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A very mixed trip started on 29/10 with BA039 from Heathrow T5, arriving 15 minutes early at Beijing on 30/10. We took one of the new super fast trains to Jinzhou, arriving just before 17:00 in a little over three hours, then a road transfer to Nanpiao.
Nanpiao, 31/10 & 02/11
As per Bernd’s ‘circular’, the only steam loco in traffic now is SY 1299, all the other SYs having been withdrawn. This loco performs only trip/shunts as it’s in poor health and is mainly restricted to the Sanjiazi line. BJ (4) & DF5 (2) diesels do most of the line work though the former really are very tatty now. On the 31/10 SY 1299 was on the Linghe line afternoon passenger but was switched to the Sanjiazi train on arrival at Xiamiaozi. SY 1299 failed on 01/11 so was under repair this day.
31/10 was unique weather wise after an overnight ice storm, everything looked like Christmas decorations!
With no action this day at Nanpiao a quick trip to Bajiaotai was made. The line features a yard complex serving the nearby power station and a line, around 500 metres in length, from the north end of the yard area to the China rail station. Photographically not great, seeing JS 6211 on in excess of 50 empty wagons was impressive. JS 8116 was under repair in the depot with JS 6244 under steam. 6244 carries a Sujiatun 9/2009 overhaul date.
Huanan, 04-06 & 12-16/11
Running normally with 011, 041 & 168. All were carrying the tender ‘artwork’ which is actually a canvas mounted on a wooden frame! The railcar was not operating after an accident with a C2, perhaps never to return? The weather here was far too hot on the first visit, up to plus 16c. On our return it was very cold but a little hazy and after just one day's reasonable photting we lost FOUR days to snow.
Didao and Chengzihe were visited, both operating normally. At Didao on the 9th & 10th a banked train of empties ran from the CNR exchange sidings up to Didao at sunset, 15:15. This could be a regular occurrence but we only checked this working on these two days. A nice shot on the Chengzihe system is the bridge over the river near the CNR exchange sidings, best between 06:15-07:15 and there was a train on each of the four days we went. At Baicheng washery there was a lot of what looked like drainage work being undertaken, perhaps in connection with the proposed electrification next year? Didao washery had scaffolding all over the west end of the site with several high cranes operating. This appeared to be heavy reconstruction/refurbishment of the buildings. This meant the hugely photogenic west end was spoilt. At Hengshan there was a reported SY working of a few wagons up the hill after the morning shift change, noted from a distance on 07/11 with SY plus 3-4 wagons at about 08:45. The loco then goes up to the colliery on the hill for pilot duties. On 11/11 we went to get a picture of the train but it was formed diesel/wagons/diesel with SY 1095 hitching a ride on the rear!
A trip with lots of variable weather. The snow that fell during the last four days of the trip caused lots of local flight cancellations so we took a train back to Beijing to make sure of BA038 on 18/11. Was it worth the effort and expense? The answer has to be yes, if only to be able to see and enjoy everyday working steam in action. We are seriously lucky to still be able to do this, 41 years since the end of mainline action here in the UK. It is, however, very hard going now trying to get something original or different from that which we’ve achieved before.
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© 2009 Trevor Maxted