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Steam in China - March 2008

by Colin Martindale

Baiyin, Liujiaxia, Shibanxi, Mojiang, Ganshui, Pingdingshan, Xingyang, Zoucheng

This was my second visit to China for steam, my other one having been two years previously. There were certainly some changes, particularly at Pingdingshan, however, most of the locations visited were new to me.

The timing of my visit coincided with Bernd Seiler's Far Rail tour and I joined that tour for the Baiyin and Liujiaxia section and ran in parallel with it at Shibanxi. My trip got off to an exciting start with a 5:30 call from Air Canada informing me that my 9:00 flight to Vancouver was cancelled and they couldn't guarantee my connection to Shanghai on a later flight. There was a mad dash to the airport, in which my loved ones cooperated magnificently, and I just made the 7:45 flight. I was bumped to business class and between myself and a crew deadheading to Vancouver business class wasn't generating much revenue on that flight!
After three hours on the ground in Vancouver, Air Canada's flight to Shanghai was half an hour late leaving but got in on time. Waited ages for luggage but finally I got out and was met by a young lady with my ticket for the train to Lanzhou that evening. The ticket was booked on line through www.tour-beijing.com who charged a fairly heavy premium on top of the ticket price, $43 including delivery to the airport for a $57 ticket. However, I got the train I wanted so it was worth it to me. I took the Mag Lev (¥50 one way) and discovered it was being limited to 301km/h which was a disappointment. Rumour has it that there are settlement problems with the track. Shanghai was wet and cold and not conducive to walking around. Hard sleeper on train T164 which continues to Lhasa and is quite the smartest train I rode on the whole trip. However, the only food offered on the first evening was noodle soup and the only beer “Budwa” (Budweiser) at ¥15 for a small bottle. Passing Xian the next day invoked memories of the RMs, JFs and QJs I photographed there 21 years ago. The loco servicing point is still there but the steam has evaporated.

Arrival at Lanzhou was on time but I was told that the train I wanted to Baiyin wasn't available; is there a new policy not to sell standing places in hard seat to long-noses? See also later comments. The earlier train wasn't running and next one would arrive very late. After failing to find a bus to Baiyin (everyone at the bus station pointed to a different window, all the other bus stations I visited had computerized booking) I gave up and got a taxi for Y250. He dropped me at the bus station in Baiyin and a local taxi took me to the tour's hotel for Y8. The tour was just checking in so I was invited for dinner, which was not refused.

Baiyin

10 March: Next day was spent line-siding on the route into the hills. Each person jumping out of the bus at their chosen spot and being picked up when the bus returned. In the late morning a visit to the depot had been arranged; one locomotive (unidentified by myself) was under going a major overhaul. SY 0150, 0819 & 1097 were sitting in a small yard outside the workshop surrounded by parts and scrap. SY 0612 and “2008” were in the shop cold while SY 0888 was cold outside, the latter engine is rumoured to belong to the army and certainly didn’t carry the Baiyin company’s “seagull” motif. Both the school trains were photographed with a break for lunch between them. The afternoon passenger trains were viewed in the same way as the morning one. Finally we took in shunting, and the final daylight passenger run, from the east end of the town part of the system. The whole of Bernd’s operation was quite slick and I was favourably impressed by my first organized rail tour. Old Baiyin hands commented that traffic levels are down compared to two years ago but at least the dreaded diesels have yet to appear. SY 1470 handled the bulk of the passenger trains with 1047, 0965 and 1581 on freight and shunts.

11 March: The hotel forgot to provide breakfast so we made a hurried stop for take-away dumplings before heading up the valley for the first passenger train (first two if one got off the bus below Sanyelan). Charter bus to Liujiaxia about 3 hours.

Liujiaxia

11 March: A train of 7 tanker cars a box car (with seats) and a caboose were waiting for us at Shangpo headed by JS “8223”. The numbering of the locomotives on this line is complex to say the least. We were told that they only have insurance for two locomotives and the four locos share a pair of plates which are moved from engine to engine as required. We had the run of the line and made numerous runs-past in various scenic spots. Some great video and stills resulted as the weather was perfect and the line is in quite dramatic countryside. This isn't real railroading of course, but given that the line normally only runs one or two trains a day it would take weeks to get the shots that we managed in a single afternoon. Also, most of the locations are remote from road access so they might be impossible to reach other than a by a major expedition involving camping along the line.

12 March: A morning visit to the town and depot found the real 8223 (number painted on the cab sheets) shunting while “8223” was on shed. 8227 (real) stood behind “8223” in the back shop, cold. The fourth JS was hidden from view in a locked shed.

This was to be the end of my tour with Far Rail, however, life in China is rarely straightforward. Bernd had agreed to give me a lift from Chengdu to Shibanxi. My original plan had been to take a later train (T21) to Chengdu than Bernd’s party who were supposedly on train 1050. T21 is considerable faster than 1050 and this would have given me 2½ hours in Chengdu before Bernd’s group arrived. Lanzhou had no tickets for T21 so I had to take 1050. The Far Rail group couldn’t get sleepers on 1050 so had to take the later 1345, this despite the fact that 1050 had at least 60 hard sleeper places vacant when it left Lanzhou. (Boney fish, rice and beer on the train) So I ended up with 3½ hours in Chengdu; which was long enough to find that the only land mark remaining from 20 years ago is the monolithic statue of the Great Helmsman. Mao now waves across a large square at shops full of rampant capitalists!

Jiayang Power Company (Shibanxi)

13 March: Charter bus to Shibanxi. Bernd’s group had been scheduled to stay in Qiangwei but I wanted to stay closer to the railway. As it happened they changed their plans and stayed at the new hotel in Yuejin. As reported elsewhere this building has a hospital/clinic on the main floor but it is a hotel on the upper levels; ¥120/night. Some of the rooms have excellent views of the line as it curves from the town into the station and the chances of sleeping through the first, electrically hauled, coal train at 5:45 are minimal! The combined squat toilet and shower could be a great time saver for gentlemen; as it allows for sh*t, shower and shave all in one operation.

14 March: The Far Rail group went off to ride the first train, departing 6:00 from Shixi; a somewhat pointless exercise from a photographic point of view given that most of the ride is in total darkness. I elected to walk down to Shixi a little later on and had the chance to video the first steam hauled coal train of the day plus a couple of electric hauled trains. I rode the second passenger (dep 9:30) to Mifeng and spent the rest of the day shooting video at the tunnel just above Mifeng and the large curve just below it. At both locations I found Rob and Yuehong Dickinson frolicking in the yellow flowers (in the UK known as oil seed Rape and in Canada as Canola). Walked down from Mifeng which was longer than expected but relieved by a chance to watch paddy fields being harrowed by water buffalo and being given a couple of feet of sugar cane by a passing local. Weather: warm with hazy sun and scattered cloud.

15 March: A wet day, varying between pouring and drizzle. The second electric hauled coal train arrived at Yuejin double headed with number 10. The C2 cut off a short rake of coal cars and parked them while the electric loco retired to the siding. The first passenger down arrived and had to wait until the long rake of coal cars was cleared by Number 10, normally the electric loco’s job. The electric took the loaded coal down in the normal way and number 10 returned to Shixi light engine. The second passenger train arrived at Yuejin double headed by numbers 9 & 10. Number 9 cutting off to return light engine and take the morning tourist train. Rode the second passenger to Bagou and explored the town; a nice place to stay if it is not raining! No freight trains today (a Saturday) having been replaced by trains of the new tourist carriages. While they don’t have the decrepit charm of the original rolling stock I don’t find them aesthetically displeasing. Does anyone know if the much derided “Pride of Leicestershire” signs came with aid, either financial or otherwise?
They are a distraction but are they any worse than “fake” name plates on preserved locomotives or signs saying they were restored with funds provided by XXX? Basically the line needs the tourist yuan and while we may enjoy banging around in the old stock most tourists are made of softer stuff and won’t want to repeat the experience of poor/no seats or windows.

16 March: More drizzle in the morning but steadily improving to hazy sun and warm by afternoon. Rode the first passenger to Hungcun and visited the coal mines; no activity at this early hour of a Sunday morning. Both the 300mm and 600mm systems appear to have been active recently. The new mine (or is this the mining museum?) is making progress with the head-frame in place and the draw-works arriving on the second freight train on 14 March. A very rough 600mm line links the mine to the goods yard. While waiting for a train to emerge from the tunnel at Bagou I was attracted to the sounds of the steam hammer working in the last building on the left of the line (facing the tunnel mouth). Here a blacksmith was hand forging track spikes, great to watch a craftsman at work. Walked down to Mifeng, with stops at all the major scenic spots to shoot video. Took the third passenger train down. Due to light tourist traffic the third passenger was combined with the second tourist train and ran close to the tourist train’s schedule. An afternoon freight was run carrying several wagon loads of bricks which had been languishing at Yuejin for some days.

17 March: A planned depot visit for the Far Rail group failed to materialize, in fact management denied that such visits had ever been allowed, even though Bernd had made one the year before!

Mojiang Power Station Company, (Caoba, Shawan)

The charter bus dropped me in Leshan, at a location which I was assured was a good place to get a bus to Emei. In fact it was just a city bus stop. Moments later a guy on a small motorbike offered me a lift but it turned out he only wanted to take me to his buddy’s hotel, not the bus station. He was very much distressed when I failed to offer him large amounts of yuan for a short ride to somewhere I didn’t want to visit! Once he had given up appealing to my better nature I was able to hail a taxi to the bus station. A bus to Emei cost ¥8 where a scruffy hotel across from the station cost ¥120 for a night (far too much for what it was, the broken toilet seat was source discomfort and imminent danger). An amazingly slow bus took me to Shawen for ¥9 with a bicycle rickshaw to the 762mm gauge electric line at Caoba. I spent the afternoon at this delightful, electrically operated line. The passenger timetable appears to be much as reported by Bernd Seiler in 2002. The 15:50 train was well patronized with three cars for adults and seven reserved for school children. An excellent form of segregation which was only spoilt by the fact the cars have neither widows or walls; so there is no noise attenuation between children and adults!

I set out to walk back to Shawan but in a short time a mini-van came along and gave me a ride right back to Emei bus station. Several other people were dropped along the way. I gave them what the bus and rickshaw fare had been on the way there and they were quite pleased.

18 March: The options from Emei to Chongqing are either a 6½ hour bus ride or 9+ hours by train via Chengdu. I elected to take the bus which was no less comfortable than hard seat and had no standing passengers. I had planned to take train 5613 to Ganshui but this train appeared to be cancelled (although still on the departure board). I was refused a place on 1026 (no reserved seats available, so no sales to long-noses?) and had to take train 5607 dep 21:56 arr 1:06; not the best time to arrive in a small town in China. A tout was extolling the virtues of a dubious looking place outside the station. When I hesitated a fellow from the train, who had a few words of English, offered to share his minivan to a hotel (the Qaio Cheng). ¥88 for a single room. Noisy due to the proximity of the road and rail lines but a place which is trying to be a real hotel and much better value than the dump at Emei.

Ganshui

19 March: A peep out of the window in the morning showed that I was right under the road bridge and only a stone’s throw from the railway bridge. I picked up lunch materials at the small shops along the road and walked up the line via the tunnel. About half an hour later horn blasts and lights in the distance proved that Ganshui is going diesel. DF7C5725 trundled past with a long string of C-type coal cars heading down hill. The rail-bus also passed me heading up hill. At Ma Liu Tan I could hear a steam whistle in the distance. I found a good video location and waited. After about an hour I came to the conclusion that either I was hearing things or the train wasn’t coming my way I crossed the stream to the road and caught a mini-bus up the valley. According to Helmut Bribitzer’s map the road passes Xiaoyutuo and continues to Qingqihai. However, after Xiaoyutuo the bus started climbing the hillside by-way of a series of steep switchbacks. Looking back I could see an SY in Xiaoyutuo. I stuck with the bus and eventually arrived in a small and bustling town; it was far too high in the hills to be on the other branch of the railway so I have to conclude that the road (and bus) system is rather more complex than shown on Helmut’s map!
After a quick look at the town I stood on the road back down and the next mini-bus deposited me along side SY 0514 which was now quietly simmering beside the road. In a couple of nearby sheds I found SY 1271 having new super-heater tubes installed and SY 1501. After taking a couple of shots of the latter I was told that this engine was “sacred” and I was allowed to look but not take photographs. Reflecting that it was a bit late to tell me that I headed outside.

I interviewed the crossing keeper by pointing at my watch and the tracks. Her reply of hand waving and shrugs could variously be interpreted as, “I don’t understand you”, “I’m not going to tell you”, “Why do you think I should know?”, or “No more trains today”. As I jumped into a minibus down to Ma Liu Tan the crossing arms came down and 0514 moved down the valley light-engine. As luck would have it the state of the road meant that the bus paced the locomotive quite nicely; the state of the road also meant that any attempt at video would have been a shaking, blurry mess! At Ma Liu Tan I jumped off the bus expecting 0514 to at least pause. No such luck! She was away down the line. I found myself a good vantage point and after a longish wait managed some excellent video of DF7C5725 coming back up the line. I walked down a short distance and, in the last decent light of the day, managed a fairly nice video shot of 0514 working hard with a train load of Cs. With a dearth of buses in the late afternoon I was contemplating a long walk back but managed to thumb a ride in a small truck back to my hotel, my offer of payment was categorically refused. After a decent meal in the hotel restaurant they escorted me to the local wam bar; once they realized I wanted to find an “internet café or wam bar” not to “drink a coffee in the bar!”

20 March: Decided I would try to ride the rail-car up to Qingqihai and crossed the railway bridge to the station area.
There is an excellent view point on the station side of the bridge but sadly all the traffic was on the CNR. A small group were huddled in the railway yard and an exchange of gestures made it appear likely that the rail-bus would depart at 11:00. However, all that appeared at 11:00 was DF7C5714 with a train of Cs. An hour later another light appeared in the tunnel, SY 0514 running light engine. She departed at 12:30 with a string of Cs while the DF went to sleep in the yard. I returned to the hotel to pick my bag and enquire about a bus to Chongqing; I was told the next bus would be about 20 minutes. Five minutes later there was great excitement as I was hustled on to a bus which arrived at Chongqing’s south bus station just over an hour later. Next came the negotiations over a taxi to the main station. Some charming fellows at the bus station told me ¥50 and after some haggling this became ¥40. Having plenty of time and a bloody mind I pointed at the meter, there was a fair amount of scoffing and as I started to walk away the fare dropped to ¥30. Just round the corner I found another taxi that was willing to use the meter, he took me to the station for ¥9.50! Train K206 left at 18:35 stopping at most stations to Pingdingshan. Good dinner, tali-plate style, of chicken and veg, something cabbage like, tofu and chilies, celery and pork, rice and soup for ¥30plus ¥10 for a beer. Non-air conditioned stock in ratty condition, but plenty of time to sleep on a nearly 24 hour trip.

Pingdingshan

21 March: Taxi to the fancy and luxurious Ping An hotel where clean rooms and a proper shower were to be had for ¥328 per night. This hotel’s main virtue is its proximity to the mine railway station; I was able to drop my bag and scuttle up to the station in time to video the last daylight passenger train arriving, while JS 5644 simmered alongside having recently arrived from Baofeng. Another plus for this hotel is that it takes credit cards which saves precious cash. My room faced north and in the night I was delightfully disturbed by what seamed to be an endless succession of steam whistles.

22 Mach: Bus 34 to Tianzhuang and walked down the line to the shed. Entry to the shed was refused but looking over the wall showed that all the derelict locomotives seen two years ago had been removed.
The following is a list of the steam movements for the morning:-
8:02 DF & JS 8065 from yard to shed together.
8:15 JS 8120 & QJ 6690 from shed to yard coupled together and, after passage of a DF on a long mixed freight, to 12th Mine, light engine.
In the next hour 3 JSs and two diesels left the shed to the yard: JS 8031 at 9:13, JS 8122 at 9:20 and JS 8065 at 9:25.
9:30 JS 8122 and 8065 took a long string of Cs westbound up the mainline double headed, which made a fine site!
9:53 JS 5644 on westbound passenger train.
10:15 JS 8131 to 12th Mine with 15 Ks (Hopper cars).
11:12 JS 8065 came in with loaded Cs from the west.
11:33 JS 8131 down from 12th Mine with loaded Ks.
12:00 JS & QJ down from 12th Mine light, coupled together. JS to shed.
12:11 JS 8120 to shed.
12:30 JS 8065 moved a string of Cs from the washing plant to the yard. QJ moved to east end of yard and then proceeded to the east and didn’t return while I was observing.
12:45 JS 8031 ran light to east end of yard and shunted. Then took a mixed rake of Ks and Cs to the CNR exchange sidings.
13:30 JS (unidentified) arrived with Cs and G70 (tank cars).
14:09 Eastbound passenger train with unidentified JS.
14:42 JS 8122 light from yard to shed for water and clean fire, then back to yard.
15:00 The following locos were observed on shed: JS 8062 and 8057 (in steam), 8338 (cold), 8120 and 8154 (light steam).

On any other line this might be an impressive haul but for PDS it is a sad shadow of what was happening only two years ago. Steam movements constituted about one third of the total trains seen, the other stuff not really being worth a mention.

In the early afternoon the wind picked up and was so strong that video was just about impossible. I walked up to Shenxi and en-route passed several track-laying gangs working on the double tracking. It looks to me as if the new line is complete and in use and now they are completely replacing the original line. At Shenxi I was invited into the cab of GKD3B 0003. After some shunting we proceeded up the hill towards Zhonxin. About halfway there we found a guy sitting in the four-foot completely oblivious to our horn blasts. On the steep grade there was no difficulty stopping and when the crew got down to investigate it was apparent that he was blind drunk. After falling over a couple of times in his attempts to stand-up he was manhandled off the line and staggered away trying to call someone on his cell phone. Had we been steam hauled the re-start would have been a fine thing to behold. As it was it was just a matter of notching-up and letting the anti-slip sensors do their work – noisy but not really exciting. At Zhonxin I videoed the two evening passenger trains arriving.

23 March: Having seen a fair amount of steam activity on the 12th Mine line the day before I decided to try for some early morning video on the steep grades of this line. As I arrived at Tianzhuang a JS headed up the line light-engine. Two JSs came out of the shed, 8065 took a train of Cs west and 8122 headed up towards 12th Mine with a mixed rake of Cs and Ks. I set off on foot in pursuit. At 10th Mine I caught-up and was just in time to video JS 8122 departing to 12th Mine. The other locomotive was hiding at the far end of the sidings and appeared unlikely to move in the near future. As I followed JS 8122 on foot I was able to see her coming back light-engine. The overhead electric 600mm gauge system at 12th Mine appears to be no more. There is an active system on this gauge in the mine equipment yard but all the motive power is either manual or road tractor. A crew of men were replacing the cables at one of the loading points and it was obvious that no more trains would running for a while. As I walked down I met another of the orange monsters between 10th Mine and Tianzhuang.

Bus back to hotel, picked-up bag and taxi to the bus station, on to Zhengzhou. Stayed at the Zhengzhou Hotel across from the bus and train station. This hotel has deteriorated a lot in two years, however, the ¥418 asking price was instantly discounted by 50% which was a fair price for the condition of the room. Dinner at the Xinjiang kebab place in the shopping precinct; a few words of Arabic here ensures great friendship.

Xingyang

24 March: Over breakfast an art sale was going on which allowed me to purchase a birthday present that I was looking for. I bought my ticket on to Yanzhou, although not on the train I wanted and got a taxi to Xingyang. ¥140, which I considered a bit steep considering it was ¥100 two years before. In Xingyang the driver had no idea where the old station was but my memory stood the test and we found the brickworks at last. She was clearly bemused as to why anyone would want to get out at such a desolate spot! Walked into the depot and found 07 in the shop with the right-hand motion in pieces on the floor; no sign of 207, which I took to be a good omen. I walked down the line and found a vantage point at the top of the first hill. 207 put in an appearance shortly after and the rest of the day was spent getting some excellent video of her working hard at various locations. About 18:00, with the sun nearly setting, I assumed that the last run had been made. But, to my surprise she went out for at least one more load of clay. All this was vastly better than my previous visit when the line was closed due to rain making the brick-earth quarry unworkable. I walked into town and found a taxi. After some consideration we decided that ¥70 would be the fare back to Zhengzhou station. For some reason the driver stopped to chat to two different traffic cops on the way out of town, was he asking permission to take a long nose to Zhengzhou?! Dinner, collect bag and onto train 2150 to Yanzhou.

25 March: The hotel across the station square to the right is closed. There looks to be one to the left that may be okay. There is a fancy looking place ahead up the main street on the right; and at nearly ¥500 it had better be fancy! I arrived at 05:00 from Zhengzhou and was accosted by a tout for the other place to left of the station square, the one with a glassed in staircase. On no account stay here unless you like scruffy accommodation at rip-off prices, ¥120/night for something worth about half that!

Zoucheng

After a few hour’s shut-eye I was accosted by the owner of a fancy, new minivan while negotiating for a taxi to Zoucheng. He mimed taking pictures and pulled out print of a QJ. He was hired! His name is Jaio Pen mobile 13562725699 but he only has a few words of English, about the same words that I have in Chinese. However he has a friend who is a guide in Qufu, Kelly, mobile 13475373836, e-mail jhouqiu82@163.com who speaks passable English and helped sort things out for us. The afternoon’s activity at Dadongzhang was as follows:-
12:30 DF4DD0082 light engine to Nantun line.
12:30 DF4DD1022 hooked onto train of Ks in yard and went to sleep.
12:45 DF4DD1022 took train of Cs on Zinglougzhou line.
12:55 QJ 7189 in from Nantun line with 45 K type hoppers QJ light engine to Dongtan line.
13:15 DF4DD0083 to Nantun line with K hoppers.
13:40 DF4DD0038 from Xiagongchang with K Hoppers, paused in yard and departed 13:45.
13:50 DF4DD0085 light to CNR exchange sidings.
14:55 QJ 7189arrived from east, light engine.
15:00 QJ 7189 to service point, coal, water, clean fire. Police appeared all over the yard and riding on coal cars, including a dog handler. All were friendly with waves and cheerful yells.
16:00 DF4DD0057 in from east with 50 C cars.
16:20 unidentified QJ (assume 7190) on curve from Nantun to Xinglougzhou with 51 K Hoppers.
16:30 DF4DD0057 departed to Nantun line with Cs.
16:55 DF4DD0081 empty Cs from Xinglougzhou line with many police on board.
17:15 QJ 7190 in from Xinglougzhou line light engine.
17:20 QJ 7190 to service point.
17:30 DF4DD1022 light engine from Xinglougzhou to yard.

Based on the next day’s observations this is a pretty typical level of activity at this location.

There are more, and nicer looking hotels, in Zoucheng than Yanzhou so anyone contemplating a visit of more than a couple of days might want to save the taxi fare and half an hour or so on the road each way.

26 March: With Jaio Pen driving, we left Yanzhou at 7:00 and saw 7189 and 7190 come off the servicing point shortly after 8:00. We only just made the 8:00 departure due to some careless tree trimming which blocked the direct road and made us divert via Baodian. There are several areas of open views along the line north of Baodian which could allow pacing video since the roads are in good condition and the traffic light. The village itself is of interest since it is both walled and gated, albeit the gates are wrought iron and would keep out a serious invader for no more than two minutes.

After pottering around the yard briefly both QJs ran light down the Nantun line. We drove down to Nantun and after a short wait saw 7190 coming back with about 60 loaded Cs. Several trains of empties came in hauled by DFs and then the other QJ (7189) worked back with a long train. There is a good afternoon shot from the west side of the long embankment just north of Nantun; particularly useful if the train is tender first. We then went to Tieyun where 7072 (high deflector) was dumped and plastered with mud, but complete and could be returned to service. Next I mimed using spanners and screwdrivers - Jaio Pen got the idea at once and we visited the workshop. This is in the northwest of Zoucheng on the line from Dadongzheng to the CNR interchange. There I found QJs 6866, 7123, 6812, 6848, 6782, 6284, 3595, 6814, 7216, 3538, 6811, 6933 and a diesel which I tentatively identify as GK1B004. The condition of the locomotives varied between out-of-use but complete to dumped with glass smashed and fittings removed. An exception being 6811 which has been externally painted to a reasonable standard but parts of the motion were missing - is this a restoration attempt? 7216 has high defectors, all the rest are regular style.

In summary there appears to be two locomotives in service and they work two to four trips per shift. Although the trains are impressively long the gradients are not steep and the QJs do not appear to be working hard most of the time. So if you go now you'll almost certainly see a couple of QJs working, how long they will last is anybody's guess, there are loads of DF4DDs on the railway – I didn't try to count them! However, DF4DD 0081/2/3/5 are in addition to the ones reported in CRJ 152.

Jaio Pen suggested a site about 10-15km southwest of Yanzhou where there were 3 QJs. 7191 was in steam as stand-by while 7188 was shunting, the third locomotive was out-of-use. I couldn't identify the dumped loco because I was picked up by the police (in a micro-van) and removed from the premises! They were polite but not pleased to see me! No effort was made to delete the photos I had taken.

These locos were previously reported at Shandong Yankuang International Coke Co. (CRJ 152) but this location is identified as being “a few km south-east of Yanzhou station”. (This should be south-west of Yanzhou, DaveF.) The location visited was on highway G327 about halfway between Yanzhou and Jining; a location that matches with the Ji-Bei Railway reported in CRJ 152. It would appear either this report or the one in CRJ 152 is geographically challenged! While the maps available on Google map are nowhere near detailed enough to be useful in this area, those on www.mapbar.com provide detailed maps which are reasonably accurate even though they have text only in Chinese. A regional map with some names overlaid in English has been posted to SY Country; updates and corrections would be most welcome.

Arrived back at Yanzhou about 17:00 and deposited my bag at station left luggage. Dinner, internet café and found a park with singers, dancers and other cultural activities. Train K52 to Beijing dep 21:46, arr 5:13; the later trains were not available.

27 March: Arrived at Beijing Zhang and, after looking at a tout’s hotel photos in a half-hearted way, went for the devil I knew and checked into the hostel across the street for ¥120/night single room with shared facilities. The rooms are large and clean, if sparsely furnished. There is an okay restaurant on the 2nd floor and a large internet café. The rest of the day was spent buying gifts, so that I might be allowed come again. Bright sun and temperatures just comfortable for walking.

28 March: Damp and overcast with drizzle. I visited the Ming Dynasty Walls Park (on the south side of the Main Station). This is on the track of the Beijing – Feng Tian (Shenyang) Railway and a small amount of point work and a restored signal cabin can be found in the park. The watch tower at the east end of the park provides a view point over the Main Station for those keen to photograph modern traction. My ardour for this activity was dampened by increasingly heavy rainfall.

29 March: Cold, damp, mist and drizzle. Visited the Panjiayuan market and found a few treasures but nothing of railway interest. Home on Air Canada from the new Terminal 3. Left an hour late, due to the bulk of the luggage being mislaid between check in and loading. Most of the shops in the departure area were either not open, or open but with no stock on the shelves.

Colin Martindale

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