Steam in China : February - March 2001
||Feb 11th - Feb 23th 2001
||Tianjin , YiXian
/ Beipiao , Yebaishou , Da`an
||Feb 24th - Mar 11th 2001
||Wulanhote/Arxan/Weidong , Xilin
, Weihe , Lingshan/
Anshan , Tonghua
||Mar 12th - Mar 25th 2001
||Anyang , Zhongyang/
Lishi , Baotou , Wuhai , Final Thoughts
Florian Menius reports on a tour to China in Februry and March 2001.
I had arrived at Baicheng around midnight on Feb 24th/25th 2001. After having waited 6.5 hours in the railway station`s waiting room, the sun rose (06:45). As the next train towards Wulanhaote did not depart before 08:05, I left the station and had a look at Baicheng shed.
Baicheng-Wulanhaote-Arxan / Weidong ng Railwy. Feb 25th 2001
CNR Steam around Baicheng
The CNR line from Baicheng to Arxan via Wulanhaote is 100% diesel now (worked by Baicheng based DF4B, DF5 as pilots). The recently introduced two pairs of "Xingan"-Trains between Wulanhaote and Suolon are diesel railcars ("Diesel Motor Trolley") plus 1 YZ22-coach. Both the tracks and railway staff confirmed that usage of steam ended "more than 1 year ago".
At Wulanhaote a green diesel numbered "9 022" in industrial use was noted.
B.G.Evans suggests that it is a Shijiazhuang built diesel, class TH9.
During my brief visit to Baicheng CNR depot on Feb 25th, 07:00-07:15, the shed contained only cold or dumped steam engines (4 JS and 2 QJ). Most of them obviously were no longer useable with QJ 6888 (last recorded under steam in October 2000) and JS 8230 being closest to workable consition. The only "working steam" at the depot was a Z151-steam crane.
Given these oberservations and those at Da`an Bei, I presume that Baicheng depot has no more than one single steam turn per day : the Baicheng-Da`an Bei-Songyuan passenger trains L701 and L702 :
As said before, L701 was observed three times : it had QJ 6848 every day which was the only Baicheng engine I noted under steam.
- L701 : Songyuan 05:30 - Da`an Bei 07:03/07:13 - Baicheng 09:57
- L702 : Baicheng 15:20 - Da`an Bei 17:57/18:07 - Songyuan 19:48
Engines CNR Baicheng :
||5666(ld), 5701(ld), 8228, 8230
||992(at Taipingchuan), 6888, 6890
At 08:05 in the morning, I took fast 4265 to Wulanhaote (arr.09:34). As there was nothing of interest to be seen, I hang around there until noon when I took passenger 6816 (dep. 13:54) back to Weidong in order to visit the
Weidong Narrow Gauge Railway
This ng railway was referred to in CRJ and WS as the "Gegenmiao ng railway". In fact, the ng does not start at Gegenmiao (km 54) but at Weidong (km 61). Quails Map is wrong, too. So, the name "Weidong ng railway" would be more appropriate.
The ng railway starts next to the CNR railway station of Weidong at a coal transshipment yard. Coal seems to be the major goods to be transported by the ng railway. Next to the coal yard, there is a triangle which even showed traces of use. The depot of the line is not located at Weidong. The line itself leaves Weidong in south-east direction. I walked along the track until km 3.5 : mainly straight line through flat, rural countryside but with very good ballast ! After some 10 km, the line reaches the mountains and is probably more scenic there.
As the day of my visit was Sunday, the system did not operate. Only some empty coal wagons could be seen at Weidong ng station.
Though this system is reported to be 100% diesel worked (I saw no engines there), it might offer some nice photospots for the coal trains.
I left Weidong at 17:17 with K963 to Wulanhaote (where I had stored my luggage). At Wulanhaote, I bought a ticket for the overnight fast 2155 to Harbin which made me queing up at the ticketcounter for nearly half an hour : Though being a quite large city, Wulanhaote has got no ticket computer - they still sell Edmonson-style tickets - and have only 1 ticket counter at all !
Fast 2155 left Wulanhaote at 20:16. I had bought a hard seat ticket to Anda as I wanted to get a Edmonson-Ticket. Because the train was quite empty, I did not upgrade for a sleeper : 3 YZ-Seats offer nearly the same comfort than a YW. Arrival at Anda at 03:43.
Monday, Feb 26th 2001
At Anda, I waited another 2.5 hours in the station`s waiting room before going to Ranghulu by passenger 6303 (hauled by Qiqihar based DFH3 240), dep. 06:27, arr. Ranghulu 07:25. At Ranghulu, I walked along the line to Zhuangzhi station and photographed 2 sb and 1 nb QJ hauled freight here. At 10:41, I took DF4 hauled passenger 6005 back to Ranghulu. There, I got my steam departure shot before leaving Ranghulu at 13:00 again (passenger 6212 to Harbin).
The "Tekuai" T 401-408 express trains from Qiqihar to Harbin were hauled by brandnew DF4D in the 3000-series. In contrast to the "ordinary" DF4Ds (0001...) with a maximum speed of 145 km/h, the DF4D 3000 have a maximum speed of 170 km/h - even faster than a DF11 ! I noted DF4D 3016 and 3019, both built in 2000.
At 13:00, I left Ranghulu on board passenger 6212 to Harbin, arr.17:15. This train was hauled by a Harbin based DFH3 in white-blue-red livery, the same livery that the 160km/h class 25K-coaches have. This engine must have seen better days as this livery indicates that it once hauled Air-Con-Express-Trains rather than a ordinary all-station passenger. Nowadays, these air-con-trains already see their third generation of motive power after the DFH3s : DF4, DF4D 0000 and now DF4D 3000 or DF11.
At Harbin, I bought a ticket (YZ, upgrade to YW on board) for the K601 express (dep.21:00) to Wuyiling. Both 2 waiting rooms at Harbin station have a seperate "Waiting Lounge" which costs 6Y extra but is much cheaper and even more comfortable than the overpriced "lüguans" everybody wants to make you go to at Harbin station. The next morning at 03:54, I arrived at the
Xilin Mineral Railway Feb 27th - 28th 2001
Thanks to Richard Hay for his very useful description of the hotel and the access to the ng yard. A good example for "... when a few words help very much".
Steam Operation : As reported by Richard Hay, there are not very many trains along the "Mineral Railway" during daylight hours. Expect 2 trains per direction but without any schedule ! Trains consist of 4-6 wagons.
Linesiding : Due to the low number of trains, the only possibility to get a reasonable crop of pictures is to chase the trains by taxi. As the weather was poor during my 2 days at Xilin with the exception of the afternoon of Feb 28th, I took no taxi at all. "Spend as much money as the weather is worth !"
Accomodation : The hotel described by Richard Hay is a good choice. A good double with bathroom is 132Y. Cheaper ones with facilities on the floor are available for 80Y. Breakfast is included.
According to local staff, the current roster includes 7 C2s. 2 or 3 of them are under steam per day. Compared with Richard Hay`s Report who saw 06, 07 and 10 working, the situation has changed. Only 06 was still working. On the first day of my visit (Feb 27th), 06 was under heavy repair at the shed. 07 is dumped in front of the shed and partly dismantled for spare parts : one axle of its tender was missing and parts of its brakes and gear were being removed during my visit with the latter ones being supplied to the "repair" of 06 as "spare parts". 10 was not seen but it is suppossed to be no longer workable, too. Its tender was used by No. 09 whereas the tender of 09 is dumped next to 07 in front of the shed.
All engines are in very poor condition. Out of the three engines I noted under steam (06, 08 and 09) 06 was the worst one. Technically, 09 seemed to be the best engine with the lowest number of steam leaks whereas 08 was the only engine which still had all 5 "Tielu Plates" (see RD`s pictures), the red and silver "Railway Symbols". The other engines had 1 (09, at the boiler`s front end) or no "Tielu plate" (06, 07).
Engines noted :
|C2 under steam
||06, 08, 09(with tender of 10)
||07, tender of 09
Further notes : Railway staff at the narrow gauge is extremely friendly. After my 2 days there, I must have had a tea with almost all employees there. A rather bad development at Xilin is, that some railway staff tries to sell the "Tielu Plates" of the C2s to gricers (This must be the reason why most engines no longer have their plates). Though I had not wanted to take a plate (due its weight and the long time I still would be in China) the "shed foreman" insisted in giving me a plate as present. I could not refuse. So, my luggage had 5kg extra for the rest of the tour - nearly 4 weeks !
Tuesday, Feb 27th 2001
After arrival at Xilin at 03:52, I went to the hotel, checked in and had some hours of extra sleep after 3 unconfortable nights in waiting rooms and hard-seat coaches. Weather was so bad (grey sky, very dark, later snowfall) that the best option would have been staying in the bed for the whole day. However, at 09:00, I decided to have a look at the ng railway where I arrived after some 20min walk. 08 was under steam, 06 under repair. At 10:30, 09 arrived with 5 fulls, at 12:00 08 left Xilin with empties followed by 09 at 14:25. Now, I tried to have a look at the Xilin Steelworks where several smoke plums were visible and the whistles of SYs could be heared. At 14:45 snowfall started. So, I did not wait very long at the steelworks` connection to the CNR and returned to the hotel early. I saw no SY but an ugly orange 4-wheel-diesel tripped some wagons to the CNR yard while I was there.
Wednesday, Feb 28th 2001
The weather forecast promised as bad weather as the day before. So, taking a taxi was "out of thought" and I intended to leave Xilin with the 14:45 passenger to Nancha.
I arrived at the ng station at 08:00. Surprisingly, 06`s repairs had been finished the day before and the engine was test-steamed in front of the shed. I joined a track repair brigade who repaired the track along the first 2 km next to Xilin. At 08:50, 09 arrived with 6 loaded wagons. A few minutes later - I could not believe it - the sun came out and shone for the rest of the day ! But I did not change my plan ("no taxi") - and it was the right decision as I missed nothing. Well, 08 arrived with 6 loaded wagons at 13:00, but chasing this train would have been senseless as the locomotives was in the middel of the train : 1 wagon propoelled plus 5 behind the engine - a unphotographable train !
Now, all 3 engines were at Xilin. I decided to wait for the first departure still hoping to get the 14:45 passenger to Nancha. At 14:20, a "succession of empties" started : trains in intervals of 40 minutes ! The first one was 08 at 14:20 followed by 09 at 15:00 and last but not least just repaired 06 at 15:40. Chasing a train by taxi would have been senseless again as I would have missed the other 2 trains then ...
I did not get the 14:45 passenger of course. So I took fast 2196 at 19:27 to Harbin - and spent another night in hard-seat-coaches and Harbin station! s "Waiting Lounge". Arrival Harbin at 01:59, then 4 hours in the "Waiting Lounge", then further on to Yabuli with K265, Harbin dep. 06:09, Yabuli arr. 09:28. At Yagou near Harbin, a JS was seen under steam (I read 8327 but this would be a Baotou engine ! Maybe 6327 ?). At Yabuli, it was no problem to get a minibus to Weihe as several ones were waiting in front of the station. You just have to look up the Weihe-charakters in the timetable ... Fare was 5Y. After check-in at the hotel, it was only just over 1 hour after arrival at Yabuli when I was at the
Weihe Forestry Railway Mar 1st - 3rd 2001
Few to add as a number of good reports (e.g. by Rob Dickinson, Ted Talbot, CRJ and WS) are available which include a number of maps, too.
The system is very good. If it reopens next winter I`ll be there again! I stood at the recommanded "Guesthouse" at Weihe. A double is 100Y and 146Y respectively with the latter one having a own bathroom.
Steam Operation : See Duncan Cotterill`s Report. The passenger operated daily plus 2-3 goods trains each direction during daylight. As reported before, the passenger trains do not run according to the published timetable. In reality, approximate timings are :
At Yulin, a 6-wheel Shijiazhuang built diesel (type JMY 120, built July 1986) is shunting. Yulin also receives brickstones by railway. So, the railway does not transport timber exclusively though the volume of brickstone traffic is suppossed to be very low.
Linesiding : Public buses. As I found no report of gricers going to the southern end of the line by other means of transport than by taxi, I thought there would be no buses. This is wrong. Though a number of buses terminate at Pinglin, all other buses go further south. I saw buses going to Dongfeng, Chonghe, Qingshan and even buses to Liushan. Nerverthless, a taxi will be the most efficient way of linesiding as buses to the far end are not very frequent. As I did not go further south than Pinglin, I had no taxi but relied on public buses.
||030, 031 (6-wheel-tender, "unnumbered"), 034, 035, 053-055
Thursday, Mar 1st 2001
I arrived at Keyunzhan at 10:45. I walked southwards along the line as far as to Xinli (km10). 2 trains of empties, 1 sb single engine plus the nb passenger 212 could be seen before sunset at 16:30. At Xinli, I took a bus back to Weihe (2Y).
Friday, Mar 2nd 2001
After a morning visit to Weihe yard (arrival of passenger 202, then a light engine sb), I went to Xiping by bus (3Y). Between 09:00 and 16:30 there were two loaded, two empties and the nb passenger 212. At Pinglin, I met Duncan Cotteril plus accompanion. Back to Xiping on foot and to Weihe by bus.
Saturday, Mar 3rd 2001
The two previous days had offered sunny weather. For March 3rd (and the next two days, too) the weather forecast had promised snowfall. Sadly, the forecast was correct. As I did not want to wait 3 days at Weihe for better weather, I decided to leave Weihe in the evening. The day was spent riding passenger 201 to Liushan and 212 back to Weihe, hauled by 031.
Train 212 had to wait at Dongfeng for a train of empties for more than 1 hour. So it did not arrive at Keyunzhan before 16:45.
I left Weihe at 17:49 : fast K632 to Harbin. The train was nearly empty as another express train (which does not stop at Weihe) runs only 1 hour earlier but has got nearly the same stops. At Harbin, I bought a ticket for fast 2096, dep. 22:19 to Liaoyang. As the ticket counter had neither hard seat nor hard sleeper tickets, I got a soft sleeper ticket for 179Y. Unusual luxury for a "low-budget-trip".
Lingshan / Anshan Mar 4th 2001
CRJ 125 reported about Lingshan depot north of Anshan as having some 25 JS plus a handful of QJs. I wanted to check out this.
I arrived at Liaoyang on Mar 4th 2001 at 06:23. I intended to go further on towards Benxi as I expected steam to be most likely to operate along this line. At first, I went to the footbridge next to the service area ("depot" would have been an exaggeration) north of the station : abondoned ! In the freight yard, 3 DF5 were present - 2000 built examples in the 17xx - range ! Obviously, steam had finished here.
I decided to have a look at Lingshan depot. Therefore, I took passenger 6666, Liaoyang 07:19, Lingshan arr. 07:39.
My fears got confirmed here. 2000-built DF5s everywhere both in the freight yard and the depot. The shed contained only dumped steam locomotives (some 10 JS and 5 QJ). A sixth QJ was cut up in portable bits in front of the shed. Usage of steam at Lingshan has finished !
The depot is situated some 1.5 km north of Lingshan passenger station between the mainline (but hidden behind the dam of a overfly track) and the freight yard. Next to the depot, there is a overfly-track over the mainline. This line is not the "ANSHAN CITY CIRCLE LINE" as shown on Quails Map. It is just a connection between the southbound (=eastern) track of the mainline and the freight yard, situated west of the mainline. The dam of this track offers a good view inside Lingshan depot.
Gricers are not welcome. When I tried to identify the parts of the cut up QJ outside the shed, it took less than 5 minutes until a "leather jacket" appeared and made me leave.
Engines noted :
||5238, 5344, 5616, 5835, 5942, 5944, 8212(hd) plus 2-3 further engines
||6536, 6552, 6621, 6922, 6945
From Lingshan, I walked southwards along the mainline as far as to Lishan. The "Circle Line" joins the mainline about 2 km north of Lishan station and not north of Lingshan (Quails Map is wrong). With no CNR steam left, I spent the rest of the day at the
Between Lishan and Anshan CNR station, the tramway line has been completely rebuilt (the section where tramway, CNR and steelworks line are parallel). If the tramway`s vehicles weren`t so slow, you would be able to call it a "Light Rapid Transit" System here.
In contrast to Quails Map, the tramway line to Taipingcun leaves the CNR line in front of Lishan station in right angel. The tramway`s tracks in the city center are very poor, the same is the track towards Changdianbu. 34 Japan-built and 8 Dalian-built tramcars were noted in use.
I left Anshan at 16:18 by overcrowded fast 4223 to Liaoyang. There, getting a sleeper for K673, dep. 20:58 to Tonghua was no problem. Arrival at Tonghua : 06:05, greated by JS 8211 and 8232.
Tonghua Mar 5th - 11th 2001
Most is well known here (see March 2000 and September 2000 Report ) but some changes/ additions:
According to railway staff, a frontal collision of two trains recently happened at Tonghua. The accident involved 4 (!) steam locomotives (probably two double-headed trains, FM), which all were destroyed. The boiler of 1 locomotive even burst; its crew was badly injured by hot water/steam.
As substitute for the 4 "lost" engines, Tonghua got some new JS from elsewhere (e.g. JS 6238 from Da`an Bei) but diesels as well - see next paragraph.
Dieselisation at Tonghua restarts after a braek of several years. The first new diesel received is DF4C 5335 in red-blue-cream livery, built in 2000. As virtually all DF4s are used at Tonghua every day, this means one steam turn fewer ! Sadly, the "additional" diesel in most cases worked between Hunjiang and Songshuzhen making a visit to Dayangcha senseless and motive power unpredictable. In the worst case, the DF4 and DF5 1695 (I hate this engine ! FM) will handle most trains at Dayangcha (see Steam Diagrams) leaving only 1 JS hauled freight during daylight.
According to railway staff steam at Tonghua will end in August 2000, too. It can`t be just random that both Da`an Bei, Tonghua and Yebaishou give the same date. Read my Final Thoughts, too.
Very annoying ! Each time I leave Tonghua, a new timetable is introduced a few weeks later. Therefore, I will not give a timetable this time.
The timetable printed in the All-China timetable book was mostly correct. Only one change : All station passenger 6852 (Hunjiang 06:00-Tonghua 07:52) does not operate. On the other hand, there is a new evening train from Hunjiang to Tonghua and further on to Shenyang : fast 4282, Hunjiang dep. 19:37, nonstop to Tonghua 20:45, and on to Shenyang.
Steam Diagrams for Tonghua Area
Based on observations in September 2000 and now, the following "steam turns" for Tonghua area could be extracted (diagrams for Hunjiang/Songshuzhen Area see Sept 2000 Report but note retimings, see below). Freight timings are only approximate. Further trains may appear stem hauled, too.
||Guosong 05:57 - Tonghua 07:13
||Tonghua 09:00 - Laoqing 11:30 (tender first)
||Laoqing 12:00 - Tonghua 14:00
||Tonghua 17:00 - Hunjiang 20:00
||Hunjiang 07:54 - Tonghua 09:48
||Tonghua 11:30 - Hunjiang 14:30
||Hunjiang 04:00 - Tonghua 06:40
||Tonghua 08:40 - Hunjiang 12:00
||Hunjiang 15:30 - Wangou/Songshuzhen 17:30
The steam turns above show no day-by-day sequence for a particular engine. "Turn 3" can be DF4 as well. Turn 1 includes the often mentioned pick-up freight, but a DF5 may cover this duty as well.
In one occassion, even fast train 4245 (Tonghua 07:57 - Hunjiang 09:05, further on to Linjiang DF5 hauled) was noted JS hauled (Mar 10th, JS 8198).
Due to the new passenger timetable (Oct 21st 2000), freight timings have changed, too. Some former "freight paths" are occupied by passengers now with the freights running earlier. Due to a higher number of daylight passengers, freight paths are more fixed now than it used to be before. No changes : DF5 1695 (Urrrghhhh !, FM) is on one of the JS duties to Wangou/Songshuzhen every day. Nowadays, a second diesel (DF4) often covers a second JS duty, too (see Hunjiang Diagrams,too but note the retimings listed below).
Steam Departures / Arrivals Hunjiang to/from Zazi
||15:52 (mixed 6865)
Bold = JS possible underlined = to Zazi or Sanchanzi only / arrivals tender first
I have to correct my statement from September 2000 ("No photospots around Songshuzhen"). In September, we saw the line west of Songshuzhen only. But the most spectacular section is east of Songshuzhen. For the first 5 km east of Songshuzhen towards Yonghong, the line follows a narrow gorge with a heavy grade for trains to Songshuzhen. Compared with Dayangcha, no poles spoil photograhy here, the valley is much narrower but the mountains as high and spectacular (stonecliffs). A nice bridge is there, too.
Freight traffic is 100% JS. This agrees both with my observations and with the statemant of the chief of Yonghong station. All freights are hauled by Quanyang-subshed based, high-deflectored JS including 2 previously never reported, decorated engines (JS 8108 and 8109, a very smart appearance, FM).
Unfortunately, volume of freight traffic is not very high. The trains are often very short (4-6 wagons only) but (double-headed due to the grade) 20-wagon-trains can be seen as well. Based on my observations and the train register of Yonghong station, there are usually 3 trains in the morning until 11:00, but then no freight trains until 16:00. Individual freight timings are (approximate timings only, times can vary +/-45min) :
||Songshuzhen 06:40 - Quanyang ?
||alternative path : dep. 08:30
||Quanyang ? - Songshuzhen 08:30
||Songshuzhen 10:30 - Quanyang ?
||JS of 08:30 arrival, train comes from Hunjiang (DF4 hauled)
||Quanyang ? - Songshuzhen 16:30
||further on to Hunjiang, DF4 hauled
||Songshuzhen 16:45 - Yonghong 17:00
||Yonghong 17:45 - Songshuzhen 18:00
|| tender first
||Songshuzhen 18:30 - Quanyang ?
|| JS of 16:30 arrival
The afternoon trip to Yonghong will be worked by the "Songshuzhen Spare Engine" as its only daylight movement if there are no trains to Quanyang needing a double-header.
As mentioned before, both Songshuzhen and Wangou have a JS pilot (Quanyang subshed engines, too). JS 8112, the Songshuzhen pilot, serves a 5-6 km long branch line to a number of coal mines south-west of Songshuzhen several times a day (3-4 return trips during daylight). I do not know whether it is just random or not, but it often leaves Songshuzhen station prior to the arrival of a passenger train and arrives back after the passenger`s departure. JS 8112 is funnel first for loaded trains (northbound). In addition to the pilot, Songshuzhen has got a Quanyang-based "Spare Engine" under steam (JS 8208 in most occasions).
At Wangou, two steeply graded branch lines to the bottom of the valley are served by the JS pilot (I noted large deflectored JS 6304). Sadly, the loaded uphill trains are tender first here.
As mentioned by Adrian Freeman, not all freights from Hunjiang (timings see above) go as far as Songshuzhen. They may terminate at Wangou as well. I could find no general rule which trains goes as far as Songshuzhen because it varied from day to day. The only sure workings are the DF4 hauled freight in the morning (Hunjiang dep. 07:00, Songshuzhen arr. 10:00) which goes further on to Quanyang (see above) plus its return working. By the way : the DF4 sits around nearly the whole day at Songshuzhen shed (10:30-17:00) as it waits for the return freight from Quanyang to take over.
On the other hand, the "classic" 07:45 departure from Hunjiang arrives at Songshuzhen around 11:00. The engine immediately goes to the shed, gets water, coal and is turned before heading back only 1 hour later around 12:00 (Hunjiang arr. 15:00). This short turn-round is result of the new passenger timetable - the path, the return working used to use (which was 1.5 hours later) is occupied by passenger 6850 now. This pair of freights are further sure trains to and from Songshuzhen though the "trains" may become light engine workings as well. For instance, I observed the eb train arriving at Songshuzhen with only a caboose in tow (but the engine was a DF4, nothing was lost ...)
Though this was my third visit to Tonghua within a year and my days No. 13 to 19 in this area, I still discovered 4 previously unreported JS : high deflectored JS 5623 (built March 1959) and JS 6304, 8108, 8109 from Quanyang subshed. JS 6104 is dumped next to the wagon works at Tonghua.
||5623(hd), 5751(ld), 6238(hd), 6271(ld), 6304(ld), 6306(ld), 6366(ld), 6558(hd), 8040(hd), 8108(hd,d), 8109(hd,d), 8112(hd), 8155, 8158(hd), 8198(hd), 8199(hd), 8200(hd), 8201(hd), 8208(hd), 8211, 8229(hd), 8231, 8232, 8233, 8234
||0848, 1480 (both Dongtonghua Steelworks)
||4033, 4124, 4125, 4158-4160, 4230-4232, 5335
||1167, 1193, 1195, 1256-1258, 1516, 1671, 1695, 5009, 5010
Monday, Mar 5th 2001
The day was spent around Tonghua and Dongtonghua. As usual, the morning was very busy (1 freight plus 2 passengers arriving, 4 freights leaving Tonghua until noon). The afternoon offered only the returning pick-up freight and the evening nb freight from "Turn 1" (see above). I took fast 4263 (hauled by DF4 5335 - it hauled this train and its return working 4264 every day), Tonghua dep. 17:25 to Songshuzhen, arr. 20:06. After check-in at the lüdian (see Sept 2000 Report), I said "Hallo" to my music-box (JS 8112). I had the same room, we had had in September. Now, I know why the sound-experience in this room is so great : The glass of the window is missing in one corner. Some foils of plastic are used instead there. These foils seem to work like an amplifier for noise/sound from outside as it was louder in the room when the window was closed than when it was open. A great experience to listen JS8112 and the other JS down in the station for the whole nioght ! By the way : you will hear nothing else than the steam locomotives : diesels are not loud enough and roads are far away or at the other side of the building.
Tuesday, Mar 6th 2001
I was at the station at 06:45. Compared with the day before (brilliant sunshine until 15:00), the weather was worse : grey sky. I walked along the line towards Wangou to the bridge with the cutting next to it. Gricers have been there before as there were unmisunderstandable traces in the snow (no Chinese would climb onto this cliff there ...). At 08:40 haevy snowfall started. Though I hadn`t got my spot there, I gave up and returned to the lüdian where I spent the rest of the morning reading and watching the movements in the station (Photography was absolutely senseless). Later, I decided to have a look at the Wangou pilot. I took 6850, dep. 13:40 to Wangou. JS 6304 was pilot there. It was still snowing when JS 8158+8040 arrived double-heading a freight from Hunjiang at 15:25. JS 8040 was uncoupled, some wagons deattached and JS 8158 went on to Songshuzhen at 15:40. I followed it by passenger 6849, dep.15:56.
Wednesday, Mar 7th 2001
Weather had not improved but at least the snowfall had stopped. Today I tried the "east side" of Songshuzhen and discovered the gorge there. I walked to Yonghong where I studied the train register and took some photos. A railway inspector from Tonghua arrived collecting the earns of Yonghong station (must have been a lot more than 5000Y). He invited me to have lunch with him and "his friends". His friends proofed to be the "Honours of Yonghong" including the chief of the station and the director of the local bank. I could not find out the function of the other 4 persons but all were very experienced in drinking beer and "Baijiu" (ricewine). So, I was nearly drunken when I boarded passenger 6850 back to Songshuzhen at 13:11. As the railway inspector took this train as well, I did not have to buy a ticket (and even got no !) though I liked to buy one (would have been a Edmonson style one). Nobody understood that I wanted a ticket though I had been offered a free ride ...
The rest of the day, I spent at Songshuzhen station watching JS 8112 shunting and serving the branch line southwards (which is not rewarding - a narrow valley without light, much industry and loaded trains downhill).
Thursday, Mar 8th 2001
A third day of bad weather at Songshuzhen ! After having watched the three morning freights eastwards, I took fast 4242 to Sanchazi, dep. 11:40, arr.13:17. At Sanchazi, the sun was shining. I had 3 northbound freights (2 JS and DF5 1695) plus an southbound freight (15:00 arrival) from Songshuzhen (DF4 hauled). I returned to Songshuzhen by JS 6558-hauled passenger 6865. At Songshuzhen, I had the last of 7 great nights at the lüdian. Songshuzhen was a mixed box. On the one hand, my most hated diesel (DF5 1695) was a frequent visitor to Songshuzhen as this engine was the DF5 that worked between Hunjiang and Songshuzhen whenever I was there. No other diesel destroyed more steam shots than this ugly DF5 ! God damn it ! On the other hand, Songshuzhen offered JS 8112 with its shiny appearance, its clear and powerful sound, its reliable action. If JS 8112 hadn`t been there, I would not have stayed that long at Songshuzhen ! Good bye JS 8112 ! I will never forget you !
Friday, Mar 9th 2001
My first (and only) day at Songshuzhen with sunshine in the morning ! I was at the line before sunrise. Sadly, the 06:40 train was half an minute too early : the sun had not appeared over the hill yet when JS 8109 passed. The 08:30 arrival was unusually short with only 1 wagon plus caboose but the 10:40 departure was great : a 23-wagon double-headed train with "my" JS 8112 in front of JS 8229 ! Great !
I had to hurry when walking back to Songshuzhen as I intended to leave with the 11:40 fast to Hunjiang where I arrived at 13:38. Sun had gone again. I went to Zazi station where I had 1 sb and 2 nb freights plus passenger 6865 until "unphotographable darkness", all JS hauled.
I stood at the "ChangBaiShan Binguan" next to Hunjiang station which is bad value with very small but expensive rooms (100Y or 180Y) and a strange "computer controlled" AirCon-System which switched off most of the room`s lights at 19:00 automatically. Not even the room mate managed to switch them on again. So, I was forced to go to bed ...
Saturday, Mar 10th 2001
The whole day was spent around Hunjiang. JS 8231, 8233 and 8234 were the pilots - business as usual. I tried to get a shot of JS 8234 tripping coal to the PowerPlant but though I had two afternoon trips, I got no shot of the viaduct next to the Power Plant.
In the evening, I took the unadvertised and empty 19:37 fast 4282 (see above) to Tonghua where I stood at a cheap lüdian for 10Y/person.
Sunday, Mar 11th 2001
Very few steam at Tonghua today ! "Turn 3" (see above) was DF4 and even "Turn 1" was a DF5. So, I had only two steam trains ("Turn 2", JS 6238(hd) ). At Tonghua, JS 8155, 8232 and high-deflectored JS 5623 were pilots. I went to Dongtonghua again (by bus), later further on to Yayuan (passenger 6853). The only further steam train was a lightweight 12:30 southbound freight. With "Turn1" being diesel, prospects for the afternoon were very bad. So, I left Yayuan by passenger 6849 (dep.12:55) to Hunjiang where I finally got my "PowerPlant-Bridge"-Shot with JS 8234. The 15:00 arrival was double-headed (8198+8200), the 15:30 freight to Songshuzhen DF4 ("Turn3") but passenger 6865 steam hauled once again (I observed it 7 times : JS daily !). After 6865, I had to stop a taxi at the adjacent highway as I had to get the 16:30 passenger back to Tonghua (arr.18:08).
At Tonghua, it was no problem to get a sleeper for the nearly empty Air-Con train 1408 to Qingdao (dep. 19:12) though I wanted to go to Jinzhou only. Very often, you do not get such "short-distance-tickets" for long-haul-trains at the ticket counter. At Jinzhou in the morning of Mar 12th, I met Reinhard (as planned). Our destination was the YiXian-Beipiao line again ...
Dresden, Mar 30th 2001
© 2001, F.Menius , email: