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Steam in China

Northern China

by Ole Jensen

We (Bo Lindhardtsen and Ole Jensen) spent the last week of June and the first week of July 2005 in Jixi, Zhalainur, Dayan and on the JiTong Railway in Lindong.

The period was dominated by hot weather reaching up to 33-34 degrees celcius, several days cooled down a bit by a rain shower in the hours just after midday. So it was T-shirt and shorts all the time

A problem was getting access to the trains, they were all very crowded. Compared to earlier trips during springtime where we got on the trains we wanted, this time we often had to catch a later train, which meant lots of wasted time. This was partly caused by the tremendous numbers of students travelling during this period.

Pleasant flight with SAS to Beijing and further on via Harbin Mudanjiang to Jixi. Steam observed en route:

JIXI (June 25th to 28th 2005)

Still lots of steam activity here! Saw 19 SYs working on the three systems visited, Chengzihe/Beichang, Hengshan and Didao. No signs of any diesels here. Stayed at the hotel close to the railway station, 88 yuan for a double room.

must be one of the busiest steam locations in the world today. In Beichang a steam movement often can be watched every 10 minutes! A good place to observe is at the crossings between Beichang, Dongchang and Nanchang where the lines create a triangle.
A top photo position is the large river bridge about three kilometres to the west, just before Jixi Xi. On the east bank there are huge hills which give you a brilliant view to the bridge with Jixi City in the distance. From Jixi Xi (interchange to the CNR) there are steam workings in the afternoon to the mine further west of the city. Trains can be heavy on this system; we saw one SY hauling up to 54 C62 cars with coal. It must be far more than 4.000 tonnes! We also saw P62 boxcars without roof top loaded with the black gold!

Locos seen here: SY 0237, 0590, 0733, 1058, 1344, 1351, 1437 (decorated) and 1544.

is good too. Five engines meet up in the morning sun at Hengshan West before leaving for the mines. But by far not so much activity as in Beichang; probably the best must be the incline to Zhongxin east of Hengshan. On June the 28^th we saw an SY with empties at 10:50 followed by another only 10 minutes later, banked. The day before only produced two light engines uphill at 8 oclock and SY 1340 with empties 40 minutes later. Perhaps afternoons provide more? The line to the mine in Erchang to the north east was worked three times between 7 and 10 in the morning by SY 0898.

SY here: 0341, 0804, 0898, 1018, 1095, 1340 and 1369, all facing east.

on a very hot June 27^th : the north-eastern line to the power station was worked by a spoil train just after midday. Most action certainly around Didao Hebei with four engines in the afternoon, two of them working coal trains to the CNR-station.

SY here: 0407, 0950, 1205 and 1213, all facing west.

ZHALAINUR (June 30th and July 1st 2005)

This place has indeed still very much to offer steam enthusiasts! Standing on the edge of the huge open cast coalmine you can some times watch up to 10 SY working different places and levels. It seems there is always something going on here. The mine area is very large and we hired bikes one day, which can be recommended.

It was no problem getting around, it seems you can go where you want and everyone is friendly here. A great experience too was riding the workers train from the office building (dep. time 7:35) to the bottom of the mine, for free! This is not JiTong (yet?) The train consisted of SY 1256 and one YZ coach. The other train drove to the south of the mine area pulled by SY 1041. We watched another passenger arrive to the office building at 16:25 oclock with SY 1256, 2 YZ and SY 1601. Most action are taking place in the mine itself; there are not so many trains to be seen on the lines east and west of the large pit.

8 SY were dumped on two tracks in a field east of the mine: SY 0614, 1689 and 1664 in one track and SY 1619, 0613, 1286, 1401 and 1663 on the other. The last 3 still with coal in the tenders.
At the northern depot 3 SY were dumped, partly behind walls: 1126, 1234 and (difficult to identify!) 0056 with JF-style tender.

Working SY: 0682, 0794, 0795, 0867, 0957, 0958, 0959, 1041, 1119, 1193, 1240, 1256, 1257, 1258, 1284, 1285, 1287, 1303, 1371, 1375, 1376, 1416, 1424, 1448, 1449, 1450, 1496, 1586, 1587, 1601, 1617, 1618, 1654, 1678, 1681 and 1690.

SY 1416 looks great with large deflectors! 0957 is very handsome too, with brass boiler rings and other fittings. 1258 was newly painted.

There is a hotel about one kilometre to the south east from the railway station, but in order to get closer to the mine area we stayed in a small hotel-like apartment for 40 yuan a night; nice and clean room and very friendly people. It is situated some 3 kilometres west of the mine, close to the Zhalainur Police Department in the town.

DAYAN (July 2nd 2005)

Very much as previously reported. SY 1235 worked the passenger being observed in Yanhaiqiao at 14:46, tender first. Erjing is nice with a pedestrian bridge and water crane. Here SY 1308 did some shunting before departing for Jipei with empties at 16:05. Both SY faced east. A nice little system; a pity we did not have more time here. By the way, Dayan is situated between Hailaer and Yakeshi.

JI TONG (July 3rd to 7th 2005)

Based at Lindong (80 yuan/night/double) to watch the very last main line steam in the world, we saw 100 pct steam working the first days, then on July 6th two eastbound frights were hauled by diesels. Perhaps just bad luck or At Lindong most trains seems to run in the mornings and then again in the afternoon, but varies every day.
Anyway the big surprise was the introduction of a new passenger train (from June 28th ) on the line: L 114 (Hailaer Hohhot) hauled by steam on the section Chabuga Daban. And during daylight around 10:20 through Lindong! The other way the train (L 113) passes through Lindong in the dark at 22:42. Both trains only run every second day, so L 114 July 4^th and 6^th and so on. The train consists of QJ and 13 green CNR-coaches. Both days QJ 7030 was in front of the long distance train.
The usual passenger (6051, now departing Lindong at 6:25) was hauled by QJ 6911 every day we were there. Arrival in Tongliao for train 6051 is now 11:38.

Many freights are shunting in Lindong on the sidings there: boxcars, C62-cars with coal and yellow tank-cars for the petrochemical industry. Yard pilot in Chabuga is QJ 6991 without deflectors.

QJs in service: 6878, 6891, 6911, 6977, 6984, 6988, 6991, 6998, 7002, 7007, 7010, 7012, 7030, 7037, 7040, 7048, 7049, 7063, 7104, 7105, 7143, 7163 and 7164.


Total amount of steam locomotives seen was 94 engines, SY and QJ. All together a good, but also very hot trip. First summer trip for us, but we sure missed the large steam clouds we were used to during wintertime. Home to Copenhagen on flight SK 0996 with Scandinavian.

Ole Jensen

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© 2005, Ole Jensen jlnc@osterbo-net.dk