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Steam in China


by John Raby


Confirming that all is well at Shaoxing, Zhejiang and adding details to the reports from Rob Dickinson and John Middleton .

The regular 3 locos are still present (SY 1447, 1536 and 1570) however 1447 and 1570 are in the process of switching identify. SY 1447 was fresh back from overhaul but had a confrontation with a truck while running tender first. The damage tender has been paired with 1570 but (in an unusual twist) the locos will assume the tender numbers so that 1447's tender and 1570 (assuming the identify of 1447) can go off for repair. Does that make sense? At this point the front and cab numbers on both locos have been painted out but the original numbering is still clear from the air tanks (and the headlamp on 1570).

So, 1447 is the working loco with 1570's tender (but will be 1570 next time anyone sees it), 1570 paired with 1447's damaged tender is waiting to go for overhaul in Nanjing. 1536 with its own tender is at Shaoxing and available as the spare loco. The Tangshan plate on 1447 says it was build in August 1987 which doesn't agree with Duncan's details (http://www.railography.co.uk/tractive-efforts/ggcr/locations/lists/zj_shaoxing_ore.htm)

There are no plans to dieselize the line but continued use of steam is dependent on the continued availability of overhaul in Nanjing. How many other steam lines does this works provide a service for? Ma'anshan? Zhenjiang? Pindingshan? How long will it continue?

The line runs from just West of the main station. Access to the depot is possible from the first road just wesy of the station. This road crosses under the railway but (for the depot) take the high road to the left before the underbridge and this reaches the depot.

The photographic locations are before, or in Xiashan. This village is next to Fuqiang village with which it has merged. Fuqiang is better know by taxi drivers. Bus details are still accurate (from Rob's report). On Bus 9, get off once the bus has left the main roads and is in the country as soon as it crosses the railway and then walk along the line to the phot spots. Bus 23 serves both the factory at the end of the steam line (Lizhutiekuang) and the mine with its oh electric on two different gauges (Kuzhu). There is at least one additional scenic location in Xiashan with canal, bridges and railway to add to Rob's phot spots.

The roads, canals, bridge are a real nightmare before Xiashan but once you get there everything is straightforward. Crossing keepers know where the train is (Shaoxing or Lizhutiekuang) but generally only get the word 30-40 minutes before the train arrives at their crossing.

There tends to be an early morning train 6-7 am to Shaoxing and another 1-2 pm in the afternoon giving 2 loaded chimney-first trains in daylight. The narrow gauge lines don't start work until 2 pm (just like Dahuichang used to).
Fulls today ran 6-6:30 and the empties returned 8-8:30. The next full train was expected early afternoon but I had to return to Ningbo.

John Raby

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2005, John Raby: e-mail: jraby@waitrose.com