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Steam in China

Pingdingshan, Shabanxi, XingYang, November 2005

by Martin Joyce/Tony Eaton

 


Shibanxi

visited Sunday 13th November to Saturday 20th November 2005. Taxi from Chengdu Airport 300Yuan 3 hours. Stayed in Qian Wei at Tian Bo hotel - 200Yuan for a twin with breakfast. Located 100 yards north of bus station for Shibanxi - 20 minutes by bus. Weather dreary throughout either overcast or raining except for a couple of hours one morning when the sun shone rather hazily.
Passenger services were operating at 07.00 10.30 14.00 17.30. all worked by #7. Tickets bought on train 15Yuan single tourist rate or 5Yuan if you look like a local - with 9 grippers on a 7 coach train fare evasion is difficult. Two electrics #1 and #2 seen shuttling between power station and mine at Yuejin. The other two steam seen working were #10 and #14 which were used on goods traffic.

Goods turns seen:

All week Mifung had been acting as a bamboo cane concentration centre with cane being carried in or being railed in on permanent way trollies. Sometimes motor bikes which use the track as a rough road were employed to pull the trollies ( 1-1-0 wheel arrangement?). By Saturday 3 wagons had been loaded and at 13.45 #14 returned with a wagon loaded with bagged cement which after unloading and distributing around the village was loaded with bamboo. #14 departed for Weijin with the four loaded wagons at 15.55.

During this visit very few tourists were seen and the only signs of commercialism were a few English language signs at Shixi and a giveaway brochure featuring the line. Interestingly one of the photos showed the line under a light dusting of snow - could be a long wait for this shot I imagine. Apart from the bamboo, coal and cement the trains were used by the locals to move anything from three piece suites to pigs and the line seems to be in little immediate danger of closing: certainly there is no sign of further road building since Rob Dickinson's initial report in 2001. Overall the kind of line Charles Small would have included in 'FarWheels' except that it hadn't been built when his book was written.

Nose first uphill phot spots are confined to about 3 miles but there are about 10 different locations on this stretch and the weather being as it is, it could be quite a while before these are all captured on film successfully.

Pingdingshan

visited Tuesday 22nd November to Thursday 24th November

Stayed at Guang Kong hotel in road leading to Zhongxin station. Come out of station and it is on right hand side after 300 yards. 100yuan per night for a twin room. New giant size station almost complete. Entrance to platforms at left hand side of station. Activity during our short visit was very similar to that previously reported. The top of the disused lime kiln at Mine 7 is confirmed as an excellent vantage point for westbound trains on the main line. The yard at Shenxi is being expanded which is good news for the future.
All locos face west and those seen in action during our visit were as follows:
SY 1209,1687
JS 5644,6225,6429,8031,8054,8062,8065,8068,8120,8338
DF7G 5121
DF10D 0087,0088

Additionally JS 6338,8084 and QJ's 6690, ? were seen in steam over the shed wall. Also a QJ is stored/dumped in carriage sidings just west of Zhongxin station. This list seems to differ substantially from the PDS summary list so they must have acquired additional locos from CNR sources fairly recently.

Xing Yang Brickworks

visited Friday 25th November - Saturday 26th November.

Operations on 25th November were as previously reported with trains running about hourly with a lunch break from about 12.00-13.00. #207 was working with #7 spare on shed. (Note for anoraks - the third driver on these locos is flangless - at Shibanxi all drivers are flanged). However on the 26th November operations came to a halt after just one train because of a power failure at the loading point. Maps previously published seem pretty accurate and there is also a town map on the wall of the CNR station showing the narrow gauge. A lovely little line but it must be vulnerable to replacement by lorries.

Tony Eaton


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2005, Tony Eaton: e-mail: sunsnaps@tesco.net