Steam in China - September 2004
by Jan Schirling
Xuanhua, Handan, Xinzheng, Xingyang, Yinghao, Mianchi, Yima, Xin`an, Yanzhou, Xuzhou, Yongcheng, Ma`anshan
The globe steam tour "Purely Industrial II" led us from September 5th untill September 19th from Beijing to Shanghai.
On the trip from Beijing to Xuanhua we made a little break to watch the Chinese Wall, afterwards we went directely to the steelworks. In the west works with its little blast furnaces we observed a train tipping hot slag in the new area. The granulation pond is only used for the warm water production in the winter, also the old slag hill is history. Slag trains and hot iron trains were the employment of SY 0299, SY 0559 and SY 1177. Besides we saw SY 0552. Itís possible that there is no more permission for the larger east work. As reason a repair stop was communicated to us. After long discussion we could drive to one place with normal steel and rail work. Allegedly an English group have seen lazy workers and thereupon the management forbids further visits - perhaps a reason only for foreign visitors? We saw working SY 0782, SY 0921, SY 1462 and SY 1541. They hauled trains with hot iron cars and steel wire. At the eastern end of the east work a road crosses the second interchange yard to the CNR. Here we saw the orange diesel GK1C 0184 as well as a again built representative of the same proven type GK1C 0608 beside SY 0250, SY 0323, SY 0356 and SY 1104. CNR-owned DF7 3040 was leaving the yard with its train.
In the morning we visited once more the western factory before running back to Beijing. The same engines like the day before were present. Locomotive list for both Xuanhua days:
GK1C 0184, 0608
SY 0250, 0299, 0323, 0356, 0552, 0559, 0782, 0921, 1104, 1177, 1462, 1541
Both C2-locos 1 and 4 waited warm in the station. Starting operation was sheduled for 6 pm. For the following day the local people told us Ąnormal" duty at 2 pm.
This steelworks offers very beautiful steam action, you feel reminded to Anshan. Besides SYs some diesel locomotives are in the use. Unfortunately only the area around the three railroad crossings between the track exit from the works (south gate) and the blast furnaces by our companions of works security and transportation department was allowed. Even the footbridge was refused. We met hot iron trains with SY-steam locos 1139, 1393, 1535, 1658, 2007 and 2009. Slag trains were hauled by SY 1081 and 1203. Modern traction was represented by GK1L 0001, Taihang-diesel TH 001 and 002 as well as GK1GC 0011 and 0012. Later the depot should be forbidden for us but we finished it earlier. Here the SY 0557, 0702, 1535, 2007 stood beside the diesel TH 003. Coldly turned off SY 0800 and 1154 were present, in the workshop SY 1208. To long discussion around the slag tipping area - the place was allegedly unknown - we drove to the last blast furnace. This looks as it was erected by a german manufacurer. We saw again GK1L 0001, SY 1535 and SY 2009. In the interchange yard SY 1658 met us with hot iron cars. In addition here the stationary boiler SY 0293 as well as the turned off SY 0119 stood. Locomotive list over the Handan Steel locomotives seen by us:
GK1GC 0011, 0012
SY 0119 (+), 0293, 0557, 0702, 0800, 1081, 1139, 1154, 1203, 1208 (rep), 1393, 1535, 1658, 2007, 2009
TH 001, 002, 003
Rusty tracks under the road bridge caused us to inquire in the brickworks. Local people told us that the factory was already due to overproduction for months out of operation and a reopening is unknown. In the area many large unsold heaps of brick confirmed the data. Access to the locos was refused.
In near-by Shangjie the large aluminum plant of China Aluminium (CHALCO) is situated with its own railway line to the bauxite mines. According to statement of the transportation department leader only two or three SY remained with shunting inside the works, traffic to the mines changed to diesel. We could see SY 1693 in the interchange yard and on a public railroad crossing. One further SY moved behind a works wall. Near the interchange yard a GK-diesel waited.
Xinzheng is the central station of these only in the freight traffic used 762 mm narrow gauge railway. A reloading possibility for the standard gauge railway could give it in the close coal camp. East of the station are the depot and the workshops. Both are officially not accessible, the post at the track gate permitted however a short look. The line connects coal mines west of Xinzheng with a power station nearby Kaifeng. The Nelles map indicates the terminus Qixian. All loaded and empty trains stops here and drive further after one or two hours with a Ąfresh" engine. Empty cars are often exchanged to do light repairs in a little hall. Sometimes, four trains were in the station at the same time. It reminds thereby of stations such as Bytom Karb (Poland) of the upper slesian narrow gauge railways. In the station waited 1603 as a pilot for the light repair hall and loco 1813 with a passenger car - maybe for a working train. With empty and loaded trains we saw the following diesel engines: 3802, 3805, 3807, 3813 (?), 3822 and 3824. In the depot additional loco 3810, 3815, 3819 and 3826.
We experienced frequent traffic, in the morning and in the afternoon runs a whole set of trains from the interchange yard or starting from Shenxi to the mines. The trains leave the station Shenxi at quite short notice, so that the crossing guards cannot serve with early information. The position of the sun is best in the afternoon, because the locomotives drive funnel forward direction west. We saw the following locomotives in the morning in Shenxi: GKD3B 0003, JS 8031, JS 8030, JS 8054 and JS 8068. The mine no.9 passed JS 8030 as a light train and SY 1687 with passenger cars. Differently as in published sketch maps the line starting from mine no.9 donĎt run southwest but further to the west. At noon in Zhongxin station SY 1209 and 1687 stood with their passenger trains. We saw the first one on mine no.7, where it met JS 8421 with its coal train. On this mine a 900 mm narrow gauge railway carries overburden stones to a camp. Here electrical locomotive 1 was in use, while the "sister" 2 was located in the depot. In the afternoon JS 8031, JS 8037, JS 6225 and GKD3B 0003 drove by Shenxi with their empty or coal trains as well as SY 1687 with passenger train. We saw JS 6225 once more with an empty train on the upward gradient to the mine no.2. After asking the local staff we received the following travel time for the passenger trains. Continuous courses are not given, all passenger trains only run to the central station Zhongxin. The railway terminus in the western section could not determinated. Here the entire travel time is to amount to two hours.
Zhongxin st. - mine no.13 tender forw. through Shenxi ca. 06.00 h
mine no.13 - Zhongxin st. funnel forw. through Shenxi ca. 10.05 h
Zhongxin st. - mine no.13 tender forw. through Shenxi ca. 13.50 h
mine no.13 - Zhongxin st. funnel forw. through Shenxi ca. 18.05 h
?? (west of Baofeng) - Zhongxin st. tender forw. from ?? ca. 04.05 h
Zhongxin st. - ?? (in west of Baofeng) funnel forw. from Zhonxin ca. 07.40 h
?? (west of Baofeng) - Zhongxin st. tender forw. from ?? ca. 09.50 h
Zhongxin st. - ?? (in west of Baofeng) funnel forw. from Zhonxin ca. 13.20 h
?? (west of Baofeng) - Zhongxin st. tender forw. from ?? ca. 15.50 h
Zhongxin st. - ?? (in west of Baofeng) funnel forw. from Zhonxin ca. 19.20 h
As the day before there was another frequent steam traffic. We saw in the morning a passenger train with SY 1209 at the mine no.8 and JS 6429 while shunting at the mine. It followed SY 1209 with its passenger train at the mine no.7. The nicest moment was the employment of QJ 6813 with ballast cars in the range of the mine no.2. In addition here JS 6225, JS 8031, JS 8065 and JS 8068 came through with their trains. In the evening we saw again SY 1687 with passenger train of mine no.13 coming.
In the morning we watched the passenger train between Qilidian, where a small coking plant is situated, and the mine no.8 again. It was hauled by JS 6225. In the depot of Pingdingshan the leader didnít want to let us in. We saw QJ 7168 and JS 8062 from the outside. In front of the depot JS 8031 shunted. Locomotive list of the three days Pingdingshan:
JS 6225, 6429, 8030, 8031, 8054, 8062, 8065, 8068, 8421
QJ 6813, 7168
SY 1209, 1687
On the way from Pingdingshan to Mianchi we passed the Shaolin monasteries at Dengfeng. In the late afternoon we met three steam locos at the Luoyang Guan Lin steelworks. SY 1316 (cold and under repair) and SY 0886 were in an area belonging to the works to which a guard permitted entrance. The third locomotive SY 2014 shunted several times over a new road, which separates the old steelworks from the new one not yet producing. Here even a blast furnace was established.
A really beautiful 762 mm narrow gauge railway is situated at Yinghao. About 1km south of the railroad crossing over the freeway 310 is the interchange station (CNR or Mianchi line?). In northern direction a small road leads over approx. 5 km to the central station of the line. From here a locomotive with trips to the little coal mine which is approx. 1 km away with 3-4 empty cars per trip. It returns immediately after the loading of the cars. These trips are arduous due to the upward gradient. In the meantime the second working locomotive hauls a loaded coal train to the interchange station and returns with empty cars again. On the main line the locos are running funnel forward. Very beautiful scenery offers the 2-km-section northerwards. Unfortunately there are only few trips to the workshop since the local coal mine has been shut down for some time.
In use were C2-locos 13 and 17, locos cold in the workshop were 03, 14 and 15, partly with tenders of other locomotives. In various conditions of disassembly, more engines were beyond the depot including no. 11. Coaling of steam locomotives is done by shovel - from a loaded car to the tender.
The future of the line is probably not good because the parallel road is concreted again and a new mine is being built without rail connection.
Seen from Yinghao, beyond Guanyintang below the long road curve an electrified 600 mm coal railway is situated. It is to a large extent double-track and connects a mine with a reloading station. The little coal cars are transported from there by using an inclined elevator over perhaps 50 meters difference in height to stock buildings which have connection to the CNR. Within one hour we saw the deep mine-type locomotives 02, 03, 20 and 22 working including a deep mine-type passenger train.
At Mianchi CNR station starts a coal railway system with two or three lines. One runs southwards with a steep upward gradient to the Gengchun mine. According to local railway workers we were the first foreigners there. We observed QJ 3318 with 4-axle tender shunting and JS 8417. However, a diesel locomotive is to be purchased in 2004.
The near-by Yangchun mine is connected by a branch line, too but seems to use trucks only. Perhaps the coal is transferred for washing to Gengchun. Both mines have electrical narrow gauge railways with deep mine-type engines (at Yangchun including electrics 06, 11 and 14). They carry mainly overburden material.
On the uphill line near Mianchi we had the luck to see JS 8125 with a long empty train.
One of the probably two lines northwards is going to Yinghao, but we didnít examine it. Railway staff told us that currently 12 mines are served and 11 steam engines belong to the railway. At Mianchi station DF7 0263, which belongs to the CNR, shunted.
The Yima mine system looks rather sad and exhausted: only little railway traffic at the day of our visit. JS 8092 and JS 8275 were active within the open cast mine hauling overburden material to a tipping place and raw coal to the adjacent coal washery. JS 5937 hauled a works train. According to statement of the staff only one complete train with coal is transferred to the CNR per day. Close to the coal washery the workshop is situated, in which we saw from outside JS 6061 and SY 1435 (perhaps SY 0435, there is a sign number of "435" on the front lamp) both in bad condition, and JS 8087 cold in the shed.
In Goutou - perhaps this place belongs to Tiemen - we had bad luck, because the 762 mm narrow gauge freight train of the limestone line didnít return from the loading. The depot of the line and the tipping place are in the cement plant. A visit in the work was refused.
This standard gauge line starting from the CNR station Miaotou to the Shishixinan mine offers very delightful scenery. QJ 2828 and QJ 7204 waited occupationless in the large mine station. No coal cars were present at all whereas on the road, numerous trucks were seen loaded with coal. We didnít visit the depot and the interchange station.
Heavy rain up to the early afternoon made us to drive to the temple and the cemetery from Confucius to Qufo, perhaps a good alternative. In the afternoon we first visited the Baodian mine, where DF4DD 1021 arrived with an empty train. Afterwards we went to Dadongzhang station, where the stabling point is situated. A long double headed train (QJ 3461 and QJ 6936) arrived. QJ 7126 shunted in the station, additionally QJ 7188 and diesel GK1 003 waited. Later QJ 7189 appeared with an empty train.
Two DF4DD-diesel hauled trains left the station with their trains to the CNR interchange. All steam locomotives seen were funnel forward from the station building direction right hand. In the depot QJ 3538 and QJ 6814 were located as warm reserve locomotive.
In the morning we drove once more to Dadongzhang. There was annoyance with the depot boss and the police, because this day was not announced. We saw QJ 7188 in use leaving with a freight train. In the depot both QJ 3538 and 6814 were still there like the day before. The diesel locomotives DF4DD 0030 and 1021 were seen, too.
In the area around Hanzhouang and Ligou there is a whole set of metallurgical plants with very small blast furnaces which manufacture only pig iron in bars. These works do not have rail connection and are exclusively truck served. The same applies to a very small steel and rolling mill in Ligou.
North of Xuzhou a large power station complex (Xuzhou Power Plant) is situated. Construction activity is still hanging on. In relatively good condition QJ 3597, QJ 3596 and QJ 7193 were stored cold in a row near the work gate. Are they to be used again?
On the Peitun line we had luck when we could get the apparently regular afternoon steam train funnel forward in the station Zhongzai and naerby Zhengji. It was hauled by QJ 7075. All other trains, on this day three coal trains to the Xuzhou interchange station and the passenger train, were driven with diesel locomotives.
A steel plant with four smaller blast furnaces. Main products seem to be casting tubes and steel tubes. Possibly the factory belongs to the French St.Gobain company. From the outside we saw no locomotive during our short stay.
Yongcheng station is the central operational point of a small coal mine system. Towards the northwest, north and northeast three branch line to the coal mines exist. Southwestwards is a track to a power station. In the depot we didn`t find and ask the responsible man. This did not please the depot boss - the visit was terminated.
However, the staff at the station was informative. The railway offered little traffic. On this day only one train went to the CNR interchange, while two long loaded trains with unsold coal waited for call by a customer. We could see incoming trains from the mines. This year the first two diesel locomotives are announced, next year steam will finish. Line work was performed by QJ 3439 and 3550. In the depot QJ 3000 was used as stationary boiler and steam generator for cleaning. According to the staff, another locomotive was inside the workshop (JS 8363), while QJ 3552 spent all the day in the interchange station to the CNR. For locomotive chasing: Trips to the mines leaving Yongcheng can return within half an hour from the nearby mines.
Innumerable freight trains with the American General Electric locomotives (or their reproductions) of class ND5 were seen on the travel from Xuzhou to Nanjing. The double-levelled Jangtse bridge at Nanjing is very fascinating. It offers beautiful motives for photographing from both road ramps.
What I already assumed when reading the reports and maps published in the Internet, there is no public industrial railway in Ma'anshan. Itís the works railway of MAGANG, one of the production-strongest steelworks in China (http://www.magang.com.cn). Most areas shown in the map will be reached after passing through a works gate. Sometimes they are not to be recognized as such, so that I may happen that somebody is suddenly within the works. At a railroad crossing near the stock of raw materials GK1C-Diesel 0110, 0111 and 0112 waited for starting operation. In the raw materials stock the train of SY 1670 was loaded. Our local guide made a short visit possible for the stabling point, which was interrupted by MAGANG. We saw SY- steam engines 0024 (in repair), 1281 and 1716 as well as the diesel locomotives DF7 5656, GK1 0015, 0024, 0046, 0063 and the GK1C 0241 and 0242. Near the depot SY 1715 and SY 1644 passed with pig iron trains as well as SY 1733 with raw material cars. The first railroad crossing over a public road - seen from the interchange yard - offered frequent traffic with steam and diesel locomotives. Among others we saw SY 0054 with pig iron cars, GK1 0025 with open cars and DF7 5688 with a mixed train. In the afternoon it gave further problems with MAGANG and the police at the second railroad crossing. Allegedly an Egyptian (probably rather English) group illegally had visited the works, was caught and lost all films to the security. As a result, the management had forbidden all activities outside the works, too. The prohibition was confirmed by CITS.
In any case, it is an highly-interesting railway, the steel plant makes a very modern impression. At the second railroad crossing DF7 5688, GK1C 0251 and GK1C 0109 were seen with their trains as well as SY 1361 and SY 1644 with pig iron cars. Before and after the visit we could photograph freight trains with ND5-Diesel (0078, 0199, 0201) on the CNR line too.
From the road bridge over the interchange station we observed CNR Diesel DF7 5080 shunting as well as the steel plant`s diesel DF7C 5688. GK1C 0110 hauled an empty train to the quarry. Another railroad crossing in the city was secured by a friendly policeman, it didnít cause any problems to take pictures of SY 1732 with pig iron cars and GK1C 0214. Back at the first railroad crossing behind the interchange yard we asked another policeman, then we could photograph there, too. According to statements all areas west of the main road parallel to the steelworks are taboo because belonging to the factory. Locomotives of the works seen: SY 1715 with pig iron cars, SY 1670 several times with open cars, GK1 0012, 0048 and 0081.
By the way: we saw persons, who observed us on the road bridge and at the railroad crossing in the city and did mobile phone calls afterwards - visitors of Ma'anshan should be careful!
In the proximity of Ma'anshan we found three further little blast furnace works in operation. In addition there was ND5 (0081, 0085, 0191) on the CNR line. MAGANG-locomotive list of the two days:
SY 0024 (d), 0054, 1281 (d), 1361, 1644, 1670, 1715, 1716 (d), 1732, 1733
DF7 5656 (d), 5688
GK1 0012, 0015 (d), 0024 (d), 0025, 0046 (d), 0048, 0063 (d), 0081
GK1C 0110, 0111, 0112, 0214, 0241 (d), 0242 (d), 0251
Riding the train to Shanghai we saw an SY with a freight train in a station south of Nanjing - perhaps Banqiao. The main line passes the steelworks of Nanjing north of Banqiao. However, we saw no locomotives there.
Shanghai is an overwhelming city. It reminds to the pictures which we know from Manhattan. The magnetic levitation transport system (Maglev) works as a demonstration line between the subway station Longyang Road and the new airport Pudong. It runs every 20 minutes and reaches a velocity of 431 km/h. The travel time is 7.5 minutes.
Jan Schirling, email: firstname.lastname@example.org