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Goods turns seen:
All week Mifung had been acting as a bamboo cane concentration centre with cane being carried in or being railed in on permanent way trollies. Sometimes motor bikes which use the track as a rough road were employed to pull the trollies ( 1-1-0 wheel arrangement?). By Saturday 3 wagons had been loaded and at 13.45 #14 returned with a wagon loaded with bagged cement which after unloading and distributing around the village was loaded with bamboo. #14 departed for Weijin with the four loaded wagons at 15.55.
During this visit very few tourists were seen and the only signs of commercialism were a few English language signs at Shixi and a giveaway brochure featuring the line. Interestingly one of the photos showed the line under a light dusting of snow - could be a long wait for this shot I imagine. Apart from the bamboo, coal and cement the trains were used by the locals to move anything from three piece suites to pigs and the line seems to be in little immediate danger of closing: certainly there is no sign of further road building since Rob Dickinson's initial report in 2001. Overall the kind of line Charles Small would have included in 'FarWheels' except that it hadn't been built when his book was written.
Nose first uphill phot spots are confined to about 3 miles but there are about 10 different locations on this stretch and the weather being as it is, it could be quite a while before these are all captured on film successfully.
Stayed at Guang Kong hotel in road leading to Zhongxin station. Come out of station and it is on right hand side after
300 yards. 100yuan per night for a twin room. New giant size station almost complete. Entrance to platforms at left hand
side of station. Activity during our short visit was very similar to that previously reported. The top of the disused
lime kiln at Mine 7 is confirmed as an excellent vantage point for westbound trains on the main line. The yard at Shenxi
is being expanded which is good news for the future.
All locos face west and those seen in action during our visit were as follows:
Additionally JS 6338,8084 and QJ's 6690, ? were seen in steam over the shed wall. Also a QJ is stored/dumped in carriage sidings just west of Zhongxin station. This list seems to differ substantially from the PDS summary list so they must have acquired additional locos from CNR sources fairly recently.
Operations on 25th November were as previously reported with trains running about hourly with a lunch break from about 12.00-13.00. #207 was working with #7 spare on shed. (Note for anoraks - the third driver on these locos is flangless - at Shibanxi all drivers are flanged). However on the 26th November operations came to a halt after just one train because of a power failure at the loading point. Maps previously published seem pretty accurate and there is also a town map on the wall of the CNR station showing the narrow gauge. A lovely little line but it must be vulnerable to replacement by lorries.
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© 2005, Tony Eaton: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org