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Steam in China - February 2004

by Michael Rhodes

Nanpiao

This is a fantastic system.

First can I try and dispell some myths about when it was discovered etc. We understand that the first railway photographer to take an interest in the system was Wang ming Zhu, who went there in December 2002. He is an official photographer for CNR and also a steam enthusiast. He is a good friend of Li Weishu, our guide for the last 12 years. He then called Li and told him he thought the location would be good for taking tour groups to - Li made a fact finding trip to the lines in Sept 03 having tried to persuade us to visit it twice without success in March 2003 and Oct 2003, but after his fact finding visit he persuaded us it was worth a visit. Then the excellent maps by Louis Cerny appeared on the net in Oct 2003 (and by the way they are superb without a single mistake and allow very easy exploration of the lines).

As for the system - it is a bit like steam in the South Wales valleys - a full report will follow once I've done a weeks work and then gone back to China in 6 days for 7 days on the last 3 narrow gauge systems.

Jinxi Railway

Again why has nobody raved about this line?? - it is quite simply fantastic. There are two return freights in daylight hours (the times on Florians pages are not quite right) They leave Huludao at 0900 and 1300 and the journey time to the limestone quarry at Yangzhangzi is 70 minutes. The trains return from Yangzhangzi at 1100 and 1500 and load to 14 x 50 tonne wooden bodied limestone wagons. We were treated to the sight of JS6243 stalling on the climb 5km out of Yangzhangzi and having to back down the hill, and take a second run at the summit - fantastic sight with good scenery and a conveniently located fast highway along the line to allow chasing - again can I say how accurate Louis Cerny's maps are for this sytem - they were worth their weight in gold.

Tiefa

The diesels are coming - there was a DF5 No.3137 which was shunting the Daqing yard on 14th Feb and on that morning inspite of perfect sun and snow, the Faku empties left Daqing behind DFH 2609 and an SY (rather than the usual back to back SYs). It loaded to 62 empties and the SY wasn't even working at all. I suspect it is the beginning of the end for Tiefa. The DFH had arrived a week earlier and was in very poor condition and we think the DF5 may also belong to the colliery system although things got a bit jumbled in translation as Li asked about this engine. Of course the optimist may say that the diesel is needed as there is more traffic on the Tiefa system (the new mines north of Faku are now producing more coal) but I suspect like Pingdingshan, diesels will spread fairly quickly.

Michael Rhodes


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