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March 5 Continuing the report of my trip with John and Kevin Miller, led by guide Mike Ma, at 13:00 we arrived at Chengdu Airport from Ürümqi. Here Mike, John and Kevin went there own way to stay with the doctor and family at Mifengyan on the Shibanxi Railway. My preference was to see what I could of the steelworks at Panzhihua and then continue my explorations of 2009 around Chongqing. I had arranged to have guide Zhang Guangyu (better known as "Zebedee") to help me and he was ready to meet me at the airport. After food, a visit to an internet cafe, and more food, we took a bus to Chengdu Nan for K9483, the 16:55 overnight train to Panzhihua.
March 6 Arrival at Panzhihua was 5 minutes early at 7:05. I left my large bag with my winter anorak inside at a shop next to the station. This was a good move, as the weather was warm and reached summer temperatures during the day. We travelled on a route 64 bus to the city centre, the journey taking about 40 minutes. After breakfast at a "Chinese style" fast food restaurant near some city centre gardens we caught a route 11 bus to its terminus, en route crossing a river bridge into an area at the eastern edge and above the Panzhihua Steelworks. It would probably have been better to continue on another bus that would have taken us further but I did not know what would lie ahead. Instead we walked along the main road that followed the boundary wall of the works.
When this wall came to an end we caught a glimpse of a loco below us that was in steam. To get a better view, we walked down a track that led to a small industrial building and found a footpath that led round the building and into a wooded area on a steep slope above the northern end of the steelworks. The path was being used by locals to bring heavy sacks of lumps of cold slag for which they earned a small payment.
From the path we found a position where, looking west, we had a view of the slag tipping area, below which a steam loco was being serviced. Looking south, we could see an area within the works where steam locos were working on slag wagons. At first there were three in view, then a fourth emerged from a plant below us on our left. After taking several pictures on maximum zoom, three positive identifications were SYs 0562, 0830 and 0831.
The site of the steelworks lies in a 180° curve on the north bank of the River Jinsha. We caught a bus back to above the bridge where we had crossed to the north bank of the river. After a short walk, Zebedee led me down to the steam stabling point, at the opposite end of the site from where we had made observations earlier. As it was the weekend, there was no problem gaining access and we found SY 1297 in very light steam and a lineup of SYs 0694, 0482, 0621, 0399 and 0624 all dead. Compared with David Thomas's report of April 2009 (china578), SY 0170 was no longer in the dead line, but 0482 and 0694 were new additions. Unlike David, we didn't climb to the higher level to check out the workshops.
Locos identified :-
|SY 0399||Dead at depot|
|SY 0482||Dead at depot|
|SY 0621||Dead at depot|
|SY 0624||Dead at depot|
|SY 0694||Dead at depot|
|SY 1297||In light steam at depot|
Four SYs working at Panzhihua.
It seems it is no longer possible for small groups or individuals to arrange official visits, which is a pity. We returned to Chengdu on the overnight train K114 from Kunming, due to depart Panzhihua at 17:28, but it left 15 minutes late. As Zebedee could only get one soft class ticket, he travelled in hard class.
March 7 We arrived at Chengdu main station ten minutes late at 6:40. We had breakfast of dumplings dipped in vinegar before returning to the station. After waiting for Zebedee to sort out our tickets to Chongqing, I took a picture of four types of high speed trains (CRHs) in the same shot. OK, I cheated, it was a picture of a poster but I can now see the differences between types 1, 2, 3 and 5. Another poster contrasted a CRH with "out of date" steam, electric and diesel locos. The steam shot was of a pair of QJs on a freight, with 7112 leading, crossing what looked like Simingyi viaduct.
Our train was what is now D5104 due to depart at 8:50 and I could identify it as a CRH1 unit. As we left Chengdu we passed the construction site for a massive CRH depot. The route to Chongqing was the same as I used in 2009 although no doubt we used some new alignments to Suining. The maximum speed was an occasional 200 km/h. We called at Suining and exceeded a timetabled halt of 8 minutes, waiting for a coupled pair of CRH1 units to clear the single track section to Beibei (last station before Beibei is Beibei Bei). As I wrote in my 2009 report, the Quail Atlas is somewhat out of date from here with a new line to the new Chongqing Bei station where the train terminated. Outside were high concrete columns to support an extension of the monorail system to north of the River Jialing. Later we saw signs of another extension south of the River Chang (Yangtze), both extensions will require river crossings to reach the city centre which is served by the original monorail line.
The first place I wanted to check in the Chongqing area was the Tuanjiecun Trackwork Factory, north west of the city. Andrew Fisher reported his sightings of steam in January 2005 (china422), so this was rather a long shot. Two buses got us to Tuanjiecun station, which had a single platform and many tracks separating us from the Trackwork Yard where I could see three stabled diesels in an unusual livery of white with blue stripe and flash. Zebedee crossed the tracks and snapping them on his digital camera for my benefit. The locos were DF12 0167, 0168 and 0171 all built Ziyang 2009. However he also had pictures of two locos I couldn't see, DF1 1325 and 2090, interestingly two of three of the class seen there by Andrew. No sign of steam, and enquires to locals suggested steam finished around 2008.
After checking into the Yu Du Hotel in the city centre, where I had stayed in 2009, we caught a taxi to the other place I wanted to check, Chongqing Docks. As expected, a diesel had arrived, CKD6E 3003 built Ziyang 2009, in orange livery, looked very new and was said to have arrived at the end of January. It also carried a local number "3-机车01", the two Chinese characters translate as "locomotive". The servicing track and pit had been smartened up with a fuelling point for the new arrival. SY 1236 and SY 1360 were both still present (spare?).
|CKD6E 3003||Built Ziyang 2009|
Before returning to our hotel, Zebedee checked at the railway station that our train to Xiaba for the following morning was running. Unfortunately it wasn't because there was a Chinese holiday for the "International Women's Day".
March 8 Breakfast in the Yu Du's rotating restaurant (which no longer rotates). As no train, it was a succession of local buses to Xiaba. We left the hotel at 8:25, first took a bus to the south of the River Yangtze where we spent some time finding the correct bus station for the next part of the journey. We departed at 9:40 and after 45 minutes cleared urban Chongqing. There had been new monorail construction work following Yunnan Road almost to the end of the urban area. At 10:35, we arrived at Yudong, changed buses and after one and a half hours changed into a small van-bus for the final fifteen minute leg of the journey. By comparison, although we would have had to miss the hotel breakfast, the train would have departed at 8:00 with a travel time of two hours.
From what I had seen from passing trains the previous year, I had high hopes of action at the Chongqing Steel Group Iron Co., Ltd. works. However the weather was very dull with damp in the air. By the time of our arrival it was clearly the lunch break, with working loco SY 0883 stabled in steam on the track connecting to the CR station. On our arrival some workmen emerged from a small office and clearly indicated we weren't welcome and should put our cameras away. Zebedee led me along the tracks into the works to the depot which contained the other SY, 1109. It didn't seem worthwhile hanging about, and as we were waiting for a bus which serves the area, two men on a motorbike appeared to make sure we were leaving. This location has previously been described as Xiaba Cement Works. There is a cement works here but it is at a higher level and not rail served.
Locos with works plate data:-
|SY 0883||Tangshan 9/1994||Working|
|SY 1109||Dead in depot|
SY 0883, lunch break at Xiaba.
The next place I wished to explore was Maogang Transportation. I thought I knew where it was, Zebedee definitely knew. The local bus from Xiaba took us a short ride to the village of Jiashi, where we changed to another bus. After a longer journey we got to a river crossing, and after negotiation changed to a three wheeler taxi. It was 14:30 when we reached our destination, Maogangcun (Maogang village) which is on Google maps. The taxi was driven between some blocks of flats and on foot we followed a path down to the main five track yard that overlooks the River Yangtze. Here were SY 1016 in light steam and diesel GK1C 0398. Any action must have finished earlier. The yard was empty of wagons apart from a short line of yellow tankers. Walking north we came to the open sided and partly roofless "shed" where we found SY 0257, very much a spare with its piston rods greased. The connecting line to the CR station at Xiaonanya is about 8 km long. Staff said they would like to buy a second diesel, but the price had increased since 0398 was purchased two years earlier.
Locos with works plate data:-
|SY 0257||Tangshan 7/1970||Stored|
|SY 1016||Tangshan 6/1975||In light steam|
|GK1C 0398||Ziyang 2007|
SY 1016, its day's work done at Maogang.
After our visit, we had a five minute walk to a local bus terminus. After several bus changes, we arrived back at Chongqing Railway Station for a bus to our hotel. Because there had been so many smokers of really strong cigarettes on the buses used, by now I was really suffering with a sore throat.
March 9 A travel day, flying from Chongqing to Jinan where I would rejoin Mike, John and Kevin who would be flying from Chengdu. My flight was on time but the flight from Chengdu was two hours late. So there was a delayed arrival in Zoucheng which meant just a late evening snack at KFC.
March 10 In contrast to my previous visit to the Zoucheng Mining Railway in 2008, when the weather was misty with poor visibility, today was bright and sunny with a clear blue sky. We arrived at the stabling point at the south west end of Dadongzhang yard to find QJ 3461 (repair date 5/2008) and QJ 6811 awaiting their work for the day, both facing south west. It wasn't until 10:25 that 3461 moved off the stabling point, followed at 10:45 by 6811. 3461 remained at "our" end of the yard, departing on a long train of empties at 10:55 in the direction of Nantun. 6811 was at the opposite end of the yard and departed, tender first, on a train of hopper wagons at 11:00 on the short run to Dongtan mine. We were driven to a main road level crossing across the approach to the mine from where we could see 6811 in the distance shunting. At 12:10 it approached the level crossing, but it was a "false start", just part of the shunting. The real departure back towards Dadongzhang with its loaded train was at 12:50. 6811 next departed light engine to a power station (Mengsuo?) where we found it at 14:00. Pictures there would have been difficult as the line was on an embankment and a departure would have been tender first. So we moved on to Nantun mine where 3461 was shunting hopper wagons. (The latest Google Earth imagery for the area, dated December 2009 is very good, for instance a fine plume of steam from a loco at Nantun mine can be seen.)
We then returned to Dadongzhang, several diesels working. Trains of coal arrived with guards carrying truncheons riding every few wagons to deter "help yourself" locals. No QJs reappeared so we returned to our hotel in Zoucheng.
March 11 The weather was not quite as good today, but no problem with visibility. We were at the stabling point by 8:25 in time to see QJ 3461's coal supply being topped up by crane. A group of old ladies cleared up any overflow that landed on the ground rather than in the tender. Around 10:20 3461 set off light engine past the stabling point and 6811 left for the yard. It then also passed the stabling point light engine.
We waited for further steam action but neither loco returned so we left the stabling point for the depot. The QJs dumped the longest remained in the same place as in 2008, 6866 and 6812 on the same track as DFH1 004, 7123 and 6782 on the next track. 3538, 6848, 6284 and 3595 were in a line on another track, 3538 had replaced 6814 since 2008. 6933 was still on its own but in a different position. Through a window, 7189 was visible inside the depot.
Steam Locos :-
|QJ 7189||Inside depot, serviceable|
QJ 3461 reverses from the stabling point to Dadongzhang yard.
QJ 6811 heads a loaded train from Dongtan mine towards Dadongzhang yard.
We then set off for the Yanzhou Coke Plant where we arrived at 13:10. Our driver first took us to the main entrance which would have meant quite a walk along the outside wall to the loco depot. So I asked him to drive back to the main road and down a side road through some houses to get us nearer and he seemed to know the way. Climbing the well known hillock we could see high deflector QJ 7126 in steam and another QJ at the other end of the depot. But trees that have been planted alongside the boundary wall now obstruct the view for photos. However, by a stroke of luck, a section of the boundary wall opposite the depot was being rebuilt. There was a field access road that runs under the tracks to the depot, which we followed to get to the point where we could cross into the depot. There was no objection to us taking pictures of the QJs, the other one was 6814, also in steam. Kevin, who carries a large supply of London postcards, was busy handing them out to the loco crews. Two uniformed staff appeared, and it was out with the mobile phones to take pictures of each other alongside the foreign visitors. They told Mike there were three QJs stored in the yard nearer the Coke works (my guess was there might be two). They were QJ 7191, in overhauled condition, connecting rods not refitted, the other two 6936 and 7188, both looking in rough condition. As QJ 7191 has subsequently been seen in use, I suspect it had only recently been brought over from Zoucheng. In 2008, it had been in use here along with 7188. At 14:30 7126 started shunting followed by 6814 at 14:55. This was an unexpected (unofficial) visit and the reception we got was much appreciated.
|QJ 7191||Stored, ex-works|
Yanzhou Coke Plant, QJ 6814 outside the depot with QJ 7126 in the distance.
March 12 Another travelling day, we left the hotel at 9:20 and arrived Jinan Airport at 11:30. This was in very good time for our flight to Harbin, due to depart at 15:20 which left on time. At 16:40 we were told that Harbin Airport was closed due to the weather conditions and instead we would land at Shenyang, touching down at 17:00. Help! We had an overnight train to catch from Harbin. Fifty minutes later we took off and landed in Harbin one hour later. There, a recent snow fall had been cleared from the runway but the temperature was well below freezing. We took the airport bus to the railway station and had a quick meal at a restaurant, meeting Mike's daughter and a friend who both study in Harbin. The two young ladies were of great assistance to an elderly (me) and a not quite so elderly (John) gentleman, as we struggled to remain upright on the very icy station forecourt. Then it was train K7075 departing 22:00 for Jixi.
Jixi, March 13 - 17
March 13 Arrived at Jixi on a bright sunny morning at 6:40, having passed on the right the mining railway's workshop where no locos were visible and the CR depot for the briefest glimpse of the smokebox of preserved QJ 6800, "Iron Bull". There was no room at the main hotel of the National Territory Resources Mansion, so Mike booked us in at the floor 3 reception desk of the "Bath House". This was for two nights after which we switched to the main hotel. We then spent the day on the nearby Chengzihe system. At the level crossing west of Dongchang, we found SY 0863 and train blocking the road traffic. Here it was noted the poster advising of the future electrification now correctly showed an industrial rather than a main line electric locomotive. After SY 0863 moved on towards Jixi, SYs 1351, 1058 and 1340 passed coupled light engines from Nanchang for the Dongchang shift change. Other locos present were SY 0804, SY 1369 coupled to SY 1545 on a tipper wagon train (for Zhengyang/Xinghua?) and SY 1437 on tippers, frequently the loco for the spoil working from Beichang.
We then went towards Zhengyang. At the level crossing SY 1340 headed a train of empty wagons towards Xinghua, unusually tender first. SY 1369 arrived on some empty wagons from Dongchang for Zhengyang mine. We moved on to the tip between Zhengyang and Xinghua where there is a siding on the opposite side to the tip. My guess was that 1340 had left some of its wagons here as a front loader was at work filling the wagons and had then continued on to Xinghua. You are quite exposed on the tip and because of the chill wind from the west I don't think I've ever been so cold at Jixi. We chose a bad time to depart as just after setting off we had a glimpse of a train to Xinghua.
Driving back to Beichang washery triangle, we saw a spoil train at the top of the tip between Zhengyang and Dongchang. At the triangle SY 0804 was busy working six hopper wagons to and fro between Dongchang mine and the washery. A tender first SY struggled from CR to Dongchang on a train of empties and SY 1437 returned from the spoil tip beyond Dongchang to the washery propelling four tippers and a control van. SY 1351 was shunting the washery for some time before departing with a loaded train towards CR, to be briefly replaced by SY 0863 which arrived with empty wagons before leaving light engine towards CR. SY 1351 returned propelling more empties from the CR direction. At 16:15 SY 1437 departed for the waste tips with its tippers reloaded. Throughout our stay SY 0804 had been completing a circuit with the hoppers hourly, but just before we departed left the hoppers at the washery and departed towards Dongchang light engine.
March 14 At the start of the day, the weather had gone off, yesterday's blue sky hidden by mist. After a brief visit to the Nanchang servicing point, we moved on to Didao arriving at 7:40. Within a short space of time, the five regular SYs here, 0407, 0950, 1205, 1213 and 1446 had all been noted around the washery. There was a lot of activity on the lines to the west of the washery. The driver of our van saved us the effort of walking up along the tip or following the railway track, by driving us to a position close to the "high line" and looking down onto the Lijing mine. By now the sun had appeared, but patches of snow remained where the surrounding hillsides were shaded. Two separate trains of tippers were taking coal from a loading point high up on the tip not far from the non-rail connected mine. A road front end loader was being used. Below us a SY brought wagons to Lijing mine for loading, after which the train was propelled back to Didao. After leaving the tip area, we parked up where we could walk to the point where the mining railway connection to the power station and CR runs parallel to the CR main line. We took several pictures here before the light began to go and the temperature fell. On our way back to the hotel, Mike said the driver was expecting snow overnight.
March 15 We looked out of our hotel window and fine snow was falling. As the ground was well covered, it must have been falling through the night as our driver had suggested. We delayed our departure and, hoping the snow would ease, set off for the tip between Zhengyang and Xinghua. We stayed there for around three hours before there was any sign of steam through the falling snow. To our great disappointment, it was a light engine, SY 1351, heading for Xinghua. We walked back to our van and returned towards Jixi.
We had a look at Beichang where the snow flakes were now bigger. I mostly stayed in the van, until I saw a figure with video camera and tripod appear. Having read Colin Martindale's post on Steam_in_China from two days earlier that he had retreated from Huanan to Jixi, I enquired if he was Colin and he was. He had been sheltering out of the worst of the snow with staff in the control office at the Jixi corner of the triangle, and only emerged when the approach of a train was indicated. He now felt the snow and wind were easing off. I wasn't so sure and retreated to the van, content with jotting down the movements of SY 1058 on eight hoppers to and from Beichang, SY 1437 departing to and returning from the spoil tip (although I couldn't understand why on returning, it turned itself and train on the triangle) and SY 1369 shunting the washery. Because of the continued snow, we went back to the hotel early. We had now moved from the "Bath House" (towels intended for the "Clear Lake Hotel") to the tenth floor, part of the "proper" hotel.
March 16 The snow had ceased and a clearer day was likely. We checked Nanchang where SYs 1058, 1340 and 1351 were being serviced, then continued on to the tip between Zhengyang and Xinghua. However it was very cold on the exposed top of the end of the tip with the wind in our faces so we struggled back to the van. The wind from the west was causing the snow to drift, the wooden workmen's shacks on the tip resembling the camps for Antarctic explorers of years ago.
We continued on towards Donghai mine. As we were due to fly to Beijing two days later, we called in at the airport. It was very quiet and because of the weather there was no flight that day. We came to the cross roads for Donghai and turned left and followed the track towards the mine. After a short distance we found SY 0746 on a loaded train bound for Jidong but stuck in the snow and not going anywhere. After taking pictures, we continued on towards Donghai and had reached the point where road and railway track parted company when SY 1018 appeared light engine from Donghai. So it was time for a U-turn and to follow the light engine. Our progress on the rutted, icy road was much slower than SY 1018. There was no problem getting the train on the move again with the assistance of the second SY, and we could only watch from a distance as the train crossed the main road with 1018 passing us returning to Donghai.
By the afternoon it came sunny, but still with the cold wind, blowing the snow into drifts. We were in position near the level crossing into Zhengyang for an empty train leaving Zhengyang for Xinghua. We ended the day at Beichang, although I must have been feeling the cold as I spent most of the time in the van. I did take advantage of a sunset silhouette shot arranged by some Chinese photographers on the level crossing towards Nanchang. Although after their shots, they departed by car leaving the SY and train to continue blocking the crossing, causing the local motorists to U-turn for alternative routes.
March 17 We made a before breakfast start for Didao, hoping for dawn sunrise shots. I noted a large new power station being built next to the expressway as we entered Didao. To get the shots you have to be in the right position at the right time and unfortunately, with tripod to set up for video, I was too slow and missed the shot of a train returning up the grade into the yard. As on our previous visit, trains were working to both Lijing mine and the loading point beyond the tips.
We returned to the Chengzihe system and the level crossing near Zhengyang. We had a long wait before SY 1351 arrived tender first from Dongchang on a long train of empties including a van in its train. We had plenty of time to walk along the line towards Xinghua and after thirty minutes SY 1351 passed us with some empties, still including the van. Forty minutes later another SY headed a loaded spoil train of tippers and control van to the tip between Zhengyang and Xinghua. However, for both trains, the wind from the west was stronger than was wanted for the best pictures.
So to Beichang again which is more sheltered. SY 1340 took eight hoppers to Dongchang and back, but strangely only two hoppers on its next trip which returned after a lengthy delay with SY 0804 in charge. Meanwhile 1340 had returned, backing some CR wagons to the washery, and then departing with tippers and control van for the tip.
Locos seen. All in use:-
|0804, 0863, 1058, 1340, 1351, 1369, 1437, 1545|
|0407, 0950, 1205, 1213, 1446|
A loaded train rolls down the tip at Didao.
SY 1058 being serviced at Nanchang.
SY 1351 and SY 1340 prepare to depart Nanchang for the morning shift change.
SY 0746 and train await assistance from Donghaikuang.
March 18 Departure day by Deer Air to Beijing; due to take off at 10:00, it was only 35 minutes late and landed at 13:25. We had a farewell meal, including a cake for Kevin's 28th birthday. Mike and I were extending the trip by three nights, but after a hotel overnight near the airport, John and Kevin were returning to London by British Airways the following day, which just happened to be the day before BA cabin staff were starting industrial action.
Mike and I caught train D7, formed of two CRH5 8 coach units, 18:29 to Tangshan. We were due 19:27 at Tangshan Bei and then found a hotel near the station.
March 19 After breakfast we hired a taxi. Tangshan covers a large area and it took us some time to reach the steelworks and locate the level crossings where I had seen lots of steam activity in 2005. However the area was now very different with little road traffic over the crossings and a modern road bridge high above. The only rail traffic we saw was a steelworks diesel hauled train. Mike was told by the crossing keeper that steam working finished about eighteen months earlier. Mike then found us a bus for the journey from Tangshan to Qian'an, journey time seventy minutes, arriving mid afternoon at a bus station some way from the centre of Qian'an. A taxi ride brought us to the Auto Hotel in the centre. All day the visibility had been very poor.
March 20 We awoke to find visibility still awful. The TV showed it was bad in Beijing with sand from Mongolia carried by the weather landing on traffic and pavements. Mike hired a small van and to the west of the centre we soon found the level crossing and footbridge over tracks to the steelworks and close to the plinthed SY, XK13 and ZG80 electric. At some time the SY has been repainted without any numbers although I have no reason to think it is not SY 0026. Shortly after our arrival SY 1752 left the depot which is in the area on the opposite side of the tracks to the plinthed locos. I later wandered around the outside of the depot and found three SYs stored in a compound to which I couldn't gain entry.
Their identification (with some guess work) is listed below. The two tenders that could be seen did not match the locos to which they were attached.
The level crossing and footbridge, which is situated to the north of the steelworks, is a very interesting place for observing operations. Amongst the diesel and electric worked trains, SY 1752 propelled a train of tippers to the north and later returned light engine. At 12:55 SY 1034 arrived from the north on a train of loaded tippers, maybe containing fine coal. Similar trains were hauled by DF4DDs or the larger electrics. It seemed that the same type of train in and out of the works could be hauled by diesel, electric or steam. A DDR built V1003 diesel left the depot and disappeared into the steelworks complex. SY 1034 reappeared light engine and almost reached the footbridge before switching tracks back into the works. SY 1752 seemed to be returning to the depot, but instead used a minor single track level crossing to retrieve some battered loaded wagons from a small coal stock yard. Mike called at the transport offices across the road from the path to the depot area. He was told only five steam, including those stored, remained. A pity the weather was poor, and when there were some spots of rain, sand from the Gobi Desert was included. We returned to our hotel by way of the bus station where Mike booked tickets for next day on the 7:50 bus to Qinhuangdao.
Locos seen. :-
|SY 0026||Plinthed||No identification, number assumed|
|SY 0424||Stored||Number assumed from x424|
|SY 0768(?)||Stored||Number assumed from xx0(?)8|
tender assumed 0727 from 072x
|SY 0985||Stored||Tender assumed 1760 from x760|
SY 1752 of Qian'an Steelworks.
March 21 Our bus arrived in Qinhuangdao at 9:15, most of the journey being by expressway. The weather was much improved from the previous two days. Qinhuangdao gave the impression of a clean modern city as we took a taxi across the centre. On the left hand side of Yingbin Road, one of the "Rocket of China" replicas was plinthed in a small park. We came to a small non electrified goods yard which belonged to the Local Railway and Mike was told by a member of staff that all steam locos had been dumped for six to twelve months. We headed back following the Local Railway along Haiyang Road with the track on our right. We continued under bridges carrying CR tracks and the expressway, then along road S251. Approaching the outskirts of the city we turned right off the main road to a guarded warehouse area. Within the area we could make out a line of five out of use SYs. Unfortunately the guard at the gate would not allow entry to identify the locos, saying the area was covered by CCTV. However as David Thomas has already reported (china600), two weeks later he was successful in gaining entry so the numbers of the SYs are now known. Return to Beijing was by a convenient "Airport Shuttle Bus" with courtesy bus from the airport to our nearby hotel.
March 22 Return flight on KLM to Birmingham, UK, via Schiphol.
Thanks to Mike Ma for all his efforts as guide/interpreter and John and Kevin for their company. For someone who enjoys train travel, five internal flights were probably a bit much, and I have lost count of the number of bus journeys, some quite pleasant, others less so. The main memories are of the sun shining on us at Sandaoling, Zoucheng and Jixi. At Jixi, we lost a day to snow, but the sun was combined with the fresh snowfall for most of our final two days. However I did feel the cold there when combined with the wind. Mike assured me it was nowhere near as cold as when he was there with a group in November last year.
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