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globesteam tour “Steam at the yellow river”
by Jan Schirling
Oct 22 / 23 Jiayuguan
The permission for the Jiayuguan steelworks was organized by CITS. We were accompanied by a guide of the local agency. Compared to the visit in last January there are only few additions. In the coal unloading area two JS are in use, a further one is spare. These locomotives are to be replaced within the next year. The remaining SYs still haul slag trains from the blast furnaces to the slag hills. In the workshop area were two QJ, both out of use for quite a time.
Oct 24 / 25 / 26 / 27 and Nov 11 Baiyin
For visiting the railway facilities of the BaiYinGongSi (Baiyin company) which operates several copper, lead and zinc smelters as well as mines in the east of Baiyin a permission is necessary. You can buy it for 160Y per person and day. This expenditure is recommended, because one is announced with it and one does not face any difficulties with controls by work security staff when entering the railway facilities. The security is present in the area in form of several road posts and blue-white painted watch towers. However one has free admission and photo permission for the railway facilities and the depot.
Lonely exceptions are the separately fenced off factories. In addition to the passenger trains to Sanyelian (7.35 from Bayin Shi) and Shenbutong (7.50 from Bayin Shi) at noon two pairs of pupil trains operate to Bayin Shi (GongSi dep. 12.30 and 13.30, back 15 minutes later). In the morning after 7 o'clock and in the afternoon after 13 o'clock the Sanyelian factory is served by freight trains. In the afternoon the times for the passenger trains didn't change (15.15 to Shenbutong, 16.10 to Sanyelian – the later one sometimes operating as an empty train beginning in the sidings at GongSi). The empty ore train to the Shenbutong copper mine usually operates around 8.30 starting from GongSi before the returning passenger train. From Oct 25 to 28 these trains did not operate because of repair works at the mine. The other factories receive their goods as required.
The slag train consist of two slag cars, a caboose and a flat car and runs between the copper smelter and the slag dump several times a day. It returns after some 15-20 minutes.
A CNR freight train passes around 12 o'clock (Baiyin Shi to GongSi direction), we saw DF5 1813. On Oct 31st, SY 1470`s overhaul was completed in the workshop. It received US-typically white holds and a silver smoke box door.
Oct 28 / 29 Liujiaxia
On Oct 28 globesteam ordered a special train, consisting of a JS, one passenger car and company-owned freight cars of different designs. After a non stop run to Shangxuan the return train was performed from 9 to 13 o'clock in the morning taking pictures of the train. The train personnel was very cooperatively and permitted all desires for photo stops and runpasts on the line. Despite the quite high price for this train it was really successful!
The normal traffic was like described. If the train is short (less then appr. 12 cars) the train is banked by another JS for the first kilometres starting from Gucheng. At longer trains the banker remains till 1 km behind the first river bridge and returns then. By the way somebody can rent the Dachuan ferry for photo travels on the river, however the ferryman requires "tourist prices" - so bargaining is necessary! The freight track of Liujiaxia station receives cars (esp. coal) in the evening with the mixed.
Oct 30 / 31 Yaojie
The Yaojie country railway owns four SY. They are only used for special services (e.g. locomotive for track maintenance at Oct 30) now as two DF7Gs have taken over regular duties. The railway of the ferro-alloy works runs northwards and operates with SY. However traffic was rather weak at the days of our visit, we could observe only few and only single headed trains. The destinations of the freight trains are either the Heqiaogi aluminum plant (aluminium billet to Haishiwan for CNR), the neighbouring power plant (coal from the Yaojie mines or from CNR-trains) and, at the terminus, the large Nanlingcheng ferro-alloy works. This plant still works but receives only few cars.
02 / 03
Consequently, the raw material and transportation facilities had to be extended significantly. Around the entire work a wall has been build. It now also includes the formerly freely accessible slag hills. A visit permission for both days was organized by CITS. The operation of the factory railway runs further as described. There are still up to 20 SY in use (mostly slag trains and shunting at yard). Some long dumped locomotives are monuments now.
Outside of Baogang we visited the large CNR depot at the ring railway. In addition to the "normal" DF4- and DF5-diesels you can find a large number of dumped steam engines there. Some locomotives were also set up as monuments. A visit is possible after payment of 100Y, however they insisted on attendance by railway personnel.
In the proximity of the depot opposite the Baogang slag hills there is a kind of "trade area" with several pig iron works, which produce pig iron in small blast furnaces or even in "Mao pots" using slag from the Baogang hills and also some “new” iron ore. The small blast furnaces were apparently shut down, but, however, some "Mao pots" were still in operation!