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Steam in China

Dahuichang, Xingyang, Pucheng-Baishui, Liujiaxia

by Dave Davidoff

Dahuichang, July 14th 2005

After arriving in Beijing, my original plan was going to Xuanhua. As there were no tickets left, I decided to stay in Beijing for some ordinary sightseeing (after 4 trips, this wasn't such a foolish idea I think). Today, I'm leaving for Zhengzhou but I had an afternoon left so why not try Dahuichang even after it expected being closed. First signs were really that it was closed: the right track at the "mine" was blocked and the railroad crossing lost its shranks (is this the right word??). When I reached the depot, everything was locked. I decided to continue via the decharging installation and the leasve to Beijing again. But... Then I saw engin nr1 in steam, just leaving with an empty train (it was 14:00 as always). The loco slipped alway long, the driver left his cabin regularly to put sand on the tracks while the loco kept on driving and slipping slowly without anybody on board. The train ran some 200m far until it reached a charging point with moumtains of rock ready to be put on the train. This was done by a bulldozer which took it's time... After some chats by the crew, the train was finally loaded more than half an hour later... After it was loaded, the second driver showed me the depot. Here, the other three engins were waiting better days. A special remark goes to engin nr.2. This engin just got painted, it seems. It was very, very clean, especially for an engin in Dahuichang. Did somebody see it like this before and have I missed this remark or is this something new after all?
After the train was discharged, the second driver let me drive the engine until the big curve lerft aside the hill. He asked to film me while I was driving. He had so much fun I had (yes, I had!) to do it some 4-5 times all over again. Who was I to reject this offer :-) They really appreciated the drink we had in a local bar after work was done. If somebody is visiting again, please say them hello from the Belgian guy :-))

A question: it was reported everything was over at Dahuichang with only some cleaning to do. Are you sure this is about the whole line and not only about the mine at the end of the line? The atmosphere wasn't quite that everything was it soon was going to be over. Maybe I'm dreaming the things I would like to see happening but looking at the pile of rocks they still have to transport plus my hope (= guessing!) that they receive some new rocks by truck, things might be less bad then expected a month ago. Once more: this is speculation made by me, but it would be nice, wouldn't it? Looking at the pile of rocks there is a little hope left...

CITS sources add (Jul 15th 2005): Dahuichang was just active during the last days to clear the remaining limestones and will most likely be closed this Sunday (Jul 17th).

Xingyang, Jul 15th 2005

The day after my visit to Dahuichang, I went to that other narrow gauge railway: Xingyang. The taxi driver thought he could fool me by letting the meter jump every once and a while but I noticed strange jumps in the amount to pay. I waited until I saw him doing it and then reacted heavily. The meter showed 100 RMB. I proposed to pay him 40 RMB as he tried to fool me. Even the, he gave me back 5RMB as he saw me writing down his identification number. I don't think he robbed me now, did he? If only I had not lost thenumber, I would give it here so you could watch out for this crook. At Xingyang, it was quiet a search for the railway as the locals didn't recognize the engin I was showing on picture. Finally a taxi driver new where to go (turn your back to the station => take the road at 2'o'clock => go 600m (?) => take the road to the right).

Once arrived, I directly could see the engins 07 and 207 steamed up standing next to each other. loco 207 stayed at the terminus all day long but loco 07 made 8 trips until 18h, the moment I had to leave. Do I need to mention it was a great day as there were nearly no clouds (one train on the bridge spoiled), very friendly people and a ride on the clay back to Xingyang. Once agai9n, I was charmed about the atmosphere of narrow gauge steam action...

PuBai Tielu, Jul 16th-17th 2005

I travelled overnight from Zhengzhou to Xi'an and took a taxi to Pucheng. There I changed to another taxi which I rented for two days. When we reached Pucheng Bei to have a quick look, I whitnessed QJ 6871 with a train for Pucheng standing in the station. We waited for one hour before it left but ofcourse, the engin returned empty :-/ What a waste of time... Reaching Hanjing, it was very calm. 4 engins were under pressure (6429, 6871, 6928, 7021) which was slightly overmeasured viewing the action actually happening...

At 13:00, QJ6928 left towards Pucheng to search a freight train. We were told this train was due to arrive again at 16:00 so at 14:30, I went to the cross road at Xiangshigai. Walking towards Shitun, I found a vey nice view on a sand hill looking straight into the valley. In the full sun, it was a hard time waiting for a train that didn't come on time. Suddenly, I heard whistling behind me. QJ7021 also passed towards Pucheng, so I thought. 20 minutes later, I finally got some trashing action with QJ6928 pulling a long coal train towards Hanjing. I followed thistrain and could takesome tele shots near Shandongtou. This is quite a niceview when there isn't too muchpollution in the air. Of course, all the roads now lead to Hanjing. I suspected QJ6928 to be standing in the station, but it wasn't. Was it still to arrive? As I allready wasnearly the entrance signal, I quickly had a look at it. It was opened. Impossible... After 15 minutes QJ7021 passed with a second freight train! Apparently, they split it up at Shitun... Pay attention to this if you're visiting Pucheng: it is not quite logic I think, but it happens so be prepared for it :-) Of course, I was happy after all as now I also had this second train on te picture even when not expecting it. It was surely a nice sight to see the QJ working hard when passing the depot and 2 other QJ's.

The bad news came 5 minutes later: like the first train that I didn't see at Hanjing, also the second train passed the station almost immediately. Thus, I couldn't make it anymore to the bridges betwen Hanjing and Baishui. I then went to Baishui to see QJ6928 come back with a loaded train from Beikuang. The driver stopped aside of me with his loose engin while shunting to give me a ride. I thought he would drop me off at the station but he drove straight back to Beikuang again. As it was getting dark, I couldn't have cared less about this free ride :-) After have driven the train myself to Baishui again, i thanked the goodmen and the other railway people to be invited for the next day again to follow them on the nightshift. They really were sad when I showed them my ticket to Lanwhou the day after... Friendly people at the Pubai-railway, that's for sure! (before I forget: the diesel didn't run my first day around Hanjing, oooooooooooh, what a shame :-))

One day later, I wanted to get some action between Hanjing and Baishui. But... There was yet another train withsteam to arrive from Pucheng. So, I headed for Gaonian to see QJ6429 with a not so long freight train storming up the line. If you take one of the roads to the left at Gaonian(looking towards Pucheng), you will find a level crossing from where you can see very nice grave monuments, typical for this area (atleast, I didn't see themanywhere else until now). It's possible to combine them with a train going to Hanjing. Nice scenery!

After this picture, we drove towards thesecond bridge. By the taxe driver finding it necessary to stopat Hanjing to do some shop visiting, I missed this train less then 15 metres before reaching the photo position :-( Afterwards, I went to the bridge with the Iron deck to wait for this train to come back.In the meanwhile, QJ6928 drove loose to Baishui. Half an hour later, QJ6429 came back with his train. Nice scenery, even running with tender first. Afterwards at Hanjing, I also whitnessed the diesel coming in. I saw QJ6429 leaving to Pucheng with his train. This train was had to come back around 15:00. So, I went back to the cross road again to try another shot with the grave monuments. The position was okay, the traction wasn't... Instead of a nice QJ, it was the DF4 coming up the hill. Also this engin had left for Pucheng in the meanwhile but who would have guessedthat it would return faster then the QJ? So I went back to Hanjing again to ask what was going to happen with the very long coal train the DF4 had brought in. It was being split up with QJ6928 standing ready to pull a piece of it towards Baishui. We quickly drove to the big bridge again and this time I was in time. At 17:40, QJ6928 made a lot of smoke and sound while crossing the second bridge. A nice way to say goodbye to this nice system.

Firstly a negative note on my hotel at Baishui at the Pucheng-railwai... I forgot to mention this last time although it is better to tell it to potential future visitors over there I think. In Baishui, i stayed at the hotel if you come in town by taking left at the round point and after some 200m looking left. The offered me a room for 100RMb, a reasonable price, but I had to put an extra 300RMB for waranty. This seemed much from the beginning but they promised to give it back the next morning. You can guess it allready... 8 hours later (ie the next morning) they wanted to rate me 300RMB instead of 100RMB. Even with a lot of discussion, they didn't want to give my money back. Only after intervantion via the telephone of always helping Tina from Chifeng, the problem was settled. So: if you're looking for a hotel at Baishui, watch out with these crooks...

Liujiaxia, Jul 18th-19th

Back to the trains then... From Pucheng, I went towards Liujaxia. The main goal was to get the evening train funnel first noiw that the days are long... Hum, I didn't make it as I liked it to have... One hour after arriving, the clouds made their appearance too. They would stay for the full 3 days :-( On these three days, I could make this picture once but even then, it will probably be worthless as it was allready very dark. If there were no clouds, I would have had 3 trains funnel first, they all came relatively on time, but those stupid clouds made the whole plan go wrong :-((( Luckily, at least the video from one of my attempts looks okay... For the record: JS8223 did the mixed train, JS8253 did the shunting and the school train.

The line itself: as said before, the line between Goucheng and Hekou Nan is a true gem... The photographical potentil is endless, I wish I could say the same about the railway traffic... The possibilities between Goucheng and Liujiaxia? I mostly liked the sight on top of a hill to the train with the Yellow (or is it red over there?) River on the back. Also a nice gate at the entrance of Goucheng can be combined with a train. As written here before, the school train does (of course...) not run during the weekend. Unless the bad luck with the returning train from Hekou, I did have some luck though. I saw the big crane in action to unload concrete traverses from a truck. This crane will be of interest for our German friends as it is a in 1959 in Leipzig built crane. Furthermore: they are doing some maintenance work around Bayiba. For this, construction trains run sometimes as there are no roads up there. They are replacing traverses and putting extra ballast. Fr this object, on my last day, I could whitness the mixed with 2 extra ballast cars plus caboose and an extra engin (JS8352) on the rear of the train. No the train was not banked: it just along withit to be uncoupled with it's maintenance train. As I hoped it would come back on it's own, I waited from 15:00 until 18:00, the time that it became too dark for descent photography in the gorge with all the clouds. Of course, no returning train seen :-(

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© 2005, Dave Davidoff davidoff5181@hotmail.com