Steam in China - November 2004
by Peter Semmelroch
Laibin-Heshan, Sancha, Yemao, Jinchengjiang, Ganshui
Reached Heshan on Sunday afternoon 31/10 by early morning flight from
Beijing to Guilin and a taxi drive from Guilin to Heshan (about 3 hours, 600
Yuan). There is an excellent motorway from Guilin airport to Nanning which
we used to Laibin. Stayed in Heshan (good hotel in the city center -the high
red building) until the evening of 4/11. Weather generally sunny and warm
with occasional haze and clouds.
Heshan depot owns 10 locomotives (and some rail-cars)
- 3 derelict JF6 one of which is 3026 as reported before
- 3 brand-new DF4B in dark-red/cream livery (like a DF4D) numbered 9568, 9570 and probably 9569.
The three diesels are locked in a single track shed which cannot be entered
therfore the number of the loco in the middle couldnīt be checked. but you
can look into the shed from both sides. During our visit there was no
activity at all concerning these three diesels, it is not known when they
will be put into service.
- 4 workable JS class locomotives:
|8286||line work to Laibin||3/2003 Liuzhou works|
|8289||cold||7/2002 Liuzhou works|
|8353||line work to Laibin||10/2003 Liuzhou works|
|8354||shunting in Heshan and trips to the branches||4/2002 Liuzhou works|
Traffic levels were very high, all scheduld freights to Laibin were running,
although timekeeping was poor (see timetable on qj-country.de), trains ran
from two hours ealy to three hous late.
One one occassion the train 45343 consisted of 51 loaded coal wagons hauled
by a single JS from Laibin to Guwa, where a second JS (light engine from
Heshan) was arriving and double-headed the train back to Heshan. A fine
sight and a fantastic spectale. Generally coal is transported from Laibin to
Heshan and onwards to the Heshan power station, empties in opposite
direction; output of Dongkuang mine seems to be low and not sufficient.
There were frequent daily trips from Heshan to the Heshan power station,
daily trips on the southern line from Heshan to an industrial complex, and
also trips on the north line to Dongkuang mine (very scenic small mine) but
this were not confirmed to run daily. All these duties were performed by the
shunter JS 8354.
Scenery is good from Baiheai to Heshan via Heli and unintersting from Laibin
to Baiheai. Line to power station and to Dongkuang also offer reasonable
Passenger traffic: Only trains 8592/8593 are still running with one railcar
plus one YZ22-coach, the second pair of trains has been cancelled.
Conclusion: The Laibin-Heshan line was the best part of our trip, also due
to the sunny weather conditions, and a visit can be highly recommended as
long as steam lasts...
Sancha / Yemao 5/11-6/11
Reached Yizhou from Heshan by Taxi (about 1.5 hours) and stayed there in a
hotel in the city center. From here to Sancha is 1 hours drive (Taxi, first motorway direction to
Liuzhou than mud road through the country) frequent minibuses also run
between Yizhou and Sancha.
Only the Sancha end of the Sancha-Luocheng line was visited on the mornings
of 5th and 6th of Nov.
The mixed arrived on time on both days (tender first) and the picture with
the big river bridge is excellent, especially on arriving trains.
Loco was JS 8374 last overhaul was Liuzhou works 9/2003.
After arrival photographing in Sancha station is possible, train did not
leave on time but on 12.30 only on the 5th and on 11.00 on the 6th. Reason
is that the train waits in Sancha station for a main line freight which
brings freight cars for Luocheng. Trains are long (20-30 freight cars) with
the two ex. KCR passenger coaches at the end. We couldnīt find out whether
the nightly scheduled freight trains also ran.
After the train left we changed for afternoon photography to Yemao
industrial line on both days (20 min from Yizhou). Although line is short
there are some excellent photo spots with karst mountains as backdrop.
Working loco was SY 0917 facing towards Liuzhou. There are 3 to 4 round
trips daily between the factory and Yemao CNR, one between 10.00 and 12.00
one between 15.00 and 17.00.
On the evening of the 6th we drove on to Hechi (about 1 hour from Yemao)
where we stayed 7th-9th of Nov.
Hechi 7/11 - 9/11
Upon arrival at Hehi Xi Zhan on the 7th were greeted by DF4 B 7732 doing
test runs light engine in the station area and worked as the Hechi-Hechi
Xi-shuttle loco on that and the following day.
DF 4B 7733 was also present in the well known, now two-years old
maintenenance hall as were all 9 JS class locos owned by the railway.
| ||last overhaul|
(JS at Liuzhou Works)
|JS 8283||6/2002||in steam on the 7th, later cold when 8287 was steamed instead|
|JS 8285||8/2003||in steam for line work|
|JS 8287||5/2002||cold on the 7th, was steamed on the 8th and replaced DF4
7732 as Hechi-Hechi Xi shuttle in the afternoon of the 8th.|
|JS 8288||12/2003||in steam for line work|
|JS 8290||7/2003||cold, in the maintenenance hall, probably for smaller repairs|
|JS 8376||7/2004||in steam for line work|
|DF4 7732||DL 2004||shuttle on 7th and 8th, started line work on 8th|
|DF4 7733||DL 2004||started as 2nd diesel line work on 9th|
So there were only 3 JS steamed for line work, but this was already before
the DF4 entered service as line work locos, and one JS as shuttle.
The reason are the extremely low traffic levels (copmared to earlier
Operation during daylight hours was (approx. times for Hechi Xi):
7/11 JS to Pingzhai 13.30 train 45307 or 45311
7/11 JS to Pingzhai 15.00 train 45309
8/11 JS from Pingzhai 10.30
8/11 JS from Shangchao 15.30
8/11 DF4 7732 to Pingzhai 17.00 (first regular Diesel working on a Pingzhai freight) train 45309
9/11 DF4 7733 to Pingzhai 17.00 train 45309
And that was all.
Conclusion: With traffic levels so low two diesels are enough to handle all
line work traffic, all steam locos are still workable but sit only around in
Hechi Xi or work as shuttle between HechiXi and Hechi. Additionally the
diesels seemed to haul considerably heavier trains up the Pingzhai line
(over 35 wagons seen compared to about 20 behind a JS). No further diesels
seem to be on order so steam might still have a (short?) future but getting
pictures of steam-hauled freights gets increasingly difficult. Train 45309
to Pingzhai is the only booked daily working but was diesel on 8th and 9th
Shangchao seems to see a freight only every two days now (info from
station logs), Pingzhai one or two daily freights with steam but maybe only
one in the future with diesel. Liuzhou works seems to still overhaul steam
locos, at least two of Hechiīs JS have been overhauled there recently
Passenger service: Railcar+YZ 22 coach from Pingzhai still running in the
known schedule, no more passenger service to Shangchao.
10.11. train K140/142/143 Hechi-Qijiang
Left Hechi for Ganshui with Train K142/143 to Qijiang (the train does not stop at Ganshui). Hechi station refused to sell sleeper tickets for this train, but it was no problem to obtain soft sleepers when boarding the
train. The train left Hechi at 00.24 behind a pair of green DF7D. Loco
change is in Mawei to a pair of orange-coloured DF7D after crossing the
provincial border from GuangXi to GuiZhou.
- Between Liuzhou and Hechi all passenger trains are hauled by orange-coloured
DF4B, all freights by green coloured DF4B, all traffic between Hechi and
Mawei is hauled by greeen-coloured pairs of DF7D, all traffic north of Mawei
to Guiding is hauled by orange-coloured pairs of DF7D.
- In GuiDing where the electric line from the east is reached a SS3 or SS3B
took over. In Guiyang locos are changed again from SS3 to SS3.
- In a bigger station about 30 minutes before reaching Guiyang three derelict
steam locos were seen on the right side, probably all QJ.
- In the Guiyang area only one DF1 was seen.
- North of Guiyang the station of Dulaying was passed, starting point of a
line to the south-west to Yanshangong. Steam was recently reported there.
While passing Dulaying no steam was seen in the small freight-yard left to
the main track, also no steam facilities, only a rail-car was waiting
probably to run on the secondary line. To the north east of Dulaying station
is a smaller industrial complex with a track leading into it, that could
also be home to a steam locomotive. So unfortunately steam on the line from
Dulaying to the south-west couldnīt be confirmed, Dulaying was passed at
about 12.00 on the 10th of Nov.
- In Naibaizhen red-coloured DF7G 0015 was observed.
- In a freight yard short before ZunyiNan station a working steam locomotive,
probably SY, was seen on the left, shortly afterwards between ZunyiNan and
Zunyi a big industrial complex was passed on the right (probably a steel
works) in which at least a further SY was spotted in steam, there are
certainly more. Might be an intersting operation for fans of industrial
Qijiang was reached 30 minutes late at 19.15.
There is an excellent hotel in Qijiang (Chongqing brightway grand hotel).
11.-13.11. Datong Coal Railway, Ganshui
Morning drive from Qijiang to Ganshui (60 km, little more than 1 hour,
taxi). Stayed then for 1 night in the hotel near the famous river bridge in
Ganshui, but this cannot even be considered as basic so returned for the
next night to Qijiang again. Despite the 1 hour drive to Ganshui this is an
option for visiting Ganshui.
The line was only visited on the Ganshui end, and can only be considered as
very scenic, despite three days of dark-grey weather. It is definitely worth
a longer visit.
Traffic pattern is a little bit difficult as there seem to be two
- The XiaoYuTuo operation serves a coal mine at the end of a branch from
Maliutan to Xiayutuo. There are three SY locos on this line, but only one is
in use at any time. Contrary to previous reports the working loco not only
serves the Maliutan-Xiayutuo-line, but runs through to Ganshui freight yard
passing Ganshui pssenger yard. At least it did so during all three days of
our visit. The loco hauls loaded coal trains from Xiayutuo to Ganshui and
empty trains back, but it also seems to haul loaded coal wagons from
Maliutan to Ganshui. On two occassions the loco ran light engine to Ganshui
to return with empties to Xiayutuo.
The following SY were seen at Xiayutuo:
SY ???? cold, locked in shed in Xiayutuo, not sure if still workable (must
be either 0344 or 0037)
SY 0514 working between Xiayutuo and Ganshui freight yard
SY 1271 cold in second shed in Xiayutuo, but in excellent external condition
and certinly the spare loco for this line.
There were usually three return workings in daytime performed by SY 0514 but
one very early (between 6.30 and 7.30) and one very late (around 17.00 to
Ganshui). For photography only the noon turn proved successful (between
11.00 and 13.00). The loco usually returns after one or two hours from
Ganshui only on one occassion it stayed for about 5 hours in ganshui freight
- The main line operation serves the line from Ganshui (freight yard) to
Qingqihai and Baiyan, but was only visited between Maliutan and Ganshui.
Here also 2 to 3 return workings occured daily (one in the early morning,
one around noon and one in the evening)and the following locos were recorded
SY 1148, SY 1198 and SY 1199.
It was interesting that SY 1199 had been overhauled at Liuzhou works in
11/2003, while the other locos couldnīt be checked. The locos at Xiayutuo
didnīt carry the Liuzhou overhaul dates, and have been reported before to
belong to Chongqing steelworks, and being overhauled there. This seems to
indicate that there are in fact two independent operations which seem both
to use the Maliutan-Ganshui-section of the line.
Conclusion: A scenic line on the visited section which is definitely worth a
visit. Due to the limited traffic, the short days in November and the
weather conditions, I donīt know which is the best time to return.
The main line between Ganshui and Qijiang is also very scenic and still sees
regular SS1 traffic on local passengers and freights, while all through
traffic is SS3/SS3B.
In the evening of the 13th I had a 3-hour-drive from Ganshui to Chongqing airport
(about 170 km) and overnight at Chongqing airport hotel. Next morning flight
to shanghai and back to Frankfurt.