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South China March 2005

by Peter Patt/Jan Schirling

The globe steam tour "Steam and the Emperor II" to southern China took place between March 18th and April 3rd 2005.

Ganshui/Datong Coal Railway, Mar 20th 2005

In Ganshui we used a railbus of the company to be independent from the bad roads. Beyond Maliutan station the coal railway runs parallel with the Chongqing steelworks-owned branch line to Xiaoyutou iron ore mine. At Maliutan we saw SY 1501 from of the iron ore line as light engine, later returning with some empty cars. Two further SY should be active there. In the morning SY 1199 hauled an empty and SY 0329 a loaded coal train. On both lines all trains are running funnel forward towards Ganshui. In Qingqihai station SY 1656 shunted at the coal mine, there's no push pull cable here for moving the cars under the loading. SY 1199 had a break in the local stabling point beside SY 1148, SY 1197 and - cold in the shed - SY 1198. SY 0329 returned with an empty train for Baiyan mine. The well-known spectacular bridge at the CNR interchange station Ganshui was crossed by SY 1656 with its loaded coal train in the afternoon. At least around noon a railbus drives the entire line as a regular passenger service.

Working on the line were SY0329, 1148, 1199, 1656. In steam but not moving SY1197. Cold SY1198. SY1501 worked for the local ore-mine.
Bad news is that 2 DF7C will be bought by October this year, costing 500.000 Yuan (50.000 Euro) each. Reason for dieselization is the lack of overhaul facilities since the closure of the Liuzhou repairshop.

Longchang-Luzhou, Mar 21st 2005

Completely diesel operated with immaculate QJ3289 (overhauled Liuzhou 11/04) being spare loco. QJ3237 and 3175 are dumped at Luzhou station. We hired QJ3289 for a special train and the engine worked faultlessly.
The new line crossing the Yangze has reached the river already but the bridge is still under construction. The line offers some steep gradients and the QJ has to work very hard to climb out of the Yangze valley. At the terminus of the new line local there is a coal mine and a chemical plant according to railwaymen, other sources speak about an iron ore mine. Passenger service was terminated some years ago after building the highway. North of Linghao an iron works is situated. Nearby a new power plant is under construction.
Railway management plans to sell all QJ by the end of the year. DF10D-0024 and DF5D-0030 are the only diesel present at the moment.

Weiyuan coal mine, Mar 22nd 2005

Still busy, loco 31 is in daily action according to the well-known schedule, while sister engine 32 stands by.

In contrast to earlier reports the railway workers were very friendly and cooperative. We could manage that the departure time was shifted to mid morning, a passenger car was added to the train and several run pasts on the line were performed.
It became clear that the line lost its operational need as a road has been built through the valley towards Huangjinggou. So in theory, trucks could transport the coal, too. The reasons for continued rail operation are probably just the narrow roads in the village and the loading equipment at the mine. Nevertheless, there is still sufficient high-quality coal for another 10 years. The terminus of rail coal transportation is a coal tipper in the next village where coal is stored in a silo next to the road. Subsequently, coal is trucked for approximately 30 km to Lianjie steelworks (which has got no railway facilities by the way). The power plant next to the viaduct is exclusively truck-served which use the former railway coal tipper.

Some data: The mine was opened by Englishmen in 1939, the narrow-gauge railway in 1960. Passenger traffic ceased in 1970. Until 1980, the narrow gauge line ran somewhat beyond the today's terminus.

Chengdu Steelworks and Seemless pipe mill

Both locations do operate under the same management of Panzihua steel. The inquired visits of the steelworks and the seamless pipeworks were refused. The pipeworks has a small shunting yard which is situated at the works border and crossed by a public road (see map) where photographing the rail movements is tolerated. We saw SY 1100 and GK1C 0007 working there. However, you`ll need some luck to see a slag train - only one in hours can be expected. In 2006, the pipeworks is to be integrated into Chengdu steelworks. According to railway workers the locomotive rosters includes 9 SYs:
SY: 0016, 0600(cold,repairs), 1110, 1207, 1244, 1523(cold), 1612(not seen), 1613, 2008.

Activities are rather low with a lot of idling - normally only 2-3 locos work at the same time. GK1C engines are present as well.

Mojiang electric narrow gauge railway, Mar 24th 2005

No changes here. Passenger trains to Laokuang depart at 07:00, 12:10, 13:10, 15:50, 17:10, 18:10 and 23:20. Departures for Xiangyang leave at 07:30, 14:00 and 22:00. Trains immediately return to Caoba. Freight trains often follow in short distance to the passenger trains. Approximately 20 open cars are present, which are loaded at one of the two mines and hauled to Caoba power plant. Besides this stone trains operate with flat cars to Xinjing mine. The locomotives with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (all type ZL 14) as well as 6 and 7 (type CZ 60) are available.


During a 3 day visit here we found engines 7, 9 and 14 working on scheduled and our special train, all locomotives being in a more or less derelict state.
Apparently the closure of the line has been postponed because the railway management hopes that many Chinese tourists will visit the line...According to lcal statements the road which was planned on the the narrow-gauge railway trackbed no longer apply. For the next time the train will remain for touristic reasons. A large poster with the steam train in Shixi station as well as a picture of the train in the folder of Qianwei hotel speak for it. The passenger trains are well occupied. Building material is transported with narrow gauge cars starting in Yuejin station. Traffic on the electric section is unchanged, one electric locomotive is needed. The terminus of all coal trains is the transhipment in Shixi, where trucks take over the coal for a coal power plant. During our visit, ZL 14-loco 03 was used for the coal trains on the flat section, while the C2-steam locomotives 07 (with tender of loco 13), 09 and 14 hauled passenger and freight trains along the non-electrified section.
Interesting development is the reopening (officially or not, I couldn't find out) of the Huangcunjin coal mine at the end of the line with the re-introduction of a freight train leaving Shibanxi around 08:00. Coal transportation - although in smaller quantity than formerly - starts from Huangcunjin, where coal from different little mines is loaded into open cars. Goods uphill are usually sand and empty wagons, 5-6 loaded coal hoppers are taken back per trip.
The current passenger train departure times at Shixi station are 07:00, 10:30, 13:00 and 16:30.

Panzhihua Steelworks, Mar 27th 2005

The city of Panzhihua is situated off the Chengdu-Kunming railway line in a side valley. The CNR station at the main line is named Jinjiang. A CNR branch line runs through the valley starting in Jinjiang and has got a passenger service hauled by a DF4 and one YZ car.
In Panzhihua first an iron ore loading point is connected with the branch line, under which electric locomotives shift open cars. In this station, there is also the CNR depot (predominantly DF4). The main customer of the branch line are the integrated steelworks with iron ore processing, coking plant, blast furnaces, steel and rolling mills. This works is situated above the large river curve of Panzhihua (see sketch map and city plan). Outside of Panzhihua there are further ore exploiting areas. For the steelworks a permission is required. Nevertheless, it still caused some troubles when entering the plant. Interesting operation with a lot of action going on, difficult management but good photo-opportunities.
In the steam depot, which is close to CNR Dukou station, several SY were stabled as reserve. Unusual feature of the main depot: it has a working and well used turntable!
We saw SY 0482, SY 0621 and SY 0830 hauling slag and SY 1297 hauling molten iron trains. GK1B and GK5B diesels are also working in/around the steelwork. Steam should be abandoned by end of 2006. Chinese electric industrial locomotives (copies of EL1) are used on the iron ore lines on the other side of Panzihua city.
Visits to the main attractions (depot, blast furnace #1 and #4, slag) should be made in the afternoon, when light is best. Impressive for the viewer is the slag tipping area, where the glowing load from the ladle cars is tipped out.

13 SYs are in daily use.

GK10015, 0016
GK1C0251, 0252
GK5B3003, 3005
GK7B1007, 1009
SY0176(cold), 0320(supershine), 0399, 0482, 0621, 0623(cold), 0624, 0693(cold), 0694, 0828, 0830, 1297
iron ore loadingEL27409, 7429
ZG150340, 362

Kunming meter gauge

Very interesting operation, very busy, stunning scenery. After the landslides in 2003/04 the entire line was build up again but passenger traffic ceased except a short, 24 km long section for local traffic out of Kunming. 5-8 diesel hauled, sometimes double- or triple headed freight trains run between Kunming, WangJiaYing (the main freight yard) and Kaiyuan and the boarder to Vietnam. DFH21 are the only motive power on the line.
Allegely work take place for the improvement of the line, e.g. for expansion of curves. The north station (Kunming Bei) is the narrow-gauge railway station of Kunming. Long unused tracks and extensive freight yards tell about faded importance. The narrow-gauge railway was built as the first railway in Yunnan starting from 1903 under the direction of the Frenchmen which resident at that time in the neighbouring Indochina and help to exploit the Yunann minerals. For about 12 km west of Kunming Bei in Shizuicun village lies a small transfer yard (it's in the proximity of Kunming west station). Iron ore is transfered on trucks for further transport to local iron works and for the Kunming steelworks. In addition phosphates are loaded in railway cars. In Wangjiaying station most goods are exchanged between train and truck, only few freight is hauled to the interchange yard with the CNR standard gauge or to Shizuicun.

The passenger train schedules:
Kunming Bei-WangJianYing
8993 07:00 - 07:55
8991 18:00 - 18:55

8992 08:45 - 09:25
8994 19:30 - 20.25

Most larger stations are off-limits for photographers (except Kunming Bei itself) and various guys in uniforms wander around to stop you from taking pictures: border police, economic police, security guards... Outside the stations we didn't face any problems, people are very friendly and helpful.

A day was spent between kilometers 40 and 53. The narrow gauge offered a lot of freight traffic with the pervasive DFH21. Partly, there was a train in each direction every hour, sometimes hauled by two or even three locomotives.

Locomotives seen:
DFH21 003, 006, 009, 014, 017, 021, 023, 025, 028, 031, 036, 037, 038, 057

Kunming steelworks

In Anning, approx. 40 km west of Kunming, the Kunming Iron & Steel general Co. is situated. It was founded in 1939 and employs 30.000 workers today. Core of the works are the 5 blast furnaces, in addition there is ore procession, a coking plant, an older and a newer steel mill as well as some rolling mills. The works are connected by a branch line starting in Kunming. Access also caused problems. Nevertheless we could see some trains - predominantly with pig iron cars - from a public bridge which cuts through the work as well as within the works. Our impression was that railway movements are not very extensively. They are exclusively done by diesel locomotives. DFH21 (on standard gauge bogies ! Do the DFH21 come from the narrow-gauge railway and were regauged?) and the ubiqious GK1 shunt inside the steel work. According to our local guide, there had still been some steam action three years ago.

DFH21 1001, 1002, 1003
GK1F 1040
GK1G (?) xxxx, xxxx (yellow, seen from far away)
GK2B 1007
GK5B 3028

Yunnan Railway museum (Kunming Bei)

The north station accommodates the railway museum of Yunnan province (closed on Mondays) where the history of the railway in Yunan is explained. The small locomotive exhibition shows KD55-583 plus various 1000 and 600 mm coaches and a Michelin rail-car). Far more interesting is the museum inside Kunming Bei station: one of the best railway museums I have ever seen! Hundreds of exhibition items, carefully displayed and partly real gems!

Liuzhou area, Mar 31st 2005

During a short transfer on our way to Guilin we visited the Cement factory at Yufeng where SY1623 and 1573 were shunting. The BaYi Ferro-Alloy group at Fenghuang uses SY1622. The eastern longer section of this branch line passes a ferro-alloy factory, here you also find the steam depot. SY 1622 waited for new driving orders, while SY 1667 was cold in the shed. The branch line ends at a further ferro-alloy factory (seen from the highway), which has at least two blast furnaces.
The repairshop at Liuzhou is definitely closed, SY1622 being one of the last overhauls in 12-04!

Guilin, Apr 1st 2005

The urban coal-fired power plant and one local iron ore mine, which were served by the local railway, are closed. So there's no more any traffic on this line.

The steelworks in the city center have been history for many years, too.

North of Guilin in Lingchuan county, there is a ferro-manganese works. Since 2002, it belongs to the French company Comilog, which had to close their works in the French city of Boulogne one year ago, allegedly for environmental reasons (in China Comilog doesn't seem to have this problem...). For the supply of the four blast furnaces a connecting line starts from CNR station and crosses the main road in the city centre. Raw materials to the stock in the works and ferro-manganese loading on a ramp into freight cars are to be carried by either SY 0647 (cold for repair) or SY 0913 (steamed). As there are duties for the locos inside the plant, the locomotives stand frequently, but they can be visited upon inquiry at the administration.

Tianjin Steelworks, Apr 2nd 2005

In Tianjin the new factories of Tianjin Pipe Corp. and Tianjin Iron & Steel - both lying at the road towards Tanggu directly next to the metro - are impressive.

The first one has got its own steel production and is iron-supplied by road from a near-by blast furnace. In the neighbourhood the Tianjin steelworks were reestablished during the last four years replacing the old one in the city. Currently, one blast furnace is working, a second one under construction. Both factories eclusively use diesel locomotives. For pig iron transports inside the steelworks new torpedo ladle cars were procured. Two roads divide the works. GK1E 3174 from the steelworks and JMY380B 01 of the pipe works were identified.

Tangshan Shougang / Qian`an, Apr 2nd 2005

About 40 km east of Tangshan, the so-called Shougang Kuangye Que (iron ore district of the capital steelworks, it belongs to Beijing steelworks) can be found. An extensive iron ore exploitation and a few iron and steel facilities are present out of which the United Qian'an Steelgroup (seems to have a diesel engine according to the guard) and the Shougang steelworks are the largest plants. As there is a air cleaning project in Beijing (realted to the olympic summer games in 2008), the raw material preparation of Beijing steelworks was transfered into the iron ore district on short notice, the remaining plants will follow, too. In Beijing only finishing treatment of steel is to remain.
North of the Shougang steelworks, there is a public railroad footbridge. The administration of the works railway is also here.

Peter Patt
Jan Schirling

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© 2005, Peter Patt info@globesteam.de