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Steam in China - Feb/Mar 2002

Tiefa , Weihe , Shuangyashan , JiTong , Chengde , Nenjiang , Ganhe , Shanhetun , Luanxian

Florian Menius


Dear Reader

If you want to maintain a 100% positive view of China, you should not read the report below ! The report is compilation of frustration and Chinese annoyances, filled with "railway bits". Please do not bother about my comments. Click here if you want to read the railway part of the report only.

Chinese Annoyances

"Xiao Laowei" - Extracting extra money from foreigners

becomes more and more frequent in China probably due to the fact the steam enthusiast have to concentrate on a limited number of places now.

The Chinese Language has got a special expression for "extracting money from foreigners: "xiao laowei" (literally "slaughter foreigners"). If you listen carefully to that what Chinese say to each other, for example in a bus or in a restaurant, you`ll hear this expression everywhere.
Sometimes it seems to be a kind of sports competition to "slaughter foreigners". Example ?
Site JingPeng, Mar 2002 : Other guests in a restaurant "knowing" that "foreigners do not understand Chinese" ask the waitress to "xiao laowei". They even give recommandations how to increase the prices and laugh at the "non-understanding foreigner" who sit just one table away - and, at least in my case, do understand most things (the phrases which are used in such communications are always the same ones ...). To her own fortune, the waitress did not make extra prices for us. But if she hadn`t presented a proper bill, she surely would have "lost her face" in the following debate - and the other guest, too, of course ...

It is not the increase of costs that annoys me. It makes few if any difference whether a bottle of beer costs 2, 3 or 4Y. But I want to be treated fair - just as Chinese poeple. It is a question of principles, not of money !
I intend to show that not all foreigners are "cash cows" which want to be molken. A "tell-me-a-price-and-I-pay-it" pattern of travelling definitely encourages extra high "foreigner prices" and leads straight on to structures like the photo license mafia at JingPeng. "If foreigners willingly pay doubled or tripled prices, why not ask for money without anything in return ?" JingPeng Mafia, Tiefa Administration Fee and last but not least the robberies at Shuangyashan and Weihe are the results, I think.

I want to stress that only a small minority Chinese tries to "xiao laowei" and has to be classified as "racists". The vast majority of Chinese are both hospitable, friendly and welcoming. I often talk with Chinese who are happy to meet foreigners and even being able to talk with them. I am triing to represent "foreigners" in a positive way. In general, it is still a nice experience to get in contact with locals in China ! On this trip, I met much more extremely friendly people than "racists" - as it used to be on previous trips, too.
The reason why I point out the negative aspects may be that I did not enjoy large parts of the trip and returned to Europe with predominantly negative impressions in mind (both railway and people-related aspects).

Unpleasant Experiences in China - Part 1 : Lindong

By far the worst thing on this trip happened at Lindong. Andreas and I were queing up at Lindong ticket counter in the evening of Mar 2nd. It was very chaotic as dozen of students bought their "student return tickets" and there was much rambling at the counter. A some 40-45 year old Chinese man tried to get into the queue just in front of Andreas. Andreas took the man at its collar and made him queing up him behind again.
Some minutes later Andreas realised that someone was fingering at his photobag. And indeed, 7 exposed films were missing - just stolen by the mentioned man! The man was waiting in front of the station and wanted money for giving back the films !
As I do not negotiate with criminals, I took this little thief at his collar and told him firmly to give back the films. Otherwise, I`d take him to the police station ... It would have taken maybe another minute until he would have handed out the film without payment as the fear in his face growing second by second. But unfortunately, the station`s policemen arrived accidentally at the same time - 1 minute too early !
Well, the men was arrested immediately, Andreas got back 4 of the 7 films (the man no longer had the remaining 3 one, probably had given them to a accomplice). The policemen took the thief to his offices, shouted at him angrily and attached him to the radiator by handcuffs. I was a real pleasure to see this man with all his fears in his face ... though it did not compensate Andreas` loss. The results of 4 days were destroyed ! Andreas lost all his pictures taken at Lindong and Chabuga!
Maybe, it would have been wiser to pay the money without arguing and shouting and going to the police afterwards (with the thief in tow, of course. Would have been no problem from the physical point of view - 2 Europeans vs 1 small lightweight Chinese...).
Herewith I send some "honest greetings" to Lindong Prison! Please enjoy your stay there, you lovely Chinese !

Unpleasant Experiences in China - Part 2 : Shanhetun

On Mar 20th I was just waiting for the railbus to Dongshen at Shahezi station when 4 policemen arrived. It was by far not the first time that I was sitting just next to Shahezi station building and waited for a train. But this time the policemen were not pleased about by my presence...
To shorten the report : the policemen finally arrested me and forced me not to go to Dongshen but to follow them to the main police office at Shanhetun. There I learned that the drunken police officer at Baishila had complained about "too many foreigners". After the usual 3-hour-wait at the police station and several phone calls to Harbin, the result was - as ever in such occassions - that everything was ok with my passport and visa and - as usual - the police wanted that I leave the area immediately without having any objective reason.
Worst thing of the visit to Shanhetun Police Station was that one stupid officer insisted on getting the film with the photos, I had taken at Baishila. Being very annoyed, I finally gave him a film with 10 pictures exposed. No real loss. Only some bad weather shots at Sanrenbao were lost while the film of the second camera containing similiar pictures could be kept secure.
In the meantime I had indeed decided to leave the area anyway. Not to leave Shanhetun only but the whole annoying country ! I was fed up with China and looked up the fastest connection back to Beijing. Finally, the loss of the film made my plan irreversible. I wanted to leave China ASAP (as soon as possible). I discovered that it would be possible to be at Beijing by 9:00 am on Mar 21st leaving enough time to rebook for the 13:00 flight at noon. Unfortunately, the connection did not work as no more tickets for the Harbin-Beijing express were available. So I was forced to stay another 2 days in China as there was no Swissair flight on Mar 22nd.

Unpleasant Experiences in China - Part 3 : Shanhetun

Shanhetun, Mar 16th 2002, Till Mosler reports :

"From Shahezi, I took the 11:00 bus back to Shanhetun. While going to the depot, I realized a group of drunken Chinese hanging around near the railway crossing. When I returned from the depot they stopped me and requested money. I refused as they were obviously neither railway staff nor any other officials. Had some discussion with them. As usual in China (with civil courage amongst Chinese tending towards zero) none of the passing Chinese supported me but stopped and gaped at me. Then one of them tried to grab my photobag. Surrounded by a crowd, I took my luggage and ran away as quick as possible with a 80-litre-backpack. Luckily, I was able to escape and jumped onto the next passing bus. Fortunately, the conductor closed the door immediately behind me, and protected me from the mob outside. He told the driver to drive on immediately. The mob was left outside, still shouting and threatening towards me...
Luckily, the bus I had jumped on went to Wuchang. So, no need to get off again at Shanhetun ..."


Trip Report

Foreword

My eigtht trip to China should have been the longest one (7 weeks). Due to annoying weather conditions (above zero temperature every day, very windy, many sand storms, etc.), low traffic levels almost everywhere and Chinese people getting more and more aggressive (both in terms of "money extraction" and physically), I gave up and returned to Europe 2 weeks earlier on Mar 23rd 2002 (instead of Apr 7th). Out of 36 days I spent in China this time, only 10 could be classified as "nice days" (3 days Weihe, 2 days Lindong, each 1 day at Chengde, Shuangyashan, Chabuga, Nenjiang and Shanhetun). At least another 10-12 days were a waste of both time and money this including the 5 days at JingPeng !

For most of the trip, Till Mosler accompanied me plus my brother Stephan and Andreas Walla for the first 3 weeks. At Shanhetun Rob Dickinson was met accidentally with whom I spent 3 days around Shahezi then. After the bad experiences with Aeroflot last year, we took Swissair/Crossair again - excellent as ever and only some 5 EUR more expensive than Aeroflot ... Unfortunately, rebooking was not free of charge as Aeroflot and Tarom would have been...
 

Tour Report

On Saturday 16th, Dahuichang ng did not operate. SY 0251 was steamed and shunting but we were thrown out of the factory by works security. The leisure park just next to BaJiaoYouLeYuan metro station (where you get off the metro if you want to go to Dahuichang by bus No. 385) is worth a visit if you are interessted in ancient "leisure technology" such as 30 year old autoscooter or derelict "leisure miniature trains". Entrance fee is 6Y, each "attraction" costs another 5-15Y.

Tiefa,  Feb 17th 2002

My first visit to Tiefa (and probably my last one as well). After early morning (02:52) arrival at Tieling, we took the first bus from Tieling towards Faku (leaves at 05:00 in front of Tieling station, 5Y to Diaobingshan).
After arrival at Diaobingshan, we immediately started walking towards the km 8-12 section on the Dongguantun line which indeed offers quite nice scenery and various good spots. You may take urban bus No 1 to its nothern terminus in a suburb of Diaobingshan or a minibus towards Daming (the road leaving Diaobingshan northwards parallel to the Faku line obviously goes to Daming, too as most minibuses along this road went there (See Duncan Cotteril`s Map).
Major problem is that most SY face the wrong way for either the spot or the sunlight. You can get tons of "excellent" tender-first-shots but rarely more than 1 or 2 good funnel first shots per day. Most SYs work funnel first towards Dongguantun (northwards at the "scenic section"). If you are lucky, 1 or 2 locos face the other direction - enabling the 1 or 2 shots ...
In addition to the passenger trains, we had 4 freight trains (3 sb, 1 nb) and 2 light engine workings (both nb). Except for 1 loco, all SYs were funnel first towards Dongguantun. But when you spend 3 or 4 days along this 4-kilometer-section and with patience and luck, you might be able to get some good shots here.
We avoided both Diaobingshan and Daqing station. Consequently no contact with railway offcials and, of course, no "begging for money" by the railway authorities.

Engines :

JS 5029 (dumped at the carriage repair shop 3 km north of Diaobingshan between the first passenger stop/km 6 and the tunnel)
SY 0665, 0860, 1412, 1764, 1769, 1771

Weihe, Feb 18th-21st 2002

System is said to close in June 2002. This was indicated at least 5 to 6 times by both railway staff and locals (e.g. bathhouse staff). Unchanged operation compared with previous reports.
The proposed double-headed passenger train during Chinese New Year break did not materialize but train consisted of 6 wagons including the two repainted ones. Fortunately, the red-painted coaches were removed immediately after the festival leaving a 4-coach consist for the passenger trains, all green. The fourth coach was removed on Feb 20th leaving the usual 3-wagon train from Feb 21st on.

Stayed at a private hotel for the first night (xiao loawei - they wanted 60Y per person for a lüdian standard room without facilities, correct price was 15-25Y) and changed to a lüdian near the sg crossing at 10Y per person then. Friendly bathhouse just around the corner (but hidden in the middle of a slum) for 2.5Y and a foreigner-prized one near Keyunzhan station.
A lüdian exists at Pinglin (at the main road near the road junction to the station), too. At least 3 lüdians at Chonghe and at least one bathhouse.

We had 3 excellent days followed by snowfall on the fourth day. For the first 3 day we had a taxi (acceptable as we were 4 persons) at 200Y (to Dongfeng) and 300Y (to Yulin) respectively.

Engines :
 
C2 030, 033, 034, 035, 053, 054, 055  (031 was claimed to be oou, 032 exists, too according to RD)

We left Weihe on Feb 21st taking the very overcrowded fast 2052 (Mudanjiang-Dalian) at 13:13. Given the crowded train, we feared to get no onward sleeper ticket to Shuangyashan at Harbin. Surprisingly it was no problem at all with the Harbin-SYS train almost empty - only some 20 passengers in a 66-bed YW-coach ...

CNR Harbin Area

Harbin-Mudanjiang
Passenger trains are hauled by Sankeshu based DF4D 0xxx, freight trains east of Yimianpo are 90% DF8 (Mudanjiang), the rest Yimianpo based DF4B. Some, but obviously not all trains still change locomotive at Yimianpo as the DF4B proportion west of Yimianpo is much higher (some 40-50%, the rest is Mudanjiang DF8, too).

Harbin-Wuchang-Jilin
Passenger trains hauled by Sankeshu based DFH3. The rare freights all had DF4C from a depot whose depot code was "Nan" (=South) that I had never seen before. Locos with this "Nan"-depot code were seen only here - but there is no suitable town in this area that includes "Nan" ...

Harbin-Changchun-Shenyang Passenger trains are hauled by Shenyang based SS9 electrics or DF4D of the same depot. A few orange DF4B could be noted, too (Changchun and Shenyang depot). SS4 of Harbin depot haul some 2 thirds of freight trains between Harbin and Changchun, remaining trains have Harbin based DF4C. South of Changchun, Sujiatun based SS4 dominate though some Changchun-DF4B and Sujiatun-DF4C still could be noted here as well.

CNR Jiamusi Area
Basically unchanged since October 2001.

Locomotives noted :

SS 4 0565(Su), 0568(Su), 0594(Ha), 0624(Ha), 0625(Ha), 0628(Ha), 0629(Ha), 0633(Ha), 0665(Su), 0666(Ha), 0673(Ha), 6051(Su), 6070(Su), 6073(Su), 6077(Su)
SS 9 0001, 0003, 0005, 0006, 0008, 0010 (all Shenyang)
DFH 3 0073(Ch), 0098(Ch), 0111(San), 0129(San), 0144(San), 0161(San), 0163(San), 0165(San), 0169(San), 0172(San), 0227(Ch)
DFH 5 0038(Changchun), 0169(San), 0254(San), 0406(San)
DF4 1066, 1241(Suihua), 1503, 1675(Ch), 1767(Ch), 1814(Ch), 1817(Jiamusi), 1875(Ch), 1924(Yi), 1927(Yi), 1977(Yi), 1979(Yi), 2422(Ch), 2425, 2429(Ch), 6081, 6090, 6198(Ch), 7108(Yi), 7109(Yi), 7111(Yi), 7174(Ch), 7176(Ch), 7328, 7376(Nancha), 7461(Ch), 7463(Ch), 7466(Ch), 9310
DF4C 0021(Ha), 0032(Ha), 0033(Ha), 0034(Ha), 4022(Ha), 4235(Meihekou), 4452(Ha), 4456(Ha), 5074("Nan"), 5107(Ha), 5110("Nan"), 5156(Ha), 5159(Ha)
DF4D 0104(San), 0245(Shen), 0246(Shen), 0302(Shen), 0332(San), 0344(Shen), 0423(San), 0427(San), 0428(San), 0500(San), 0505(San), 0508(San), 3018(San), 3020(San), 3032(San), 3088(San)
DF 5 1121(Changchun), 1214(Yimianpo), 1217(Ha), 1559(Ha), 1560(Ha), 1669(Changchun)
DF 7 5149(ShenyangXi), 5269, 5356
DF 8 0047, 0067, 0070, 0096, 0102, 0107, 0108, 0112, 0114, 0120, 0134, 0136 (all Mudanjiang)

Shuangyashan, Feb 22rd-24th 2002

At first some quotations from the NEWSGROUP :

With dieslisation to be completed within the next days, I think I can save telling details about our visit as it goes in line with the quotations shown above.

During our 3 days, no diesel was in use. Many freights operated as light engine workings only. As suggested previously, Dianchang seems to be a independant subdepot with its own engines (Shuangyang branch line loco (=SY) plus 1 QJ shunter).
The morning freight from SYS to Qixing dropped off some empties at Dongbaowei which were tripped to the mine by the Dianchang pilot (QJ 7030) later in the morning.

As said before : a very unpleasant area with a high proportion of both aggressive and stupid people. In the streets you are shouted at : "Hello ! Fuck you ! " without any reason for example, drunken people everywhere ...

Locomotives

SY 0597, 0632, 1045, 1102
QJ 3135(nd, moveable boiler at Changan), 3594(8-wheel tender), 6805, 6806, 6808, 6897, 6917, 7017, 7018, 7019, 7030
SY (dumped) 1046, 1486
QJ (dumped) 3593(8-wheel tender, decorated), 7020

Left SYS in the evening of Feb 24th again by AC night train to Harbin. Then onwards to Changchun by fast 2510 (the overcrowded, non-AC "peasant-shuttle train" between Harbin and Shenyang) which has got a soft seat coach. Upgrade on board as no soft seat tickets are issued at Harbin ticket counter for this train.

Changchun Tramway and LRT, Feb 25th 2002

4.5 hours at Changchun. Visited the tramway No.54 again - no changes since my March 2001 Report .

A new light railway line is being built between Changchun Main Station and Wenxing Lu, located in a southern suburb of Changchun. The line starts just south of Changchun CNR station and parallels the CNR mainline to Shenyang for the first 6-7 kms. Just north of Changchun Nan station, it branches off south-westwards. It crosses No 54 tramway at the latter one`s southernmost station but there is no connection between the 2 lines as "No.54" overbridges both the CNR mainline and the LRT line by a newly constructed bridge at this point.
Rolling stock resembles to SIMENS`s  "Combino" tramcars. Unauthorized copies of the Combino already operate at Dalian. But in contrast to the high-floor "Combino-fakes" used at Dalian, the Changchun ones are low-floor 3-section-cars, painted in an attractive red and white livery.

Robin Gibbons tells that the line is to be opened in October 2002, number of stations will be 17 and total length of the line is 14.7 km (see  Railways of China - NEWS  ).

At 15:05 we took SS9 hauled K666 to Siping where we changed to fast 2083. Arrived at Taipingchuan at 19:58 and went to the same lüdian as last year. The female owner of the lüdian and her 3 daughters became entusiastic when we presentend them the photos taken last year. Big party...
In the next morning further on to Tongliao by passenger 6802 (05:40), arrival at Tongliao at 8.30.

CNR Tongliao Area

Lines radiating from Tongliao are predominantly worked by Tongliao based DF4B, both green and orange ones. DFH3 are rare, e.g. for passenger Tongliao-Taipingchuan and the JiTong trains between Tongliao and Zhelimu. From Dahushan, Shanhaiguan based DF11 reach Tongliao, too. DFH5 shunt at Tongliao. Between Taipingchuan and Qiqihar, Qiqihar based DFH3 haul most passenger trains with DF4 from Baicheng on freight duties.
Of special interest were the 3 Da`an Bei DF4s noted at Taipingchuan. They have got an XXL-depot code on their roof now (some 1 x 3 m) just as if Da`an Bei depot wants to proof everybody that they have diesels now - and no longer any "unmodern" QJs !

DFH 3 0148(T)
DFH 5 0007(T), 0253(T)
DF 4 0532(T), 0536(T), 0552(T), 0656(T), 0659(T), 0660(T), 1434(Baicheng), 1545(Baicheng), 1689(Da`an), 1697(Baicheng), 1817(Zhengjiatun), 1821(Zhengjiatun), 2183(T), 2345(Zhengjiatun), 2441(T), 2456(T), 2488(T), 3281(Da`an), 6506(Baicheng), 7313(Zhengjiatun), 7339(Baicheng)

JiTong, Feb 26th - Mar 9th 2002

Spent 12 days along the eastern parts of JiTong Line this time. Very windy, many sandstorms, very, very few trains and too high temperatures ruined almost any pleasure. With the exception of 1 day at Chabuga (out of 2) and 2 (out of 3) days at Lindong, the visit to JiTong was a waste of time! I have no intention to come back !

Passenger Locos

JiTong Railway seems to have given up the practice to use special "passenger locos". We noted a different engine every day with the former "passenger locos" on freight duties now (e.g. QJ 7007, 6631).

JingPeng Mafia : Quotations from the NEWSGROUP

Kailu, Feb 26th 2002

In the morning we took an express bus from Tongliao to Kailu bus station in the town center (65 minutes for 90km along the new highway, fare is 25Y. The railway has already lost the competion here with 2.5 hours journeytime ...). As usual along JiTong Line, the railway stations of larger towns are 4km away from the city. Kailu is no exception. So a taxi was needed.
Next problem was to store the luggage at the station as both railway staff and the small shops at the station refused to take care of it. Finally, we left it with the station`s policemen.

Uninspiring landscape around Kailu with straight line for kilometers. Just west of Kailu station is a large "corn storage" area where lorries arrive loaded with corn. It is stored either in large open dumps (looking like coal dumps but yellow, of course) or in a couple of silos.
There are two railway tracks and some 10 conveyor belts which are used for loading the railway wagons. During the afternoon, no less than 11 wagons were loaded.
The second engine of an eastbound double-headed train was uncoupled at Kailu and spent the afternoon shunting at Kailu and serving the "corn storage depot". Finally, it left towards Zhelimu in the evening with 15-20 loaded wagons - exclusively corn !

A very windy day, too warm for any visible exhaust and much sandblowing. In the evening, we took the 17:29 passenger train to Chabuga - totally empty as it was the evening of Lantern Festival.

Chabuga-Fuxingdi, Feb 27th & Mar 9th 2002

Do not stay at the lüdian just outside Chabuga station! It is the worst one I have ever stayed in China. And I have had quite a number of bad lüdians during the past trips !

Chabuga-Fuxingdi Map

Feb 27th was spent around the bridge half way between Chabuga and Fuxingdi. In contrast to September 2001 when taking photos was impossible I can state that taking photos of the bridge is possible now. The relevant bushes and shrubs no longer exist.

In the afternoon, we took the 16:26 passenger onwards to Lindong.

Lindong-Yamenmiao, Feb 28th - Mar 2nd 2002

Lindong-Yamenmiao Map (based on Hans Schaefer`s map)

See September 2001 Report for reference. Major problem was the lack of daylight uphill freights. Feb 28th offered 1 uphill freight only, the following two days 2 trains each. Downhill 3 to 4 freights plus passenger train in the morning. Since the Oct 2001 retiming, the uphill afternoon passenger is almost unphotographable. Lonely possibility is the viaduct at Yamenmiao, but a) the trains has to be exactly on time and b) there have to be no clouds and no dust at all as the sun dissapears behind the mountains only a few minutes after the passenger train passes at this time of the year. Due to evening dust, we were unable to get this shot, of course ...

Accomodation : Yamenmiao village seems has got both a lüdian and a bathhouse. So, in contrast to Lindong, Yamenmiao offers "full confort" for individual low-budget travellers.

A "Hello" to the Steam&Safaris Group we met on top of the pagoda hill at Lindong. I was the guy with the green Chinese Army Coat (and sceptical enough never to rely on information given by Chinese guides... But the shot was rubbish anyway ! If someone wants to get my slides, please contact me. They are hot candidates for my rubbish tin ...).

JingPeng Pass, Mar 3rd - Mar 7th 2002

Wasted Time! Two good pictures in 5 days, very windy, predominantly overcast sky, almost no exhaust, a ugly yellow-grey landscape without sunlight and very few trains! You had to classify a day as "busy" when there were more than 3 westbound and 2 eastbound trains! Especially that fact that westbound traffic was higher than eastbound was remarkable!
Worst thing was the lack of eastbound trains in the morning. On Mar 3rd, the first eb passed JingPeng at 14:00, on Mar 6th at 12:30. As you probably know : without eb trains in the morning, the western ramp is almost inphotographable (except for brickworks valley and Simingyi viaduct).

We stayed at JingPeng, neither had any full-day-taxi nor contact with JingPeng Mafia. In contrast to autuum 2001 when almost everybody at JingPeng/Keqi tried to extract extra money from foreigners, the people were very honest this time (with the usual exceptions : taxidrivers and bus conductors) ! I was very surprised !

We left JingPeng in the evening of Mar 7th when we took the almost empty DMU at 19:01 ex JingPeng and went to Daban. The DMU must operate at great loss as patronage was between very low and marginal in any occassion we saw this train ! I am quite sure that the DMU service will not last very long. At least it will have to get a revised route or schedule (e.g. Huhehaote-Daban-Tongliao).

Daban-Pingdingmiao, Mar 8th 2002

Wasted time, too with heavy winds and a sandstorm in the afternoon. Unpleasant "highlight" of the day was to have to observe a cow being hit and killed by QJ 6763 some 100m away from us ...

Left Daban on Mar 9th taking the 02:32 am passenger towards Tongliao. The morning stop at Fuxingdi was wasted time, too. It was cloudy and as soon as sun came out, a sandstorm began (once again ..).

Locomotives

Abbreviations : H = Haoluku-Daban section, C = Daban-Chabuga section, Z = Chabuga-Zhelimu section

QJ (Daban) 6110(H), 6230(H), 6274(H), 6301(C), 6349(Z), 6351(H), 6358(Z), 6375(Z), 6385(Z), 6388(H), 6389(H), 6478(Z), 6517(H), 6572(deflectorless, Zhelimu pilot), 6576(C), 6577(H), 6580, 6630(H), 6631(C), 6632(Z), 6638(C,H), 6639(C), 6735(H), 6751(Z), 6760(H), 6763(H), 6853(Z), 6876(C), 6878(H), 6884(C), 6905(H), 6925(C), 6978(C), 6981(C), 6984(deflectorless, Daban pilot), 6986(H), 6988(Z), 6992(H), 6996(Z), 7007(H), 7009(H), 7010(C), 7012(H), 7037(C), 7038(Z), 7040(H), 7041(H), 7048(Z), 7049(Z), 7063(C), 7137(H), 7143(H), 7163(C), 7164(Z)
QJ (Baiqi) 6764 (in tow in a Zhelimu bound freight, bad condition, probably going to overhaul)
NYJ1 4010, 4013

Completely frustrated by JiTong Railway, I took the evening express train from Tongliao to Chengde in order to "enjoy" China again.

Chengde, Mar 10th 2002

Business as usual. Sunshine, no wind and clear blue sky even compensated the too high temperatures (+5C at dawn, +20C at noon). 5 uphill trains during daylight made it the first pleasant day after more than a week !

Railway staff confirmed that the first diesels for the steelworks branch line are to arrive in June 2002. But the loco driver I asked knew neither the type nor the number of expected diesels.

Annoying were children crawling around the "idiot hill" and begging for money. They already had some USD but wanted to get more "money" in return for some "rubbish souvenirs". Who is such stupid to hand out money to children ? Do you even want to corrupt children now ?
The children knew three foreign words : multilanguage : "Hello" + English : "money" + German : "Scheisse" (=shit). Great collection of words ! No doubt, this will improve conditions for a enjoyable Chengde visit ! I really enjoyed it to be welcomed by children shouting "Scheisse" and asking for money ! Great !!!

JS 5634. 6227, 6403
SY 0533, 1029, 1753

I left Chengde again in the evening and took train 2189 back to Baicheng (arr. 11:34 on Mar 11th) where I changed to the Beijing-Jiagedaqi express, departure 12:29. Arrival at Nenjiang was at 18:54 in the evening. Needless to say that the whole day was sunny und cloudless ...

Nenjiang-Heibaoshan Local Railway, Mar 12th 2002

The 156km long branch line from Nenjiang to Heibaoshan is100% steam operated. A fascinating branch line whose atmosphere reminded me to Kaiyuan-Xifeng branch line ...

The line

156km long. Extends northwards from Nenjiang. The first 6.5 km are parallel to the CNR mainline to Jiagedaqi which diverges in northwest direction at this point (called Nengbei). The Heibaoshan line continues straight northwards.
Track is in poor condition. Small-profiled rails, partly broken, wooden sleepers bedded on slag and sand, a nice old-style telegraphe pole next to the line..

The depot

Situated at the southern end of Nenjiang CNR yard. It is divided into a CNR and a " local railway section", the latter one being closer to the Qiqihar mainline.
The local railway has got a two track workshop, active locos are parked outside in front of it. A wye exists in the CNR part of the depot and is used by local railway`s JS, too. There is a seperate to the local railway`s part of the depot close to the workshop. So, you do not have access the CNR area. Depot staff of the local railway is extremely friendly and helpful !

Organisation

You carefully have to distribute between CNR and the local railway. The local railway is known as "DiTie", a simple abbreviation for "Difang Tielu" (=local railway). The 2 companies do not know what the other one is just doing ! Therefore, it is senseless to ask CNR staff for train timings of the local railway for example. You have to ask at the DiTie-depot.
The DiTie-Offices are situated some 150m south of Nenjiang station at the road towards the depot.

Operation

I was told at least one dozen times that there is no longer any passenger train to Heibaoshan. It lost the competition with buses which take 4 hours for Nenjiang-Heibaoshan compared to 6:36h for the passenger train (according to April 1998 timetable).
Freight trains need 6 hours one way. So they are very slow and probably easily "chaseable" by taxi using the parallel road.
According to DiTie staff, some 3 to 5 freight trains per direction operate within 24h. Freight trains are quite short. I observed 13 and 14 loaded wagons respectively. A subdepot exists at Heibaoshan. Some locos are outstationed there. Engines work funnel first in both directions.

Locos

DiTie owns 11 class JS locomotives. Out of them, 8 are "operational", 3 derelict at Nenjiang depot. All operable JS are high deflectored and in poor external condition. The JS include both "early JS" (1950s and 1960s built), the mid 1980s batch (63xx-65xx) and the latest batch (8xxx, 1986-88), so the roster is quite exciting.

Individual locos :

JS 5604 : derelict at Nenjiang
JS 5684 : derelict at Nenjiang
JS 5741 : under repair (Memjiang workshops)
JS 5896 : derelict at Nenjiang
JS 6012 : working (not seen, said to be at Heibaoshan)
JS 6547 : under repair (Nenjiang workshops)
JS 8113 : working
JS 8153 : under repair (Nenjiang workshops), recent arrival from Shanghai bureau, Huainan depot(still bearing the depot code)
JS 8247 : working
JS 8248 : working (standby at Nenjiang)
JS 8298 : working (not seen, said to be at Heiboshan)

JS 5741, 6012, 6547, 8113, 8153, 8247, 8248, 8298
JS (derelict) 5604, 5684, 5896
QJ (derelict, CNR) 3095, 6129, 6133

Infrastructure Nenjiang

Many lüdians, bathhouses and cheap binguans around the station. A internet cafe can be found some 150m north of Nenjiang station near the road bridge.
The bus station is 1 km away from the station in the town center. Urban bis No 1 goes there. It is very hidden, not easy to find and looks rather like a scrap yard for buses and lorries than like a proper bus terminal...
3 buses per day go to Heibaoshan departing at 06:00, 13:00 and 15:00 respectively. Journeytime is 4 hours. The road towards Heibaoshan branches off the Nenjiang-Heihe highway (which overbridges Nenjiang yard just north of the station) some 2 km east of Nenjiang. Only few minibuses !
Taxis are somewhat strange here. The first one refused to take me to Jinxing (20km out of Nenjiang) because it would be "too expensive" (he recommanded I should go there by public bus...), a second one wanted 80Y for the 7 kms to NengBei.

Future

Steam will last another 3 years - according to DiTie staff.

Conclusion

A nice railway. Not specatcular, a flat countryside but very charming.

My day at Nenjiang started with some misfortune :

  1. Meeting with Bruce Evans failed due to my changed arrival one day earlier.
  2. After a brief morning visit to Nenjiang depot and lack of knowledge about steam operation by CNR staff (we had not expected that there is such a difference between DiTie and CNR), we considered the local railway to Heibaoshan to be "unexplorable without taxi". Consequently, my companion (Till Mosler) decided to leave Nenjiang at 8.40 and to head for Shanhetun - unfortunately only 20 minutes before the action started ...
  3. I was just waiting for the 10.06 fast train to Jiagedaqi and had a (delicious) pot of noodles when the first steam freight rolled in ...

Action of the day (around Nenjiang):
JS 8113 arrived at 09:00 with a 13-wagon train from Heibaoshan, 6 of them loaded with wood (So there must be some forests near Heibaoshan - in contrast to Nenjiang`s wide plains). After the arrival of the 9.26 passenger from Qiqihar, it started shunting for half an hour and went to the depot where it was turned on the wye and then positioned next to JS 8248 in front of DiTie workshop.
I was told, that JS 8113 would return to Heibaoshan around noon. Indeed, it left Nenjiang at 12:50 but light engine only (but was no loss from a photographer`s point of view as it came just out of the sun ...).
In the afternoon at 15:40, JS 8247 arrived with a 14-wagon train and left Nenjiang again just after darkness (18:00).
JS 8248 which was cold on shed in the early morning (07:00) was steamed up during my depot visit (10:30-11:30). It served as "standby spare engine" and did not move.

In the evening, I left Nenjiang at 22.45 : K 629 to Ganhe.

CNR Nenjiang / Jiagedaqi

Qiqihar-Jiagedaqi
Passenger trains between Qiqihar and Jiagedaqi are hauled by Qiqihar based DFH3, fast trains by orange DF4B and DF4D of the same depot. All freight trains change engine at Nenjiang. Towards Qiqihar you find Angangxi based DF4B and Jiagedaqi based ones northof Nenjiang. Some of Jiagedaqi`s DF4 look even worse than the DiTie - JS of similar "age" !
At Nenjiang, 3 Jiagedaqi based, orange DF7 serve as pilots. Remarkable is the fact, that most freights leaving Nenjiang towards Qiqihar get a DF7 booster here and are banked for the first kilometers. The DF7 return after a few minutes.

Jiagedaqi-Yitulihe
The "single ended, russian style diesels" that have been reported to work this line are no DF1 as I had expected and hoped but Yitulihe based DF7D. Both units I observed had orange livery in were from a different number series (3xxx) than the DF7D I had known so far (the Jinchengjiang ones in the 0xxx range). I remember to have been told some years ago that Jiagedaqi would have "lots of DF1". But I noted not a single one there.

Locomotives

DFH 3 0014, 0205, 0207, 0209, 0213, 0214, 0217, 0218, 0233 (all Qiqihar)
DFH 5 0381(Qiqihar)
DF 4 1081(Ang), 1174(Ang), 1226(Ang), 1422(Ang), 1487(Ang), 1582(Jia), 1711(Ang), 1779(Ang), 1877(Ang), 1880(Ang), 1882(Ang), 1884(Ang), 2119(Qiqihar), 2200(Qiqihar), 3172(Jia), 3176(Jia), 9043(Jia)
DF4D 0105, 0431, 0432, 3021, 3091 (all Qiqihar)
DF7C 3044, 3072, 5284, 5442 (all Jiagedaqi)
DF7D 3017, 3062 (both Yitulihe)

Ganhe, Mar 13th 2002

The forestry line is to close for log trains in May 2002. In contrast to other visitors, I was told that the passenger service is to be cancelled, too.
Ganhe Map (by Rob Dickinson)

ganhe.gif (6072 bytes)

As reported before, Ganhe is situated in a "restricted area". It seems that a minority lives here - probably the reasons for the tight security (similar to Tibet).

A visit without official guide and permit is possible though very difficult !! Everybody - locals, railway staff and even conductors of CNR trains - tell you that the area is closed for foreigners. The atmosphere amongst the local people is strange and was quite reserved towards "foreigners" though nobody is unfriendly. They seemed rather frightened and badly ruled by officials. But once the city of Ganhe is left, the atmosphere improves (probably due to the lack of "officials" out in the forests...). Railway staff is welcoming and extremely friendly as almost everywhere in China!
It will be hard to get a hotel at Ganhe without official permit and without attracting attention of local authorities ! The lonely possibility to visit Ganhe unofficially are daytrips, I think : arrival in the morning, leaving in the evening again.
For example : Go to Jiagedaqi in the evening (19:12 ex Ganhe, passenger K630) and return by night train K 629 in the early morning. At 4.00 am when K 629 arrives, the whole town is still sleeping. Walk out of the village protected by the darkness (flashlight recommanded !) or take a 3-wheel taxi in front of the station to Yisishan for example. Keep away from Ganhe town for the whole day and return for the evening train back to Jiagedaqi !

Overall, a very unpleasant und unconfortabel place for individual travellers ! No excitement to have to hide ...

Pattern of Operation
Log trains According to Qilibin station staff and train records, the following pattern of daylight workings applies (daily, timings for Qilibin): There are no additional log trains on days when the passenger does not operate !

Passenger Trains
work according to the following scheme :

Monday, Wednesday, Saturday : 8.20 ex Ganhe, train 201 to Ganyuan
Tuesday, Friday : 8.20 ex Ganhe, train 201 to Wulite
Thursday, Sunday : no passenger train !

Locomotives

C2 02, 03 (tender numbered 12, which was reported to be a Chrzanow loco) , 07

Due to poor weather at the day of my visit, I rode the passenger train only. After my arrival at 04:23 in the morning, I immediately walked to the ng station`s eastern end (the police station is at the western end of the yard near the passenger station) and hide there at a quiet place near the track.
The day started promissing : At 05:55, 03 arrived with a log train (96 axles) followed by a second log train at 06:40 hauled by 07 and consisting of 104 axles. If there had been no clouds, the first train would have arrived some minutes before dawn, the second one in the first light of the day. But due to darkness and clouds, both were unphotographable. At 07:25, 02 left with a set of empties.
I waited at the far end of Ganhe yard until the loco (03) for the passenger train appeared at 08:00. Then quickly to the station, boarding the soft seat coach where the female conductor was somewhat surprised upon my appearance. But she quickly opened one of the compartments and locked the door behind me. Some minutes after departure she came and unlocked the door again. So, it was clear that she had tried to protect me from the Ganhe officials !
Had a excellent journey to Ganyuan then. Single soft seat fare is 10Y (not 60Y ! Maybe 50Y corruption fee for the policeman included then). At Qilibin, when I distributed the pictures of railway employees Bernd Seiler had given to me, the ice was broken and the complete train and station crew wanted to be photographed. Everybody was keen on pictures of "little trains". Unfortunately, I had only a handful ng pictures with me (Bulgarian ones). Unlike usual the pics of modern trains were not prefered here ! For the return journey from Ganyuan to Ganhe, the conductor even refused to accept my fare payment because of "the picture gifts"!

Arrival at Ganyuan at 12:20 after 4 hours journey and 15 minutes stop at Qilibin. 02 was at Ganyuan too and just preparing a log train. It departed at 12:45 whereas 03 did some shunting in the log yard before leaving Ganyuan again with the passenger train at 14:02, 42 minutes late. Though there was some more shunting at Qilibin, 03 worked very well and arrived at Ganhe at 18:12. So 4:10 h - though having had a lenghty 50min stop at Qilibin.
At Ganhe ng station, I jumped into the first 3-wheel taxi and disappeared unseen (or at least unhalted) by any officials. At the CNR station, I made plans while waiting for K630. The next day would have been Thursday, so no passenger train. Furthermore, the weather had not improved during the day. And, of course, the strange atmosphere at Ganhe ...
Well, when I came back from the ticket counter, I had an sleeper ticket to Harbin in my hands and 15 minutes until departure of the train. Maybe, I`ll regret the decision later to leave after only 1 day and without proper picture of the whole systems. But I felt no need to risk to be arrested when staying another day here. And only with luck, you`d have photographable log trains ...

On Mar 14th, I alighted at Harbin Dong at 09:43, had breakfast before taking passenger 6022 to Shanhetun. Arrived at Shanhetun at 15:40, jumped into a 3-wheeler to the ng station (5Y) where I arrived at 15:55. At 16:00, railcar No. 231 to Shuguang departed - a perfect connection. 67 was under steam at Shanhetun, 031009 was crossed at Shahezi where I alighted and met Till again whom I had left 3 days ago at Nenjiang and who had arrived at Shanhetun 2 days earlier.

Shanhetun, Mar 15th-20th 2002

For details see Rob Dickinson`s Report.

Logging will end in June 2002. The dam for a water reservoir project ("water for Harbin") is to be built between Shenjiaying and Sanchahe and will cut off the southern mainline of the system where most logs come from.

Network

Based on the photo of the Shanhetun station board (taken by Bernd Seiler in 1996), Bernd`s Map, the 1998 report by John Raby and our own observations, the network can be described as shown below. Please note that the information below is also included in Rob Dickinson`s System Map (see below, too) as I was looking over RD`s shoulder when he drew the map on his laptop at Shahezi ...
Unfortunately I was unable to check the far end of the Dongshen branch due to some overambitious policemen who forced me to go to Shanhetun (read below...)
Shanhetun Map by Rob Dickinson (based on Bernd Seiler`s 1996 map)

Shanhetun-Baishila Line

Shahezi-Dongshen Branch Line

Log Trains

Based on observations and station records at Shahezi and Sanrenban, the following log yards are served :

Wyes exist at Shehezi, Dongshen, Sanrenban, Baishila and Shuguang.
Engines of empty trains to Qianjian, Dongfanghong and Baoshan are turned at Sanrenban and work tender first for the Sanrenban-Qianjian/Dongfanghong/Baoshan part of their journey. Same is valid for emties to Fendou and Shuangmajia - the loco is turned at Shahezi then.

Railcar Service

As reported earlier, a privately operated railcar service operates along the forestry railway network. 4 different derelict but fascinating railcars are used. Timekeeping is poor, delays of up to 3 hours can be recorded. So, its makes no sense to show a full timetable.
In general, there are 3 railcars going to Shanhetun in the morning and returning in the evening to Shuguang, Baishila and Dongshen respectively. The fourth railcar leaves Shanhetun in the morning and rearrives in the evening. Destination is either Baishila or Dongshen on a every-other-day pattern.

Details (based on Shahezi station record) :
212Baishila-05:58 Shahezi 06:02-Shanhetun 
222Shuguang-06:30 Shahezi 06:34-Shanhetun 
232Dongshen-07:04 Shahezi 07:08-Shanhetun 
201Shanhetun-09:19 Shahezi 09:24-Baishilaalternate to 203
203Shanhetun-09:19 Shahezi 09:24-Dongshenalternate to 201
204Dongshen-15:24 Shahezi 15:45-Shenhetunalternate to 202
202Baishila-15:24 Shahezi 15:45-Shenhetunalternate to 204
211Shanhetun-15:44 Shahezi 15:46-Baishila 
221Shanhetun-16:50 Shahezi 16:55-Dongshen 
231Shanhetun-17:44 Shahezi 17:46-Shuguang 

Approximate journey times are :

Locomotives

C2 004, 06(Chrzanow 3848/59), 007, 031009, 031031, 67(Chrzanow 3850/59)

With the exception of Mar 17th when Rob and I went to Qianjin, the other days were rather frustrating. In addition to Mar 17th, I only got another two acceptable pictures in the morning of Mar 15th, the rest of the visit was photographically "unrewarding" due to constant bad weather. At least the majority of railway staff and locals were very friendly both at Sanrenban and Shahezi.

Mar 15th to 18th was spent jointly with Rob Dickinson - read his report please.
On Mar 19th, there was heavy snowfall from sunrise until noon at Sanrenbao - and no steam train before 16:00. So, I rode the railcar 201-202 Sanrenbao-Baishila and return. Met the same drunken policemen at Baishila Rob had met some days earlier. He seemed to be very angry that another foreigner visited his village. He reported the "uninvited guest" to his chief as I had to learn on the following day ...
In the evening, two out of 3 Chrzanow engines met each other at Sanrenbao :
06 (Chrzanow 3848/59) on log train 52 (Baishila-Shanhetun), 15:45-17:05
67 (Chrzanow 3850/59) on empties 41 (Shanhetun-Dongfanghong), 16:25-17:05

Still awful weather on Mar 20th 2002. Took the 06:00 (road) bus from Sanrenbao to Shahezi where I intended to take the 203 railcar to Dongshen in order to see this line, too. Had some trouble with the police then (see above).
After I had left the police station at Shanhetun at 14:20, I took a bus to Wuchang, changed to a minibus to Harbin there and, in the suburb of Harbin where the minibus terminated, urban bus 81 to Harbin station. Arrived there at 18:15 and bought a ticket for the Harbin-Tianjin fast train 1522 departing 30 minutes later (18:45).
Arrival at Tianjian at 12:10 on Mar 21st. At Luanxian, 3 QJs (1 steamed, 2 cold) attracted my attention. But priority was given to rebook the flight. So, I took T544 double deck express railcar from Tianjin to Beijing where I successfully rebooked my return flight from April 7th to Mar 23rd.
In the evening, I returned to Luanxian (T 547 Beijing 16:52-Tianjin 18:11, then overcrowded 2223 Tianjin 18:32-Jilin) where I arrived at 21:13. Lüdian at 10Y as usual.

CNR Tianjin & Beijing Area

Beijing-Tianjin
The superfast T trains (T531-550) Beijing-Tianjin are 10-coach-double-deck-DMUs with power packs at each end. They are classified NJZ2 A+B and based at Tianjin depot. The majority of other passenger and fast trains is hauled by Tianjin based DF4D or (quite seldomly) by a DF11 or orange DF4B of the same depot.
Freight duties between Beijing and Tianjin are dominated by Fentai based early DF8B (50xx series) in light blue livery. Some green DF4B of Fengtai and Nancang depot (depot code Jing - Tian) appear, too.
DFH5 of both Tianjin and Nancang depot shunt around Tianjin and Tanggu with a single DFH2 recorded near Tianjin, too. The large freight yards at Fengtai and Nancang have DF7 pilots.
Tianjin-Tangshan-Qinhuangdao
Quails Map has to be corrected around Tangshan. The "main line" Tangshan-Guye-LuanxianXi is a double-track freight line with few trains. Most freight trains and probably all passenger trains use the LuanxianXi-Maliu-Longwopu trunk line which connects with the Fengrun-Qinhuangdao main line at Longwopo. The "secondary line" between Longwopu and Tangshan in fact is a double track trunk line, too and used by the trains from Qinhuangdao to Tianjin. Longwopo has got a reasonable freight yard, too. Tangshan CNR depot is situated between Longwopu and Tangshan Bei.
The line Longwopu-Luanxian-Qinhuangdao is to be electrified within the next 3 years, the first masts have already been erected. There are no plans to electrify Tianjin-Tangshan-Longwopu and Tangshan-Guye-Luanxian at the moment.
Similar to Beijing-Tianjin, most fast trains have got Tianjin based DF4D, sometimes DF11 and orange DF4B, local passengers are hauled by Tangshan based BJ hydraulics or orange DF4B (Tangshan depot, too).
90% of freight trains between Tianjian and Qinhuangdao are hauled by brandnew DF8B based at Tangshan depot. All locos noted had 2001 or 2002 builderplates. This batch of DF8B (51xx and 52xx) sports a dark blue livery. A handful of freight trains still had Tangshan based green DF4B.
Both Longwopu and Luanxian freight yard have DF7 pilots.
Locomotives
Abbreviations : Tg = Tangshan, Tian = Tianjin, Nan = Nancang

8K 007(FengtaiXi), 0131(DatongXi)
SS3 6026, 6044 (both Zhangjiakou)
SS8 0233 (Shijiazhuang)
DFH 2 0024 (depot = ?)
DFH 5 0005(Tian), 0062(Tian), 0168, 0195(Nan), 0217, 0315(Tian),
BJ 3068(Chengde), 3090(Chengde), 3223(Beijing), 3227(Beijing), 3248(Tg), 3341(Tg)
ND5 0238, 0281, 0363 (all Jinan Xi)
DF 4 0205(Nan), 0334(Nan), 0540, 0577, 0623(Nankou), 0639, 0678, 1658, 1741(Nan), 1757(Tg), 1938(Nan), 1940(Fengtai), 1941, 1946, 1951(Nan), 1961(Nan, blue-and-white livery, but DF4B), 1963, 2251(Tg), 2281, 2330(Tg), 2332(Tian), 2339, 2472(Tian), 2500, 2505(Tian), 2532(Tian), 2538(Tian), 3810(Nan), 3843(Nan), 3845(Nan), 6010(Tg), 6013(Tg), 6016(Tg), 6017(Tg), 6040, 6213(Nan), 6325(Nan), 7141(Nan), 9217
DF4C 0003(Zhangjiakou), 4258(Fengtai), 5214
DF 4 D 0001, 0032, 0056, 0063, 0065, 0111, 0117, 0120, 0132, 0136, 0139, 0141, 0347, 0354, 3003, 3005, 3008, 3009, 3010, 3011, 3022, 3026, 3027, 3113, 3147, 3149 (all Tianjin)
DF4DAC 0002 (Nancang)
DF 7 0015(Fengtai), 0022(Fengtai), 0060(Tian), 0061(Tian), 5250(Nan), 5290(Chengde), 5411(Tian), 6023(Tg), 6028(Tg)
DF8B 5007(Fengtai), 5017(Tg), 5009(Fengtai), 5011(Fengtai), 5019(Fengtai), 5066(Fengtai), 5109(Fengtai), 5133(Tg), 5134(Tg), 5135(Tg), 5158(Tg), 5159(Tg), 5191(Tg), 5192(Tg), 5196(Tg), 5197(Tg), 5226(Tg), 5228(Tg), 5231(Tg)
DF10F 2006(Beijing)
DF11 0033(Tian), 0034(Tian), 0035(Tian), 0036(Tian), 0115(Beijing), 0314(Beijing)
GK1 0060(Beijing Steelworks)
NJZ 2 (A+B) 0001, 0002, 0004 (all Tianjin)

Luan You Tielu - Luanxian Oil Railway, Mar 22nd 2002

The LuanYou TieLu operates the 75km long branch line from Luanxian to Tangshang Gang (quoted as "TangGang" by railway staff). The railway is owned by "China Petrol Tangshan, Luanxian branch". Transported freight is imported oil from the harbour at TangGang. The branch leaves Luanxian station eastwards. Trains terminate at the large, recently built freight yard at LuanxianXi where ChinaRail diesels take over the trains.

The depot of the railway is situated west of LuanxianXi. It includes watertower, coal dump, steam crane (for coaling) and a turntable. Just next to the depot is a oil storage area (large tanks) of "China Petrol" where locals (e.g. peasants) go to in order to get larger volumes of petrol and oil.
The CNR pilots of LuanxianXi yard (Tangshan based DF7 6xxx) visit the depot, too at times without employment (which applies most of the time, as contruction of the yard is not completed yet and it will not became important before the electrification of Longwopu-Qinhuangdao).

According to railway staff, there are 3 or 4 trains to TangGang every day. TangGang has got no own locos (no subdepot there).

The company owns 3 standard QJs (confirmed twice) and at least 1 DF4 (I did not ask for diesels as I expected none and once I realized the diesel, I was already on my way back to the station). Out of the QJs only 1 is steamed and responsible for linework to TangGang together with the diesel(s). The other 2 QJs are stored at LuanxianXi depot. All 3 QJs are in poor condition - the tyres rather yellow-and-brown than red and very rundown whereas the diesels was in immaculate condition. Though I did not look at the builderplate DF4 7665 must be quite new (I guess 1999 or 2000).

Locomotives

QJ 2864, 2978 (8-wheel tender), 3123
DF 4 7665

In the morning of Mar 22nd I had a brief visit to the depot at Luanxian Xi. Everybody was very friendly. QJ 3123 was under steam (standby). Later it was coaled, got water and was turned on the turntable. I was told that the next train to TangGang might be her duty but the train of empties had not arrived yet. So, QJ 3123 had to wait. Initially, I intended to take a photo of QJ 3123`s departure. But due to a strong wind the once clear morning became darker and darker the longer I waited. Again the problem with sand and dust blown to the sky. ..Furthermore, quite unexpectedly, DF4 7665 appeared and made me loose any illussion about a nice, 100% steam worked railway.
So decision was easy and I jumped onto the next bus back to Luanxian where I arrived a few minutes prior to the departure of T524 (Qinhuangdao-Shuijizhuang) at 10:29 which was formed of DF4D 3026 plus 12 double deck coaches (SYZ 25 DT and SRZ 25 DT). Arrival in stormy Beijing at 14:30 where I immediately went to the metro. Was at Dahuichang by 16:15 and enjoyed No. 2 and 4 hauling 5 uphill trains within 45 minutes (due to sand blown in the air, photography was senseless once again ...). Then return to Beijing station, picked up my luggage there and took bus No 957 to Jinghua Fandian (40Y in a 6-bed dorm).

Next morning (23rd) would have been nice for photos (no wind, no clouds, sunshine) but the only thing I still wanted to do was to leave China! The last pleasure in China was the sight of Koryo Air flight JS 152 (Beijing-Pyonyang) at Beijing Capital Airport using a great, derelict Iljuschin 62M...

Conclusion

So far my worst trip to China. I do not want to be injustice. My previous trips contained unpleasant experiences as well. But they were more than compensated by great railway erperciences (such as Songshuzhen`s lüdian where even 3 days of snowfall became pleasing ...). This time, the "railway part" was mainly frustrating, too.
Previous trips included much more excitement and offered easier possibilities to get satisfied. How easy was Da`an Bei where you just had to take the morning train to Lizhi and to wait there until sunset ! Or Tonghua and Beipiao with its predictable operation once you knew the current pattern of operation. One day to find out the operational situation - and the following days became self-going ones !

I am not worried about having shortened the trip. It was still better to pay 80 EUR rebooking fee than to have two more annoying weeks in China - and even cheaper as this tour turned out to be quite expensive (compared with previous tours) with an average of 15 EUR spent every day.

Steam Forecast
With Dongsheng, Chengde, Shuangyashan and the ramaining forestry lines all going either to close down or replace steam soon : what will be left in China ? JiTong and Jinchengjiang ! Most of the local lines simply are not rewarding for an individual low-budget tour with one or two trains per day (= 0 to 1 good shots per day). And most railways and their atmosphere are no enjoyment themselfes like some log lines (Shanhetun and Weihe) or Nenjiang for example !
Unsatisfiing railways and inclining number of annoyances ( robberies, mafia activities and so on) - is this a basis for another vist to China ? The only things I`d visit once again in China would be Weihe (if the railway manages to survive) and Jinchengjiang - but nothing else !

Dresden, Mar 27th 2002
Florian Menius


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