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Steam in China, November 2007

by Dave Fielding

Jalainur, Huanan, Jixi, Huludao, Nanpiao

I was joined by the (prize winning) photographer in chief for this trip at Birmingham International Airport and we flew KLM via Amsterdam. There was only 1 Hour and 40 minutes for our bags to reach our Beijing flight, but we had no need to worry, as they were ready for collection on arrival next morning at 10:00. KLM may now be merged with Air France, but I wouldn't have trusted the latter on a similarly timed baggage transfer at Charles de Gaulle based on my experience in December 2005. But the less said about KLM's "strange" meals, particularly the breakfast, the better.

We met Mike Ma, our guide, and the four remaining members of our group who had flown in the previous day. We were informed by Mike that our flight to Harbin was at 12:30, earlier than expected, which prevented a trip to the city centre to check out the model shop. At Harbin it was the usual overnight train to Jalainur (Zhalainuoer) arriving 10:00.

Jalainur, Nov 16 - 19

Sunrise 7:30, sunset 16:15 (noted by our photographer in chief).

For this report, please refer to Florian's Jalainur Map (January 2005).

We transferred by bus to Dongfanghong and the washery. En-route Mike called in to obtain our permit at the Mine Company office which is situated on the right just after the level crossing over the line from Daqiao to mines 11 and 12 and the power station. There is a "photographic mural" of the opencast pit outside the office. It was stressed it was no longer possible to obtain permission to wander at will into working areas.

We spent some time at the washery where deep mines SY 1126, 1424 and 1618 were noted, and opencast loco SY 1601 was at the east end. We then moved over the road for our first view of the opencast pit, which as always was quite breathtaking. There was activity at almost every level of the pit. With clear air and a blue sky, you couldn't ask for more. Within a short time, 4 loaded and 4 empty spoil trains were seen, proceeding out of and into the pit, each train reversing direction below us at the "Office Control Station".

In the afternoon we descended as a group down the steps to where the coal trains are unloaded before the coal is transported by underground conveyor belt up to the washery. Four trains were observed and photographed. As has been described elsewhere, coal trains are worked with the loco chimney first and propelled to the unloading point. Trains consist of 6 tippers, but the tipper immediately behind the loco is left empty. This compares with the spoil trains which consist of 10 tippers usually with their loco tender first to the "Office Control Station" and then propelling their train out of or into the pit. We left this area as sunset approached and attempted some "glint" shots from the western side of the pit. I was quite tired by this time.

It was then off in our bus for the drive to our recently opened hotel in Manzhouli. We were just finishing our dinner in a local restaurant when to our surprise Rob and Yuehong Dickinson appeared (sorry there was so little food left, Mike hadn't told us to expect you for the meal).

On our second day, we set off from the hotel with Rob, Yuehong and their tripods and video cams occupying the space on the bus used for luggage the previous day. We observed the pit workers' trains which departed around 7:40. Both trains comprise a single coach, one goes down into the pit and the other climbs out to Nanzhan (and I understand a little beyond). Some of our group travelled on the trains, some even went where they expected including Rob who correctly chose the first, chimney first train to go down into the pit.

After this we went to Daqiao where the deep mine locos are based and serviced. There is a small compound which contained just one dumped loco, SY 1234. Confusingly it was coupled to a JF type tender numbered SY 1688, next to it off the rails was an SY type tender body with some damage also numbered SY 1688. My guess is the JF type tender used to be the one coupled to SY 0056, which was stored in this compound for many years and is now probably scrapped. The loco was photographed by Liu Xuejun in November 2006 and looked in very poor condition. Whilst noting all this SY 1688 itself arrived from the deep mines to the south and lined up between SY 1448 and SY 1126. Finally the hoped for smoke deflector fitted SY 1416 appeared, a loco I had missed on my two previous visits. As mentioned recently by Derek Jenkins, there no longer appear to be any passenger workings, latterly a single coach, from Daqiao. A scene from March 1998 as pictured by Ray Schofield on the inside front cover of Locomotives International No. 47, with SY 1416 on a passenger train of at least 4 coaches is now but a memory.

We then took the bus along the dirt track on the eastern edge of the opencast pit to the S-bend where tracks leave the pit for Nanzhan. On the way we noted stored locos and coaches in the distance below a disused spoil tip. At the S-bend the light was perfect for those of us who appreciate conventional pictures. On the return along the dirt track, our bus was allowed to stop for the number snatchers to explore the dump of stored locos which was not far from the site of the former Dongzhan servicing point. We found cranes, one SY and 8 coaches on the front track with a further crane, 8 SY and a coach on the track behind. A member of our group who had been to Jalainur the previous month (don't ask!) said that there had been 6 SY here then, but as he wasn't a number snatcher we couldn't say if it was simply 3 further SY that had been stored.

We returned and parked up for lunch behind the office block on the road at the north of the opencast pit. It had been a busy morning. My notes don't have any detail about the afternoon, but I seem to have taken over 20 minutes video of spoil trains in and out of the pit, reversing at the "Office Control Station". As the sun set, most of the group moved to the west side of the pit for a further attempt at "glint" shots. I remained where I was for some telephoto video "glint". Then it was back to our hotel at Manzhouli.

It felt very cold as we returned to Jalainur on the third day. I decided to ride the workmen's train into the pit. SY 1285 had already arrived from Nanzhan with the two coaches of empty stock and was waiting in one of the short stub sidings east of the "Office Control Station" reversing point. It then left the siding tender first with the two coaches and stopped by the small brick built office, from where the trains start. SY 0959 arrived with a train of tippers, uncoupled and ran round to be able to couple onto the front of the two coaches, which were then uncoupled from each other to form the two trains. From observations the previous day, I knew I wanted the front coach with chimney first SY 0959 to go down to the pit, and that SY 1285 would follow pushing its coach out of the pit to Nanzhan and beyond.
SY 0959 departed at 7:38 and the journey can be summarised as zig-zag-zig-zag-zig, i.e. there were 4 reversals before the end of the journey which was not quite the lowest working level of the pit, workers mostly leaving, but also a few boarding, at the reversal stops and at least one halt that was not at a reversal point. The return departed at 8:20 now propelling its coach and arrived back at 9:00. I was informed that the train out of the pit, which was waiting by the small brick built control office, had arrived back 15 minutes earlier. SY 0959 backed its coach onto the waiting coach and loco, then uncoupled and returned to reattach itself to the train of tippers. SY 1285 was then able to propel the two coaches of empty stock back to Nanzhan where they are kept when not in use.
The group then boarded the bus and returned along the dirt road past the store of locos and coaches for a second visit to the S-bend out of the pit. The lighting conditions were again excellent. Whilst videoing a spoil train leaving the pit, the plume of steam from a train heading south on the deep mine system beyond the opencast pit could be clearly seen. The temperature was now a balmy -6oC. Over 20 minutes of spoil train video was completed by shots looking down at coal trains and spoil excavation at the southern end of the pit. Unusual workings noted were SY 1601, the opencast system washery pilot, hauling a single white China Railways van along the single track connection from the washery to Nanzhan, and a spoil train with the loco pushing 1 tipper and pulling the remaining 9 tippers. It was then back to our hotel for our last night.

On our final day we eventually managed to check out after an international incident concerning a waste paper basket. It was damaged, we want 10 yuan (claimed hotel staff), never even touched it (hotel guest). It was a new hotel and I assume the staff weren't fully trained yet. Visitors to the 2008 Olympics have been warned, although I doubt if many of them will get to Manzhouli. On the way to the pit Rob and Yuehong dropped off their backpacks at more modest accommodation in Jalainur itself for the remainder of their visit.

We again started by observing deep mine operations at the washery and Daqiao, noting 4 locos seen previously. The expected departure of empties up the gradient from the washery did not occur. Instead initially SY 1416 arrived with a train of loads followed by two separate light engines from the northern branch. The only departure was SY 1424, which had been shunting at Daqiao, on 3 tippers to the northern branch. After a couple of hours here we boarded the bus and took the rough road along the western edge of the pit to have a look at Nanzhan. Situated here are a wagon works and the main coal, sand and water facilities for the spoil and works trains. Before the coal conveyor was brought into use, these facilities were located at the now disused Dongzhan, where all tracks have been removed other than the single line linking Nanzhan with the washery and a nearby small crane repair shop.
After observing some operations at Nanzhan, we departed at 11:45, initially returning by the rough road and noting the spoil tipping line which is accessed from before the S-bend out of the pit and then curves through 180o around the pit's southern edge. We then took a short cut, crossing the deep mines line to the south and onto a surfaced road back into Jalainur. We ended our visit with a look at the running shed and workshop. In the running shed were two opencast and one deep mine locos for light repairs. Of these, in steam SY 0682 was a loco not seen previously. In the heavy overhaul shop, SY 0924 was on jacks with its wheels removed.

This had been an excellent 4 days. I had no idea of the number of spoil dump lines and how spread out they were. This could be amended on Florian's map in particular to show the spoil dump line around the south of the pit, the S-bend and spoil lines between the S-bend and the line from Nanzhan to the washery. As we didn't explore either of the deep mine branches, I hope this is something to include in a future visit.
It was then off back to Manzhouli, the first time on this stretch of road in daylight, to catch train N92 departing at 16:40 for the overnight run to Harbin.

Locos seen. All working in the opencast pit on spoil or works trains unless indicated :-

SY0471, 0613/14(z)/82(r), 0794/95(z), 0867(c), 0924(w), 0957/58/59, 1041, 1119(z), 1126(d), 1192/93, 1234(@), 1240/56/57/58(z)/84/85, 1374/76,
1401(c)/16(d)/24(d)/48(d)/50/96(c), 1586(z)/87(z), 1600(c)/01/17(z)/18(d)/19(z)/50/54(c)/63(c)/64(z)/78/81/88(d)/89/90, 3005
Notes:
con coal trains in the opencast pit
dworking to deep mines, locos face in opposite direction to opencast pit locos (6 locos)
zstored (9 locos)
rin steam, light repairs in running shed
win workshop with wheels removed
@dumped at Daqiao (deep mines loco)

So the number checkers amongst us were able to account for 48 locos of which 30 were working the opencast pit. I think we missed 5 (3 of which were noted by Derek Jenkins in the days after our visit). I guess we didn't see all the locos on coal and p.w. work.

The opencast mine requires a subsidy to extract coal, such is China's demand the subsidy has been extended to 2010.

A selection of pictures; many more can be found in Rob and Yuehong Dickinson's report.

The classic breathtaking first view of the opencast mine.
 

A loaded spoil train is propelled out of the pit from the final, ("Office Control Station"), reversing point.
 

Looking down on the coal train unloading shed.
Note the empty spoil train on the left hand track, probably here for coal and water.
 

A loaded spoil train follows the S-bend to finally exit the pit.
 

Deep mines SY 1416, a very rare smoke deflector fitted SY, takes water and has ash raked out at Daqiao.
 

Huanan, Nov 20 - 21

We arrived at Harbin at 6:40 and changed to a "Bullet-like" diesel multiple unit departing at 7:30 for Jiamusi on train N5. It was non-stop but not high speed and arrived at 13:30, 10 minutes late (maybe 82 km/h wasn't too bad). We quickly boarded our bus for Huanan and it was clear there was a shortage of fuel in the area, at least the -35oC variety, the driver being unsuccessful in obtaining any at several fuel stations. It appeared fuel was being hoarded as tractors were noted with trailers carrying large drums to be filled. At 15:10 the driver was able to get some -20oC to keep us moving. On reaching the line at 15:30, we were able to observe the arrival of 011 on a train in poor light as the sun set behind low cloud.

On the latest version of our itinerary on starting this trip, we were to stay one night at Huanan and one night at the Li Xin Hilton. However because of a strong anti-narrow gauge element in the group, this was changed so that after just one night we were to move on to Jixi. This was my fourth visit to Huanan and previously I had always got to Li Xin, either by chartered railcar (public or p.w.) or by walking (thanks for your patience in December 2006, Bernd and group). So as we set off in our bus the next morning, my hopes were not high. The new km posts are very helpful and I can record that our bus suffered a clutch linkage problem around 16 km. By 7:05 this was fixed and we continued on to the level crossing beyond Xiahua, the furthest point we reached on the day, and tried our best for pictures of a loaded train there. At 8:25 21043 on the loads was crossed by 044 on empties at Xiahua. We followed 21043 back to Huanan for some shots nicely lit by the rising sun. Subsequently I discovered the conditions were not suitable to have your video on auto focus. The smoke from the loco was being blown back down on the train by a north wind causing the auto focus to throw a wobbly when you wished to continue videoing the complete train. At 8:45 21043 passed the railcar in the re-instated loop at Dajiugang. Arrival back at Huanan was at 9:20, 011 was noted in steam in the depot yard. After some shunting in the yard, 21043 backed its train into the wagon repair shop, dropped off a wagon and directly departed back up the line. So we hurriedly reboarded the bus for linesiding back to Xiahua. Already 041 on a loaded train was waiting as 21043 arrived. We noted 21043 leave its train to take water and as it was known that it would wait here to pass the railcar, we chased 041 back as far as Dajiugang then returned to Xiahua. The railcar arrived at 13:10 and we were positioned near the level crossing beyond Xiahua to picture 21043 on the grade towards Tuoyaozi. As the sun dropped we moved to the other side of Xiahua but by 15:30 the light was gone without a train. We headed back towards Huanan and passed 041 on empties near 9 km.

Locomotives seen (all in use):
C2011, 041, 21043, 044

C2 21043 heads a train of empties out of Xiahua on the climb towards Tuoyaozi.
 

This brief visit was a bit like going to the JiTong Railway without seeing the Jingpeng Pass. But for me the loss was not so great as the snow present in late October had all melted away, and in any case there were great snow scenes on my previous visit in December 2006. We had no idea that a week later, the fuel problems would cause the line to have yet another interruption in operation. So we were lucky to see what we did. We continued on by road to Jixi for a four night stay.

Jixi, Nov 22 - 25

Sunrise 6:30, sunset 15:40.

For this report, please refer to Bernd Seiler's maps:

Chengzihe, 2006

Chengzihe, (Official Diagram)

Lishu

Didao, 2007.

On our first day we were at Chengzihe servicing point at Nanchang by sunrise. There was some city smog and a light cover of snow remained on the ground. SY 1544 was looking quite smart but I wouldn't have thought it had been repainted as recently as mid October. (Sandro sent me a picture taken on 19th October, you could almost smell the fresh paint.) SY 1391 passed tender first with 41 empties from Jixi Xi. SY 1351 was next for servicing. We then went by bus on the short run to Dongchang level crossing where Mike found a welcome supply of hot meat filled dumplings for breakfast. We had the first of many sightings of SY 1437 on tippers which shuttled between Beichang washery and the spoil tips east of Dongchang. In fact it remained attached to its tippers when it went for water and ashing out on the south track at Dongchang. SY 1544 arrived at Dongchang from Nanchang and other SY present for shift change were 0863, 1058, 1340, 1344, and 1369. We spent some time here.

We then went by bus to the Zhengyang mine at the east of the system where freedom from smog revealed a cloudless sky. SY 1544 left with loads and SY 1340 took the line to Xinghua mine with empties. Two SY arrived separately light engine from Dongchang. Returning to Beichang washery SY 1369 was shuttling in and out with 6 hoppers bringing coal from Dongchang mine, and SY 1344 departed with a long train of loads for Jixi Xi. We then set off by bus in the direction of Xinghua mine and turned off the main road at "wooden pole 0082". We could see the steam from a loco shunting the mine and after some time SY 1058 appeared propelling 5 tippers of waste tender first. For our final pictures of the day, under the guidance of our photographer in chief, we positioned ourselves between Dongchang and Zhengyang at the point where the spoil tips line curves off to the north. There was stamping of feet to keep warm as the temperature dropped but SY 1437 and its 4 tippers appeared on cue before the golden setting sun dropped out of sight. It was then back to the city after a very rewarding day.

The next morning we were back at Dongchang level crossing by 6:30, more morning smog. We again checked the servicing point at Nanchang. We didn't note any locos not seen the previous day and it was time for another dumpling breakfast. At 8:45 we set off to Lishu, on the way checking the yard at Hengshan. Here SY 0898 arrived with a loaded train from the nearby Erchang mine. It has been the regular loco on this working for many years. One of the four diesels now here, DF10D 0157 in blue livery with white "stripe", was on the stabling road by the offices. In the distance at the Jixi end of the yard, a two road diesel servicing point had been erected. On reaching Lishu, we realised we should have arrived earlier as SY 0477 on 3 wooden hoppers was already climbing from Taiping towards Qikeng mine. The weather was not as bright as the day before as we waited for the loaded train to descend to Taiping. Here the train reverses and is chimney first back to Xifeng, but after opening the regulator for only a short way out of Taiping, the train rolls as far as the river bridge and beyond without exhaust. We checked out Xifeng where just SY 0477 was present. The crew were very friendly and the footplateman in our group was given a cab ride to the China Railway connection and back. We set off to Pinggang mine and found the system's other two locos, SY 0951 shunting wagons under the coal loading hopper and SY 1118 on 3 tippers in the tipping position. The tippers were re-set and SY 1118 shot off towards Lishu. We returned to Jixi, again calling at Hengshan yard where SY 1095 arrived on loads, GKD was coupled to some wagons followed by the arrival of DF10D 0156 on another train of loads.

On our third day we commenced as on the previous two days by driving to Dongchang level crossing on the Chengzihe system. At 8:35 we left to visit the Lishu system again. Passing Hengshan at 9:05, SY 0898 was noted on a long train of empties to Erchang mine, 2 x SY and 2 x DF10D were stabled at Hengshan yard. We arrived at Lishu by 9:45 but SY 0477 had almost reached Qikeng mine with 5 hoppers, so again we had missed the chimney first climb with empties out of Taiping. The weather was much better than the previous day, so we walked up to mine for pictures of the train being loaded. There is just the single track here from the reversal point that runs under the coal hopper. After observing the loaded train returning towards Xifeng, we set off for the Didao system.

We arrived at the Didao-Hebei washery to find SY 0950, recently repainted, on a train of 7 tippers, SY 0407 in steam, SY 1018 on loads and SY 1205 on 7 tippers of coal which it propelled up the line to the west of the washery to a coal storage dump. SY 1018 has mostly been recorded at Chengzihe, but seems to have been loaned to Hengshan and Donghaikuang at times, and was previously at Didao in the 1990s. I followed the line taken by SY 1205 but it returned before I could take a suitable position for a photograph. There was a good view in the distance of plenty of action to the south of the washery and on the China Railways main line in the valley. I returned to the washery and around 15:00 SY 0407 propelled 7 tippers up to the coal dump. SY 0950 and 1205 were shunting and before we left SY 0407 propelled its train south from the washery.

On our final shortened day, we returned to the Chengzihe system, arriving yet again at the Dongchang level crossing by 6:30. As on other mornings there was smog in the air, and it was not much clearer when we moved east to where the Zhengyang and spoil tip lines split. At 8:00 SY 1340 passed light engine on its way to Dongchang for shift change, and at 8:55 SY 0863 was light engine tender first to Zhengyang, followed at 9:10 by SY 1058 propelling tippers. At 10:00 SY 0863 returned on a loaded coal train. In these two hours we hadn't seen any trains to the spoil tips. We returned to Dongchang. At 12:10 we departed by road for Mudanjiang and after a meal caught the 16:45 overnight train to Shenyang.

Locos seen (all in use):
ChengziheSY0863, 1058, 1340, 1344, 1351, 1369, 1437, 1544
DidaoSY0407, 0950, 1018, 1205
HengshanSY1095 and at least one other
DF10D0156, 0157
GKD1A0107
Hengshan (Erchang)SY0898
LishuSY0477, 0951, 1118

Notes:
SY 1340 and 1369 at Chengzihe are former Hengshan locos.
SY 1018 at Didao was most recently at Chengzihe.
Diesels noted at Hengshan, Co-CoDE DF10D 0156 and 0157, Bo-BoDE GKD1A 0107, both types built Dalian 2007, blue with white "stripe".

Chengzihe - SY 1340 at Zhengyang mine, before departing with empties to Xinghua.
 

Chengzihe - SY 1437, coupled to its tippers, is serviced at Dongchang.
 

Lishu - SY 0477 and wooden bodied hoppers at Qikeng mine.
 

Huludao, Nov 26 - 27

The group arrived at Shenyang Bei at 5:30 and were away in a bus by 5:45, so no time for a Big Mac and coffee breakfast. On the outskirts of Shenyang and heading for the expressway, we passed a large sports stadium and I was informed that the new location of the Railway Museum, moved from the Botanical Gardens (despite information on Chinese tourist websites), was close by. Is it open yet and has anyone visited it?

As Huludao's JS work is now dieselised, what follows is just for the record. At a level crossing on the line, it was established that the morning empties had already passed so we carried on to the line's summit, where at 10:00 JS 6307 appeared on a loaded train. At 14:15 we learnt that empties had just departed from Huludao and would reach the summit in around 30 - 40 minutes. JS 6307 duly returned around 15:00. After arriving at Yangjiazhangzi, the JS detached 4 China Railway wagons which were ahead of the internal wagons for the limestone traffic. Then, unusually, the loco was turned on the turntable, without having worked the empties to the limestone loading point. The reason was because the loco then blocked the line to the turntable with 3 China Railways wagons of sand(?). Unloading of these wagons then commenced, their contents being shovelled down the near vertical drop next to the turntable line. At 16:00 we left for our hotel in Huludao.

The next day we left the hotel in the dark at 6:15, and on enquiring at a level crossing, discovered the train had departed. We arrived at Yangjiazhangzi at 6:55, where JS 6307 was waiting on its train of empties, just as the sun rose. A small permanent way trolley set off down the line towards Huludao, maybe the empties had run so early to allow for this. Then in a surprise move, JS 6307 departed light engine for the limestone loading point and returned with a loaded train. It then propelled its own train of empties to the loading point, later returning with another loaded train. Now, at 10:05, the loco was turned and attached to one of the loaded trains to await the return of the permanent way trolley. At 11:20 JS 6307 was able to depart with its train of 14 wagons, clearing the summit without stopping. We then left for Nanpiao. It was after my return home that I discovered from the Steam_in_China group that JS operations finished shortly after our visit, and that two days before our arrival, we had missed the sight of a loaded train hauled by a JS and banked by a SY.

Loco seen (in use):
JS6307

Play Huludao video

JS 6307 struggles to the summit with a train of empties ...
 

... storms into Yangjiazhangzi with loads from the quarry ...
 

... turns before departing to Huludao ...
 

... climbs with the loads to the summit.
 

Nanpiao, Nov 27 - 29

Sunrise 7:00, sunset 16:20.

For this report, please refer to Duncan Cotterill's Nanpiao Map.

We arrived by way of Sanjiazi and noted SY 0973 shunting at Weizigou mine at 14:00. Shortly after SY 1299 arrived on a train of empties. We continued on to Xiamiaozi and an eagle eyed member of the group spotted ex-works SY 0754 stored unused in the permanent way yard. In the distance we could see that both afternoon passenger trains were steam hauled. At 14:55 SY 1092 departed with the Linghe train followed at 15:00 by SY 1478 to Sanjiazi. Both trains consisted of 5 coaches. Compared with March 2007, each train was one coach less. The passenger/baggage coaches with longitudinal seating, found at the Nanpiao end, were missing and not seen on the system. We followed the Sanjiazi train noting SY 1299 was still at Weizigou. The passenger no longer stopped at the halt at Shichang and the small mines there had all been cleared away since my visit in March. As we returned to Xiamiaozi, a diesel passed on a loaded train to the power station. SY 0973 was back at Xiamiaozi and it was now time to check in to the nearby Xinghe Hotel.

The next day we set off before dawn observing (some even photographing) SY 1299 on the morning Sanjiazi passenger at Shaguotun halt. There was better chance of a picture as SY 1299 left Daguopu halt and crossed the small viaduct towards Weizigou. As expected, after leaving the passenger stock at Sanjiazi, SY 1299 returned to Weizigou mine for some shunting. At 8:05 it returned to Sanjiazi with empty wagons. We returned to Xiamiaozi where SY 0973 and 1299 were stabled next to the office block. SY 1478 picked up 6 wagons, then reversed into the China Railways' yard to collect another 9 before departing on the Sanjiazi line.

We looked into the control room in the office block. Lots of CCTV screens but no sight of the GPS train tracking screen so I assume it was out of action.
Information from the man watching the CCTV screens (with the usual caveats):
SY 0973 is to be scrapped shortly,
another BJ diesel is expected soon,
he didn't know when SY 0754 would be put back in traffic.

Around lunch time we visited the depot. Outside were SY 0366 in steam and SY 1092 also in steam but with parts of its motion along with large hammers and a spanner laid out on the ground. It couldn't have been a major problem as the motion was reassembled in time for the loco to head the 15:00 Sanjiazi passenger. Again both afternoon passengers were steam hauled, with SY 1299 on the Linghe passenger, usual practice for the loco on the morning Sanjiazi train to take the afternoon Linghe train. BJ 3248 was inside the depot. We followed the passenger towards Linghe but weren't able to get ahead of it so had a look at Linghe itself. SY 1299 and coaches were waiting and around 16:00 BJ 3241 arrived on 5 empties. SY 1299 detached the empties and the diesel coupled on to the loaded wagons waiting on the coal loading track. The diesel departed with 6 loaded wagons and SY 1299 positioned the empties under the coal hopper for loading. We then returned to our hotel and dined at a local restaurant, where a magnificent cake and wine appeared to celebrate my birthday, the third consecutive birthday I've been able to celebrate in China.

On our final day, we again headed for the Sanjiazi passenger at Shaguotun halt, the loco today was SY 1478. We again visited Weizigou mine but SY 1478 caught me out as there was far less shunting than on the previous day. The return tender first passenger was pictured on the river bridge near Fulongshan. Back at Xiamiaozi, SY 0973, SY 1092 and BJ 3241 were waiting for their next duties. We later checked out the Zaojiatun mine, by which time SY 1478 and BJ 3241 were present. They double headed a train of wagons back towards Xiamiaozi, and BJ 3241 soon arrived back with some empties. At 13:00 SY 0973 arrived light engine and later departed in the Linghe direction with a train of tippers. We were all waiting to photograph the afternoon passenger to Linghe on the climb out of Zaojiatun, but to our disappointment it was hauled by BJ 3132 rather than the expected SY 1478. So two of us were robbed of our last pictures of our trip as we were to return to Beijing that evening.

Passenger trains seen were all steam except the afternoon train to Linghe on Nov 29.
Traffic was much busier than on my visit in March 2007. All mines except Qiupigou seemed to be producing coal. There was even coal traffic going out to China Railways.
We were unable to obtain permission to visit Jinzhou 701 factory.

Locos seen:
SY0366, 0754, 0973, 1092, 1299, 1478
BJ3132, 3241, 3248
All on line work except:
SY 0366 was in steam at the depot but not seen at work.
SY 0754 in ex-works condition stored in the p.w. yard at Xiamiaozi, adjacent to Sanjiazi branch.
BJ 3248 inside depot.

SY 1478 on the 15:00 Sanjiazi passenger, here at Shaguotun halt ...
 

... and leaving Daguopu halt, crossing the bridge towards Weizigou mine.
 

Lunch time at the depot, SY 1092 with part of its motion dismantled.
 

We departed by the expressway to Jinzhou. After a meal, the group broke up with two of us being dropped off at Jinzhou Nan station. Mike and the other four in the group were to catch an overnight train from Jinzhou to Baotou for a further week visiting Baotou, Baiyin and Sandaoling. The two of us returning home caught train D8, one of the new high speed CRH multiple units, departing at 18:52. The scheduled time was 3 hours for 480 km, travelling in the dark there was very little impression of speed. Mike had arranged for a driver to collect us and take us to the Sino-Swiss Hotel. From experience, I can say this is much simpler than trying to find a taxi on your own. Next day there were no problems on the KLM flight back to Birmingham, although on second acquaintance, my opinion of the "strange" KLM food was unchanged.

Conclusion

The timing of this trip was very lucky, trains were running at Huanan, and without realising, we just caught JS working at Huludao. The bad luck, such as late arrival on both days for the Qikeng working at Lishu, was our own making. The weather was mostly first class apart from early morning city smog at Jixi. The main snag was the limited daylight at this time of year

And finally:

Jixi (Chengzihe) - SY 1437 heads from Beichang to one of the spoil tips east of Dongchang.
 

Where to in 2008?

Dave Fielding

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2008 Dave Fielding