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Steam in China

by Howard Moffat

3 March Beijing/Dahuichang

Arrived at 2pm and both locomotives were running with a lot of activity. Staff friendly with nothing to pay at mine site. Did not visit the other end of operations. Driver offered cab rides at the mine over short distance.

5 March 05 - Pingdingshan

Arrived on overnight train from Beijing. Despite smog, steam activity at 06.30 was excellent near depot and adjacent yard area. Chased steam around Pingdingshan all day including a visit to workshop where one JS and a QJ were under heavy overhaul. Watched a team paint the wheels of an SY just overhauled. Completed photography with sunset shots in depot with very friendly staff. Next morning, back to depot for sunrise shots and steam around the Pingdingshan area. Left late in the afternoon for overnight trains to Shenyang.Pingdingshan was an excellent place to watch and photograph steam, despite both diesels being active.

7 March 05 - Shenyang

Arrived in Shenyang and visited the major steam workshop Sujiatun, with two SY receiving boiler overhauls. Staff friendly with lots of photography completed. The tank locomotive was not working but serviceable. Another great place to visit and would go there again. Drove to Tiefa after workshop.

8 March 05 - Tiefa

Drove out to the Faku branch for early morning photography of passenger train at 06.30 with SY. The adjacent hills near Tiefa make an excellent location for video and stills with long sweeping curves, villages and bridges. Despite the cold with snow on the higher ridges, the freeze was worth it.
Visited the workshop but all was quite as it was Mothers Day and most workshop staff had taken the day off. An SY was receiving a heavy overhaul and it looked good in the morning workshop light.
Spent the next two days chasing steam coal and passenger trains with plenty of activity.

10 March 05 - Yuanbaoshan

Arrived in Chifeng after overnight train trip from Shenyang at 06.30. Drove to Youanbashan to chase JS engines in the snow as it had been snowing overnight with white fields in many areas. Saw early morning banking with two JS engines in the snow. Unforgettable sight. Crews were friendly with cab rides offered but not taken as there was too much to photograph. Snowed on and off during the day. Photographed both the morning and afternoon passenger trains with steam.
Then drove to Reshui hoping to see steam but nothing running so stayed there overnight and drove to Daban early on 11 March. Daban was cold ( -17C TO -6C) with double QJ S running to Chabuga. Photographed four Chabuga bound trains with one single QJ train but very few trains running.

11 March 05 - JiTong

Chased steam passenger toward Lindong and then steam freights in both directions during the day. Hard to believe you were watching the same railway with the difference in traffic. Back to Daban for sunset shots at about 5pm.

12 March 05 - Chased steam all day between Daban and Lindong with only one diesel freight. Almost all trains double QJ, except for one train witha single QJ which almost stopped on one hill as it must have had he maximum load.

13 March 05 - Spent the day around Lindong chasing steam with plenty of trains and only one diesel freight. Drove to the Darchiga (spelling) bridge near Lindong and phorographed steam crossing the river. Great spot early morning.

14 March 05 - Sent another day around Lindong chasing steam towards Daban.

15 March 05 - Left Lindong early for Reshui to chase steam over the pass. Diesel failures at Daban had helped put steam back over the pass. Chased a double QJ over the pass to Jinpeng with another waiting at Jinpeng for Daban.

16 March 05 - Chased more steam over the pass, only two trains with steam but worth seeing as it snowed and there were few people there.

17 March 05 - Quite day with many light engine QJ movements back to Daban. Two steam freights see.

18 March 05 - At 05.30 a double QJ freight heads up the mountain from Reshui as another double comes down. Drive to Jinpeng to see anoth steam feight with double QJ headed for Holoku. Wait there for another steam freight with double QJ headed for Daban. Later that motning another double QJ freight arrived headed for Daban and chased it to the top of the pass. Snow had stopped but the scenery was good, though very cold. Left for Beijing via Chifeng and overnight train. Trip ended wel as it was great to see steam return to the pass.

I will probably never visit Jinpeng again but seeing any steam train across it is worth it!!!

Howard Moffat

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© 2005, Howard Moffat moffath@hotmail.com