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China, October / November 2003

by Bruce Evans

Brief Report on Observations at Liuzhou, Hechi, Zhengzhou and Tongchuan

1. Liuzhou

At least 9 SYs were at Liuzhou Works on 24 October. Numbers noted were 0389, 0852, 0859, 1260, 1326, 1434, 1447, 1482 and 1483. Of these 0389 and 1434 are from industries at Kunming, 0852 is thought to be a Liuzhou Works pilot, 0859 has previously been reported at Guangzhou Steel, 1260 is from the Wansheng coal mining system near Chongqing, 1326 is from the Yongrong coal mining system near Neijiang, leaving only 1482 and 1483 as locos that do not appear to have been previously recorded by western enthusiasts.

At Fenghuang, south of Liuzhou there is a works producing manganese. Two branches from Fenghuang Station are associated with this works which has two SYs, 1622 and 1667. Both were in use on 25 October. There is a small depot adjacent to the eastern branch, about 1km from the mainline station.

2. Hechi Area

Operations on the Local Railway continue much as before. Re-ballasting of the lines is still underway and on several occasions north-bound ”empty” trains included gondolas loaded with ballast added at Wenping. One morning a tender-first working (unusual?) consisting only of the gondolas loaded with ballast was seen.

To the south-east of Liujia, two stations west of Jinchengjiang, there is an interesting rail served industrial complex extending some distance up a main valley and up a side valley in impressive limestone karst terrain. This was visited by a British group also at Hechi and we followed a few days later when poor conditions made photography at Hechi not particularly appealing.
The industrial complex appears to consist mainly of a fertilizer factory with a cement factory, a power station, other industries and possibly a coal mine also present. The complex appears to have two DF diesels for shunting duties, with one being in use at a time. These locos are numbered 0006 (Dalian 71) and 0008 (Dalian 72) and could thus be original or re-geared DF3s.
On our visit we drove up the public road that climbs up the side valley to the east of the main complex. This road takes you high above one of the plants located in the side valley. The high vantage point allowed us to spot what appears to be a 762mm gauge line linking this plant to one or more of the facilities in the main valley. Unfortunately we did not see any trains or rolling stock but the line looked used. Through our guide we were later told by a number of locals that a loco or locos dating back to the 50s or 60s worked this line which was used for moving ash or coal between plants. The locals seemed to think that the loco/s were not steam but it may be worth checking as there was much potential for misunderstanding.
The main valley has road access. There is a check-point at the entrance but this did not seem to be a very serious security check-point.

3. Changsha-Yueyang

No steam was noted on this section but of interest to those who also enjoy China’s older diesel classes was the presence in this Guangzhou Bureau area of quite a number of the now rapidly disappearing Romanian-built ND2 class. Around 8 of these in both the standard dark blue and more recent light blue liveries were noted on shunts at Changsha, Miluo and Yueyang. A number of ND3s, a type also now being withdrawn, were also noted in the area.

4. Zhengzhou Area

Xinmi Railway
A workers day-off at Xingyang allowed a short visit to be made to Xinmi and Songzhai to see something of the Zhengzhou Coal Mining Administration railway operation.
This system now has 5 locos with 2002 Ziyang-built DF4B 9519 being a new acquisition. It joins QJs 2315, 2440, 3494 and 3495 three of which were previously reported here in 2001 on what was thought to be the first visit (unpublicized) by a western enthusiast to the system. The new diesel does not appear to be replacing any of the QJs. The system appears to need three locos in service at any time.
A word of warning to visitors to the area west and south-west of Zhengzhou is that there seems to be major road works in progress at many locations. A combination of roadworks, toll-gate and ineffective police created a traffic jam at one point that delayed us by more than an hour.

True to its erratic nature the ng system at Xingyang worked for only part of one day out of the two days we were in the Zhengzhou area. The first day was a rest day and on the second day the front-end-loader at the clay pit required repairs halting operations for around 2 hours.
The manager of the area in which the loco workshop is located would not permit a visit to the workshop. He explained that this was due to the attention that a visit by a group in August had attracted. The head of the Henan Construction Material Bureau had decreed as a result that foreigners were not permitted to visit or photograph in the workshop area.
With the present road construction activity the most convenient way to reach Xingyang is via the Zhengzhou-Xi’an freeway. There is an off-ramp marked for Xingyang and the ng line is crossed about 1km after the bridge over the CNR line on the road linking the freeway to Xingyang. (The ng line passes under this road but is not easy to spot. Look for the mosque on the right).

5. Mianchi

Apart from two of the SYs at Liuzhou Works, and QJ 3494 at Songzhai, the only ”new” steam loco seen on the trip was JS 8087, in steam, at Mianchi, between Luoyang and Sanmenxia. JSs have previously been reported here and there seems to be a steam-worked industrial or mining branch. (The CNR wagons in the station yard were mainly standard gondolas).

6. Tongchuan

Several overcast, snowy, rainy and muddy days were spent here hoping for JF photographic opportunities.
Four JFs remain operational but only two were seen working during the visit. The remaining two were in steam but never seemed to move from the stabling point at TongchuanNan Station. Generally two steam workings per day during daylight seemed to go to Wanshiwa, but the weather conditions did not permit full-time observation.
In addition to the JFs the system has 5 diesels: 2 DF7Bs, 2 DF7Cs and the one prototype DF7F. The DF7F was about to be towed to Xi’an depot for attention, and the two DF7Cs were the most frequently used locos, one even being used to Wanshiwa on the one day. A worker at the mine diesel depot indicated that another DF7C was at present on order but he did not know when delivery was expected.

Bruce Evans

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© 2003, Bruce Evans , email: bgevans@cm1.hinet.net