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China November 21st – December 4th 2002

Richard Hay

This is a report on a two-week bash by Richard Hay, George Shields and Martin Manship (guided by the Queen of CITS Chifeng, Tina Wu) covering what is fast becoming the standard gricer trail around northern China! We visited Dahuichang, Wangdu, Shijiazhuang local railway, Shenyang local railway, Teifa, Fuxin, the Chifeng area coal systems and Ji-Tong.

 

November 20th: Depart London 08:55 with Swiss (Air) via Zurich. Had enough time to visit Zurich HB. Plenty of Re 4/4, 460s and an Re 6/6 on pass with a few ICNs and even a DB ICE TD for good measure. Flight out of Zurich with a MD 11 at 16:45.

November 21st: Arrive Beijing on time and very quickly through passport control and baggage claim. By 10:30 we were on the road to the railway museum. One of the benefits of a guided tour is that Mrs Wu had made arrangements for us to go round the museum even though it has not fully opened. Give it time the place will be quite impressive as the loco collection is quite superb-I just hope the Chinese don’t get bored with the project and leave it half finished. Building work was continuing on a side block, which I guess will eventually be the entrance and offices.

Very interesting were the two sheeted-up wrecks dumped behind the Chinese Academy of Railway Sciences complex and visible from the museum access road. These are metre gauge JF51 2-8-2T #738 and 0-10-0 (BLW) #23, possibly from the same class as the locos that worked on the 600mm Gejiu system in southern China until the mid 1990s. Hopefully in time they will be smartened up and put on display in the museum. We had no problem in stopping our taxi and going over to inspect the pair.

From the museum we motored across to Dahuichang, via the plinthed JF in Linglong Park. C2 2 and 4 were in operation. SY 251 was in its usual place in the std gauge yard.

Overnight in BJ’s DongFang hotel.

November 22nd: Visited the Great Wall at Badaling, mainly for Martin’s benefit as it was his first China bash-beautiful haw frost on the hillsides around the wall itself. Back through BJ calling off at Capital Iron and Steel so the author could replace the shots of the V1003 that he lost due to security guard gripping in 2001!

V1003 seen at the stabling point: 17377, 17378, 17407, 17491, 17893, 17894, 17896.

Then it was a sprint down the expressway to Wangdu, arriving at Tangxian after dark. Hotel rooms at the hotel adjacent to the depot in Tangxian.

November 23rd: Disaster as the railway was found to be closed up and judging by the condition of the track had not been used for some time. A pre-breakfast grice around the shed (thanks to a gate guard who was half-asleep!) showed the shed with a couple of diesels and at least one C2. We quizzed the railway management who explained the closure of the railway on the Communist Party conference in BJ! However, the explanation by Herr Seiler that I have read since my return to UK about the quarries at Baihe seems to make more sense.

Quick exit from Tangxian in mini-taxis for Shijiazhuang (SHJ). Journey took 3 hrs most of which paralleled the BJ-Shijiazhuang mainline and we observed several SS1, SS8, and surprisingly DF4s in both green and orange versions on frequent pass and freight.

Once we dumped our bags in a random hotel in the northern suburbs we hired another taxi to take us to Daguocun. We were refused permission to go round the shed but nipped in ourselves via the railway gate.

QJ: 2566 (steam), 2124 (oos) plus others we didn’t note before making a quick exit!

We then used the taxi to follow the line towards Xibaipo power station, finding QJs 6794 and 6391 about to depart the power station with a raft of empties at 16:00. We then followed the train to the ¾-way loop (at 2 on the map) where 6391 came off and 6794 headed on alone back to SHJ. The fog was so bad that we didn’t bother to chase a tender-first train and returned to the hotel.

(Please can someone who has a decent graphics program redo this map-my apologies for the quality but I only have MS paint on my PC!)

November 24th: Ventured through the fog to Daguocun and found QJ6391 shunting at the main CNR interchange yard (SHJ Xi) and various industrial sidings in the area (3 on the map).

Various SS1, SS4, 8G and DF4 in evidence on the main SHJ – Taiyuan line as well as 6391 shunting!

At 12:00 QJ6391 dropped into SHJ Xi yard for a train of coal for Xibaipo. We motored out to a river bridge 4 km out from Daguocun which 6391 reached about 12:30. This bridge is at 5 on the map. The line on the section to the ½ way station (1 on the map, called Nanhuzhuang in Quail) seems mainly north-south and at this time of day the light is not the best. We next caught up with the train at Nanhuzhuang mainly through taking the long way round and having a taxi driver whom didn’t exactly like putting his foot on the gas pedal! Here QJ 6794 was added and the train promptly departed for Xibaipo. We ran short of luck now and once we were in front of the train headed for 2. At 2 the mainline for the power station veers off to the right, skirting some low hills and entering a tunnel behind a cement works (6 on the map). However, not realising this we headed up the line which carried on straight towards some more cement works. This line seems not to be in regular use (but has some some nice phot spots) and by the time we realised this there was insufficient time to get back down to the mainline. We arrived back at 2 in time to see the tail of the train entering the tunnel! We therefore carried on to Xibaipo in time to see the train cautiously drop down into the power station yard. Some limited shunting was done before one loco headed back towards SHJ light engine at 15:00 leaving the other to follow with a few wagons slightly later.

November 25th:

Day started very foggy indeed-in fact we were down at the level crossing 2km from Daguocun and could not see QJ6391 sitting there across the road less than 15m away! We hung around the level crossing once 6391 had backed down towards Daguocun until 11:30 when we set off for some flooded brickpits adjacent to the river bridge we had used the previous day (5 on the map). There is potential for shots with fishermen in foreground as the pools are frequented by chaps fishing for their next meal! However, ours was scuppered by the chap deciding he had enough tiddlers for the day and packing up moments before the train arrived!

At 12:00 6391 with 6794 on the rear of the train headed passed with loads for the power station. We tried to chase but took the wrong turning on a back road managing to catch up with them again as they entered the tunnel at 6! Obviously with two locos already on the train they did not need to stop at Nanhuzhuang. We followed to the power station where after only a few minutes they worked out with 4 empty wagons. Chasing, we managed a grab shot on the climb towards 6, a location that has potential if some time is spent getting up the hillsides. Views of a distant lake and Xibaipo power station should be had from here but the trains returning from the power station will be tender first.

A misunderstanding between guide and taxi driver had us return from 6 straight down the expressway to the hotel, giving us plenty of time to pick up our bags and then head off into Shijiazhaung in order to catch T2046 16:29 SHJ - Changchun.

SHJ Local Railway Conclusions

We really had no luck here and so missed many of the possible shots that are there to be had. Certainly, the most scenic section is from loop 2 to the power station, with a summit occurring near the tunnel at 6, there being shots from the hillsides that are in the area of the short, sweeping curves that seemingly exist here. However, we didn’t really explore the section from 6 to the power station - there must be an extra tunnel somewhere here as a line of hills blocks the direct route to the power station. Also the river bridge and brickpits at 5 offer something for a train in the afternoon. However, it seems as though trains are a fairly rare commodity here and it would require a dedicated gricer to stay here long enough to get even a few of the potential shots.

November 26th: Bailed out of the train at Shenyang and into a taxi for the trip to Teifa. On the way we called in at the Shenyang Local Railway

Shenyang Local Railway

Hushitai: 09:30 SY 0111 being coaled after its arrival with the single coach passenger working

2km east of Qiantun we spied another SY on a two-wagon freight heading towards Hushitai.

We then called in at Qiantun shed where inside SY 0537 was undergoing attention in readiness for boiler washout.

From Qiantun, we headed for Tieling and Teifa actually managing 159 km/ h (not quite 100 mph!) at one point on the expressway-definitely the quickest I have travelled in China!

November 26th/27th/28th:

Teifa

My first visit here but nothing to add to the information already known except to note that the double track section from Sanjiazi to Daqing is currently being relaid, resulting in single-line working. The CNR through trains were also terminating at Daqing with there being a few extra steam-hauled passengers on the Daqing line, possible to compensate. These trains did not seem to be in the timetable. JS5029 is now dumped outside the works at Daqing.

Locos in service: 0393, 0435, 0860, 1147, 1255, 1683, 1749, 1751, 1764, 1767, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772

Locos in Daqing works Nov 26th 14:00

SY

1683 – steam test house, in steam

1255 – in yard, in steam

0023 – dumped outside works in extremely dilapidated state-worker gave its number

0063/0665 – both stored in good condition behind a gated compound

0979 – in workshops receiving overhaul

1412 – in paintshops

JS

5029 – dumped in works yard

Late on the 28th we made our way, in a taxi, the 180km to Fuxin

November 29th/30th:

Fuxin

Again my first visit-plenty of activity to keep an enthusiast occupied. The CRJ map from 2000 is an absolute must if you intend exploring further afield than just Wulong. We also had good weather for an exped into the giant pit, with clean skies enabling a good view to be had of the whole pit. No steam was in use on this day within the pit itself.

SYs noted:

0076 – working

0540 – working

0911 – working

0941 – working

1319 – working

1320 – working

1378 – working

1396 – working

1397 – working

 

Wulong steam works. 08:00 Nov 29th

SY

1818 – in steam, being prepared for painting after repair in the works

0126 – in steam, works pilot

0036 – under repair inside workshops

0391 – under repair in workshops

Taipeng stabling point 15:00 Nov 30th

SY

0785 – in steam

0911 – in steam

0939 – in steam

0988 – in steam

1395 – in steam

0541 – dumped

YJ

405 - dumped

 

Wulong stabling point. 16:30 Nov 30th

SY

0391 – in steam

1210 – in steam

0576 – stored

0127 – stored

JF

508 - dumped

From Fuxin we caught the night train (T640 22:00?) to Chifeng. The hard sleeper coach was right behind the loco (various DF4s) and it was on occasions difficult to sleep with all the racket from up front. If only it had been a QJ!

December 1st: Arrived Chifeng 06:00 and transferred to a taxi for the run to Yuanbaoshan where we headed straight for the viaduct at Gongye.

07:23 JS 8249 pass to Fengshuigou

From here we immediately cut and travelled across to Pinzhaung where we arrived in time to see the locos on the stabling point being prepared for their days service including one that looked superb with full deflectors and skyliner casing (1083???-I didn’t note it down and my phots haven’t come back yet).

SY

0210 – in steam

0271 – in steam

0304 – in steam

1083 – in steam

JS

5758 – in steam

Also the two locos stored outside the adjacent brick shed

In the P-way yard JS 6401 was awaiting action with a ballast discharger. Also in the same area SYs 0946 and 0916 were standing around with little to do until 0916 headed off towards the pit access roads with a crane and mess van. In the works yard SY 0706 was stabled with another crane and mess van.

A quick view into the pit (heavily obscured by smog!) produced the sight of at least 2 more steam locos on p-way trains. We received no hassle from anyone but were only standing at the top near the electrified access lines.

Electrics noted but there were others: 7324, 7341, 7342, 7343, and 7385

From here we then returned to Yuanbaoshan where we remained for the rest of the afternoon.

We arrived here in time to catch JS 8218 manoeuvring around the various mines. There does seem to be a reasonable shot of mine 3 from a graveyard across the valley. Obviously the loco is tender-first but it has the mine as a background and Chinese/Mongolian scripted gravestones as foreground interest. On the run from Maijiawan to Xishan there is a pleasant shot through a grove of trees where the road has a slight bend with, if the weather is clear, a pleasing backdrop of hills and the power station for the going away shot.

Back at Xishan JS 6544 was shunting and at 13:30 JS 8249 departed with empties for Maijiawan, climbing up the big hill towards the mines, just in the nick of time at 14:35. From there were rapidly made our way to the Gongye viaduct which produced a glinting JS8218 on the mixed pass at 15:20, complete with such a raft of coal wagons that it looked like a pure freight train!

Back at Xishan the rapidly sinking sun produced some good glint of JS 6245 and 8250 shunting the yard along with JS6544 on an arrival from Maijiawan right at the sun’s death at 16:30.

After a meal in a restaurant near Xishan station we headed off to Daban for two nights stay.

December 2nd:

We were out near road km post 909 for the Tongliao-bound passenger at 07:30 (sun-up 07:15) which produced QJ 7010 running easily. We then followed the pass to Gulumanhan where we picked up QJ 6301 in absolutely superb external condition working a Daban-bound freight which we followed in towards its destination. Also observed was QJ 6576 with an eastbound freight and 6639 with a westbound. Deflectorless 6984 was doing its usual shunting at Daban.

A midday visit to Daban shed followed where I haven’t got a complete record of all that was on shed apart from 6385, 6851, 7040 in the running shed and 6825 with 6230 receiving attention in the main halls.

We then headed out to Lingdong where all I can say is that the pagoda is very impressive as would the shot have been if there had been any trains before dark! A long way to go for a pagoda even if it 1,000 years old!

December 3rd:

Back out to road km 909 for the passenger which produced QJ7010 as the previous day. We again followed the train eastwards in the hope of another freight but none produced until we stopped for an hour or so near Gulumanhan when an eastbound passed by. By the time the next westbound was around the temp really was quite warm and the steam effect was almost non-existent! Is it really a Chinese winter?!

From Daban we headed westwards for Reshui, picking up a westbound at the long bridge 30km from Daban (Pingdingmiao) and sticking with it until Reshui was reached several hours later. From there we headed straight for Shangdian and the glint on an eastbound arrival!

December 4th:

The author’s final gricing day saw us in the Brickworks valley for an excellently lit eastbound at 08:30-thankfully the wind held off long enough to allow the smoke to climb away!

From there I said farewell to George and Martin who were staying on for another week or so and, with Mrs Wu, headed back to Chifeng and Yuanbaoshan.

Arrival at Yuanbaoshan at 13:00 put us right the thick of the action with JS8249 climbing to the mines with a train of empties, JS 8218 running towards Yuanbaoshan (CNR) with wagons and JS 6245 running empties from the mines into Xishan (arrival at 14:20). This gave plenty of time for another hit at the Gongye viaduct passenger but this was thwarted slightly when JS 6245 roared over the bridge at 15:10 with 33 full gondolas in tow, promptly stalling just off the bridge! Attempts to get the train on the move failed and eventually at 15:30 JS 6544 came along to help push at the rear. By this time I was up the line slightly further towards Fengshuigou (and halfway up a tree!) and missed the sight of the train reversing back across the bridge in order to have a run at the bank! By the time the train passed me 6544 had dropped off the rear. Anyhow, with the light failing fast it was back to the bridge for 6544 on the delayed passenger which again as three days previous had so many wagons on that the coaches could not be seen! We followed to Fengshuigou and watched the shunting that went on to arrange wagons underneath the coal loaders.

From Fengshuigou, we retraced our steps to Chifeng, had a meal and said farewell to Mrs Wu before boarding the usual China escape route of the 20:00 ex-Chifeng to Beijing and the Swiss flight home the following day (after a major police gripping at Fengtai marshalling yard but that’s another story!).

Conclusions

An enjoyable 2 weeks with some pleasing shots taken in a variety of locations, some well-known and other not quite so. Wangdu was a great disappointment and the SHJ Local Railway really was frustrating and definitely not somewhere a first timer should go (Martin was rather concerned at the lack of steam by the time we left!). I am convinced though that there are shots to be had if people give it some time (and have decent weather!).

One of the highlights was Yuanbaoshan. I had expected a trundlebahn but it seems to have a couple of good climbs and on occasions load the locos really quite well. Perhaps I am biased-the JSs are my favourite Chinese class!

This however will be my final Chinese bash-at the age of 24 it is time to build-up the savings again and get on with my life and career! Back in 1998 on my first trip the first Chinese steam loco I saw was a JS running, in twilight, with a train on the Helong branch as we approached Yanji airport flying in from BJ. In 2002 the last Chinese steam loco I saw were two JSs shunting in twilight at Xishan and I think that’s a nice way to finish…

Richard Hay

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© 2002, R.Hay , email: js5646@yahoo.com