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Steam in China Feb / Mar 2007

by Dave Fielding

Part 2: Yinghao, Xingyang, Pingdingshan, Fushun, Fuxin

Following the visit to Sandaoling, the group boarded train T198 at Hami just turned midnight on 2nd Mar. To ensure we obtained soft sleepers, our Chinese guide, Lu Yong had booked our tickets from Ürümqi, the trains starting point. After a journey of over 30 hours, we arrived at Luoyang to be greeted by rain, quite a change from the dry and mostly sunny weather at Sandaoling.

Yinghao (3rd Mar)

We arrived at the line around 11:00 am. The crossing keeper's building at the main road had been repainted in a striking pink with blue window surrounds. We found 08 at the coal unloading point which, after being turned on the triangle, proceeded to back the loaded coal wagons through the unloading facility. After an hour the empties left. Meanwhile the rain continued, and our bus managed to get stuck on a muddy track whilst being driven downhill! It was over an hour before, with the assistance of some local villagers, the bus was freed. We arrived at the mine at Liangjiawajing where 17 was on a 3 wagon train. Coal was being loaded from a stockpile not directly from the mine. 17 took the loaded wagons up to the junction at Xiangyangchezhan, and set off back down to the mine propelling 6 empties. It subsequently returned with 3 loads and returned to the mine light engine for the remaining 3.

We visited the locomotive depot/workshop at Huangmen and found the following locomotives. In the left hand shed, 06 and tender, 09 without tender, in the yard between the two sheds 03 and 15, and in the right hand shed 09's tender and a loco I couldn't readily identify. Unlike the other locos it does not have a number on its smokebox saddle, and there was insufficient light to examine the cabsides, although I believe it to be the loco I had seen working on a previous visit with a faint number 04. It was in the position in the workshop for a major overhaul, but work was yet to commence. Outside the workshops was the usual collection of derelict hulks.

Not photographic weather ... 17, already very work stained despite its recent overhaul, propels 6 empty wagons down to the mine

Locos seen (not working unless indicated):

C2 03, 04(?), 06, 08(working), 09, 14, 17(working) 

Xingyang (4th Mar)

We travelled the short distance from Luoyang to Shangjie by train and were met by our local guide and bus for Pingdingshan. En route we were to call at Xingyang. The weather today was dry and much brighter but after the previous day's rain it was no great surprise to find the brickworks railway not operating. In fact it gave the appearance of not having worked for some time, maybe not since before the Chinese New Year. Loco 07 was stabled near the brickworks with driving wheel treads looking rather rusty, but its lubricator recently topped up.

Loco seen:

C2 07 

Pingdingshan (4th - 6th Mar)

We set off from Xingyang to Pingdingshan and on our way called in at Yuzhou. Here we found QJ 6690 in light steam. We were informed that of two other locomotives here, one was out working and one was away at Pingdingshan. Our local guide was able to locate the working loco which was QJ 7186, shunting a siding where rail wagons were being loaded with coal from a large stockpile, which was being continuously fed by a stream of road lorries. This was the nearest we got to QJ action on the trip. I understand the name of this location is Huangyudian. Approaching Pingdingshan we caught a glimpse of a tender first JS on the 13:40 passenger from Zhongxin to Shisankuang (mine 13). We looked in at mine 8 where we found JS 8057 and DF10D 0060. We then proceeded to Shenxi yard. The weather was bright but breezy. We observed several JS including JS 6429 shunting the east end of the yard and four more diesels including DF7G 5172, a recent arrival I think, and DF10D 0087 headed by JS 5644 on a long mixed freight including tank wagons, timber, a van, open wagons and more tankers arriving from the east.

After our evening meal, we were able to witness the continuing holiday celebrations in the city, with the streets packed with people to see a spectacular fireworks display. One of our group, who braved the cold longer than I did, noted a large building set alight by a firework, requiring the attendance of the fire brigade.

The next day our guide informed us that the system operated 5 diesels with 2 more expected this year and 21 steam locomotives. However from our observations there were already 7 diesels working. In addition to DF7G 5172 (Beijing 2006), we also noted DF10D 0131 (Dalian 2006). Whether or not these are the expected new arrivals or if a further 2 are on the way I can't say. What can be said is that for the time being no steam locomotives have been laid aside. The assumption is that the system is handling an increased amount of traffic.

On this day we commenced with a visit to the workshops. The steam side contained QJ 6650 (minor attention, assumed to be the third Yuzhou loco), JS 6253, JS 8068(dismantled for major overhaul) and SY 1687 nearing completion of repairs. In the depot yard were several JS preparing for the day's work and QJ 6450 in light steam. By the side of the workshop were QJ 6813, which appeared dumped, JS 6539 (loco only, in even worse condition), and the tenders of SY 1002 and JS 6225, which was later noted as the JS which was on one of the passenger diagrams. We continued our observations at the west end of Tianzhuang yard, with plenty of JS action and SY 1209 on the west bound passenger. In the afternoon, it was the majority decision of the group to travel on the 13:40 east bound passenger from Zhongxin. We were able to photo the west bound departure of the 13:30 passenger with SY 1209 before boarding our train. On our 17:00 return from Shisankuang, it was noted that new sidings were being laid for a new loading facility and the "main" line was being slightly re-aligned. Maybe there is to be a new mine shaft here? Passing the depot it appeared that QJ 6650 had emerged from the workshop. We were subject to a couple of delays at halts on our journey and arrived back at Zhongxin 15 minutes late

On hour final morning at Pingdingshan, we were informed of a further change in our revised itinerary. The intention had been to travel by bus to Luohe for an afternoon train to Beijing. Instead the entire journey to Beijing was now to be by bus. Our observation point was again the west end of Tianzhuang yard although today we were not allowed to enter the depot. We noted 6xJS leaving the depot between 8:45 and 9:30 followed by several diesels, plus further JS working that had left the depot earlier. A surprise was the appearance of QJ 6690, light engine, from the east (seen two days earlier at Yuzhou), proceeding up the branch towards mines 10 and 12. Even more surprising was its return 30 minutes later, again light engine, returning to the east. Just after 10:00, we took pictures of SY 1209 on the westbound passenger and then boarded our bus for the long road journey to Beijing.

SY 1209 about to depart from Zhongxin westbound

Locos seen (working unless indicated):

JS  5644, 6225, 6253*, 6429, 6539@ (loco only), 8030, 8031, 8054, 8057, 8062, 8065, 8068&, 8120, 8122, 8338, 8421 
QJ  6450(depot yard, in steam, did not move), 6650%, 6690, 6813@, 7186 
SY  1002(tender only), 1209(1983/3, l.h.s. only), 1687* 
DF7G  5121, 5172 
DF10D  0060,0087, 0088, 0131 
GKD3B  0003 

* workshop
& workshop, heavy repair
% workshop, minor repair
@ by workshop, dumped

For SY 1209, the numbers in brackets indicate the year and month on the Tangshan builder's plate carried.

After arrival on the outskirts of Beijing, we changed buses and proceeded to the Central Station. Here all was chaos, packed with people, as a result of weather conditions north of Beijing where over a foot of snow had fallen. There was a major disruption of services with several trains, including ours to Fushun, cancelled. Somehow Lu Yong found an alternative train that would get us as far as Shenyang and even got us a sleeper (hard class but of the more modern design).

Fushun (7th Mar)

We arrived in Shenyang to sun and blue sky, with cleared snow piled high. After a short delay, we crammed into two taxis for the journey to Fushun and were soon booked into our hotel. The intention had been to visit the opencast mine, but Lu Yong wisely decided that the amount of snow likely to be found to be found underfoot made such a visit inadvisable. As an alternative, we went to observe action on publicly accessible tracks at the two steelworks. We first went to a level crossing where locos from the Old Steelworks operate and there is also an electrified track where locos from the opencast system can be seen. However by the time we arrived it was lunchtime and nothing was happening. So we continued to the Special Steelworks where there is a level crossing over the throat of sidings into the works. Again, it was the lunch break, with just a diesel appearing (GKD1 0050), but at least two SY visible within the works. So the group adjourned to a tiny cafe next to the crossing and enjoyed a proper meal rather than the usual sausage or instant noodles. Of course the meal was soon interrupted by various SY moving out and back into the works, together with a newish diesel (GKD1A 0074, Dalian 2006). After this we returned to the Old Steelworks level crossing where we observed 2 SY, an elderly diesel (class DFH5 ?) and several electrics.

Locos seen (working):

Fushun Special Steelworks
SY  0881, 0998, 1202, 1495 
GKD1  0050 
GKD1A  0074 

Fushun Old Steelworks
SY  1050, 1632 
DFH5 ?  0408 

Fushun Opencast Mine
Electric  1150 

Fuxin (8th - 10th Mar)

We again used taxis to return to Shenyang to catch the 9:17 train to Fuxin, arriving at 12:47. Approaching Fuxin, we caught a glimpse of an SY on a passenger train at its northern terminus of Xinqui. A bus and local guide collected us and took us to the level crossing just north of Wulong station. At the crossing we encountered two Danes, the only other European enthusiasts we met, and subsequently Ole Jensen has reported on Fuxin as part of their trip. In a short space of time 3 SY worked through before the passenger, due 13:50, arrived hauled by SY 0540. The two Danes, Ole and Bo, had decided to travel on the train to its terminus at Wangying mine and we went there in our bus. On our arrival the SY had already run round and was positioned tender first for a later departure. A little later, SY 1396 arrived on a lengthy train of empties, having quite a struggle on the final gradient up to the mine. It collected several side tippers of mine waste and returned in the direction of Fuxin. It being some time before the passenger was due to leave, we were able to return Ole and Bo to Fuxin in our bus. We went to the power station level crossing, but the only activity was SY 1320 propelling into and returning out from the power station for which we were not in the best position.

The next day we returned to Wulong for the morning shift change where 7 SYs were present. We then visited the adjacent workshop where SY 1359 was being worked on intensively, its overhaul approaching completion. Also present was SY 0941 in a much earlier stage of overhaul, with wheels removed, smokebox being cleaned out and work being done on the tender bogies. At the little used shed approached by a line alongside the workshop, SY 0126 was present also an unnumbered SY tender. After this visit, a very smart looking SY 1378 was noted heading north at 9:55, tender first, on the passenger to Xinqui. We had earlier seen the engine running light, presumably the train was kept overnight at Wangying.

We had a brief look into the big pit but it was rather misty. A great contrast with my previous visit in October 2004 when there had been a very busy electric system taking wagons in and out of the pit. A single railway track still remained but no longer electrified. Proceeding to the Taipeng stabling point, we found 2 SY facing north, all other working SY seen had been facing south. Also present were the dumped SY and YJ seen by Duncan Cotterill in December. We then visited an overgrown yard where 4 SY and a JF, all dumped were present, also noted by Duncan.

The weather was now overcast, but we went south to Minzhu (the town with the large church) for pictures of the early afternoon passenger to Wangying. Returning to Fuxin, SY 1210 was seen with empty wagons to the mine. We had seen a similar working the previous day, so maybe this is a regular train. Back in Fuxin, sandwiched between newly built flats and an area of the old hutongs, we found the loco servicing point whose coal stage and sand supply tower can be seen from the CNR main line. Here were 3 SY in steam and the JF and 2 SY, again as noted by Duncan. We finally returned to Wulong level crossing where action included SY 1210 returning from Wangying. It was now time for me to say goodbye to Colin, Richard, Dave, John, George and Lu Yong who were returning to Beijing. Special thanks go to Lu Yong for his work in minimizing the effects of the necessary changes to our travel arrangements. I returned with our local guide and bus to my hotel to meet my new guide Jun and driver Mr. Pan, a familiar face from previous trips. They had made a ten hour drive from Chengde to meet me, with some road conditions still difficult due to the previously mentioned snowfall. The highs and lows of the following days will follow in Part 3 of this report.

SY 0540 waits to return from Wangying

Locos seen (working and in the workshop):

SY  0126, 0540(1972/7), 0785(1974/2), 0849(1974/7), 0850, 0941*(1975/1), 0988, 0989(1975/5), 1210(1983/2), 1319(1984/9), 1320(1984/9), 1359*(1985/4), 1378, 1395, 1396(1985/9), 1397, 1818(1985/11) 

* workshop

The numbers in brackets indicate the year and month on the Tangshan builder's plate carried.

We saw the dumped locos reported by Duncan Cotterill in his December 2006 report but not the 3 other dumped SY reported by Ole Jensen.
Like Ole and Bo, we didn't see the new diesel either. Where was it hiding?

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© 2007 Dave Fielding