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Steam in China - 11 June to 9 July 2012

by David Thomas

Wujiu, Fula'erji, Jiutai, Jilin, Tiefa (Diaobingshan), Fushun, Hongmiao, Yuanbaoshan, Pingzhuang, Fuxin, Bajiaotai

Headlines. Jiutai closed. Tiefa only one SY one day, none the next. Fuxin passenger trains stopped.

Another solo trip, using public transport. British Airways from London to Beijing and return. More expensive, but less wearing and faster than previously used alternatives, changing planes in Finland, Russia or Germany. A mix of tourism and railway interest. And a lesson – most of the time it was far too hot and humid for spending 6 or more hours walking and photographing. Oh for an air conditioned car! I am happy to share information on some non-railway items, marked by ** - see contact details at the end of this report.

Wujiu – Meitian, 11 and 12 June 2012.
Stayed in Yakeshi's Amenity Chain Hotel 9, diagonally left when leaving the station, past plinthed SY 0232. 138 yn, no breakfast, but nearby Dico's (fast food) is open from 06.30 – go straight ahead from the station. Travelled both days on train 4184 to Meitian, arr 10.18, and walked the coal railway. See Roger Croston's map of Wujiu. On 11 June found SY 1134 coupled to 15 loaded wagons in the loading loop at Shengli Mine before it set off for the CNR. Continued to the sidings near the loco shed (locked; unable to see inside) before going back to catch K7093, 16.12 to Yakeshi. At about 14.00 SY 1134 returned light engine. Then the skies opened with a thunderstorm and serious downpour. Took to the parallel road and got a lift from a driver who was going to Meitian station. He ushered me into the staff room. Other poor passengers sheltered as best they could in doorways and alongside wagons.

On 12 June it rained all day. SY 1134 was at the ash disposal point in the sidings, took water and settled down for inactivity. It eventually arrived with a train at Meitian at 16.05. No passengers at the station. Odd. Staff said K7093 was nearly 4 hours late and I should wave down a car. The first one stopped and took me all the way to Yakeshi station. The driver refused payment, wanting only to take a photo. Bless. Next day the line between Yakeshi and Jiagedaqi was closed due to flooding.

There were a few buses on the road between Meitian (an insignificant village) and Wujiu, not seen closely enough to read destination boards. Should have checked if any run from Yakeshi bus station (turn right from the station and 5 minutes' walk) and maybe saved a bit of walking. However, all this will be academic if/when the expected diesel arrives. While in the area, also visited the former Japanese bunker near Hailar **.

Fula'erji 13 and 14 June 2012.
      a.       No. 1 Power Station, 13 June 2012. From the station walked straight ahead and took the first major road to the right (west) after passing the roundabout which seems to be the town centre. I expected to eventually reach the line to No. 2 Power Plant, but much sooner came to a level crossing. Well, that looked interesting so walked along the line southwards for about 20 minutes, to see SY 0050 ahead left, un-used for at least a year. To the right was SY 0853, taking water outside a small shed that contained diesel GK1E 3278. 0853 then did shunting for about 20 minutes before going to an ash disposal area. All very friendly and happy to let me take photos. On the way to this location a further line had branched off to the south west, so explored that next. It crossed two roads and at the second was a crossing keeper who made it clear that he was about to phone the police. Perhaps I was already on private land, although the line continued ahead with no gate or barrier. Having ended up in police rooms on my two previous trips, I did a hasty retreat to the first crossing, hailed a taxi and asked the driver to head north. Seconds later a police car hurtled past. Phew.
      b.       No. 2 Power Station, 13 June 2012. The taxi took me north then west until we ran out of road. Continued on foot to reach the line between the CNR and Power Station exchange sidings. Here was their diesel DF7G 5240 and a loaded train. Followed it to the gate to the yard area. JS 8123 eventually came tender first towards the gate, then reversed. I went a short distance inside the gate to take photos but after a while was politely asked to leave. I found bus 21 to return to the station and used it the following day.
      c.       No. 2 Power Station, 14 June 2012. This time by bus after visiting the Chemical Plant (see below). From Fula'erji station go straight ahead on the left side of the road and turn left at the first corner into Wenzhi Lu and the stop for bus 21, coming towards you. The bus goes down the main street almost to the river and then follows it until turning right to run alongside the power station. Get off as soon as it turns right again and continue on foot alongside the power station; the railway entrance to the yard is at the end of the long wall. This time JS 8355 was shunting, again tender first towards the gate. The diesel took a train of empties to the CNR exchange sidings and returned with loaded wagons, so JS activity was again confined to shunting within, and occasionally just outside, the yard gate.
      d.       Heilongjiang Chemical Plant, 14 June 2012. Showed a taxi driver the firm's name in Chinese. We stopped outside a modest office block which clearly had no rail connection, so not the factory vehicle entrance shown in Isao Kanda's trip report (china635). Walked further east down a dirt road and saw a rail tank wagon. Scrambling over a low wall, I was at the CNR interchange siding. SY 0897 shuffled towards me with a single tank wagon that had pipes either side delivering weedkiller onto the sidings in undoubtedly effective quantities. Being downwind, I soon realised that to stay put would mean suffering a similar fate to the weeds, so shifted towards where the line entered the chemical plant. Some chaps were friendly but one took exception to me and was soon on the phone. Time to move on, so didn't see if there was a second loco in use.

Jiutai, 19 June 2012.
Only a few months ago Bernd Seiler mentioned that this mine, some 60 km from Changchun, had two SYs. Alas, the line has closed. Near the mine's road entrance are SY 1407, in the open, and SY 0515, covered by a large plastic sheet with just the chimney sticking through it. I'd say that operations stopped about 3 months previously. The locos could possibly be put back into service. Jiutai station square, probably usually the local bus terminus, was being remodelled. To get to the mine railway, turn right when leaving the station and look for a No. 7 bus from the same side of the road. The mine, what might be a small power station, and an associated office block are on the left after about 2 km. Once past these, alight, cross the road and turn onto a dirt road that soon crosses the mine railway. Trains between Jiutai and Changchun are infrequent, so I returned by bus, using a free shuttle from the station to a bit of land used as an ad-hoc long distance terminus.

Jilin Sinosteel Ferroalloy works, 20 June 2012.
A town map purchased outside Jilin station showed no industrial areas or their railways, so finding this place took a while. From the main gate walked south west, then north west around the outside wall but the internal railway system does not reach access gates in this area. The CNR interchange is to the south east, but comprehensive fencing for the parallel high speed line scotched any chance of getting near the works from that direction. However, across the multiple CNR tracks there is a building that might be the loco shed with a SY outside, partly obscured by bushes. It was too far away to see if it was operational or to get a number. (This appears to be a loco seen at the same spot in September 2011, possibly SY 1515. D. F.) A nearby road under the CNR lines and along the north east of the works had an access gate with a diesel loco shunting inside, but there was still no sign of any active SY. Time to call it a day.

Tiefa (Diaobingshan), 25 to 27 June 2012.
      a.       25 June. Booked into Baoping International Hotel opposite the station, now 158 yn, and saw SY 1770 plus 4 coaches arrive at 17.21 on the 'steam diagram' train 304 from Daqing. Caught the return at 17.41 (previously 17.31) to Daqing and back to Tiefa at 18.39. These trains were much less busy than in March 2011. There was no longer a steam crane for coal loading at Tiefa and it seems ash disposal here has ceased.
      b.       26 June. Expected to see a SY on train 301, 07.16 to Daqing, the first leg of the steam diagram, but that and all other trains expected to be steam were worked by diesel. Walked to Wangqian, noting that the part of the triangle between Wangqian and Xiaonan is now rusty, confirming that passenger trains no longer use it. Diesel DF5B 0060 took two wagons to the stone loading dock at Wangqian, so this is no longer barred to diesels.
      c.       27 June. Left hotel for the 06.00 bus to Shenyang (first 05.20, next 06.30, last 18.00). A set of coaches, presumably for the train 301, was in the platform with a diesel close, although not actually coupled up. There was no SY to be seen.
      d.       General. Maybe it was bad luck not to see more steam – or maybe good luck to see any at all. Many passenger trains have ceased to run, though a 7 coach one, diesel hauled, with only about 20 – 25 passengers, left Tiefa towards Sanjiazi at 18.45 on 25 & 26 June. Is this the set used on the Faku line? In March 2011 a small red and white diesel was hauling 3 coach trains. It, or a similar, loco, was hauling a coach and wagon as a per way train.

Getting to Fushun 27 June 2012.
The 06.00 bus from Tiefa terminated just across the road from Shenyang station at 07.42. Plenty of time, so I thought, to book a ticket for train 4293 at 08.18. This is one of the few trains to call at Piaoertun station, best starting point for finding the 'Old Steelworks' with its active SYs.

Things then went into slow motion. To left luggage to dump my main bag. They wanted it opened to poke around inside. Then they wanted to see a train ticket. I hadn't yet got one. Persuading them to take the bag took several minutes. Followed the signs to the ticket office. The door was closed with a sign indicating the ticket office was now at a different location. Joined the queue and got to the front at 07.56. First purchased my ticket for that evening's train to Pingzhuang and then started to ask for one to Piaoertun. While I was talking the ticket clerk placed a wooden 'closed' board behind the glass in front of me. Her shift finished at 08.00 and it was time! I did a bit of agitated jumping up and down and another clerk came to my aid. Well, not aid, as it turned out. He said it was too late for a ticket for the 08.18 as they stopped issuing them 15 minutes before train departure, and pointed to a clock on the wall showing 08.05. In fact it was 3 minutes fast and I showed him my (correct) watch – 08.02. He blustered and went off with my 20 yn note, to return with change and a ticket before rapidly walking away. The ticket was for Fushun North on a train an hour later. It was now genuinely just under 15 minutes before the 08.18, so I gave up. Still, every cloud…….. across the road for a McDonalds 'big breakfast'. The convoluted route through the still-being-rebuilt station from entrance to train took 8 minutes, so the 15 minute ticket issuing rule makes sense.

Fushun North is close to the well laid out and interesting, in spite of its name, War Criminals Management Centre **, visited before the museum of the Pingdingshan Massacre **.
Having done that, there was only time to look at the coal railway electric locos before returning to Shenyang. I decided to try Fushun again the next day, which meant changing my ticket to Pingzhuang for one a day later. Again staff were, untypically, incredibly unhelpful. Booked into the Liaoning Hotel, opposite Mao, for 358 yn. Effective double glazing kept out traffic noise.

Getting to see the SYs at Fushun Old Steelworks, 28 June 2012.
After an indulgent lie-in, to Shenyang Bus Station where I enquired about a bus to Daguantun, between Piaoertun and Fushun. None. The enquiry desk said the same. A nearby street had buses showing Route 1, Fushun, running about every 10 minutes, which go through Daguantun. A good idea to go there - the bus went past a road sign pointing towards Piaoertun station, but not serving it, before dropping me off in front of the one at Daguantun. Taxi back to Piaoertun.

From the station here it is about 45-50 minutes' walk to the Old Steelworks loco shed. As if leaving the station, turn left (west) and after about 600 metres turn left into a short road with a wide footbridge at the end. This crosses the CNR lines. The far end is a few metres away from the buffer stop on the run-round loop for the closed electric railway Jixiu Station, but this is completely hidden by trees. From the footbridge, turn right, cross the road, pass the petrol station and then turn left along the dirt road that leads to a level crossing. The nearest tracks are for the Old Steelworks, the furthest a single track electric coal railway line. Turn left on a trackside footpath for over a kilometre. The next level crossing gives access to the works and loco shed.

While walking alongside the track I was passed by the Old Steelworks' diesel GKD1A 0219 (a previous report mentions 0209), then an electric loco on a coal train and finally SY 1632 pushing a single wagon before it went to the shed, soon joined by the diesel.

At the level crossing and then at the shed I was readily given permission to wander around and take photos. Locos: SYs 1630 and 1632 in steam; SYs 0839, 1633 and 1634 dead but used within the past few weeks; SY 0725, not used for some months, looked as if it had run into a wall, with bits of brick and cement on the running plates on both sides and some bent handrails and a scraped cylinder casing. From looking at it, the damage seemed superficial. Also a dark green smallish diesel, built 1990, numbered (DFH5) 0408. I did not see SY 1050, reported here, but it could have been in the locked shed. Waited for action. After over an hour of nothing moving I realised that things had shut down for the day. Maybe mornings are better.

Hongmiao, 29 June 2012.
Train K7351 from Shenyang arrived at Pingzhuang on time, so checked in at the Pingzhuang Hotel (170 yn) and returned for train 6327 at 09.02 to Malin. It had rained overnight and some lines here had a light covering of new rust, but that to the mine was shiny, indicating a train had used it recently. SY 1565 was in steam, static and crew-less near a pile of recently-dumped ash. There were no wagons at the mine, so it must have taken a train to the CNR and would do nothing until empties arrived – probably not soon. The top of a second SY, presumably 1418, could be seen in the locked shed. Walked along the road to the level crossing near Yuanbaoshan station. Lots of traffic associated with a new railway being built alongside.

Yuanbaoshan, 29 June 2012.
Bus from near Yuanbaoshan station to the town. Down to the mine railway station. This has been given a make-over, including a fence to keep passengers off the tracks. JS 8418 was in steam outside the shed buildings, as was 8242, which moved from the ash pit to couple up to the front of the (coaches only) 14.00 to Fengshuigou. 8250 was under repairs, on blocks with wheels out and boiler tubes removed. 6245 and 8249 were both dead in the sheds. Staff got a bit 'funny', indicating that they wanted photographs before allowing me to take a close look at the locos in the sheds. Have previous visitors' generous gifts become a requirement?

Travelled behind 8242 to Fenshuigou and looked at the colliery narrow gauge electrics. Returned to find 8242 had disappeared. Bus back to Yuanbaoshan where 8242 arrived on empties from the CNR, unhooked and went on shed. So the 17.30 return passenger would have been diesel. In 2011 Yuanbaohan's bus station was alongside the road directly opposite that leading to the station. It has now closed and things are a bit haphazard. Stood on the corner of the main road and waved down the first bus which fortuitously was for Pingzhuang.

Pingzhuang, 30 June, 1 and 2 July 2012.
      a.       Deep mines, per way yard and sheds. JS 1001 is now in the per way yard next to the sheds sometimes used to stable locos. It was turned while getting here, so now faces north. The long single road shed held an unidentified SY; the other shed a 4 wheel per way railbus.
      b.       Open pit electrics. The whole of the mine equipment and electric locos workshops/shed was very quiet; maybe it was an annual holiday. 4 pit trains were in operation with electric locos 6787, 7326, 7328 and 7370. Locos 7362 and 7364 were in a loop part way to the open pit. What looks like a new road is being built across the line leading to the open pit side's per way yard and to alongside where coal is discharged from the open pit trains. A recent report said that electric operations will finish soon, to be replaced by lorries. So maybe lorries will use this road to tip coal onto the conveyor to the washery. Some peripheral areas of the electric system have been de-wired.
      c.       Open pit SYs. These were 1084 (which appeared to do nothing) and 1764.
      d.       Deep mines SYs. Over three days six SYs were seen in steam: 1017, 1052, 1083, 1085, 1425 and 1487. 1085 was only seen once, light engine, with patches of grey undercoat, so it could have been under test after overhaul and before final painting.
      e.       Compound area. With the mines workshops apparently closed, and with foliage at its summer densest, it was not possible to see if there are any locos here.
      f.       Pingzhuang bus station. Not yet relocated. Told there are no buses to Lingyuan, so unable to go there on a day trip to see if there are still any active SYs in the steelworks.

Fuxin, 3 to 7 July 2012.
      a.       Passenger services. The carriage sidings had 9 coaches which remained here for 5 days, with one added ex-works during that time. Numbers 79001/3/4/5/6/8/9/10/11/12. Probably all the operational stock. Services have finished, or at least been suspended.
      b.       Line closure. The line north of Changnan, through Ajing, has been closed for at least a month, possibly longer. I did not check if any traffic is moving to/from the CNR at Xinqiu or if a diesel is out-stationed there.
      c.       Locos in traffic. SYs 0770 (smokebox and cabside numbers), 0988, 1210, 1320, 1378, 1395, 1396, 1460, and 1818 were all in steam. SY 0941 was at the main servicing point, dead and had not been used for at least 4 weeks. Diesels in use DF5D 0067, 0068.
      d.       Junctions near the onetime Pingan mine and line to the open pit. Since March 2011 the junctions on the link line between Wulong yard and Wulong mine have been relaid, new signals provided and a new signal cabin erected. A line from here goes to the side of the former open pit, where on one day in 5 hours I saw three spoil trains unloading. This might be a (very) long-term traffic until most of the pit is filled and then converted to a leisure lake/park. (A photo of a train on this traffic is included in Roger Croston's trip report china641).
      e.       Taiping servicing point. This was deserted on one day and on another had SY 1395 in steam, often seen here, still with its smokebox portrait.
      f.       The dusty material taken to Wulong tip. This is tipped at one of three sidings. Possibly fly-ash from the power station, though it seems to be slightly oily, as if spent moulding sand. In 2011 I went to a point where wagons were being loaded with what seems to be the same material (see g iii), below).
      g.       Lines to the south off the main one. Bernd Seiler's excellent map, dated 2007, does not show three lines branching off to the south east. These are:-
i)       From Gaode, about 5 km to Xingfu mine, on the south side of the open pit and uphill most of the way. Trains are hauled. Photographically difficult except near the mine itself.
ii)       From Gaode, just north of i), about 4 km. Single track, with one coal yard siding and several sets of points to former sidings. About 4 km and uphill all the way. At one point this is close to, but at a higher level than, the line to Xingfu mine. Trains are propelled to two areas where stone is unloaded. Some years ago, on a clear day it was possible to photograph trains on the skyline from the side of the open pit, but piles of tipped stone and bushes now get in the way. Most of the line is enclosed by bushes and only the end, near the tips, has photographic potential – but nowhere as good as Wulong tip.
iii)       From Changman, about 3 km. Single track with three stone unloading points, ending at some derelict buildings. A short way along a further line about 1 km branches off this and after a few curves reaches an overhead hopper for loading the material which appears to be spent moulding sand.
      h.       Locomotive dumps.
i)       The carriage sidings contain, as in 2011, 8 locos: SYs 0036, 0076, 0127, 0391, 0540, 0576 and 0770 (this second 0770 has cabside and tender numbers, but the smokebox front missing), plus JF 0506.
ii)       The boundary wall of the per way yard on the Taiping side of the museum has been heightened, so it is no longer possible to look in. Tops of boilers of 3 locos are visible and I assume these are SYs 0849, 0911 and 0989, here in March 2011.
iii)       The dump behind this has tender numbered SY 0112 facing the rail access gate, so presumably the loco attached is SY 0112. As in 2010, access was refused. Foliage made it impossible to see if there is anything else here except at least one electric loco.
iv)       Part dismantled SY 0002 was easily seen in 2010 in a further dump alongside the above. The centre area has now been bulldozed and it seems that 0002 has gone, though other locos might still remain hidden in the remaining vegetation.
v)       Near Taiping servicing point. Long dumped SY 0541 and YJ 403 continue to rust away.
      i.       Non-railway interest. I visited two places near Fuxin: Haitang mountain (rock carvings)**, Ruiying Temple ** and, in Yi Xian, Fengguo Temple **.
      j.       Accommodation. Perhaps there have been changes of name. Near Fuxin station are:
i)       Station Hotel/Zhan Qian. Facing the station, on the right hand corner of the road junction opposite.
ii)       Huamei Hotel. Turn right outside the station and stay on the same side of the road. On the far corner of the road going under the CNR line. This light brown stone building, part 4 and part 2 floor, with name in English at roof level, was being fitted out/refurbished and not in use, although it could be soon.
iii)       Clerodendrum Hotel (name on inside; outside is only in Chinese). Beyond the above, set back from the road and a much more modest building, although also 4 floors. Stayed here one night, 128 yn incl breakfast, but it was fully booked after that.
iv)       Zhonglin International Hotel. Further away and isolated from shops, though only 5 yn taxi to the town centre or station. Room for 290 yn reduced to 240 yn, breakfast included. Quiet. My third stay; still hoping the hot water will be hot.

Bajiaotai, 8 July 2012.
Bus 202 from a small terminal for several routes to the west of Jinzhou station frontage (including, I think, 208 to Jinzhou Nan station). Bus 202 now heads west, so does not serve the stop near the bus station. At Bajiaotai, the power station is on the right. Stay on the bus until the level crossing, which has the loco shed adjacent. JS 8116 was in steam in the power station yard, 6244 in steam outside the shed and 6211 dead inside. Determined to photo 8116 in action, I waited for 3 hours until the driver came along. Off the loco went to collect 8 empty wagons, took these to the CNR sidings and returned light engine to go on shed for ash disposal. There were no more wagons in the power station and none to collect from CNR. So that was it. Some have seen more action here, but this was similar to what I saw in 2011.

Stayed at Jinzhou Mansion Hotel. It's to the right across the road when leaving the station, with a round bit on top. The entrance is from what looks like a gloomy carport. The initial quote was 283 yn, then a 'special offer' of a small room, advertised at 99 yn. From outside came a continuous loud whine, as if a machine (or air conditioning unit) had a bearing in distress, so I turned that down. After several minutes of insistence that I pay either 283 yn or 99 yn, they offered, and I accepted, a quiet room for 178 yn. On my last day went to Bijia island ** before train to Beijing.

Bits and pieces.

a. Changchun. Tram route 54 continues to flourish, though only one design of car was seen. It crosses light rail line 1 at Kuanping Road station. Maps show line 2 from the north side of Changchun station, but it was not open. Station rebuilding continues and use made of the two additional temporary platforms accessed via a busy side street and at least 600 metres from the main building.

b. Shenyang Metro. Line 2, serving Shenyang Bei station, is now open, daytime frequency every 10 minutes. Line 1 frequency is every 7 minutes. So the metro to connect between Shenyang and Shenyang Bei stations can take some time.

c. Shenyang, plinthed QJ 6757. This loco is in a small park area, below an embankment on the west side of the line south of Shenyang station. It is best seen from the adjacent line. Trains pass it appx. 3 – 4 mins after leaving Shenyang or 40 to 60 seconds after crossing the river bridge if approaching.

d. Dandong. Rusty 2-8-2 numbered 1115, class JF, with a notice in Chinese mentioning 1951, is outside the museum about the American war against Korea.

e. Dayan. Immediately west of the station, 20 km west of Yakeshi, an in-use NG line passes under the CNR.

f. Da'an Bei. Travelling by train from Qiqihar to Changchun, passed the works/depot before reversing at Da'an Bei. Some 30 diesels and about 6 electrics outside, although no electric wires here, but no QJs visible. Where is the QJ 'strategic reserve' kept?
(A visitor from September 2011 reports that from the entrance gate for road vehicles at the south of the depot, lots of steam locos seen, QJs and JSs most of them repainted, at the south end of the depot, alongside the depot to the east and beyond the depot at the site of the loco turning triangle. Entry was refused. D.F.)

g. Items marked **. Please contact me off-topic at: my e-mail.

David Thomas

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