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Steam in China, January 2012

by Michael Reilly


Andrew Benton and I visited Qian'an on 14 January. The same locos as last reported in March 2010 remain plinthed on the east side of the depot, including XK13 113 and a ZG80 electric. The plinthed SY previously thought to be 0026 carries numberplates proclaiming it as 550.

Maybe because of the impending Spring festival, or because it was a Saturday, or because of a recent fall in local demand for steel, activity in the yard appeared to be at a low ebb. In the course of the afternoon, we saw one electric Bo+Bo+Bo, one Bo-Bo and two diesel GK1s active there. The depot however hosted several more diesels, including two DF4s and the DDR built centre-cab, plus five electrics, 3 Bo+Bo+Bo and two Bo-Bo, one of them also built in the former DDR and, in a separate compound, SYs 1752 and 1034 which were noted working in March 2010. These were on a line giving direct access to the rest of the depot, adjacent to a mechanical coal-loader and from the condition of both the track and the locos themselves, with well greased motion and valve gear, and protective covers on chimneys, looked as if they had seen fairly recent use and were currently stored, rather than dumped. The remaining three SYs were also there but on a separate track and now looking very definitely dumped, with parts of the motion removed and vegetation growing around them.

Subsequent conversations with some of the (few) staff around confirmed they had last been used as recently as September 2011 and remained formally in store rather than withdrawn. One said the intention was to make them available to film crews, which would also help explain the continued presence of an (admitedly small) stock of coal in the adjacent pit.

Taken with reports of new discoveries of working steam, the apparently very recent withdrawal of operational steam here does beg the question as to how many more operations might still be continuing with steam against expectations to the contrary?

SY 1752 with 1034 behind at Qian'an depot, 14 January 2012.

Michael Reilly

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