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Steam in China - May 2005

Jixi, Huanan, Xingyang, Yinghao, Xinmi

by John Raby

Mudanjiang 19/4

Departing Mudanjiang by train N67 0814 for Jixi on main line towards Jiamusi, 1 SY in steam at Mudanjiang loco works, 1 SY in steam at coal depot, 1 QJ, 1 JS in steam at power station before large river. This must be about as many steam locos to be seen close together from a train in China these days barring the Jitong line.


(see ../line/heilongjiang-jixi.htm for map and more detailed reports)

Depressing weather and surroundings. A number of separate sg industrial systems all SY operated appeals to some but not me. The many toll gates in all directions make taxi travel expensive and the comprehensive bus system is the best way for one/two people to travel around. It's reported that the equipment from Mudanjiang Locomotive Factory will be relocated to Jixi shortly.

Zhenyang mine
500 mm oh electric line still used to move supplies and slag to/from cable access to mine but trackage has been reduced

0830 3 SY light engine to Zhongxin at start of shift. One loco shunting Erchang. One loco under hoppers at Zhangxin 0930

Jixi - Huanan buses at 7:30 & 13:00 from main bus station west of train station take about 3 hrs cost ¥28. Taxi is ¥350-400 for same route.


(see ../line/heilongjiang-huanan.htm for map and more detailed reports)

The line runs: Huanan - Xiahua - Tuoyaozi - Lishin - Hongguang, And was operated by the following C2 at the time of my visit 041, 043, 168

The line is in decline. The leader of the track gang at Tuoyaozi reportedly requested 4,000 sleepers for track repair and received 1,000. After attending a meeting in Huanan while we were there, it was reported that he has been asked to reduce costs and cut staff. This is normally how the end comes to these railways, slowly with a run down and uncertainty and then a decision to close (usually after the end of the current season). Chinese New Year 2006 is probably the next key date for Huanan. Coal trucks are already moving coal from Hongguang and only the first 15km of road from the mines are bad.

Convention below for railbus: up to Hongguang, down to Huanan Note: locos and railbus turn on triangle at Lishin before proceeding to coal yard/terminus at Hongguang. Loco crews work 12 hrs and then have 24 hrs off

Xiahua: Fulls here 1030, railbus already gone up
Tuoyaozi: empties 12:25, down railcar 1430, fulls 1545, empties 1730 (taking 1 wagon of new sleepers), fulls 2055, empties 2200

22/4 Tuoyaozi:
00:23 fulls
02:00 empties
06:00 fulls
07:05 empties
08:30 fulls at summit
09:30 whistling at Xiahua
10:00 railbus up after horseshoe
11:14 empties train at bottom of h/shoe (time to catch it again at top)
12:22 down railbus, 1/2 way to summit from Lishin
13:15 fulls train banked towards summit
13:30 banker returns
15:45 Empties train Tuoyaozi, dropped off sleepers at pw depot
18:10 fulls Tuoyaozi
19:15 empties

23/4 Tuoyaozi
05:30 fulls
07:54 empties bottom h/shoe
10:15 fulls at Lishin after up railcar passed
13:50 empties below horse shoe
14:30 Up railbus ~ nr Tuoyaozi
15:30 fulls Tuoyaozi
17:00 empties
? fulls not seen
20:10 empties 2010

06:30 fulls Lishin
12.00 fulls Lishin
12:30 banker returns
12:35 railbus arrives down
12:40 empties to coal yard
13:20 railbus dep
14:20 fulls arrive
15:30 empties arrive
16:10 fulls dep
16:40 empties dep
18:00 fulls arrive

25/4 Lishin
04:30 fulls dep, dawn over village,
05:10 empties dep
07:00 fulls arr
08:00 fulls dep
08:40 banker returns

Railway workers talk about a mass tree planting campaign between Huanan and Xiahua 15 metres on both sides of the line (100,000 trees), which will stop coal traffic completely for 5 days with most railway workers redeployed. Due to start 25/4 but postponed by the rainy weather we are having. Saplings are already at Xiahua. Purpose is to protect forestry bureau land and assets into the future especially the strip from Huanan to the forests perhaps even if the railway is closed. Hopefully the rescheduled planting will affect other gricers not me (Japanese in early May?).

26/4 Lishin
07:30 loaded train
09:32 railbus, after horseshoe
11:00 empties Tuoyaozi
13:15 railcar Tuoyaozi
15:45 fulls
? extra railbus up
17:15 extra raibus down

The last loaded train was short train as no banker at Lishin no more coal trains until after tree planting is done

27/4 Tuoyaozi
Outing by car to Hongguang. Coalmines closed by 3-day daytime power outage by Jiamusi Power Company. Railway closed as all staff involved in tree planting. Line has now been cut back to the beginning of Hongguang village and no longer runs down the main street to the old station. On return followed line Xiahua to Huanan and saw workers' train in section assisting the planting effort.

07:30 Workers' train schedule 7:30 (7:50 actual)
08:00 railbus 0800 (9:15 actual)
water train ? (torrential rain was watering the saplings and there may have been no need for this train)

1820 Jiamusi - Shenyang T1394 1730-0815, Shenyang - Zhengzhou K128/125 1149-0712+1


Xingyang Brickworks Railway


This line is also hanging on by a thread. there is clearly a lack of demand for bricks in this concrete age and should someone make the economic decision to close the brickworks, that will be the end of the line. C2 207 is the only loco available. Loco 07 is still under repair but looks no different from Rob's Nov 2004 state. http://www.chinasteam.co.uk/trains/china238.htm Shift 7-14, 14-21(?) 5-6 loads per shift, average repeat time 1 hr Trains deliver to sidings 1 (west), 2 straight on and 3 to the north towards CNR. After delivering to siding 2, loco tends to coal and water. Watch out for points man prior to arrival to see which siding will be served next. Siding 1 train is fly shunted after unloading, siding 3 before unloading. Siding 2 operation not observed.

Loco runs to end of quarry siding and delivers empties which are gravity fed to conveyor. Loco picks up loads after unlocking and removing wheel stops. Conveyor loads wagons. Two men use wedges to stop the wagons in the right places. At brickworks sidings, retaining pins are release on left side of train facing loco and loads tipped by hand by 3-4 workers. Ice cream vendors (umbrella, fridge on wheels) may also sell water and beer and may have sausage and instant noodles. There is one outside the aluminium plant on the main road 500m north of loading area. Suohe bridge is the main feature on the line with reflection shots possible 7-10 on a good day.

1/5 observations
0714 empties
0750 fulls
0835 empties
09** fulls

CNR trains dep for Luoyang 1126 (1743 temp cancelled) and to Zhengzhou 0958 and 1520.

Return visit 8/5
loco at stabling point, quarry conveyor broken, moved off c1600

0710 off depot
0805 return with loads
0825 empties
0910 return
0925 empties


The hotel at the junction with the main road through town is adequate in the warmer months. The internet 'wang ba' is just after road barriers on main street through town toward coal conveyor, well before church, turn right before rubbish heap, There is also blue arrow and Chinese sign on the turn off main street. The internet cafe is in courtyard behind wide blue gates (no signs on gate). ../line/henan-yinghao.htm The fate of this line rests on decisions made about the new mine. This is planned as a large mine and no decision has yet been made about rail access. It could be linked into the ng, the whole lot could be converted to sg or (if most of the coal will be sold locally) everything could go out by road. Yinghao Coal Railway serves only one small mine. It's unlikely that it will survive long after the new mine starts full-scale production unless there is an unlikely decision to provide ng access to the new mine. .

Trains take 70 minutes to return from Yinghao to the junction Slack season only 2 locos in use. (03, 04) Empties return 0925 loco 03 then to depot Shifts 0000-0800, 0800-1600, 1600-2400 but mainline loco is usually 1-2 hrs behind the mine loco shift change.
There are triangles at depot, junction and Yinghao, water at depot (and mine?) Coal is loaded into mainline loco tender at the junction after shift change from a full wagon With two locos in steam, one works the mine branch (BL branch loco), one works the mainline. The mainline loco (ML mainline loco) is the one in better condition When the ML returns, it leaves its empties, turns and takes 8-10 fulls to Yinghao. If not enough are ready, it turns and heads down the mine branch to assist the BL. There is no obvious signalling or traffic control for this or any other manouvre. Although telephone exists, the offices are normally locked. Empty trains stop to raise pressure at Houying a former station. Unofficial wagon cleaners board and sweep up coal dust to make briquettes while train is here. At Yinghao, the loco runs into the tippler, leaves loads, turns on triangle and then pushes loaded wagons into tippler to be tipped automatically. Once last one has been tipped, train swiftly returns to the junction. The level crossing over the main road is manned by crossing keepers have only instinct and train whistles to warn them a train is approaching. Two keepers work 5 days and nights, sharing duties and then have 5 days off.

3/5 Xiangyang Junction
0755 loco 03 with loads to Yinghao
0800 loco 04 from branch to depot, shift change
1449 empties at Yinghao LC
1620 empties dep Yinghao yard
next train expected after 1800 (crossing keeper)

0700-0800 two trips up branch
0745 03 arrives from Yinghao and returns 0755
0805 mine branch loco 04 to depot
0910 empties return
0920 loco 03 returns to depot
1000 loco 04 to work mine branch
Fulls to Yinghao 1135
1206 tunnel exit walk to Yinghao 9km?
1300 empties stop to raise steam, coal sweepers
1410 fulls (after lunch break?)

0700 4 loads, 8 empties, no loco at junction. (04 brings 4 loads and goes to depot)
0730 loco 04 on shed, providing hot water for crew shower
0840 03 on shed
0910 04 off shed
0930 03 off shed
1100 03 to Yinghao
1210 03 to Yinghao
walk to Yinghao
1320 Huoying village
1345 loco dep fire cleaning stop Huoying for junction
1450 train at tippler

0620 sunrise junct
0705-0720 double header from mine, 03 plus 10 to Y, 04 plus 4 to mine. 04 leaking steam and struggling
0750 04 on 3wagons then to depot
0900 03 to depot, but stopped to raise pressure, 0907 continued
0950 03 returns to duty
1905 wonderful sunset behind mine, no loads from mine for previous 30 minutes

0715 04 plus 4
0735 04 plus 2, 03 with empties
on shed 14, 17 oou, 1 loco (tender 04) heavy repair, 013 repair, various derelicts and boilers

Huang He Cement Railway, Qianmen, Xinan

On Yima -Luoyang road, rails rusty at main road crossing, tipper wagons visible in cement works, reported diesel by Yinghao manager

Xin Mi Coal Railway


Lijiazhai yard (follow direction in Bernd's report)
QJ3494/5 +1+2diesel

Depot visitors requested we obtain permission from mining bureau office in Xin Mi. Possibly my last two QJ in action. During a brief visit, steam arrived on loads and came off, diesel headed and steam banked a long train of empties to the mines. No trains to exchange sidings.


Travelling to China for steam these days is hard work for the limited amount of interesting steam action still available. Gone are the days when there was steam aplenty to be seen from the train window and a long journey from Jiamusi via Nancha, Harbin, Chanchung, Shenyang and towards Beijing on the new high-speed electrified line revealed no steam locos apart from one QJ plinthed. Maybe it was the time of year but China seems increasingly polluted and blighted by its spectacular economic progress. They really seem to be paying the price in terms of quality of life. I was so depressed by what I saw that I turned down an interview for a job in China. I don't mind the odd 2-4 week visit but the though of working there for 10 or 24 months…

Some people like to do China independently without a guide. Given one or more others to bumble around with and to look after each other, I can be tempted. However, solo travelers and anyone else who wants a hassle free visit is recommended to hire a guide. Mike Ma was my guide on this trip and can be highly recommended. For more details of Mike, see href="http://homepage.ntlworld.com/john.raby1/mikema.html">http://homepage.ntlworld.com/john.raby1/mikema.html

John Raby
May 2005

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© 2005, John Raby davidk@brocross.co.uk