QJs still haul 100% of the traffic to Jilantai. Possibly due to a lack of QJs (!), the mixed did not operate on Sept 14th and 15th though it is still scheduled daily (arr. WuhaiXi 12:14, dep.19:20). The caboose of freight trains were substituions for the mixed. A previously uncorded, apparantly recently overhauled QJ (QJ 6758) was noted here.

Accomodation, Map, Transport : see March 2001 Report. A 3-wheel taxi from Wusutu to the viaduct costs 10Y.

Internet-Cafes : Both at Wusutu (near the gas station at the southern end of the village) and in front of WuhaiXi station internetcafes exist. Flat rate is 2Y per hour.


All engines are Linhe based. Dumped engines inside Linhe shed amongst further derelict ones (seen from passing train).

QJ6758, 6829, 7056
JS8011, 8012, 8014, 8264, 8265
QJ (dumped)6916
JS (dumped)8016, 8017, 8332

This report is to be continued : see  Part II : Northeastern China

Dresden, Oct 17th 2001
Florian Menius, Thorge Bockholt

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