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Steam in China

Jingmen - Shashi

by Julien Blanc

Some positive news in the current depressive steam scene.

Being on business trip in Shashi (Hubei) last week, I took 2 hours to have a look at the local railway line Jingmen - Shashinan.

After a Japanese site mentionned it a few months ago, I can confirm that this line is deflectorless JS operated, with the central administration and locoshed (water/coal/basic repair facility) located near Shashi station. The line continues a few km after Shashi to Shashinan, a ghost station with a short branch serving a small freight terminal 100m from the Chang Jiang (Yangzi River), which apparently provides the greater part of this line's traffic. According to staff, another freight loading point seems to be the next station out of Shashi northwards.
Traffic levels are not high anyway. Looking at the Shashi station book, there seems to be 1 to 2 return (short, mixed goods) freights from Jingmen to Shashinan per day. The last few days showed the first workings of the day around 10-11AM, with the second return working in the afternoon. Some light engine movements also (maybe linked with one loco failure).
There is no passenger traffic.
The locos situation is as follows (2005.06.09):
-JS 8060 line work
-JS 8070 in Shashi local repair shop after minor failure (under pressure)
-JS 8182 in Shashi stabling point under pressure
-JS 8059 in Shashi stabling point, coal being unloaded from its tender: inquiry meant that even if in working order, the loco will not be used anymore and will be scrapped
-JS 8181 out for major repairs somewhere near Yichang (according to local staff)

All 3 locos in shed faced south but the one working faced north; I cannot say whether there is a rule. There were more JS in the past including at least one 5xxx number but all were scrapped.
All staff agreed that steam would be replaced by diesels in 2006; one engineer suggested it could be second-hand CNR DF4B.

For the photographer, the Shashi end of this line is not particularly rewarding, especially in the wet cloudy June weather. The area is flat, stations are of the ugly 1990's style, etc. The line towards Jingmen could be investigated anyway, with maybe a few countryside views.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to greet my old friends of the time when steam in China was (really) great !

Julien Blanc

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© 2005, Julien Blanc julien.blanc@valeo.com