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Globe Steam Tour: Steam at the Yellow River

Pingdingshan, Xinyang, Daba-Guyaozi, Baiyin, Liujiaxia, Jiayuguan, Sandaoling, Beijing/QianŽan

by Jan Schirling


26.12.2005 Beijing

At the "7th February" works, JF 2446 was working. It shunted near the depot area, which is accessible for announced visitors. Close-by is the connection to the CNR interchange, too. Some steam cranes as well as SY 0732 were steamed and in use, SY 0891 cold as reserve.

27.12.2005 Pingdingshan

Despite the new diesels, a lot of trains is still hauled by steam locomotives. The mines are served several times a day but you need some luck to wait at the "correct" one of the three lines. In the morning we saw JS 8065 with a passenger train within the area of mine no.8. There's an electrified narrow-gauge railway typical for chinese mines, too. On the 900mm track we saw a train with tubes, hauled by locomotive 09.
The railroad crossing at Shenxi is unfortunately being replaced by a road tunnel. Here we saw JS 6225, 6253 and 8122 with empty or loaded trains. After JS 8065 passed with the passenger train and JS 8031 with an empty freight, we drove to mine no.2. JS 6429 and JS 8338 passed with empty trains as well as DF10D 0088 with a coal and later an empty train. The local narrow-gauge railway (600 mm) was represented by locomotive 001.

28.12.2005 Pingdingshan

Our short term inquiry for a depot visit was approved: DF7G 5121, JS 6225 and QJ 6450, as well as QJ 6786 in bad condition. At the scrap yard contained the following locomotives: SY 0758 and 1002, the remainders of SY 1687, JS 6539, QJ 6813, and the tender of SY 0622. In the shops they worked on SY 1209, as well as on JS 8030 and 8120. During the depot visit we saw JS 6253, 8057 and 8122 and DF10D 0088 with their trains passing the depot. At mine no.5, the footbridge is partly closed, the coking plant was out of operation, too. GKD3B 0003 with a coal train, JS 6253 with passenger train and JS 6429 with a permanent way train were our "yield". DF10D 0060 and 0087 with their trains at mine no.2 terminated the day.

List of locos seen in the 2 days Pingdingshan:
DF7G 5121*
DF10D 0060, 0087, 0088
GKD3B 0003
JS 6225, 6253, 6429, 6539, 8030*, 8031, 8057, 8065, 8120*, 8122, 8338
QJ 6450*, 6786*, 6813*
SY (0622)*, 0758*, 1002*, 1209*, 1687*
*) only in depot

29.12.2005 Xingyang

Despite inquiries about operations at the brickworks in advance, local people told us that because of the end of the year, operation had stopped several days earlier. The small steam locomotive C2 207 stood lonely with quiescent fire in the station.

29.12.2005 Luoyang

The Guanlin steelworks has now, for the first time, a blast furnace which is to supply the old works with pig iron. Unfortunately both parts of the works, which are separated by a public road, were out of operation allegedly because of bad market situation. Neverthless, SY 0866 hauled a steel wire train from the CNR interchange to a reloading place. Behind a works gate, SY 1316 was stored (cold). According to the locomotive personnel the two other SY were also present. However, with start-up of the blast furnace and the following increased transport volume, diesel locomotives are to be purchased.

List of locos Luoyang steelworks:
SY 0886, 1316, (1339), (2014)

29.12.2005 Goutou

In Goutou - this village is near Tiemen - an empty train of the narrow-gauge railway crossed just in time the road. It was pushed by a really dirty and much dirt-into-air blowing diesel locomotive. Some time later a newer green diesel returned with a loaded limestone train. Both locomotives didn't carry any operating number. The line leaves the limestone factory in Goutou, crosses the Luoyang - Mianchi road, continues along a long upward gradient up to the motorway, passes under the motorway and then runs through quite delightfully hilly area. Due to time restraints, we didn't go to the loading point at the quarry. The Goutou quarry seen behind the motorway is only served by trucks.

30.12.2005 Mianchi

In September 2004 still partly steam operated, the network has been fully dieselized in the meantime. For this purpose altogether 9 diesels are available. We saw one of them - DF10D 0048 - at a small station at the northern branch line. The road towards Yinghao crosses nearby. Behind the walls of a local military depot JS 8125 and 8417 were seen cold.
It is not recommanded to ask the station personnel to open the gate in order to photograph the locomotives! In our case, the door was opened by a soldier... The following discussions with military and police officers wasted much time but ended without any consequences for us.
Due to this time-consuming "adventure" (and also due to the bad weather...), the planned visit to Yinghao was cancelled. According to the statement of our guide the narrow-gauge railway runs again. The reason for the temporary service suspension was the closure of Liangwa mine following some recent, bad and/or fatal coal mine accidents in China.

01.01.2006 Daba

Despite the two new diesels a higher transport volume from the new mine makes it possible to observe increased steam action. At Daba interchange yard, QJ 7200 and DF4DD 0053 waited in the early morning. The latter one was apparently reserve, because we didn't see it on the line. QJ 7200 and later QJ 7194 each hauled an empty train to Guyaozi in the morning, QJ 7205 returned with a loaded train to Daba. The hilly section above Lingwu is delightful. About 1 km above the water reservoir dam the line runs across a large bridge.
At Guyaozi QJ 7195 worked as local pilot. The depot contained some cold engines: QJ 6545 (with "new" tender 6545), QJ 1465 (with tender 7036) and QJ 6832. The original tender 6545 stood out of use, according to statement of the personnel two further QJ were hidden in the workshop halls.

02.01.2006 Daba

We saw DF4DD 0052 with an empty train in the morning running to Guyaozi and QJ 7200 with a mixed train to Daba. In the afternoon both QJ 7200 and 7205 hauled empty trains to Guyaozi, DF4DD 0052 as well as QJ 7194 coal trains to Daba. Both at Lingwu and Guaozi, the station personnel could give proper information about operations.

List of locos seen in the 2 days DaGu railway:
DF4DD 0052, 0053
QJ 1465*, 6545*, 6832*, (7036)*, (7061)*, 7194, 7195, 7200, 7205
*) cold in depot

03.01.2006 Baiyin

From the central yard Gongsi a branch line run in northern direction to the non-ferrous metal works and an ore mine. This line is very delightful, because it offers classical motives is mountain landscape as well as "classic" industrial motives. Except the two pairs of passengers, there is usually one empty freight train after the passenger trains which serves the copper ore mine Shenbutong. It is loaded there and approx. 2 hours later.
The lead and zinc works in Sanyelian is served once or twice a day. It receives mostly coke for the metallurgical plant and coal for the coal store. In front of Sanyelian works, there's a road control post (police and factory security). As we had a permission for both days and were accompanied by a local guide, no problems occurred. On the visiting day SY 1047 hauled the morning passenger train to Shenbutong. SY 2008 followed after return of the passenger with the empty cars for the mine. There they were loaded under a silo. Sanyelian was served by SY 1657 and SY 1581 as banker in the afternoon, before the two passenger trains with SY 1047 and SY 1581 followed.

04.01.2006 Baiyin

Again the morning passenger trains were task of SY 1047 and 1581. SY 2008 again hauled the empty train. Subsequently, we drove to Gongsi station. With a printed out permission we could walk on all tracks - also the tracks towards the works - without any problem. The non-ferrous metal works are separately enclosed and shouldn't be entered! They offer delightful background for lovers of industrial railway photography. In Gongsi SY 0965 and 1581 shunted the works or hauled trains on the branch line southwards. SY 2008 returned with the ore train. In the depot, SY 1067 and cold SY 1583 were present.
The afternoon passenger train action was just like the day before. During our visit all locomotives except for 1047 faced west (smokebox direction). So some trains run tender forward on the northern branch line. The ore train begins and ends at an unloading south of Gongsi

List of locos seen in the 2 days Baiyin works railway:
SY 0965, 1047, 1067, 1581, 1583, 1657, 2008

05.01.2006 Liujiaxia

Except for the pairs of passenger trains in the morning, at noon and in the early afternoon between Gucheng and Liujiaxia, only a mixed train drives (tender first) from Gucheng to Shangxuan operated. Sheduled arrival is at 15:25 PM. At Shangxuan, the freight cars are handed over to the CNR. At the visiting day it was the duty DF5 1734. Passengers must transfer to minibuses either at Yanguoxia or Shangxuan for onward transport. The mixed train returns at 18.30 (to Gucheng). During the third pair of passenger trains the fertilizer works is served by the second locomotive over a branch line. The mixed train is banked up to the river bridge when it's necessary. On the visiting day JS "8227" (it's the 8235) hauled the passenger trains, JS 8223 served the fertilizer works. Both locomotives double-headed the mixed later. In Gucheng depot JS "8223" (it's the 8226) and 8227 were found. The locomotives with the "wrong" number have plastic number plates, under which one can see the "correct" number.

List of locos seen on Liujiaxia railway:
JS 8223, 8226 (alias "8223"), 8227, 8235 (alias "8227")

06.01.2006 Yaojie

The railway is operated by two companies. From Haishiwan the coal trains run to Yaojie through a spectacular gorge. At Yaojie station two mines are connected. The coals go either to Haishiwan CNR interchange or to the two power stations. Because the Yaojie one has no track connection, it's only supplied with trucks. The locomotives stand smokebox forward towards the south. Unfortunately the new diesel locomotive DF7G 5163 was in use and hauled the few trains through the gorge. The previous evening from the hotel in Haishiwan, we heard a steam locomotive, so somebody may have luck to see some steam. SY 1103 shunted in Yaojie station, while SY 0362 and 0990 were spares, but both steamed.
The second railway company belongs to a ferro-alloy works at the terminus. According our guide this works went bankruct. So trains only work as fas as to the aluminium works Heqiaogi and to the close-by power station. As soon as a train is longer than 10 cars, two SY have to be used are used for a train. In the morning SY 0150 hauled tank cars, in the afternoon SY 0150 and 1321 tank and coal cars. For photographing the large river bridge north of Yaojie is suitable all day because the line crosses the river in west to east direction. In contrast to the first railway company the SYs run smokebox first in northern direction.

07.01.2006 Yaojie

In the depot and in the station again SY 0362, 0990 and 1103 waited. According to our guide entering of the depot and the station is forbidden for visitors. SY 0150 hauled a coal train to Heqiaozi power station and returned immediately with empty cars to the station of the aluminium works. Later it carried an empty train with SY 1321 at the end towards Yaojie. At noon the second coal train followed, double-headed with SY 0150 and 1321. In the afternoon SY 1321 with 1097 came to Yaojie in order to drive a third train to the power station. Later SY 0150 and SY 1097 served the power station, both from the station of the aluminium works.

List of locos seen the 2 days Yaojie railways:
DF7G 5163
SY 0362, 0990, 1103
SY 0150, 1097, 1321 (ferro-alloy works)

08.01.2006 Jiayuguan

In Jiayuguan - named as "steel town in the Gobi desert" - the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Group (Jiu Steel, Jiugang, JISCO) operates a steel works (founded 1958). After massive extensions during the last years (icluding the ore preparation and a coking plant) altogether six blast furnaces, two converter steel mills and different rolling mills are available now. Products are wire rods, bars, sheet metals and hot-rolled strip. A high-grade steel mill supplements the plants. The cokery gas is used partially as town gas. Besides others places an iron ore mine is operated at Jingtieshan. To a large extent, the steelworks railway is dieselized. Almost exclusively, orange GK1C-locos are used, but a few SYs are still used, too. Their task is the pig iron transportation from the blast furnaces to the two steel mills for example, but also slag trains to the slag pits and to the open slag granulation, the raw material transportation from the CNR interchange to the raw material stocks and raw steel transport to rolling mills. The blast furnaces are supplied via conveyor belts.
Our visit started at the loco workshop. Here three cold JS 8220, 8349 and 8351 were seen, while SY 1335 and 1532 as well as GK1C 0206 and TH 003 were under repair. In the station next to both older blast furnaces GK1C 0208, 0223, 0229 and 0299 shunted with pig iron cars or just waited for their next duties. GK1C 0089 passed with an empty slag train for a steel mill. In front of the cokery JS 8192 and SY 0285 were scrapped. At the blast furnaces SY 1334 and GK1C 0209 shunted slag cars. In the area of the new blast furnaces you find the stabling point and the freight car workshop. Furthermore, the branch line to the slag pits begins there. GK1C 0018 crossed a road with a long train of open cars. In the depot GK1B 0071, GK1C 0207 and 0228 as well as SY 1625 were seen. We saw slag trains with SY 1334, 1624 and 1625 as well as with diesel GK1C 0089 and 0207. In front of pig iron trains GK1C 0018, 0087, 0090, 0207 and 0290 were in use. GK1C 0207 hauled a train with raw steel in slabs. I had a trip in the drivers cab of GK1C 0287 and saw SY 0253 and 0909 awaiting scrapping.

List of locos Jiayuguan steelworks:
GK1B 0071
GK1C 0018, 0087, 0089, 0090, (0091), (0175), 0206, 0207, 0208, 0209, 0223, 0228, 0229, 0290, 0287, 0299
TH 003*
JS 8192+, 8220*, 8349*, 8351*
SY 0253+, 0285+, 0909+, 1334, 1335*, 1532*, 1624, 1625
* workshops, + scrap yard

My comment: our visit was organized by CITS and the local agency was approved by the management of the steelworks as well. We could experience the interesting railway operations of a rising and modern steelworks without any restriction. Manufacturing and halls were taboo, of course. So, I want to appeal to future visitors to get a proper permission and not to break the hospitality of the works. It already occurred that after some illegal works entering management denied any permission.

09.01.2006 Sandaoling

We began the day at Xibolizhan, which serves as intermediate station for the overburden trains. A stabling point for the locomotives is present. The overburden trains are loaded in the nearby open cast mine with electrical excavators, as already described in vaorious reports. Then, they are pushed over the steep ramps into the station and on to the dumps with smokebox usually facing to the train. At the dumps further locos with special cars are in use, which distribute the overburden. Coal trains drive to the ground of the open cast mine. They are also pushed with smokebox at the trains, but they leave the pit westwards towards the coal washery. One can photograph all trains without problems from all sides and levels. So, this type of operation doesn't disturb too much. The surrounding open cast mining and the hard working locomotives are a great experience for all those, who like industrial steam shunting.
JS 6436 was responsible for the passenger train to Dongbolizhan. Before the beginning of the shift JS 6210 with special car as well as JS 6203, 6208, 8193 and 8194 with or without trains stood at Xibolizhan. On the ramps to the open cast mine and in the mine we met JS 8055, 6208, 8222, 8118, 8189, 8173, 6203 and 8194 with empty and overburden trains. With work trains SY 1718 and 1593 were in use in the pit. With the latter a drilling carriage for breakups was lifted with a crane on a flat car. In the open mine JS 6259 (smokebox first!) and 8195 hauled the coal trains, too.

10.01.2006 Sandaoling

On this day we visited the branch lines and the deep mines. In Nanzhan, where another stabling point is situated, JS 8027 and 8081 waited. JS 8053 came with an empty train from CNR interchange, while JS 8366 with a work train stood at the stabling. Then JS 8027 drove to the mine no.1 (Yijing). As there are no stationary wires to move the cars during the loading process, the locomotive remains on train during loading. After approx. 1.5 hours it returned with the loaded train struggling heavily on long upward gradient. In the afternoon the next loaded train to and empty train from the CNR interchange Liushuquan was hauled by JS 8081 with JS 8053 banking JS 8053. In the meantime JS 8366 served mine no.2. We watched the coal unloading at the washery in the afternoon, where at that time the cars of JS 6436 were unloaded.

List of locos seen during the 2 days at Sandaoling mine railways
JS 6203, 6208, 6210, 6259, 6436, 8055, 8118, 8173, 8189, 8193, 8194, 8195, 8222
SY 1593, 1718
JS 8027, 8053, 8081, 8366 (branch lines and deep mines)

11.01.2006 Wulumuqi

According to the company, the local steelworks has been completely dieselized since the mid 1990's. However behind the very descriptive works museum, SY 0178 is plinthed - perhaps the westernmost steam locomotive in China stands there freely accessible as a monument. On the information board, the retirement date is mentioned as the year 2002. At the visiting day no permission for the railway was given but the alnative visit to the modern wire rolling mill was very interesting, too. When returning to the city I could see a yard with several GK diesels (a picture in the museum showed GK1C 0037). This branch line is to end at Wulumuqi Xi CNR station.

12.01.2006 Binghecun

The development of the Shougang steelworks and thus the misalignment of the Beijing steelworks into the Hebei province into the proximity of Qian'an makes progress. The railway operation is divided into two parts. On the one hand, it consists of the Shougang Iron and Coal mine Transportation department. It distributed the different coal and iron ore mines to the raw material unloading points and to the CNR and is electrified to a large extent. The administration is at Binghecun station. Here a public railroad crossing and a footbridge make photographing possible without permission. You can observe a busy operation with a lot of ore trains.
According to the statement of a clerk in the administration office visited by us, the last four SYs are still in use, but also some DF4DD-diesel. At the station there's a monument with three locomotives.
The second division is the internal railway company of the steelworks. From outside, I could see a SY shunting. According to statement of the visited clerk permission for visits are refused because foreign groups walked through the railway facilities and into the steelworks illegally - perhaps a typical chinese excuse?

List of locos seen ICM Transport Department:
EL1 348
EL2 7217, 7218
ZG80 133, 135 (?), 136*
DF4DD 0037, 0051
SY 0026*, 0963, 1752
XKB 113*
*) monument
- additionally one SY in the steelworks

Jan Schirling
Jan 21st 2006

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© 2006 Jan Schirling