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CHINA TRIP REPORT - SEPTEMBER 11 to 29th 2004

by Bruce Evans

YUANBOASHAN, JITONG, TIEFA, TANGSHAN



Beijing-Chifeng, Sept 11/12

Travelled overnight along the Beijing-Huairoubei-Longhua-Chifeng line. At Huairoubei DF7C 5272 was the local shunt loco. Huairou Bei depot now has a large allocation of DF8Bs and these share duties with older DF4/4Bs.

At the Longhua loco staging area there was a line of 8-10 BJs, presumably staged ex-Chengde locos. There also appeared to be a few members of this class parked on the service tracks together with DF4/4Bs, DF4Cs and DF8Bs.

Yuanboashan, Sept 12

After arriving early morning spent a pleasant short spell at Yuanboashan photographing the morning JS-worked mixed train. The mine locos generally appeared in good condition. We spent a short time at the main station and had a friendly exchange with staff who again seemed to be most interested in collecting foreign coins.

Reshui, Sept 12 to 18

Activity as reported elsewhere. No diesels seen on the pass. Considerable amount of poling going on! Tanker traffic appeared higher than in previous years.

Very noticeable (to me at least as a South African) was the presence of large amounts of very colourful cosmos in bloom along road verges and at level crossings. This plant is not native to China (nor to South Africa) but in fact comes from central America. It is very common though on the highveld in South Africa and provides some spectacular displays there during the autumn months.

Daban Depot, Sept 18

A photographically very rewarding time was spent here during the late afternoon, sunset and early evening periods. Sad observations though included the presence of freshly painted DF4s 0552 and 0636, both bearing Daban depot characters, and two scrapping areas where older QJs were being cut-up.

The DF4s are presumably now owned by the Jitong railway indicating that they now favour buying second diesels from CNR - ex-Tongliao and Jiningnan depots.

Daban-Lindong-Chabuga, Sept 19/20

Again much poling under way. Traffic about 60% steam, 40% diesel. At Lindong on Sept 19 saw a westbound QJ-hauled freight with 2 QJs in the middle of the train being returned from overhaul. One of these was an immaculate loco with various red-painted adornments.

Tiefa, Sept 20 to 23

The first four trains seen on arrival in the late afternoon were all diesel hauled! Not a good start. Then a quick visit to the depot at Daqing revealed that two of the diesels were brand-new light-blue painted Dalian DF4Bs and that there were at least 4 DFH3s working! The DF4Bs appear to be for the long western line where they can haul the loads previously worked by the double-headed SYs.
Nine SYs were counted in traffic with the remaining steam, including JS 5029, staged at the workshops.

Observations over the following days showed that around 60% of coal trains were now diesel-worked but that the passenger services for the time being remained steam. Staff indicated that there were now 8 diesels on the system. We saw 5 working with one of the DF4Bs in the workshops and presumably three DFH3s still being commissioned. Staff also indicated that another 4 diesels, understood to also be DFH3s, were due soon.

On Sept 21 the DF4B was not seen and there were some steam workings on coal trains on the western line. The big afternoon train back to Daqing however was double-headed by a DFH3 and SY with the diesel leading.

There was much talk by staff of a steam museum that the mining administration is planning possibly to be opened next year. At the mining administration hotel the location of the proposed museum is shown on the large foyer map. Sadly it does not appear to be rail-connected. However, it does seem that the management is considering having working steam with possibilities for visitors firing and driving. Of particular interest is that they are apparently negotiating with Pingzhuang to swap one or two of their withdrawn SYs for the KD6 and another loco at Pingzhuang - said to be a GJ tank. They are apparently also trying to get a YJ ex-Taiyuan!

Locos seen:

SY (working): 1183, 1412, 1683, 1749, 1751, 1767, 1769, 1770, 1772
DFH3: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
DF4B: 7720, 7721

Shenyang Area, Sept 23

No DFH5s were seen on shunts in the vicinity of the two main stations. These duties appear now to be DF5. New Beijing DF7G 5020 was seen at Sujiatun working together with a large number of DF5s. (A Chinese website has a photograph showing that 5019 is at Sujiatun as well.)

Locos seen:
DF5 (new outline): 2005, 2045 (main station and old station).
DF7G: 5020.

Tangshan Area, Sept 24 to 28

Kailuan Coal Mining Administration

Most folks are familiar with the Tangshan coal mine system which recently went diesel. However, this group of mines is but one of a number forming part of the Kailuan Coal Mine Administration. And many of these other mines are served by SYs.

The rail system serving most of the Kailuan mines is centred on Guye, about 25km NE of Tangshan on the line to Qinhuangdao. Here there is an overhaul works, SE of the CNR station, which had 3 SYs under overhaul at the time of the visit, plus one just finished and in fresh paint and one waiting to go in. The visit was informal and the staff were uncomfortable but it seems the administration has around 50 steam locos - maybe not all working. This total seems reasonable given the number of locos in works. Some of the SYs seen were previously reported at Tangshan coal mine.

The main interchange yard appears to be just SW of Guye station - but it's not a Tiefa or Pingdingshan exchange yard. The rail system connects to the mainline at several places so activity may be quite dispersed.

Most mines are east (south) of the CNR line. Important mines are Linxi, Qianying and Lujiatou but there are several others. At Qianying, which is around 25km directly east of Tangshan, there were 5 SYs and 2 dumped JSs (plus 2 non-powered snow-ploughs!). The 2 JSs, 8128 and 8129 appear to both be from a batch of industrial JSs numbered in the 81xx series.

There is an SY passenger service between Linxi and Qianying mines (about 30 km) via Lujiatou with apparently 4 return workings per day, 2 in the morning and 2 late in the afternoon. A chimney-first SY on a 7-coach pass was seen leaving Qianying at about 08:50. All the locos seen at Qianying faced north.

The mine and rail tracks at Qianying are enclosed by a high wall but the area can be accessed from the northern end of the wall where two tracks, one the line to Lujiatou, emerge. Within the walled area there is a small loco depot with a 2-track shed.

Some of the mines appear to be isolated (as the Tangshan mines are). Majiagou mine is close to Tangshan on the west (north) side of the mainline. This mine apparantly has 3 steam locos but an informal short-notice visit to check was not allowed.

Initial impressions are that the system is not a Tiefa or Pingdingshan. Most of the area is flat and there does not seem to be a clear mainline. However, there could be pleasant scenes with mine headgear and dumps and the passenger service (7-coaches) would be good to photograph. However, road access did not appear to be that good and over the period of the stay in Tangshan heavy pollution made decent photography impossible.

The only diesel seen on the mine lines visited was an old Shijiazhuang-built NJ150/ZN150 0-6-0 at the loco works at Guye. It may have been the works shunter and looked very run-down.

Locos seen: (some on a visit by a friend last year who did an initial recce)
SY: 0021, 0031, 0132, 0355, 0379, 0453, 0907, 1069, 1186, 1212, 1355, 1525, 1537, 1538, 1736, 1759.
JS: 8128, 8129 (both dumped)

'Shougang' Steelworks

A big surprise was finding a small, but expanding steelworks, part of the main Beijing steelworks organisation, west of Qian'an on the branch going north from Guye and Mapuying (see Quail p3). The steelworks appears to straddle the branch at a point about 15 km north of Mapuying and there are ore mines north of the works. A single steelworks SY was first found at Shaheyi, the CNR yard south of Mapuying, and then 3 working and 3 dumped SYs plus one plinthed SY at the steelworks. The locos face south and some are ex-Beijing. There are probably others as it was not possible to explore the full system.

Many of the steelworks lines are electrified and an LEW Bo-Bo plus 3 ZG150 Tri-Bos were seen. Plus a plinthed ZG80 Bo-Bo. There are three plinthed locos in total outside the main steelworks loco and wagon works right next to a main public road. The third loco is an XK13 tank loco. What appeared to be a police headquarters as well as the railway headquarters were on the opposite side of the road!

At the steelworks there were many newish C64 gondolas carrying a 'private' logo. The branch may carry ore for other steelworks (Beijing?). From the observations the branch from the steelworks to Shaheyi is not CNR but probably SY worked (15-20 km). This line possibly passes through attractive rolling countryside but there was no time to recce for roads and access. On the way back to Tangshan a road was followed about 20 km west of the branch and this went through very attractive countryside with villages more appealing than many seen elsewhere in China. All the SYs seen faced south.

In the works yard at the steelworks there was a rake of YZ22 passenger coaches. The coaches did not look as if they were in regular use.

The part of the branch extending further north of the steelworks (shown to Liuguanying on Quail) was not checked. Immediately north of the steelworks there are multiple electrified tracks some of which extend up to about 10 or more km from the steelworks. These seem to serve various ore mines. These mines seem mostly to be hills that are being demolished or blown apart - and there are many of them!

The yard at Shaheyi appeared to be CNR and a DF7 was present presumably to handle shunt duties. A CNR DF4-hauled train arrived from the south and it is assumed this had come from Guye. An SS1 also arrived, from the Fengrun-Qinhuangdao line, to collect a load. There were several coal loading spurs leading off the yard as well as some light industry served by sidings.

Locos seen:
SY: 0026(plinthed), 0346(dumped), 0395(dumped), 0487(dumped), 0697, 0768, 1033, 1760
XK13: 113(plinthed)
ZG80: 136(plinthed)
ZG150: 118, 351, 352
LEW Bo-Bo: 7215
DF7: 0225

Tangshan Steelworks

This works still has some steam in use on parts of the system. Three previously recorded SYs were found working at a plant associated with coke processing somewhere on the northern part of the system.

Locos seen:
SY: 1311, 1582, 1669

TangshanBei Loco Depot

This depot on the 'new' mainline skirting to the west of Tangshan has a very interesting and pleasant little railway museum as well as QJ 1450 plinthed nearby. The museum deals mainly with the history of the old Guye depot and the new TangshanBei depot which replaced it. There are many interesting photographs and artefacts. A very pleasant surprise!

QJ 1450 features in several of the museum photographs. This loco was obviously a depot pet and may have made a name for itself at the time of the 1976 earthquake.

Plinthed SY in Tangshan

The Tangshan Institute or University in the city has a plinthed SY numbered 0001 in the gardens at the front of the complex. This appears to be a renumbered loco and not the real 0001 as the outline is standard and the Tangshan builders plate looks to be a 'new' one.

CNR activity around Tangshan

Locos seen:
BJ: 3127
DF4: 0652
DF4B: 1496, 2473, 6025
DF7B: 6027, 6054, 6056
DF8B: 0019, 5136, 5160, 5192, 5308, 5342
SS1: 252, 431, 447, 448, 526, 551, 595

General Comments

The Tangshan area was very hazy and polluted during the time of the visit with visibility generally between 500m and 1km. This may have been (hopefully) just a bad spell and not the prevailing condition. The Kailuan and Shougang systems are probably not places where at this stage people could go for guaranteed steam photography. They did not appear to be up to Tiefa or Pingdingshan standards. More investigation is required (roads, rail traffic levels, pollution levels, photo locations, etc) and it is hoped that this note will encourage a few people who are happy to trade photo time for exploration time to go to the area to do this. Tangshan is just 2 hours from Beijing by bus on the freeway. A general message at both locations seemed to be that steam will be replaced 'next year' and it would be sad if some of the steam action here is not recorded.

(I had a very good and knowledgeable taxi driver for three days and can recommend him. He is Mr Li Zhi Min - tel 2109528. He does not speak any English but quickly grasped what I was after and he knows the broader area well.)

Tangshan to Beijing, Sept 28

Locos seen:
DFH2: 0038, 0049
DFH5: 2007
DF4: 0710
DF4BD: 1498
DF4D: 0158
DF7: 0093
DF7C: 5250, 5411
DF8B: 5134, 5191, 5310

Bruce Evans


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© 2004, Bruce Evans, email: bgevans@cm1.hinet.net