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Steam in Chongqing Shi, April 2009

by Dave Fielding

Chongqing Docks, Lanjiatou, Xiaba, Xiaoyotou, Sanhuiba

I flew KLM from Birmingham to Amsterdam for the flight to Beijing where I was met by my guide and interpreter Mike Ma. The price of the flight was now GBP 312, quite a reduction from GBP 461 of last October. The aim of the trip was to visit Panzhihua Steelworks, a final look at Jalainur Opencast Mine, Huanan in the springtime (if running), and return with a repeat of March 2007 looking at Fuxin, Beipiao, Pingzhuang and Yuanbaoshan. Mike obtained permission for the visit to Panzhihua and booked our flights from Beijing to Chengdu. However two weeks before the start of my trip, Mike informed me that the permission he had was from the Panzhihua Steel CITS and that the Steelworks itself had subsequently refused permission.

There have been two recent reports on SY-Country concerning steam in Chongqing. The first was an illustrated report on Chongqing Docks. This report prompted John Raby to send further information he had received from Chinese guide "Zebedee". So I decided that rather than sacrifice the flight tickets, I would travel to Chengdu and from there to Chongqing for some exploration, at least I should find steam working in the docks. This report describes the explorations and the discovery that the information from "Zebedee" contained some inaccuracies that need correcting.

After a night in Chengdu, we travelled to Chongqing by train T8884 departing 8:18, which I expected to take Quail Atlas line 28. This would have the advantage of passing through Goujiatou and Jiangjin, two locations on the outskirts of Chongqing mentioned by "Zebedee". However, despite being a push-pull electric train (with the loco at the Chengdu end), the train took a more northerly route via Suining and Beibei, a route not shown as electrified in the Quail Atlas. For much of the stretch from Chengdu to Suining, a new electrified double track was under construction. From Suining to Beibei, shown as double track in the Quail Atlas, although built with pairs of parallel tunnels for double track, the line was single track with passing loops. We arrived at Chongqing Bei, a typical modern China Railway station. My impression from our taxi ride to central Chongqing (just crossing one river bridge with the monorail running below on the far river bank) was that the station is north of the Jialing River, not south as shown in the Quail Atlas and this has since been confirmed by checking on Google Earth. After the taxi driver presented Mike with two unsatisfactory possible hotels, he was able to find us a room in the centre of the city at the Yu Du Hotel on a pedestrianised street (well, as near as traffic free as you are going to find in China).

Chongqing Docks, April 18th

After finding the hotel, despite the fine drizzle, we took a taxi down to the docks and found SY 1360 shunting (Tangshan 4/????, couldn't confirm the year with the loco moving about but I think it can be assumed to be 1985) and SY 1236 (Tangshan 7/1983) dead over an inspection pit which together with a water supply are probably the only loco facilities. Main traffic was wire coil between ship and rail although I am unsure if it was to or from rail. Google Earth is quite detailed for the docks area and someone has added a picture of SY 1236 at work there. The taxi driver took us back up the hill from the riverside to the monorail and we had a ride back to a station within a short walking distance to our hotel.

Locos with works plate data:-

SY 1236Tangshan 7/1983Dead
SY 1360Tangshan 4/1984 (year assumed)Working

Lanjiatou Goods Store, near Jiangjin, April 18th, 19th

The following day we took a bus to Jiangjin which is a modern city on the opposite bank of the Yangtze to the China Railway Jiangjin station. A taxi took us back across the river to where we could find steam locomotives. We were driven up a hill to a modern industrial estate and then down back beneath the China Railway line to river level and found ourselves at what turned out to be the location described by "Zebedee" as "Nan-jia-tuo Goods Store Station". Mike, despite problems with local accents, said it was really Lanjiatuo not Nan… . Here we found shiny blue diesel GK1C 0469 (Ziyang 2008) the working loco with SY 0145 and SY 0043, (not 0044 as "Zebedee" reported), both dead. Worksplates carried are SY 0043 (Tangshan 3/1967, RHS only) and SY 0145 (Tangshan 5/1969), which strangely is unnumbered on both cab sides. The Goods Store would appear to be used for traffic between river and rail. Outside the Store itself was a 5 track yard, empty of wagons. The China Railway runs very close by but according to "Zebedee" the main line connection is at Goujiatou some 8 km away in the opposite direction to Jiangjin, which could be about right as Quail gives a distance of 10 km from Jiangjin to Goujiatou. I am unable to say if this site has any connection with a Jiangjin Steel Factory. Mike's discussion with locals indicated that what they knew as Jiangjin Steel did have a factory ... at Xiaba. We returned by train 2651 to Chongqing, departing Jiangjin 14:45, fare 5.50 yuan.

Locos with works plate data:-

SY 0043Tangshan 3/1967, RHS onlyDead
SY 0145Tangshan 5/1969Dead
GK1C 0469Ziyang 2008Working

SY 0043 and SY 0145 at Lanjiatou.

Following "Zebedee"'s report, I wasted the next day attempting to locate a Jiangjin Steel site further west (70 km) on the China Railway line out of Chongqing.

Xiaba and Xiaoyotou, April 21st

For something different, the following day we took train K531 (10:11) south to Ganshui, fare 24.00 yuan from Chongqing main station. This station now appears to be purely a terminus without the through line shown in the Quail Atlas. Remarkably, passing Dadukou Steelworks a very, very derelict SY could be seen, possibly with firebox damage. Excitement when we passed through Xiaba as SY 1109 was shunting what I would describe as a small "steelworks" on the east of the line. This loco was mentioned by "Zebedee" as at Jiangjin Steel so the locals at Jiangjin seem to have been correct. Xiaba is around 70 km south of Chongqing so maybe "Zebedee" just had the points of the compass wrong. I had queried "Zebedee" about SY 0833, the other loco he mentioned for Jiangjin Steel, which was always Anshan Steelworks but I think it is reasonable to suggest he meant SY 0883, of course noted at Xiaba in the Industrial Railway Society book. However the book seems to have missed SY 1109 which is in Duncan Cotterill's list and has been referenced in QJ-Country reports china136 (December 2001) and china375 (May 2004). The Xiaba site has been described as a cement works but after searching the Internet may I suggest a more formal title of Chongqing Steel Group Iron Co., Ltd., with pig iron as one of its products. The link with Jiangjin is that Xiaba's postal address is Xiaba, Jiangjin. However I had been confused by "Zebedee" referring to the site as simply Jiangjin Steel Factory.

SY 1109  Working

We just had time at Ganshui to hire a micro bus to take us over a rather bad road to see Xiaoyotou Iron Ore Mine. Here SY 1501 (Tangshan 11/1986) was in the yard in light steam with no work. In one of the sheds SY 0514 was being worked on and beyond it, over the level crossing in the second shed, was SY 1271 (Tangshan 1/1984). So no change here in the locomotive situation from recent reports.

Locos with works plate data:-

SY 0514  Being worked on in depot.
SY 1271Tangshan 1/1984Dead in depot
SY 1501Tangshan 11/1986In light steam in the yard

On the return journey to Chongqing, the SY at Xiaba was noted under the wires in the China Railway station yard.

SY 1501 at Xiaoyotou.

Tianfu Coal Company, Sanhuiba, April 22nd

For our final day of exploration around Chongqing, we took a bus north to Sanhuiba changing en route at Beibei. Micro buses ran a public service from Sanhuiba to the Coal Mine which is on the west side of China Railway. At the mine there was narrow gauge track with locomotives in use (sorry, no further details on gauge etc.). After Mike had questioned some locals, we walked back towards Sanhuiba, past a sign in English "Tianfu Coal Company, Sanhuiba". We followed a path up the hillside, crossed a narrow gauge line and came to a standard gauge track. In the direction of China Railway was a small yard of 3 or 4 tracks, well outside the mine proper. In the yard, a shiny blue diesel GK1C 0457 (Ziyang 2008) was shunting. The track on the east of the yard was straddled by a new (or rebuilt) shed containing SY 1211 with beyond it, outside, SY 1230 (Tangshan 6/1983) in light steam. The shed had an interesting sign (chinese/english) indicating "No entry, motor cycle treasury".

Locos with works plate data:-

SY 1211 Dead in depot
SY 1230Tangshan 6/1983In light steam in the yard
GK1C 0457Ziyang 2008Working

SY 1230 at Sanhuiba.

Leaving Chongqing, April 23rd

We took a taxi in pouring rain to catch CA1420 departing 11:00 to Beijing, arriving T3 at 13:40. Then transfer to T2 for FM9121 (Shanghai Airlines) to Harbin due to depart at 16:05 but leaving 45 minutes late. The weather in Beijing was better as after rain it was now dry but very misty. We touched down at 18:40 to connect with the overnight train to Manzhouli, now K7091 departing 21:10 after the April timetable changes and no longer stopping at Jalainur. Mike had suggested I hadn't the warmer clothing that would be necessary for the cooler north, but as it turned out it wasn't required ... To be continued

Dave Fielding

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© 2009 Dave Fielding