Steam in China August - September 2005
Pucheng-Baishui, Yinghao, Yima, Xi'nan, Xingyang, Shangjie, February 7th
by Chris Yapp
At the end of September an opportunity arose for a short visit to China. As I had only four days available, I decided to focus on the area between Xian and Zhengzhou rather than have only a short visit to Chabuga-Daban. This proved to be a bad decision because of the poor weather.
I arrived at Xian in the evening on 24th September on an Air China flight from Beijing. Although the heavy rain was a taste of things to come, the weather was reasonable the next day. I chose to visit the Pucheng-Baishui line some way to the north east of Xian. Despite a very early start, the empties had already been taken up the line from Pucheng long before I arrived in the area. I started by visiting the depot at Hanjing. DF4 9571was out of use having been involved in a collision with a lorry carrying a heavy load of apples on a level crossing. The scale of damage suggests that it will not be working for some time. Three QJ were in steam outside the shed at Hanjing - 6928, 7021 and 7291. A fourth QJ was inside the nearby compound and could not be identified. Previous reports have indicated that the QJ in the compound was 7291 - maybe the numbers have been transferred to another locomotive?
A fifth QJ was reported to be working at one of the mines. After calling at Baishui and finding nothing there, QJ6429 was tracked down at Beikuang Mine. Loading of wagons had already been completed and I arrived just in time for a tender first departure from the sidings outside the mine. After tripping the first set of wagons to Baishui, the QJ returned to collect the remainder. I was able to see the combined train twice between Baishui and Hanjing. I waited for a while to see if anything else would happen. Nothing did, so I moved on to Mianchi for the night.
Yinghao, Yima, Xi'nan
On 26th and 27th September it rained all day and all night. On the 26th I went to Yinghao and found that the railway would not operate again until after the Autumn Festival because the mine was not working. One C2 (014) was in steam at Xiangyang, but had no work to do. The remaining locomotives were in and around the depot at Huangmen. 003, 013, 015 and 017 all seemed relatively complete although in poor condition.
My driver then explored the area looking for other steam. After an unsuccessful visit to Mianchi Station in search of steam, we moved on to Yima. Plenty of engines in poor condition and no real activity. JS8276 was in the workshop undergoing repair and three (JS 8087, 8092 and 8275) were in steam in the yard. JS5937 was dumped outside the workshop and two further locomotives were out of use at the back of the workshop. Activity in the workshop precluded close inspection - the one in front was a JS. Rain and mist made visibility at the mine poor - I thought that I could see something in steam.
The next stop was Xin'an. QJ7204 was in steam beside the platform at Shiszheng Mine, but there were no wagons and no sign of any activity. After that, I decided on a cultural interlude and visited Dragon's Gate near Luoyang (impressive, but wet) before staying overnight in Zhengzhou.
The next day, inevitably, the Xingyang Brickworks railway was not working because of the wet conditions. I found C2 207 in steam in the yard near to the shed. More success at Shangjie Aluminium Plant. I found SY1406 shunting near to the level crossing between the works and the exchange sidings. It stopped work at 11:30 and was not expected to resume until after 14:00. It was said to be the last working steam locomotive at the works - 3-4 SY were said to be stored in the works. The rain continued so I retreated to spend money in a camera shop in Zhengzhou.
I returned to Beijing on an evening China Southern flight from Zhengzhou. On 28th September I went in search of steam at the February 7 Works. Even though I paid the excessive fee to enter the depot and yard, the crossing keeper was not satisfied by the permit and phoned the office to cross check. SY0891 was shunting the yard and SY0732 and JF2446 were both in steam outside the shed. I was lucky because they were changing over engines. SY0732 had only been lit up early that morning and JF2446, after some shunting in the shed area, dropped its fire and retired to the shed.
© 2005, Christopher Yapp email@example.com