Steam in Southern China-December 2002
by Peter Patt
It is true that steam will finish in the coming two or three years but no exact date given yet. A DF4 diesel loco was
used in Hechi in late 2002.
Luckily we didn't see any diesel during our 5 day visit to the system. Just the opposite:
up to 6 steam powered uphill trains from Hechi per day - that's
really tough to change photolocations. Including a daily freight on
the Shaocheng branch in daylight. Temperatures down to -6 degrees Celsius: karstmountains, JS, perfect exhaust and snow!!
We visited all known steam locations around Liuzhou:
Liuzhou Loco Works with 2 SY under steam for shunting plus 5
others in repair. The workshop actually rebuilds its halls to
accomodate more diesel overhauls: in 2003 they overhauled 40 steam
locomotives, but already 105 diesel engines. Next year shall be the
last for steam overhaul - only 20 engines. 2004 will see the end of
steam overhaul at Liuzhou.
Steam at the Nylon works, the fertilizer and cement factories
continue as usual (2 SY each).
offically we were told that steam would finish this year (2002) and
only 1 engine (SY 1411) was left. We didn't believed it and, what a
surprise, 2 more SYs were found shunting in front of the blast
Still steam, 4 active SY were found.
The GJ class engines continue to life here: 1062 + 1063 (+ several
SYs) could be seen.
Big but sad news from here:
Currently the entire line is being upgraded for a cost of 70.000.000 Yuan to be ready for higher axle
loads and more traffic when the river bridge to Naxi goes into
operation in 2003. This means that all 3 4-wheel-tender QJs (3175,
3289, 3237) are currently in operation and haul ballast trains over
the line: lots of activity these days - the normal schedule still
exists: 1 departure around 11.00H from Longchang.
Sad news: Currently the railway company makes 1 million Yuan profit,
with the extension of the line they plan to lift it up to 100 million
Yuan profit per year. Guess what they do with the money: they will
buy 4 new DF4 in summer next year and will downgrade the QJ-services
to shunting duties at Luzhou and Naxi!
Everybody on the railway confirmed the rumours that 2004/2005 will
see the end of the steam operated part of the line, it shall be used
to build a road!! The electric part of the line will survive.
In service: locos 09 / 14, cold 07 / 10.
On most days 2 freight trains ran uphill: the first leaving Shibanxi
shortly after the 09.00 passenger, the second freight departed around
13.30! The second train may only run until the reversing station and
can be used for all other kinds of traffic - one day we saw it going
out to load bamboo...
On Dec 20th 2002 the passenger/mixed ran for the last time!
Reason: the railway lost 75% of its freight business because only 1 factory still gets stones on the rails.
To save costs, the railway decided to cancel the passenger services.
Steam engine 67 nevertheless hauled a passenger train for our group.
Only diesel freight trains will continue to operate on this nice
system. The stop of the passenger trains might just be a temporary
measure though it is announced as "until further notice" disruption.
Weiyuan coal mine
Still running 2 trains per day - on paper. Mostly only the morning
train is going. The parallel road is going to be improved and you may
guess what it means for the railway...
Active on our globe steam tour visit: engine 32, while 31 & 34 were
cold in the shed.
Mojiang coal mine
No police and railway official hassled our group (having had an
official permission), we could take picture freely, could embark the
passenger trains at the "main" station etc.
There is a set of passenger trains (mostly operated as mixed) which
go to the mine at Xiang Yang, leaving Mojiang 07.00 and 14.00,
returning roughly after 1.30 hrs.
Engines seen in service: 2, 4, 5.
Chengdu Steel / Seamless pipe factory
Due to incredible thick fog with a max visibility of just 20 meters
it was impossible to locate any steam locomotive in the works - we
just managed to see SY 0600 at the steel-works.
© 2002, Peter Patt