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Report about my 10th trip to China between Dec 21st 2003 and Jan 4th 2004. The trip was undertaken together with Thorge Bockholt and Julien Blanc.
Meihekou Coal Railway is a 100% steam worked industrial railway operation. It serves four coal mines: "mine 1" up to "mine 4" (Yijing, Erjing, Sanjing and Sijing). Previously, another two coal mines were served: "mine 5" ("Wujing") has been closed for some time while "Liujing" (mine 6) is about to close, too. Its rail connection has already been closed. Lorries transport the little amounts of coal, Liujing still produces.
As reported by Louis Cerny and shown on his map, too, there is basically a north-south-mainline from Sijing (mine 4) to Sanjing (mine 3) via Yijing (mine 1) and Erjing (mine 2). The branch line to Liujing (mine 6), shown on the map is no longer used. Mine 2 (Erjing) is situated directly at the mainline between Yijing and Sanjing. Total length of the line is something around 20 to 22 km (estimated distances: Sijing-(5-6km)-Yijing-(5-6km)-Erjing-(9-10km)- Sanjing).
The headquarter of the mining company, a medium sized mining town and the main freight yard are situated at Yijing. The loco shed is just north of Yijing yard. From Yijing, the connection line to Heishantou CNR starts. It is some 4 km long and crosses a river on a medium sized standard concrete bridge just east of Heishantun yard. The coal railway`s SY work the coal trains to Heishantou CNR where they are picked up by CNR-DF4Cs.
Though the countryside is generally flat, the coal railway offers grades both against loaded and empty trains - especially between Erjing and Sanjing. There is a kind of "street running" between mines 1 and 2, too. Mines 2 and 3 have electric ng systems, too (mines 1 and 4 were not checked). All four coal mines are very photogenic.
All SYs work funnel first south-westwards (=empties to Sanjing, loaded trains from Sijing to Yijing and loaded transfer trains to Heishantou). Each mine is served several times a day. Four SYs are in daily use: one hauls the passenger trains, the other three locos serve mines 2, 3 or 4. General pattern of operation seems to be, that coal trains from "Yijing" to and from the mines 2, 3 and 4 operate only a couple of minutes after the passenger train (I strongly recommand to wait some 10 or 15 minutes after a passenger trains has passed by...). This means that all 4 SYs are employed simultaneously then.
Loaded trains from the mines 2, 3 and 4 go to Yijing yard first, where they are combined to a long freight train, which is transferred to Heishantou CNR then, usually using the loco having arrived from Sijing minimizing shunting movements at Yijing.
Sijing is only a 15-minute-car-drive away from Meihekou CNR station (maybe 15 km or so on a tar road). There is a road parallel to the railway from Sijing to Sanjing but only partly tarred. Unpaved sections of the road, which are near Sijing and between Erjing and Sanjing, are in very bad condition.
The central yard at Yijing is very close to the mining company headquarter and situated almost in the "middle of the mine". Yijing yard is surrounded by walls, topped with barbed wired on both sides. After some 15 minutes we were there, we were approached by two very friendly security officers and asked to stop taking photos inside the yard. However, there was no problem to take photos at the other mines.
The mining company operates a passenger service between Sijing and Sanjing. Trains consist of 6 well-cared and clean YZ22-coaches. Two funnel first passenger trains are guaranteed during daylight - even in winter. Another two pairs of trains operate around sunrise and sunset.
Approximate timings of daylight trains are (southbound = Sijing to Sanjing = funnel first):
The mining company owns 6 SYs. 4 out of them are in daily use. At the time of our visit, loco utilisation was 100% as two SYs were said to be under repair/overhaul with the remaining four all working busily. The locos are very smart, clean and well cared - nicer than Tiefa`s loco and uncomparable to Huludao and Nanpiao`s "scrapyard-mutant-locos". Decorated locos are on the roster, too. All locos have boards and/or slogans on their smokebox.
Locos in bold letters were actually seen working on Dec 21st.
|SY||0791, 1216(decorated), 1217(decorated), 1445, 1564, 1662|
Transfer to Tieling on train 2538 (Meihekou 19:02-Tieling 23:41)
Locmotives seen (all under steam and working):
|SY||0435, 0665, 1183, 1255, 1749, 1751, 1764, 1767, 1770|
Transfer to Jinzhou on overcrowded train 1348 (Tieling 19:17-Jinzhou 22:54)
A fixed timetable for the freight trains exists. Departure times are very, very reliable. Trains usually leave "on the minute"!
The evening departure from Yangjiazhangzi is somewhen after darkness (maybe 19:00 if the railway works on a "every 8-hours-a-train" pattern of operation ???).
|JS||6243(steam), 6305(steam), 8207(cold)|
We visited Huludao as a one-day-trip from Jinzhou. Chasing the train by taxi is possible. A taxi for one day (twice Huludao-YJZZ and back) was 200Y. Additionally, we
strongly recommand to visit the "friendship store" just next to Huludao CNR station if you are looking for Chinese and Non-Chinese food and sweets.
A nice accomodation at Jinzhou is the "CheZhanBinGuan", situated on the 4th floor of the station building with direct access to/from the platforms.
Map by Duncan Cotterill/ Tractive Efforts
The complete passenger timetable as noted in Xiaomiaozi signalling box is shown below:
Locmotives seen (all working):
|SY||0366, 0638, 1017, 1299, 1478|
Transfer from Jinzhou to Fuxin on empty but extremely slow train 1229 (Jinzhou 05:01-Fuxin 07:53). The coalmine at Aiyouying still uses SY. Two were seen under steam, including SY 0850.
Few to add. It seems to be common now to exchange loaded coal wagons with CNR at Xinqu rather than at Fuxin itself. Empties are still exchanged at Fuxin. This
produces plenty of northbound, tender first loaded trains between Fuxin and Xinqu and tender first workings on empties between Fuxin CNR and Wulong/Taiping, too. On the other hand, most
funnel first workings were light engine workings - only the passenger trains were guaranteed (I consider a light engine working to be equivalent to "no working").
Most pleasant occupation in Fuxin was a visit to the ZhouLai Opencast Mine (simply ask for "lu tian mei kuang" = open cast mine)with its steep, multi-zig-zag climb down into the hole. Really great to watch up to 10 different 50-year-old LEW- electrics moving simultaneously there!
|SY||0076, 0126, 0391, 0770, 0785, 0849, 0939, 0940, 0941, 0988, 0989, 1378, 1395, 1397|
|IV KP1 (LEW)||6597, 6611|
|EL1 (LEW)||9228, 9229 (9229/50), 9232, 9234 (9234/50), 9235 (9248/63), 9238, 9245(16587/80)|
|Skoda (Bo`Bo`Bo`)||384, 398|
Note that the bathhouse 200m west of Fuxin CNR station is rather a "redlight etablissement" than a proper bathhouse. You are offered a "massage" at 28Y or "extended service" on the upper floor at 100-120Y...
Transfer to Chifeng on train K648 (Fuxin 22:02-Chifeng 06:11). Fuxin has got an sleeper allocation of 6 YW berths for this train - only four of them were sold...
But railway staff at Chabuga indicated, that Chabuga-Zhelimu section will be completely diesel worked with effect from January 20th 2004 - including the passenger trains, too!
Of special notice are the quite long stops of the train on its stations. Why does A264 have to wait 17 minutes at Zhelimu?
JiTong Diesel Observations
|Daban||QJ||6351(C), 6576(C), 6577(H), 6631(C), 6632(Z), 6729(Z), 6735(H), 6751(H), 6773(H), 6808(C), 6825(C), 6828(C), 6840(H), 6851(H), 6878(H), 6884(C), 6911(C), 6925(H), 6988(Z), 6992(H), 6996(nd,Daban pilot), 7002(H), 7007(H), 7009(H), 7010(C), 7037(Z), 7040(H), 7041(H), 7048(Z), 7049(Z), 7063(C), 7081(C), 7105(C,Z), 7112(H), 7119(C), 7143(H), 7163(C,Z), 7164(H)|
|Tongliao CNR||DF4B||0444(Dalian/1981), 0549, 0658|
Of note: some locos (e.g. QJ 6751 and 7164), which always were used on the Zhelimu-Chabuga section, appeared between Daban and Haoluku now (probably released by the DF4Bs at Chabuga-Zhelimu).
Transfer to Shenyang/Dengta on K650 (Chifeng 19:41-Shenyang 06:20).
Map by Louis Cerny, redrawn by Rob Dickinson
It can be confirmed that there are two different companies operating trains between Huazi and Dengta.
|Huazi North||SY||0209(under steam, overhaul Sujiatun 4/2003), 0822(oou)|
|Huazi South||SY||3 locos (unidentified)|
Given the current amount of traffic, I can only recommand not to visit the system! It is wasted time if you are looking for working steam! But: Huazi offers some architerctural delights:
Locmotives seen around Shenyang (Su=Sujiatun, Sh=Shenyang, Xi=ShenyangXi, Da=Dalian):
|DF4B||1037(Benxi), 2184(Su), 6197(Xi), 6493(Su)|
|DF4C||4121(Meihekou), 5039(Su), 5196(Su), 5334(Su)|
|DF4D||0249, 0251, 0257, 0259, 0303, 0305, 0307, 0435, 0437, 0439 (all Sh)|
|DF5||1110(Su), 1197(Su), 1259(Meihekou), 1967(Su), 1978(Su), 2040(Su)|
|ND5||0337(Da), 0376(Da), 0381, 0406(Da)|
|SS4||0546(Su), 6087(Su), 7023(Su), 7028(Su), 7038(Su)|
|SS9||0002(Harbin), 0016, 0116|
Locmotives seen around Jinzhou/Fuxin (Jin=Jinzhou, Fu=Fuxin):
|DF4C||4174(Jin), 4367(Fu), 4401(Jin), 4420(Jin), 4422(Jin), 4441(Fu), 5045(Jin), 5076(Jin), 5099(Fu), 5170(Jin)|
|DF5||1048(Fu), 1072(Fu), 1080(Chifeng), 1710(Jin), 1850(Fu)|
|DF11||0030, 0094, 0100, 0138 (all Shanhaiguan)|
Locmotives seen around Chengde (all Chengde depot):
The once common BJ diesel-hydraulics are very much on their way out. Compared with last year, when I visited Chengde-Beijing line, too, the 2004-repetition of my visit produced a 85%-DF4B-day instead of the expected 50:50 split between BJ and DF4B. The 20-year-old BJs only haul a small portion (less than 30%) of freight trains between Chengde and Miyun now. The Chengde to Xinglongzhen and Yuanping passenger trains are still BJ hauled (probably the local Chengde-Longhua trains, too, but this was not checked).
All other passenger trains towards Beijing were hauled by DF4Bs. Chengde got some "new", elderly examples of this class as BJ-replacement, including 1975-built DF4 0041 for example. The locos came from other Beijing bureau depots, for example from Tianjin, Zhangjiakou and at least one from Shijiazhuang depot which is reported to have received some 25 new freight DF4D recently. Generally, the average age of Chengde`s DF4Bs must be well over 15 years...
|BJ||3068, 3087, 3129, 3174|
|DF4B||0041(Dalian/1975), 0606, 0623, 1253, 1589, 1657, 1658, 1756, 1937(Dalian/1991), 9008(Guiyang/1995), 9221(Guiyang/1996)|
A sensational information received by reliable, NorthKorean sources is, that the freight-only, international line between Ji`an (near Tonghua) and Man`po (DPR Korea) is still worked by Korean Steam Locos!
For further details about North Korea, please read Bernd Seiler`s North Korea Report.
Dresden, Jan 13th 2004
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