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Steam in China  :   February - March 2001

Part III



 
Part I Feb 11th - Feb 23th 2001 Tianjin , YiXian / Beipiao , Yebaishou , Da`an Bei
Part II Feb 24th - Mar 11th 2001 Wulanhote/Arxan/Weidong , Xilin , Weihe , Lingshan/ Anshan , Tonghua
Part III 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.


Monday, Mar 12th 2001

Arrival at Jinzhou (express 1408 from Tonghua) was at 04:25 in the morning. At 06:06, we took fast 2229 to YiXian arr.06:53. At 07:35 QJ6707+6752 arrived with the pick-up freight from Fuxin whereas QJ 6990 arrived light engine from Beipiao at the same time. QJ 6990 took some wagons and left for Fuxin at 08:15. QJ 6752 shunted in the station, QJ 6707 was turned via the loop and left YiXian tender first towards Jinzhou at 08:25.
We took passenger 6753 (dep. 09:09) to Shangyuan (arr.09:48). Today, there were only few steam freights : 2 trains each direction until sunset only. Out of them, the evening eb freight was banked by a QJ from Beipiao Nan to Nanling - I had never seen a banked train before here. In the evening, we took the 16:30 bus to Beipiao where we stood at the (bad) NanshanJieBinguan. A visit to Beipiao station and the barrier post next to the hotel provided the passenger and freight timetable for Beipiao respectively.

Tuesday, Mar 13th 2001

In the morning we watched L611 (Beipiao-Chaoyang) at the NanshanJie-Halt (06:25, QJ 6412) before taking the railcar at 06:58 to Luotuoying (07:08). A brief look over the shed`s wall (not even a photo was taken) made a "leather jacket" arriving. So, we left the station and went to the curved viadukt 1.5 km south of Luotuoying where we stood until noon : 2 freights and 1 steam passenger each direction plus various railcars and light engine workings. At 12:00, we went to Beipiao Nan by bus No.5.
At 12:35 QJ 6754 left BeipiaoNan towards Chaoyang with a long freight as fast 2066 (scheduled departure 12:28 to Chaoyang) was more than 30 min late. At 14.00 there was another express train to Chaoyang (probably fast 4217, would have been some 3 hours late). Due to the lateness of 4217, there was no path for the L615 Beipiao-Chaoyang passenger (Beipiao dep.13:22) between Beipiao Nan and Chaoyang - it had to be cancelled ! We waited for it without success. As the weather became worse and worse, we gave up and took passenger 6754 (dep. 14:37) back to Jinzhou (arr. 17:35). Now, a odysee began ! We bought tickets for express 1414 (Tumen-Qingdao) to Cangzhou, dep. 21:24. But this train was so overcrowded that we had to stand. For upgrading for a sleeper, there was a waiting list with more than 20 names ... We got off after 2.5 hours at Shanhaiguan (23:48) and waited for the next train ...

Wednesday, Mar 14th 2001

The next train towards Tianjin was fast 2048 (Changchun-Shijiazhuang) at 01:59. We boarded this train but could not get a sleeper before Tianjin at 06:00. So we spent this night 2 hours standing, 2 hours in Shanhaiguan`s waiting room and last but not least 4 hours hardseat. We arrived at Shijiazhuang at 12:08 on time. At 13:50 we went further south to Anyang by express 1495 (Shijiazhuang-Shanghai) : reserved seats. When arriving at Anyang we were greated by JS 8068 hauling passenger 7617 to Lizhen (dep. 16:29). We stood at the railway hotel left of the station. 

Anyang     Mar 15th 2001

CRJ recently reported about a "haven of steam" here. When we passed Anyang in October 2000, a JS was seen under steam there, too. So, we decided to visit Anyang.

Steam Operation : Xinxiang based JS still work the branch lines from Anyang to Lizhen and Linxian/ Linzhou. Steam action is limited to the passenger trains. Goods trains are either Xinxiang based DF7 or very old DF4 from the same depot.

Passenger Timetable

7615 7611 7617 7613 km   7612 7616 7614 7618
07:20
09:31
16:28
 
0
Anyang
08:52
11:02
 
19:27
07:33
09:44
16:41
 
7
Anyang Xi 
08:40
10:50
 
19:15
07:48
10:04
16:56
 
18
Shuiye
08:23
10:33
 
18:58
07:59/08:07
10:15/10:17
17:07/17:10
17:14
25
Shijian
08:04/08:10
10:02/10:20
16:43
18:43/18:45
08:19
|
17:22
|
32
Lizhen
|
09:49
|
18:30
 
10:25
 
17:21
28
Qing___
07:57
 
16:36
 
 
10:44
 
17:40
37
Leikou
07:39
 
16:18
 
 
11:00
 
17:56
45
Linxian
07:21
 
16:00
 

Note that timekeeping is very poor due to bad ballast. A train leaving on time usually has some 20-30 minutes delay at its terminus.

For the passenger trains, 3 engines are required :

Out of these 3 turns at least 1 has to be DF7 because the steam roster of Xinxiang shed is 2 JS only. During our visit, Turn 1 was JS 8068 both on Mar 14th and 15th. In addition, Turn 3 was JS 8064 on Mar 15th. The JS face westwards. So, returning trains to Anyang are always tender first. Passenger trains consist of 5 YZ coaches.

The line / Linesiding : Nearly the whole line between Anyang and Shijian is treated by extensive, large industrial complexes in flat countryside. With the exception of a bridge just east of Shuiye station, photography is senseless here. The line is currently being electrified for the first 7 km between Anyang and Anyang Xi. On the other hand, the section Shijian-Lizhen (and probably the line towards Linxian, too) offers pleasant landscape with terraced hills and valleys including a nice viaduct. At Lizhen, there is nothing else than a large coal mine. So, railway staff may wonder why you will go there if you are no worker of the coal mine. The line from Shijian to Linxian was not visited but landscape seemed to be similar.
Linesiding : There is a incredibly frequent minibus service along the toll road parallel to the line between Anyang and Shuiye (without exaggeration : a minibus comes every 2-3 minutes). To reach destinations beyond Shuiye will be more difficult as the toll road to Linzhou is no longer parallel here.

Accomodation : At the northern side of the place in front of the station at Anyang, you will find the railway hotel which is good value. A double is 80Y-156Y.

Engines : According to local railway staff, Xinxiang shed has got only 2 JS (8064 and 8068) which are permanently based at Anyang subshed.
 
JS 8064, 8068
DF4 0081 (built 1976) 
DF7 6018, 6035

Thursday, Mar 15th 2001

Weather was grey again (as so often on this trip). Weather forecast promised the same weather for the next day, too. In the morning, we rode passenger 7615 to Lizhen (JS 8068) and 7616 back to Anyang which arrived at Anyang 45 minutes late due to a crossing freight. This made a traveltime of nearly 2 hours for 32 km ... As no further steam working was expected until 16:00, we watched some trains along the Jing-Guang Line : exclusively Handan-based SS4 with freights and Shijiazhuang and Zhenzhou based SS8 with express trains. The Shijiazhuang-Anyang passenger was th e only exception. It had a orange DF4. In the afternoon, we took a minibus to Shuiye where we took a photo of 7617. At 18:06, we boarded K236 (Guangzhou Dong-Harbin) and went to Shijiazhuang. Needless to say that we had to stand. After a taxi transfer to Shijiazhuang Bei station, we took K703, dep. 22:38 to Jiexiu. Upgrading on board was possible. The next morning, we arrived at Jiexiu : heavy rain for the whole day ! 

XiaoXi-Zhongyang-Lishi-Mucun     Mar 16th- 17th 2001

This line has been described by Berndt Seiler in his November 2000 Report which includes a map, too.

Steam Operation : One word is enough : Unpredictable ! Berndt Seiler`s "Rule" (DF4 east of Zhongyang, QJ westwards) no longer applied. As said by Berndt Seiler frequency of trains is not very high with only 2-4 daylight trains per day. Everything else than chasing trains (given appropriate weather of course) is senseless here. The line is operated in 2 sections (east and west of Zhongyang) with most trains being remarshalled at Zhongyang. But even this was no general rule : a DF4 hauled train of empties was seen passing Zhongyang without stop. At XiaoXi, a (unidentified) QJ was under steam, too. The QJs obviously run as far as to XiaoXi.
Railway staff is extremely friendly and helpful for establishing steam duties. At Zhongyang, we were told that we were the second "foreigners visiting" after a "German, who came last year" (=Berndt Seiler). Nobody will stop you visiting the shed at Zhongyang - we even became even invited to go there when no steam was on the line ...

The Line : Zhongyang-Xiao Xi : As described by Berndt Seiler, this section (or at least the first 30 km east of Zhongyang) is highly spectacular with dozens of viaducts, tunnels, cuttings and embankments in impressive, mountainous landscape. The (heavy) grade is against eastbound, loaded trains. A QJ is not able to haul more than 10 loaded wagons here ! A DF4-double-header manages 25 loaded wagons.
Zhongyang-Lishi : The line follows a wide valley at its northern rim. Sadly, the line is on a embankment nearly everywhere here. Exposed photospots are rare. Best spot is a curved viaduct near Lishi station where the line crosses the road and joins the southern rim of the valley. We did not visit the line west of Lishi.

Accomodation : We stood at the "Zhongyang Binguan" at Zhongyang. In my opinion, Zhongyang has several advantages above Lishi. On the one hand, it is the depot being at Zhongyang. You are able to "observe" the current locomotive situation at any time there. In addition, you are able to observe both sections (east and west of Zhongyang). Furthermore, you will not need a taxi if you go to the station - unlike at Lishi where the station is some 6km outside the town and a taxi will be essential for everything.
The "Zhongyang Binguan" is good value. We had a very good double including bathroom and hot water for 100Y. Breakfast costs 5Y extra.

Access by public transport : from Lishi and Zhongyang there are very frequent (every 20mins or so) buses to Taiyuan. These buses do not go via Jiexiu but stop at Xiaoyi (the city, where Xiao Xi station, the local line`s terminus, is). Between Xiaoyi and Jiexiu there is a frequent minibus service, too. To reach the bus station at Jiexiu, laeve the railway station and walk along the road southwards. After 400m, you will find it. From there take a bus to Xiaoyi bus station and catch a bus to Zhongyang there. Alternatively, you can go to Taiyuan directly of course, too.

Engines : All engines were used on the line. It was quite surprising to see only 3 active QJs (though Berndt Seiler did not see more engines, too) out of the 8 engines being allocated.
 
QJ 2866 (1979), 6285 (1982), 6472 (1983)
DF4 7656, 7658 (both 1999) 

Friday, Mar 16th 2001

We arrived at Jiexiu at 05:30 (heavy rain). Though I normally dislike (better : hate) this, we went to Zhongyang by taxi (300Y) as no bus to Zhongyang departed until 08:00 (There were 2 to Lishi but not via Zhongyang). Due to the rain, we stood around Zhongyang for the rest of the day. Sightings : QJ 2866 and 6472 were at the shed, both under steam but without work.

Saturday, Mar 17th 2001

No rain today and even sunshine after 12:00. Of course, the first steam train of the day arrived some minutes before the sun ... Today, there was the following steam action during daylight :
 
QJ 6285
G
Mucun 09:30 - Zhongyang 11:30 13 wagons, loaded
G
Zhongyang 13:40 - Sanjiaozhuang (?) banking a DF4 7656-hauled freight
light engine Sanjiaozhuang (?) - Zhongyang 15:00 tender first
QJ 6472
G
Zhongyang 16:25 - Xiao Xi (?) 6 wagons, loaded
QJ 2866
G
Zhongyang 17:00 - Xiao Xi (?) 7 wagons, loaded

In addition to these trains, there was a DF4 7656 hauled freight from Xiao Xi to Liulin passing through Zhongyang station at 11:00. It arrived back at Zhongyang at 13:20, then banked by QJ6285 further on. The 11:30 train from Liulin (QJ 6285) was splitted at Zhongyang and became the two afternoon freights towards Xiao Xi.
Due to the weather we did not chase the morning train but took a taxi in the afternoon for chasing QJ 6472. Sadly, we could not chase the unexpected second train as well because our taxi run out of fuel !

Sunday, Mar 18th 2001

As volume of traffic was not satisfying at Zhongyang, we decided to leave in the morning. We intended to take the 14:45 fast train ex Taiyuan to Datong. So we looked for a bus to Taiyuan. The first bus which appeared went to Jiexiu, so we took it. Unfortunately, this bus did not go along the direct toll road to Xiaoyi but used a secondary dirt road. Then, in the middel the nowhere the bus broke down ! After provisional repairs and a change of the vehicle, we arrived at XiaoYi not before 13:00 : 5 hours for 60 km ! A IVECO-SPRINTER -Bus from XiaoYi to Taiyuan would have needed some 2 hours. So, in the end it were only some 30 minutes too much delay which made us loose a whole day ! Frustrating ! From XiaoYi, we took another bus to Jiexiu where we boarded passenger 7086 at 15:31 for Taiyuan (arr.18:30 + 0:15`). We tried to get a sleeper for fast 4464 to Datong, but had to learn a) that no more hard sleepers were available, b) the train number is 2464 now   and c) the train goes further on to Baotou, but nobody else than the ticket computer knows this ! In the end, we took a soft sleeper to Baotou Dong (210Y per person). At Datong, almost everybody left the train - beyond Datong, the RW coach had only 4 passengers ... 

Baotou Area     Mar 19th, 24th 2001

Both days at Baotou were "transfer days" on my way to and back from Wuhai.

BaoShen-Line : On Mar 19th, we had a very short afternoon visit to Guannianfang (BaoShen-Line). The Baotou-Shenmu Bei passenger was hauled by a shiny recently overhauled DF1-double-unit (1526 and 1931) whereas the Dongsheng-Huhehaote fast was still steam (as reported by Richard Hay). Freight traffic : business as usual.

CNR Baotou : Baotou Dong shed received another batch of brandnew DF5 in the 18xx-series in late 2000 (I noted 1806 and 1807, both 2000 built). This means - as said before (Jan 2001) - that the suburban trains are definitely diesel now (both DF4 and DF5 were noted). The only remaining steam duties seem to be the line work towards Shiguai (both passengers and freights) plus a single afternoon shunt duty at Baotou Dong yard for the Spare Engine. When I visited Baotou Dong shed in the afternoon of Mar 24th, there was no JS at all but 3 DF5 and 2 DF4 - hard times !

Engines (CNR) :

JS 8004, 8005, 8279, 8325
DF 5 1569, 1806, 1807

Monday, Mar 19th 2001

Train 2464 uses the path of K 273 between Datong and Baotou which runs some 1 hour earlier than published due to the new routing in Beijing (via Huairou-Beijing Nan-Fengtai instead of via Beijing Bei-Nankou-Kangzhuang). Due to the breakdown of the minibus the day before at Zhongyang, we did not arrive in the early morning (04:30) but in the afternoon (13:20). Weather was bad once again with heavy wind and a kind of sandstorm. So, a taxi to Shabazi was "out of thought". We took the 14:00 bus to Guannianfang - where we arrived after a shockingly slow travel, a 20-minute-break at Dalateqi and a congestion not before 15:40. We just saw the express train to Huhehaote. A sb freight passed at 16:45 before we boarded DF1 1526+1931-hauled passenger 7417 back to Baotou. QJ 3162 with its 8-wheel-tender was pilot at Wanshuiquan Nan. From Baotou to Baotou Dong, we went by overcrowded fast 2142 (19:18-19:35). Reinhard left Baotou in the evening for Beijing (K 264, dep. 20:35, via Nankou Pass) whereas I took express K43, dep. 22:30 to Shizuishan, arr. 04:50.

Engines noted (BaoShen-Line) :

QJ 3068, 3162 (8-wheel tender), 6740, 6785
DF 1 1526 (built 1970), 1931 (built 1973)

Wuhai     Mar 20th-23rd 2001

Because my December 2000 Visit to Wuhai was quite unsuccessful, I tried it again. This time, there were "plenty" of trains but - once again - the weather was horrible. If I had had the trains from March and the weather from December, it would have been some of my best days in China. Read Hans Schaefer`s description of Wuhai, too.

The map below is based on Hans Schaefer`s sketch map.

Wuhai Xi Area Map

Steam Operation : Wuhai Xi - Jilantai : Due to the fact that the first possibility for crossing is more than 40 km away from Wuhai Xi at Heishatu with a traveltime of some 1.5 hours, a maximum of 6 trains during daylight are possible on this line. During my 4 days at Wuhai, I had between 3 and 5 trains per day.
Passenger / Mixed : The passenger/ mixed 47091 and 47092 between Wuhai Xi and Jilantai has been retimed significantly. As the complete timetable was published nowhere, I got only the timings for Wuhai Xi :

Wuhai Xi - Jilantai Passenger Timetable

47091 Wuhai Xi 19:20 - Jilantai appr. 23:00
47092 Jilantai appr. 07:00 - Wuhai Xi 12:14

47091 usually left Wuhai Xi on time whereas the scheduled arrival time of 47092 is only a rough guideline. I observed this train arriving somewhen between 12:30 and 14:00. The engine that hauls 47091 to Jilantai arrives withthe return working 47092 the day after.

Freight trains : In addition to mixed 47092, I could establish two further sure freight paths :

These two trains cross each other at Heishatu. So, after the mixed has passed, it is sure which trains can be expected. On the other hand, the morning action is unpredictable. I had :
 
Mar 20th 10:00 to Jilantai
Mar 21st 08:30 from Jilantai
Mar 22nd 06:00 to Jilantai
Mar 23rd 07:00 to Jilantai, 10:00 to Jilantai

The Line / Linesiding : Wuhai Xi-Jilantai : The line branches off the mainline to Shizuishan at km 2.5 south of Wuhai Xi. From here until km 10, there is a grade between 15 and 17%o. QJ hauled uphill trains with as few as 20 empty, flat wagons slow down to walking pace here. On the other hand, downhill loaded trains have 2 "braking stops" in order to ensure the fuction of the brakes. Between km 10 and the viaduct at km 15.7, the line offers a sequence of less steep smaller ups and downs (yes, even downhill sections !). The mountains are reached just after the railworker house at km 13.5. At the viaduct (km15.7) another 1 km long 13%o climb until km 17 starts. Between km 17 and km 24, there are some minor ups and downs again but no real "summit". Beyond km 24, the line was not visited but it leaves the mountains at km 22 again.
As reported before, the line to Jilantai is not accessible by road with the exception of the bridge at km 15.7 . Going along the road, the bridge is only 8 km distant from the village of Wusutu (see below). There are only few buses along this road. So you need either patience, a taxi or a truck that takes you along. The last bus in the evening from the bridge to Wusutu and Wuhai passes the bridge around 17:00. At 18:00 there is an sleeper bus, too, but I am not sure whether it will stop.

Wuhai Xi-Huangbaici Branch Line : In my December 2000 Report, I mentioned a coal mine between Xinqu and Huangbaici which could not be located. Correct is, that this coal mine has got a seperate 2.5 km long branch line leaving Xinqu station (km 5.0) to the north-west. It is steeply graded and crosses a line of hill behind whom the mine is hidden.
Bus line No.3 - which runs parallel to the Huangbaici branch line - starts in front of Wuhai Xi railway station. It operates 06:00-18:30. New buses (green ones) have been bought which no longer carry the line number. But No.3 is the only public bus stopping in front of Xi station.
Another useful bus connection is the minibus service between Wuhai City and Wusutu which runs along the Beijing-Yinchuan highway.

Wusutu : Wusutu is situated some 3 km south of Wuhai Xi where the Jilantai line branches off and the climb starts. Furthermore, the road towards Ruijigou and the viaduct at km 15.7 branches off the Beijing-Yinchuan highway here.
Wusutu has got lots of hotels/ lüdians. Nearly every second house along the main road is one. Though Wuhai Xi offers a good hotel next to the station, too, I think that Wusutu is a better place to stay. At Wuhai Xi, there is a police station next to the station (so, you are "under their control" whatever you do) with many policemen being present around the station. They are absolutely not amused about foreigners taking photos of steam locomotives around the station ! Furthermore, Wusutu has another advantage as it is close to the steep grade. This concerns the evening mixed 47091 to Jilantai which is unphotographable, of course. But you may walk the 500m from Wusutu to the line, sit down there in the sand and listen ... you will hear the train for more than 15 minutes when it crawls up the hill. A pleasant experience. Last but not least, the road junction towards the bridge is at Wusutu, too. Catching buses or lorries is easy and - if there is neither a bus nor a lorry that stops - Wusutu is 3 km closer to the viaduct than Wuhai Xi for walking.

Accomodation : Wuhai Xi : There are 3 hotels/ lüdians just right/north of the station : a hotel and 2 lüdians. I stood at one of the lüdians for one night. Though the room was large and I could see into Wuhai Xi yard from my window, it was both overpriced (50Y) and unconfortable (shower without hot water). Furthermore, the police station is just next door. When I looked out of my window after my arrival in the morning of Mar 20th, it took less than half an hour until the police "discovered" me and visited me in my room. When I arrived back in the evening, I had been transferred to another room in the meantime - quite strange happenings. I left this lüdian early in the next morning of course and transferred to Wusutu where I stood at lüdian being closest to the railway line. Double was 20Y. A hot-water shower is available, too for 3Y extra. So, for 23Y you get any comfort a "real" hotels offers and you do not have these annoying policemen everywhere.

Engines :

JS 8012, 8014, 8265, 8330
QJ 6829, 6908, 7056, 7057, 7065

JS 8012, 8014 and 8330 were Wuhai Xi pilots all the time. JS 8265 was transfered to Jilantai (probably for exchanging the Jilantai pilot) on Mar 23rd doubleheading a freight with QJ 7065. QJ 7056, 7057 and 7065 were the regular engines for linework towards Jilantai with 6829 and 6908 usually standby engines at Wuhai Xi. But both latter ones were used on line work as well during my visit.

Tuesday, Mar 20th 2001

I arrived at Shizuishan at 04:50. From there, I went back to Wuhai Xi by overcrowded fast 2004 (07:06-07:27). After check in at the lüdian (see above), I waited in my room until 09:00 when QJ 7057 came out of the shed. "The engine for the mixed", I thought and went to the ticket counter as I intended to ride the passenger to Jilantai and return this day. At the ticket counter, I had to learn about the retimings - QJ 7057 left Wuhai Xi at 09:45 hauling a "real" freight. Now, I went to Xinqu by bus No.3 where I spent the rest of the day waiting for a freight to Huangbaici that never appeared. JS 8014 arrived at 11:40 but went to the other coal mine followed by JS 8012 at 14:00 which served the "transhipment yard" at Xinqu station and JS 8014 again at 17:00. I gave up. Mixed 47091 had QJ 7065.

Wednesday, Mar 21th 2001

In the morning, I transfered to Wusutu before walking up the line until km 9. Weather was sunny but a heavy, northwest wind blew away the sand and ruined any visibility. I had 5 daylight trains with the last out of them, a 18:00 evening train to Jilantai, being a military transport .When the soldiers in their vehicles on the train discovered me, they angrily began to use their horns. I left the setting as fast as possible. Luckily, my lüdian was only 700m away. Mixed 47091 had QJ 6829.

Thursday, Mar 22th 2001

Wind had stopped and some rain had fallen during the night. It was overcast until noon but this did not matter as the only morning train left Wuhai already at 06:00 - before sunrise. I walked up from Wusutu (km3.4) to the bridge (km 15.7) along the line, later further on until km 21.5 and back to the viaduct in the evening. Only the mixed plus the two afternoon trains appeared today but all during sunshine and without wind. After having walked more than 20km, I took the 17:00 bus from the viaduct back to Wusutu (2Y). 47091 had QJ 7056.

Friday, Mar 23th 2001

I left the lüdian at 06:30 and was walking to the road junction for the viaduct`s road when a QJ hauled freight started at Wuhai Xi (06:45). As no taxi was in sight and I did not know when a bus would arrive, I stopped a lorry going towards Ruijigou. The driver was very friendly and refused payment - a picture and my namecard was everything he wanted. I was at the bridge at 07:05 and even managed run along the track to the "morning spot" at km 14.5 : QJ 6908 (the worst one of the 5 engines) had stalled / stopped somewhere near km 9 or 10. It was at km 14.5 not before 07:30 - 45 minutes for 15 km ... The 10:30 uphill train arrived unexpected (this path made a on time-arrival of the mixed at 12:14 impossible) but was QJ 7065+JS 8265 double-headed. Logically, the mixed was more than 1 hour late. It passed me at km 22 at 13:15, arrival at Wuhai Xi probably not before 13:45 (braking stops in the descent !). Consequently the afternoon uphill was 1 hour late, too and made the evening arrival (see above) arrive after sunset. As I waited for this train at the viaduct, the last bus had gone when I gave up at 18:45. I returned to the lüdian by lorry (free of charge again) where I picked up my luggage and went to Wuhai Xi station. It was funny to see the 5 police officers at the station wondering about the fact that I was still there and asking each other where I could have been for the last 2.5 days ...
I left Wuhai at 21:30, fast 4608 to Baotou Dong (04:52). The train was nearly empty as it was the 16-coach-rake of the Tianjin-Wuhai Xi express 2143 which was used for this important train from Wuhai Xi to Huhehaote now.

Saturday, Mar 24th 2001

Arrival Baotou Dong at 04:52. After breakfast, I took JS 8004 hauled passenger 7411 to Houba (06:50 - 07:51). There was one pair of freight trains (JS 8005) with the wb trains banked by JS 8325 between Shiguai and Houba. Great weather with permanent sunshine until 13:30 when grey clouds began to cover the sun. Between 14:00 and 15:00, there were only 5 minutes - and JS 8005+8325 arrived exactly in this moment ! It is luck you need ! Any other photospot than my one must have been dark for this train ! I returned to Baotou Dong by bus (Bus No.7, departing in front of Baotou Dong station, goes to Shiguai). After a brief visit to the shed (DF4 and DF5 only), I watched JS 8004 leaving Baotou Dong with passenger 7413 to Shiguai at 17:23. After my last chinese dinner, I left Baotou Dong at 20:35 : K264 to Beijing via Nankou Pass.

Sunday, Mar 25th 2001

NY 7 still haul K264 between Qinglongqiao Reversing Station and Beijing. Our train got NY 7 0015 attached at the rear of the train at Kangzhuang. In contrast to Quails Map, the JingBao-Line is double track between Kangzhuang and Nankou with the exception of the summit tunnel between Badaling and Qinglongqiao. At Changping, two decorated SYs could be noted. Arrival at Beijing at 10:30. I went to Capital Airport by AirportBus and had a uneventful flight on Swissair back to Germany.

Final Thoughts

Train Numbering System
I often wondered about why some trains in the timetable have two numbers ( e.g. 7416/7417). The explanation is (based on information by Yonghong station master): within the whole country, each railway line has been declared to have a "Beijing-wards terminus". All trains running towards "Beijing" must have even numbers. So, a train that passes Beijing has to change its number at Beijing. Example : fast 4414/4411 Chengde-Beijing-Tianjin. This train train is 4414 between Chengde and Beijing (even number, to Beijing) and 4411 between Beijing and Tianjin (odd number, from Beijing).

End of CNR Steam in 2001 ?
On the one hand, railway employees at Da`an Bei, Tonghua and Yebaishou all "confirmed" that steam will finish in August 2001. Chinese Travel Agencies added, that the JingHa - Mainline (Beijing-Harbin) is due to be electrified by this time. On the other hand I doubt whether this is true. Let`s have a look at the current situation of electrification works along the lines mentioned (based on  Duncan Cotterill`s Observations ,too) :
1) Shanhaiguan-Shenyang : impossible to be electrified by August. Along long sections,  not even the mast have been errected yet.
2) Dalian-Anshan-Shenyang-Siping : impossible as well. In the Anshan area, there was nothing else than the masts with no electrification work under way. DC reports the same for Shenyang-Siping section.
3) Siping-Harbin : this is the only section that stands any chance to be ready until August. But as this section of the JingHa -Line is managed by "Harbin Bureau", there has not necessarily to be any impact on CNR steam. "Harbin Bureau" abondoned steam in December 1999. Nearly all remaining CNR steam locations are either in Shenyang or Huhehaote Bureau`s responsibility.
Or will it be new diesels ? Not very likely, too, I think. If dieselisation would have been the target, why have there been so few changes at Fuxin and Tonghua for example during the last 2 years ? It would require only some 100 further diesels to eliminate all remaining CNR steam in Shenyang Bureau for example. Based on my oberservations, the number of 1999 and 2000 built diesels is very, very low within Shenyang Bureau`s territory (maybe as few as 20-30 engines purchased per year).
I really do not know what this miraculous date "August 2001" will bring. We will have to wait - and hope. I would be very pleased if I was able to see some those great, scruffy Fuxin-QJs, the well cared Da`an Bei engines or the pretty fleet of high-deflectored JS at Tonghua again.

The Tour
It would be an exaggeration to call the tour succeful. Though I recorded a total of 128 steam engines under steam with 106 being CNR engines, there was very much frustration, too. Compared with March last, the weather was horrible this year. Out of the 43 days I spent in China less than 25 days had satisfying weather with only a handful being "best condition" - days. On the other hand, this tour probably was my last one to see CNR steam in China. What will remain if most of today`s great steam locations such as Da`an, YiXian or Wuhai have closed down ?
"Idiot hill" ? But is it really satisfiing to go there ? Everybody knows the shots there. You will find nothing new there, it is the same every time : QJ double-headed trains - without much variation. Reading German Railway magazins, you will find only reports about the JingPeng Pass if there are reports about China - with pictures of the same, well known spots every time. I can`t see them any more !
Industrial or Local railways ? Well, this might be a possibility. But then, you will have to have a different styled tour than an individual tour - a guide with official permit for the industrial complexes. And most of the so called "Local Lines" are nothing else than a "source of frustration" with low traffic levels. Are these lines really "rewarding" ?
A friend of mine once said : "I will not go to China in order to look for some shunting steam locomotives". But this will be the future !

Dresden, Mar 31sr 2001
Florian Menius


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