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Steam in China 2006

by Dave Habraken

Jixi, Liuzhou, Sanch-Luocheng, Liupanshui, Wangjiazhai, Ganshui, Podicun, Pucheng, Meijiaping, Baiyin, DaGu, Baotou

Tonight, I could finally finish the trip report of my seventh trip to the steam-heaven. This seventh trip was mainly meant for further explore the southern part of China. However, my companion Joeri Vanvaerenbergh arrived some days later so I first headed for Huanan
and Jixi on my own, to travel towards Liuzhou afterwards from where we continued together.

The report itself is cut into two parts as you will see...

Huanan 5/8/06

I was planning to visit this railway on the 5th - 7th of August but as there was no traffic, I continued directly towards Jixi. Engins no.041 and 044 were standing under pressure at the stabling point at Huanan but staff indicated clearly that there was no traffic in the upcoming days. I think the railcar wasn¡¦t working neither as there were signs that no trains had run over the tracks for more then one day.

From Huanan to Jixi, busses leave at 8:30 and 13:00. The journey took only about 2,5 hours, surprisingly short, it seemed!

Jixi 5/8/06 ¡V 10/8/06

I had a prolonged stay at Jixi because of Huanan¡¦s non-activity but that wasn¡¦t really such a big problem, regarding the amount of steam engines to be spotted here :-) But¡K even in 4,5 days, I have only made it to 3 systems (Hengshan, Chengzihe and Lishu) because I
invested a lot of time at getting some results at Lishu. The beauty of this system makes a prolonged visit worthwhile but of course, traffic here is relatively low. The details then:

* Hengshan

7 (!) engins were under pressure (SY¡¦s 0341, 0746, 0804, 1095, 1340, 1344 (former Chengzihe), 1369). On the 8th of August, SY0746 was incorporated in a DF4B-hauled train from Hengshan CNR towards Jixi Xi for maintenance. It returned one day later. On the 8th of August, I photographed the famous double headed + banked train between Xin Hengshan and Zhongxin on one occasion. After arrival, they handle this train as follows: the first engine goes to Xiaohengshan to work with spoil trains over there. The second engine in front of the
train takes a load of cars towards Erdaohezi. The engine at the tail of the train pulls the rest of the coal wagons towards Xiaohengshan. Most of the time, the first train to leave Xin Hengshan is a train with one engine towards Zhangxin. Then, minutes later, the train(s)
to Xiao Hengshan en Erdaohezi follow(s). Sometimes, these are separated trains, sometimes they are double headed and/or banked and in one occasion, they just didn¡¦t run at all when I was there (but then, that was on a Sunday). Watch out: in theory, these trains
should leave Xin Hengshan after 8:00 but on two days, they left around 7:00! Some very good news then: they are making a tranch to collect water between Hengshan CNR and Zhongxin, so the whole line is cleared of bushes now! Especially near the crossing in the
middle, there are more pictures to be made nowadays then in the past! However, making a picture of the train with three engines, making all the engines visible, stays difficult¡K The only place where you can do this is near Zhongxin, but then, you have to stand
relatively close to the railway line, which can make it hard as well to see the last engine¡K

* Chengzihe

Not too much new to report here¡K The station between the river bridge and Jixi Xi is called Qiaonan. Taxi drivers recognize this name if you refer to it. Most (not all!) loaded trains stop here to have their weight measured. Often, two trains are combined to one
here too, making life hard for the poor SY who has to leave then with about 50 C62. Of course, this offers superb trashing when the train is trying to leave this station. At the cross road near the station, you can make a nice picture (against the curve) with the train leaving and the mountains in the back. The sun is at a good position here between 11:30 and 14:30. Engines in service (the ones I photographed but I don’t think there were more): SYs 0237, 0733, 0863, 1018, 1351, 1437 & 1544

* Lishu

On two subsequent days, I went to Lishu after having made pictures of the morning trains leaving Hengshan. And yes, on two days I just missed the only train coming in from Pinggang¡K The first day because of a taxi driver who stopped every kilometre to ask for money, money that was completely wasted once we got there because the train left
just seconds before we arrived¡K The second day, it just ran much too early to combine it with the train returning from Qikeng. Anyhow, for those who want to try to find the mine of Pinggang: if you take the road from Lishu towards Hengshan, it¡¦s situated some 2-3
kilometres beyond Qikeng at your right side. You have to pass a guard, but he doesn’t seem to mind. The Pinggang-branch really seems to have great picture opportunities but of course, you need a train to confirm this. A small hint: try to pronounce it as PJin gAOng.
This way, they don¡¦t ask you all the time if you are looking for a “binguan”. The Qikeng-mine seems to be served about two times during daylight. Staff told me they serve it 4 times in 24 hours, according to demand of course. There are some very scenic opportunities for pictures on this branch, I found 2 between Taiping and Qikeng and a third one
from a hill near the cross road at Qikeng village.Between Xinfeng and Lishu, the coal railway runs parallel with the CNR railway line. In winter (when vegetation has disappeared), it
must be possible to make a nice shot here as well. Between Xinfeng and Qikeng, they used their own (?) wooden freight cars. Coal loaded at Qikeng was unloaded at Xinfeng to be sorted out at the installations over there. Once sorted out, some of the coal
was loaded again in C62s, ready to continue their way. The coal from Pinggang was directly brought to Lishu in C62s so these trains didn’t have to stop at Xinfeng. This way of serving the mines is different then during my last visit here in December 2005, when also
the coal from Qikeng was put directly into C62s. Locos in service: they’ve got three SYs again: 0477 did the trips towards Qikeng, 0951 had not much to do with low traffic to Pinggang and 1118 did nothing at all (but was “of course” under pressure).

* Jixi Xi

On a gray afternoon, I wanted to visit the workshop of the SYs at Jixi. I firstly followed the tracks (not knowing my way around) but the gates to the workshop were closed. One worker wanted to let me in against some payment which I refused. I tried the official way
then via the main entrance, but got a denial from the workshops secretary as the big boss and his assistant were both out of the office and the secretary being afraid of me having an accident. Hum, being honest doesn’t always help, it seems I then went to the diesel depot where QJ6800 is put as a monument. Just following the tracks, nobody seemed to care about me being there. I could easily take some pictures of this QJ before returning
tothe hotel.

Liuzhou area 11/8/6 to 13/8/6


After arrival by plane at Nanning, the plan was to catch train 2056 to Liuzhou, meet Joeri here and continue directly towards Luocheng to catch the returning freight train from Sancha. But: train 2056 runs only every second day and guess what¡K So, Liuzhou was only reached at noon and the plan to continue to Luocheng was cancelled. Instead, we headed for Taiyangcun, a small village about 20kms from Liuzhou at the mainline Liuzhou - Hechi to get some DF4Bs between karst mountains on the picture. For the diesels, we could have done better but there was one thing more of interest: we visited a cement work where they shunt with two SYs (Nos 1573 and 1623). The sun is in the right position before noon for chimney first pictures between the works and the CNR station. But, most of the shunting duties are
done tender first, which isn¡¦t bad neither with the plant on the background. We could enter the works without any problems at a guarded gate. The staff was very friendly too. This location is not worth travelling hundreds of kilometres but if you are at Liuzhou,
it is worth a visit I think. You can find some pictures of this location at my website. Talking to Bernd some days ago, he stated this location was already known, but we didn’t know this so we just found it by coincidence. Nice way to fill the day anyhow :-)

* Sancha – Luocheng

After having missed the first day here, we could photograph the mixed train the other two days. Yes, steam is still in service here! We started at Sancha, where from the backyard of a small restaurant/bar, we had a great sight on the incoming train (tender first) who had to work quite good after a stop just before the bridge. The train only arrived at 11:30 instead of 8:30, quite a long wait in the tropical heat of southern China The leaving was
much, much too late: JS8284 only left at 14:30 instead of 09:55. The reason is mentioned already in earlier reports: the JS has to wait for a CNR train to exchange its cars with. We made the picture of the leaving train at the northern side of the river with huge hills
on the back. The idea was to make a second shot of this train in the neighbourhood of Luocheng, but the taxi driver was clearly not in the mood for work. After he tried two times to convince us just to go back with him to Liuzhou, he just put his hands away from his
driving wheel, making us ending up in a corn field 1 meter below the road! This guy was really crazy!!! We rented him for the whole day, he knew this and he got a good price on which he agreed. After he slept for hours and hours at Sancha while we waited for the train,
he finally had to do something and even that was asked to much. What a *?!%&#... You can guess already: we missed our second shot of the train :-(On the second day, another taxi driver was found, so we headed for Sancha again. The train was much earlier this time: it was already waiting at Chayan when we arrived and continued towards Sancha around 9:30. The train back left around 11:30 at Sancha and was quite long: some 20 cars! After the shot near Sancha, the idea was (again) to chase the train but this time, the taxi driver had
disappeared :-((( His car was still in place, but a young guy explained us that he went shopping in the nearby stores. Only 45 minutes later, he came back, making a further chase for the train impossible of course. Talking about bad luck with taxi drivers…

In general: the engine in service was JS8284, a former Hechi engine. It was the only engine we saw as we never made it to Luocheng. For us, this line deserves a second visit but the question is if we will still have the opportunity next year. About the passenger cars in the train: we never spotted them, but we there in a weekend. Has this service stopped or does this happen on weekdays only?

Liupanshui area 14/8/06 - 16/8/06

In July, on this group, a message appeared that Japanese guys found 5 locations with steam around Liupanshui but we did not know where to find the original website with this info, so we had to find out ourselves anyway. We visited 3 locations with steam engines. We were
informed about he existence of 2 others (factories) but we didn’t have the time anymore to visit them. So: it seems, the Japanese info is correct. Here we go for the details about the visited locations:

* Guizhou Shuicheng Iron and Steel Co

There already appeared a report about this steel plant here some years ago and of course, it was of great help. We tried to get an official permission in advance to visit this plant but the answer, and I quote, was: “no way”. So: we just tried our luck, following
the advice in this previous report that there were a lot of public roads going trough the plant, which turned out to be correct. We could go to the blast furnaces (3) and the walsery, just by taking a taxi. There were even busses passing by. We went to the depot by
foot, like all the other pedestrians, following the tracks. Everybody was extremely friendly and nobody seemed to care. At the blast furnaces, you can see the molten iron some 30m away from the public road, by just crossing a small platform. Incredible!

To take pictures with the blast furnaces, an early morning visit can be recommended. For the walsery, the early afternoon is ok and for the depot, the late afternoon suits fine. The track layout is quite difficult, with three (!) tunnels going underneath the village of
If you feel hungry: the is a very good (but small) restaurant aside of the big level crossing in front of the blast furnaces. Put our regards to the old lady :-) In 6 hours, we saw 8 steam engines (SYs 0106, 0108, 0335 (oou), 462, 1145, 1186, 1288 and I forgot to write down one number that was definitely oou). Numbers 0106 and 1186 don’t belong to Shuicheng steelworks, according to Duncan¡¦s list, but I¡¦m sure we saw them there: I have checked it on my pictures.

* Lanba – Laoyinshan

As we approached Liupanshui by train, we could witness SY0953 at Lanba station, so we had to check this one out :-) This line goes (“of course”) to a mine. It is only some 2 km long, but it is worth a visit if you are in the neighbourhood, especially when there is no
corn in the fields, making photography somehow difficult when we visited. We were received at Laoyinshan in a way that is difficult to describe: we had lunch with the management of the mine, they made some runpasts for us with SY0953 and when they finally left to Lanba
to pick up a train, the manager went with us “into the fields” to give instructions to the crew when to come with their freight train ƒº With his camera, he took some pictures from us having a great time so if you get to see some pictures of smiling “laowei” at Laoyinshan, guess who you are looking at :-) Pictures can be made almost the whole day at the mine, where the engines face south and usually are in front of the train. Along the tracks, when there is no corn in the fields, there are certainly possibilities to take a picture of a train towards Lanba around noon. In the afternoon, a great picture can be made from the neighbourhood of the tunnel entrance of the mainline towards Liupanshui from a train (tender in front) heading towards Laoyinshan.We saw SY0953 in service and SY0394 cold but usable. The one train
we saw had 30 C62s so they had to shunt a lot after arrival at the mine.

* Wangjiazhai Coal Railway

Thanks to the report I mentioned earlier, we also could make a visit to this system. The operation is like described before: trains are propelled FT into the mine and pulled tender first back to Yemazhai.
SY0125 was in steam and arrived with a coal train shortly after our arrival. After the hazy sky cleared out, the true beauty of the landscape around here could be witnessed. In the meanwhile, the manager had ordered the crew from the SY to clean their engine for the laowei so good pictures could easily be made :-) The nice thing about this system is that almost all the shunting tasks are made over a large bridge. Especially in the afternoon, this doesn't look bad at all, even if they shunt tender first- Towards Yemazhai is a second, even bigger bridge. Also this bridge can easily be photographed from the hills nearby in the afternoon. During our 8 hours visit, 2 trains were searched, loaded and brought back to the CNR-station.
They have 3 engins: SY0125, SY421 (cold in the shed) and apparently SY0218. We didnt see this last one, but its existence was
confirmed: workers told us this engine was in Guiyang for maintenance.
Now, I
am surely a steam lover but a good old diesel engine ain't bad neither. At Yemazhai, DF1 258 does the shunting duties in the nearby stone quarry. When we were there, this engine was only working after 16:00. Although its shape is terrible, it is definitely worth a picture; also the sound is great. Being built in 1966, this engine is a lot older then the SYs who pass by. This engine is not the standard type with the "egg-head" with three windows but had only two windows and a more rectangular front. If you are visiting this system, this diesel is certainly worth a look.

Ganshui 17/8/6 ¡V 18/8/6

We visited this system 2 days, knowing that some diesels had arrived. Yes, the line towards Qingqihai is dieselised but the line towards Xiaoyutuo still is served by good old SYs. They have three engines (SY¡¦s 0514, 1501 and 1271) but only one is required for daily service. The other two are put away in two sheds, being separated only by a road: strange sight
SY0514 was in service and made a trip towards Ganshui just before noon. It returned at Maliutan at 15:00 and continued towards Xiaoyutuo at 16:30. During the night, they also made a trip towards Ganshui, only coming back around 9:00 the second day. The train (coal and copper wagons) was then loaded at the fan-tas-tic loading facility at Xiaoyutuo. This place gave us the idea travelling back in time some 100 years.
We didn¡¦t make it to Qingqihai but according to local sources, SYs still do some shunting duties to the mines around there.


Podicun 19/8/06

We made a quick visit to the depot at Dongjiahe, where we could whitness that QJ7182 definitely is out of service. QJ7181 was under pressure, standing before the shed, but staff made it clear that they were not to use it in the upcoming days. It seems, this engine is just kept under pressure to have a spare engine when the diesel fails. Leaving towards Baishui, we saw a green DF4B shunting at Erkuang with an empty coal train.

Pucheng 19/8/06
to 20/8/06

Around Pucheng, things did only look a little
"better". Yes, they still use their QJ¡¦s here, but very limited. They have a second DF4B now: after DF4B 9571, also DF4B 9581 is trying to steal the work from the QJs, unfortunately with much success. According to the staff, the QJs never reach Pucheng anymore. We saw QJ6429 and QJ6871 under pressure, QJ6928 is out of order (was in service during my visit last year) and QJ7021 was cold but definitely still in service. On both days we were there, one QJ left the depot around 6:30 with a coal train towards Baishui while the other one just waited at the depot. The QJ from Baishui returned with a loaded train around 11:30. We went looking at the register and for two weeks, only this morning service to Baishui was done by a QJ. All the other work was done by the two DF4Bs Only on one occasion in 3 weeks, a second QJ left the depot on the same day. Hum, what a difference with my visit last year. It seems, one more diesel will put an and for the use of their QJs so if you want to visit this system, don't hesitate too long anymore.

Meijiaping 21/8/06

The original plan was to stay around Pucheng until the 18th but as it started raining the 17th and the QJ hadn
't really much to do, we decided to try our luck around Meijiaping (between Xi¡¦an and Tongchuan). Two years ago, I found SY0363 shunting at a factory which turned out to be a tar factory this time. But there is more: we now also found JS5094 in this factory! It was cold but was receiving maintenance so it is definitely in a working condition. Two years ago, I also saw a QJ shunting from a distance while riding in a taxi from Meijiaping to Tongchuan. This was then reported on this group but apparently, nobody has seen it since then. So: we went to check it out ourselves and YES: we found her majesty! QJ2694 performs shunting duties at a factory that seems to produce cement.
Hehe, yes: its number is very low and yes, this engine is still in service! The shape of this QJ is very bad (like I told in my report two years ago). It has no deflectors and the box normally covering the chimney and the steam dome has partly disappeared. In my eyes, this way, this engine has a very American look, but thats a personal perception of course. We arrived at this factory around half past four and we were lucky: at 17:00, it left the yard of the cement factory with an empty coal train towards Meijiaping CNR. It quickly returned with a mixed freight train of about ten cars, working relatively hard as the track from CNR towards the factory is on a gradient.
Some other facts about this place: there are some nice picture opportunities between the CNR-station and the factory. We were standing near the station as it was becoming dark and we did not want to take the risk of a too dark train on the picture, but we saw at least two better spots towards the factory. The track layout at the factory made us think that there must be quite some shunting action around there during a day. We also found it hard to believe that they only have one engine (no reserve???) although it was stated like this by the very friendly loco crew.

Now, after Pingdingshan, this is a second location, where you can see a SY, a JS and a QJ in action! Hummmmm, I¡¦m dreaming now, but wouldnt it be nice if one of the JFs of Tongchuan was transferred to this area somewhere? I definitely want to put more time in this region next winter.

Baiyin 22/8/06
to 23/8/06

I think, more interesting things can be said about the preparation of this visit then of the visit itself ļ First of all a big thank you for the people who responded my question some months ago about how to find a guide here. With this information, a Chinese girlfriend of my travel companion tried to get in contact with the right employee at Baiyin. After quite some attempts, she finally
could speak to him. But: he stated he is an employee of the factory and he doesn
't run a travel agency. He gave us the coordinates of a local travel agency. Then, contact was made to visit this area on two subsequent days. Allready in the beginning, they gave us a ridiculous price. Of course, we had to pay for the permission to visit the works, which is normal I think. But: then, we had also to pay the travel agency to "see the trains" above the already exaggerated prices for their service. This seems very familiar with that other agency at a place called JingPeng. Above this, they first wanted to charge us 400 RMB and later even 800 RMB (!!), just for the taxi. Also, they stated they wanted at least 100 RMB tip pro person to be paid. For these prices, they would guide us for 4 hours (!).
As my companion
's girlfriend made all the contacts, we weren't really involved in the negotiations and we just decided to start negotiating the price again the moment we arrived. In the meanwhile, the price kept on rising and rising from day to day: everytime, they found "new" costs. Par example: suddenly they asked 300 RMB extra for the costs for the guide to speak English.
When we arrived at Baiyin, there were three persons waiting for us:
the manager, the driver and a female guide. We simply asked them for the price and the female guide stated it would cost us 1820 RMB in total. This was of course a ridiculous price, given the fact we knew that the company only asked 200 RMB for the permissions. So: we asked the guide to write down all the costs we had to pay. Stupid as she was, she started writing down the real prices for the train tickets (some 400RMB) , the reservation fee (60 RMB), permissions (200 RMB). Then, she saw that she still had to put the rest of the money somewhere, so she just wrote down all the rest for the taxi and its driver. Wrong bet: I then proposed we would drop the taxi and do everything by bus, stating that this was of course a ridiculous price. She then was taken in speed of course as she had no more arguments to put in.

Also the manager, a very friendly guy, stated to her that the price was exaggerated. He didn't know in advance that this guide was taking advantage of us so hard so he started talking with her to lower the price to a reasonable rate. Especially the fact that we had to pay the local guide several times more then the company was a strong argument. So, we ended up paying 1320RMB in total for the whole day and the train tickets instead of 1820 RMB for 4 hours plus the tickets ¡K The manager and the taxi driver were very satisfied with this arrangement, but the local guide was furious. She really lost her face that day! @ Duncan: could this be the same guide that tried to convince you to pay for trains that run anyway? It was a young girl and her English speaking
was pretty limited.

After this affair, the guide suddenly left so we were alone with the
driver and the manager. They had quite a good laugh with us about the situation, so my worries that he would be disappointed in the whole situation were not necessary. During the day, he regularly made jokes about the female thief called "guide" :-)

We first went to the depot, but as the sun was shining very hard
trough the windows, it was nearly impossible to make a decent shot of SY1597 getting maintenance here. In the shed were also SYs 1583 and 1047. In front of the shed, we could see SY1013. SYs 612 and 2008 were shunting so we made some pictures from these steam queens in action. Between 11:00 and 12:30, things were very calm, the manager told us, the engine crews went to have lunch, so we followed their example. After this, we returned to the cable bridge above the yard where we could witness SY2008 really working very hard while coming in with a train. This was trashing at full rate! We then went to the railway line to Shenbutong as we had to search a spot for the incoming passenger train. Having a look at the mine at Shenbutong, it became clear that we didn't have to expect freight trains as they were changing the elevator of the mine shaft. The passenger train
however did run (with SY612) and passed us with a sound which is hard to describe
... Incredible...
We then also saw SY1583 with the passenger train to Sanyelan. After this action, we returned to the yard once again to witness some further shunting duties.

As we had so much problems with the travel agency, we firstly had the idea to pass the second day on our own in the public areas of
Baiyin to save some money. But: as the spectacular pictures are to
be made behind the security posts, we asked the manager if we could
arrange a second day with him and the driver without the money
stealing local guide. After some phone calls, this was arranged but
as we only asked it the evening in advance, it was too late to get a
written permission for the yard. So, the second day, we concentrated
on the railway line from Baiyin to Shenbutong and the area where the
public road goes under the tracks at the yard. This place is public
access so that wouldn
't cause trouble neither. The price for this
arrangement was reasonable: 600RMB for the manager and the driver.
This is more expensive of course then a normal day aside of the
tracks but this way, everything was official and we could go up to
Shenbutong again.

The second day, things were more or less the same as the first day:
SY0612 hauled the two passenger trains to Shenbutong and SY1583
hauled the passenger train to Sanyelan. SY2008 was also seen between
Baiyin and Sanyelan with two coal wagons. The rest of the day was
spent at the public access side of the yard and a local restaurant
where we had great fun after a joke about girls in uniforms (if the
manager speaks about this to other visitors in the future, I deny
everything :-) ).

In general: Baiyin is really a big hit. What other visitors already
stated in the past is true: we have to be very carefull here so we
can keep on visiting this fantastic area in the future. It
unadvisable to visit the area towards Shenbutong on your own as
there are 2 guarded posts with a road barrier and there are also
policemen driving around incognito. The manager pointed to them
sometimes and no, you don¡¦t recognise them if you don
't know about
them¡K Also: we met a group of prisoners walking to their work so
apparently, they have prison camps here as well. It
is a miracle that
we can walk around here so let¡¦s try to keep it this way On the
other hand: the tourist bureaus have to stay reasonable as well by
not asking every price they want too. I think, we could sort out a
reasonable price but will it still be like this a next time I am
going to visit this plant? Who knows
A two days visit seemed perfect for this system, but of course, we
had no freight trains to Shenbutong and the school trains did
operate neither (holiday). Maybe when these trains run, it
is not a
bad idea to stay here for three days, given the fact that the
railway line to Shenbutong is really bull
's eye :-)
Before I forget: I had to put a lot of hellos from the manager to a
certain German tour leader called Bernd ;-) Bernd, you can also
greet him from me if you see him again.

DaGu-railway 24/8/06

Having read the terrible news about the new diesels here, weeks
before our departure, we scrapped this railway line from our
schedule. Only because of train K44 running every second day, we had
one day spare and we filled it up with a visit to DaGu after all.
Strange: just metres before our arrival at Yinchuan, the train guard
oke us up so we had to hurry to get from the train. What a way to
start the day ƒ¼ Of course, the first thing we had to do was to get a
ticket for the evening train towards Baotou. At the ticket hall,
there was an enormous crowd which was
not moving at all. Of course,
the typical Chinese habit of trying to get in advance in the row had
started so the police (not able to cope this situation) just asked
the army (!!!!!!!!!!) to help them
. And so they did: when a lady
tried to get in advance of me, just when I arrived at the ticket
lady, a simple wave to the nearest soldier brought her to other
. At 9:00, after almost 2 hours waiting, we finally got tickets
for hard seats without reservation :-( Brrrrr
We then headed for Guiyaozi. The road from Lingwu towards Guiaozi
was a mess again due to new construction works. At the station
before Guiyaozi, we asked if there were still steam engines to be
seen here. Firstly, they said no but then, one guy said a steam
engine would arrive against 13:00, coming from Lingwu. Hoping for
the best, expecting the worst, we headed for the mountains between
Lingwu and Tianshuihe. After 20 minutes and only 500m to go into the
hills, QJ7205 already showed up with a workers train.
Photographically, this was a disappointment, as our wanted position
was in sight but was just not reached anymore. Looking at the
picture afterwards, we
're glad to have it as this was probably one
of the last steam hauled trains between Lingwu and Guiyaozi
. Indeed:
not to much hope is left anymore as they have 5 (
!) diesels in
service now. They have 3 orange American look-a-like diesels, a DF4D
and a DF8B now.
Directly after our arrival at Guiyaozi, we headed for the depot to
have a closer look at QJ7205. Directly, a long empty coal train came
in with one of the orange diesels. QJ7195 directly took half of the
train and hauled it towards Yangchangwan. As we did not have time
anymore to search a position on the line between the sand dunes, we
had to be satisfied with the spectacular leaving of this train. Ok,
it wasn
't bad neither, but for the second time this day, we had the
feeling, we missed the best shot
At the depot, everybody was friendly, but it was clear steam will
vanish soon here. Normally, they just shunt and perform trips
towards Yangchangwan with one QJ so we were very
"lucky" to have one
with a workers train between Lingwu and Guiyaozi.
QJ7200 was just put out of service: they were emptying the tender
and some parts of the engine had already been lifted. QJ7194 was
cold but definitely serviceable so they have three engines left in
service. But For how much longer?

Baotou 25/8/06

To finish this trip, we went to the famous steel factory of Baotou.
We had a guide who didn
't seem to care at all so we were literally
free to go wherever we wanted to.
In a park nearby the works, XK-5902 is plinted as a monument. In the
steel plant itself, another XK and ET 5333 also are placed as
monuments nearby the depot. JS58001 and YJ292 are still waiting for
their turn to become a monument. We started at the depot where
SY1676 was receiving maintenance. In front of the shed were SY¡¦s
1719, 1723 and 1727. At the depot, SY 1521 and afterwards also
1727 got extra coal and water. Under the blast furnaces, traction
was mixed. SYs we saw were: 1231, 1293, 1517, 1518, 1677, 1731. We
also saw the two decorated engines (1631 and 1748) but they were
running tender first and of course, we didn
't find them afterwards
We have seen three trains at the slag dumps. The first one (hauled
by SY1677) was just emptied when we arrived. We then went to the
small station just before the slag dumps. Here, SY2015 just arrived
with a full train and it directly went to the other side of the
train. SY1731 then arrived as well with an empty train from the
other slag dump. SY2015 now pushed its train to the dump directly
starting to empty it. As our driver knew the roads very good, we
were directly on the right spot at the right time to witness this
always spectacular event.
Given the fact that you have to know where the slag trains go not to
miss them, I think it
is not a bad idea to try your luck the way we
did: if you go to the small station just before the slag dumps, they
can give you all the details about the next train and where it goes
to. If you have a good driver, you can (like us) wait for the train
to leave this station so he knows exactly where to go.
Afterwards, we went to the exchange station of the steel plant,
where SY1696 just left with a long loaded coal train. SY1793
received some extra water at the facilities here.

Beijing 26/8/06

This day, I had to go back to Belgium while Joeri stayed at Beijing.
As my plane left very late, we could organise a slightly different
day of just
"hanging out at Beijing". We could meet the famous Tina
from Chifeng and had really a great time just making fun the whole
day. It was great to meet Chinese friends in different
circumstances: no stress about trains that run too late, just having
a great time :-) What a way to end this very nice trip.

Looking at all the different and fabulous landscapes we have seen
during this tour, this was surely a fantastic tour. Also the weather
really was on our side. At Ganshui, temperatures reached 43
C but
happily, the air was not too wet (i.e. speaking in Chinese terms, it
wasn¡¦t really dry neither). Funny: I
've had -37C in the winter and
+43C in the summer. That
's a difference of 80C for one country.
Here in Belgium people already complain about the cold when it
less then 5C in the winter :-)
The steam action was interesting, sometimes really superb (Jixi,
Baiyin). But: you need to have a lot of patience nowadays
! As more
and more of the remaining systems with steam are coal mines, we can
not expect to see 10 trains a day on most systems. For a two weeks
trip, I personally can manage to wait a lot, but for 3,5 weeks like
this time, we really have spent waiting too much time. I think
everybody has to make this up for his own, but it
`s a thing to
consider before you leave. For sure, I will consider it making up my
next schedule, putting some heavy action places between the calmer
We were really happy to still find some previously unreported or
hardly known steam locations. It
's a nice feeling that there must be
more of the beautiful stuff to be found. The pitty s that it
's a
race against the time.
For a next summer trip, I will try to avoid the period at the end of
August. Around this time, there are a lot of students going to their
university again and the trains are, once again, very crowded. This
might only be a small remark in this report, but in fact it was one
of the biggest problems this trip.
Last but not least, we want to thank once again the people that
provide this group with accurate info and maps. They really helped
us a lot so we hope, you are also helped with this report.

The pictures from this trip will appear on my website in some weeks.
I will put a message here when the new page is ready.

Dave Habraken

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© 2006 Dave Habraken