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STEAM IN CHINA - MARCH AND APRIL 2009

by David Thomas

Laiwu Dong, Zoucheng, Nanjing, Guiyang, Liupanshui area, Kunming area, Panzhihua, Baiyin, Gongwusu, Jalainur, Jixi, Beitai, Pingzhuang, Yuanbaoshan, Beipiao, Fuxin, Qinhuangdao

This was a 6 week trip that included non-railway interest. My grateful thanks to previous report writers for information and maps, and to Duncan Peattie for the English Chinese timetable. The 2009 CNR timetable does not show distances, making it more difficult to use. Many trains have been renumbered.

1.         LAIWU DONG   14 March 2009.

Stayed in a hotel opposite Jinan station and caught an early train to Zibo, intending to travel on the 09.40 to Boshan, going forward to Laiwu by bus. The Boshan train was cancelled (?permanently), as was the afternoon one, and I was advised to go by bus. At Boshan a coal mine to the east of the town appears to have closed in the past 6 months. From Laiwu Dong station I walked to the locomotive works. Being a Sunday, the road access gate was closed, so I entered via the railway line. A security guard kindly allowed photos of the 4 QJs standing in the yard – 3460, 6868, 7032 and one other. Return to Zibo was by the 16.11 from Laiwu Dong.

2.         ZOUCHENG  17 to 19 March 2009.

17 March. Arriving in the late afternoon, it was clear that the Zoucheng station is not the town centre. There is no hotel in the station square. I was directed to one a few minutes walk away to the left, facing a busy road junction. All rooms overlook that junction and face the railway with all-night locomotive horns. Not recommended. Next day transferred to the Heng Gang Hotel, three bus stops (10 mins walk) away on the north side of the road running away from the railway. It has a turret on one corner and is opposite a KFC. No direct bus from the station.

18 March. Caught a No. 16 bus from the hotel westwards to its terminus, just short of a level crossing. To the left the line is to the locomotive works, not visited. To the right it was a 40 minutes walk to Datongzhang yard. Skirting the wall around the yard via the road to its west (the path on the east is dead-end), a gap in buildings showed QJ 7190 in steam. Continuing, the road led to the loco servicing area (nothing) and on westward to the junction with the line across the triangle from Baodian. From here it was about 1 km to a pile of coal mine waste that gave a view of the junction before Natun mine and power station. I sat there from about 13.00 to 17.00, seeing 4 diesel hauled trains and, at 14.30, QJ 6811 drifting tender first with a train from the Ji2/Ji3 line. I returned to the level crossing at darkness, 18.00. It seemed that the last local bus towards Zoucheng had gone. I was lucky to be offered a lift in a private car.

19 March. Again on a No. 16 bus, this time first walking by rail to Dongtan coal mine. There were just a few wagons present. On to Datongzhang yard (11.00) where both 6811 and 7190 were in steam. Continued beyond the yard, past the new diesel servicing depot alongside the Baodian branch (4 diesels present) to the river bridge just before Baodian mine in the hope of steam in that direction. Nothing at all went that way and at 14.00 I heard 6811 heading off to the west. Walked the track across the top of the triangle to the same position as before. 6811 returned with a train, again tender first and drifting downhill, at 17.45, just as the sun was setting. This time a taxi got me back to town. The objective of seeing QJs at work was achieved, but only just!

3.         NANJING     22 March 2009.

As in 2008, bus 34 to the Yangzi, a ferry, then to the loco shed beyond the west end of the disused Pukou station. 8 JS locos remain stored in the open, rusting away, while a further 4 are in a locked shed.

4.         GUIYANG         28 March 2009.

From Guiyang Xi junction a line runs north for about 3 km, roughly parallel to the CNR line, but at a lower level, to a cement works. Caught a No. 203 bus from Hebin bus station to two stops beyond the terminus (on the right/west side) for local buses 6 and 7. The line from the cement works was reached by walking forward a short distance then turning right, uphill, to a level crossing. Turing right again, the single line led to the south end of the cement works where, at 13.00, SY 0398 was in steam and SY 1482 dead but useable, next to an empty one-loco shed.. There was no sign of any equipment to maintain the locos. 0398 had not moved 3 hours later, when I gave up waiting. The in-use narrow gauge electric north of the cement works was seen from a passing CNR train.

5.         LIUPANSHUI AREA       29 & 30 March 2009.

 

a.         HOTEL.
The three hotels clustered around Liupanshui station do not take foreigners. I was directed to the Fulihao, along the main road under the railway and accessed via a courtyard on the right, about 10 minutes’ walk. 168 yn for a good quality twin room.

 

b.         LANBA MINE.
The daily ultra-slow stopping train 5638 at 07.44 (was 7438 at 7.27) from Liupanshui took me to Lanba. A short branch from a coal mine runs in from the north to join the CNR line west of Lamba station. From the station I headed west-ish along a busy dusty road, turning to the left to fortuitously reach the mine screens and sidings after about 50 minutes. Here SY 0953 was in steam, newly painted 1367 dead, and 0394 dead, with some parts missing (reported useable in 2006). There is no shed. 0953 ran light engine to the CNR at 10.30, returning with empties, tender first, half an hour later. My photo position for the train crossing the metal viaduct was on the hill to the south of the CNR line, reached by footpath. The mine itself, with two metal headstocks, offices and a NG electric surface railway, is on the other side of the hill to the screens. Although there were local buses, none had Liupanshui as a destination, so I returned there on the even slower afternoon stopper at 13.20 (according to station staff; actual 13.50).

 

c.         YEMAZHAI MINE.
Enquiries at Liupanshui bus station got the reply that there were no buses to Yemazhai, only taxis for about 30 yn. So I took one, was asked for 100 yn and settled for 50. From the village it was possible to get into the colliery ‘round the back’, to find diesel GK1c 0408 (2007) in use. SYs 0125 and 0421 were dumped. I did not see a loco shed or a third SY, 0218, reported in 2006. A 6 seat van holding 9 people cost 5 yn to return to Liupanshui. It terminated on the road outside the station forecourt.

 

d.         LIUPANSHUI STEELWORKS.

Bus 3 took me to a road junction to the east of town, whence small buses 6 and 7 run under the CNR to the area of the spread-out steelworks. The road goes up and over a hill, into a dip before going up a second hill. Alighting at the dip, I went to a railway bridge. On my left a servicing point had three diesels and a rail crane present. At least another 6 diesels were in use nearby. Dotted around were 4 SYs out of use – ??108 (number part obscured by a wall), 405, 462 and, minus front wheels, 1483. No time to explore further, but it seems steam has finished here.

6.         KUNMING AREA           31 March and 1 April 2009.

 

a.         DUSHUPU.

The daily stopping train 6182 at 07.43 from Kunming (since retimed to 07.15) got me to Dushupu, where I hoped to find a branch line towards Anning with SYs at the far end – my notes were vague. The station is also the junction for a CNR line to Daying and both this and the branch line (not shown in Quail) head south-west-ish, crossing over each other after 2 or so kilometres. After this the branch (underneath) heads west to a town and curves round to the south to serve a steelworks; total distance about 10 km. I assumed that this was where I was heading, but found only 5 diesels. In heavy rain, I did not search for a shed/servicing point, but it was clear there is no steam. I never found the name of where I was. A bus took me back to Kunming.

b.         LINE FROM KUNMING XI.

Kunming Xi is to the south west of the city and a line runs to a factory/goods sidings to the north, shown as Dapoji on Quail. In the past a SY had been noted. Town bus 8 crosses this line close to its terminus, where there is a diesel servicing point. One was just leaving on a freight to the CNR, leaving a second ‘on shed’. Also here were two single-ended diesels, Nos. 2012 and 2016. No sign of steam.

c.         RAILWAY MUSEUM, KUNMING BEI STATION.

This should open at 10.00, Mondays excepted. I arrived at 10.10, just before the almost empty 7 coach NG passenger left, to find the museum door locked. Later, a door was open, but staff refused admission. A Chinese potential visitor said a sign on the door showed the museum was closed due to lack of electricity.

7.         PANZHIHUA STEELWORKS      2 April 2009.

I had planned to join an organised group visit, but they had not been able to get a permit. However, reports say public roads run through the works, so I thought I would give it a try anyway.

Panzhihua station is some 18 km from the town. A taxi cost 38 yn. Bus 64 was seen at the station and en route, so it is probably a cheaper, although slower, option. An Internet search gave the Tailong Hotel with twin rooms at 218 yn, which was correct. The hotel is in a back street. Steps lead up to the main road through the town. At the top of the steps is a restaurant that, improbably, has an American menu and provided a knife and fork for my grilled steak.

Buses 32 and 34 run from here, over a high level bridge across the river, to the steelworks area. After crossing the river, they go under the now-closed Dukou CNR station, and then climb through an S-bend. I alighted at a stop on the bend and walked along a road to the east. Passing a works entrance gate (police post) the road went uphill and over a lane. I dropped down to the lane and followed it downhill for a short distance until a footpath off to the right. This led to above railway sidings and workshops, well beyond the end of the steelworks proper, with a flight of concrete steps down to their level. Here were SY 0828, missing some bits, a wagon contained cut up remains of SY 0172, and the tender of 0174. A locked workshop had three SY wheelsets, one numbered 1640 (or 1646, previously reported here) in chalk. In front of me was the diesel shed, with 6 locos. It took a while to realise that the steam stabling point was very close, to my left at a lower level. It had 0830 and 1297 in steam, with 0170, 0399, 0621 and 0624 dead.

Returned to the bus stop and travelled forward for about 3 km until a gas holder on the left. From here a road to the north dropped gradually alongside the steelworks. A turning to the left, Ganghua La, led downhill to a further junction with a sign in English; left to the steelworks or right to the ironworks. I took the ironworks option, soon arriving at a busy level crossing, with barriers, within the works. A few minutes later SY 0694 rolled by light engine. That was the only steam in 45 minutes, so I decided to take a road from just beyond the crossing, heading north, towards the far end of the works. After about 20 minutes this came to another road leading up from the river. It ran alongside, and then across, sidings that had 5 SYs, 0562, 0630 (0830 again? D.F.), 0831, 1540 and one other, shunting ladle wagons. Although I kept to the road, after about 10 minutes I was approached by a man with a mobile phone who said I could not take photos and asked for papers. It was best to move on. I followed the road around the back of a large shed. It then slowly climbed the side of the hill above the works, with a good view down to the sidings I had left. After a good half hour's walk I was back at the gas holder. There are no public buses on the roads through the works. So, a reasonable result, but clearly it is best to be there on an organised visit. Incidentally, the town map I purchased did not show the steelworks at all, and roads through it were shown incorrectly.

8.         BAIYIN   5 and 6 April 2009.

Finding a bus from Lanzhou to Baiyin was not easy. At the bus station a few minutes’ walk along Pingliang Lu, north from Lanzhou station square, I was advised to take a taxi. Some locals took me to the Baiyin bus, parked at a street corner about a kilometre away. I was (over) charged 30 yn for the journey to the outskirts of Bayin (not the bus station), requiring a taxi to the Telecom Hotel (twin room 100 yn).

Although a Saturday afternoon, I got a visit permit to visit the factories area next day. The Transport Department’s office is on the top floor of the second building from the junction with Silong Lu on the east side of Gongyuan Lu. It is a 5 floor, 9 bay, white building with an IATA office on the right of the central entrance. Part way up the stairs was a metal grill with a locked gate in the centre. Fortunately a railway man was chatting to the IATA staff and he used his mobile phone to contact Mr Yue (room 501) who came down and took me to his office where I paid 200 yuan for the permit. He asked me to return there at 08.30 the next day and we caught a No. 3 bus to the entrance to offices and lesser workshops nearest the loco shed and workshops. This bus continues to terminate just after going under the Shebutong line. On shed were SY 0612, 1013 and 2008. Being Sunday, the works were locked. It took 20 minutes and several cigarettes before the shed foreman ‘discovered’ that one of the keys on his key ring gave access. Inside, 1470 was on jacks. Outside were 0965, which had not moved for several weeks, plus ex-works 0150 and 1097. SYs 0135 and 0139 and JS 8021 were dumped.

Working locos were SYs 0819, 1047, 1583 (passenger), plus one or two others. My Yue initially walked around with me, but soon tired and left, asking me to return the permit, a rather large card tag, at the end of the day. I did that before a round trip on the evening passenger train at 18.15 to Shenbutong. The return ran about 8 minutes early, which suited me as it gave extra time in the fast food restaurant ‘Three Sisters 24’, close to the Telecom Hotel. It took several attempts to get a taxi to the isolated Bayin Xi station for the 21.10 to Wuhai. There are no local buses. Arriving at 20.57, I found the doors to the unlit platform already locked and the train doors shut with staff on board waiting departure time.

9.         GONGWUSU   6 April 2009.

The Gongwusu bus is from Wuhai station forecourt, just outside the passenger entrance to the bus station, taking 45 minutes. Alighting at the terminus, I continued in the same direction and within a few minutes saw the blue and white washery silos ahead to the right. It was silent and there was no loco. I continued towards the stabling point. As I got there SY 0934 ran light engine towards the washery, leaving JS 6251 in steam and dumped SY 0360. A visit to the several works buildings revealed JS 6249 and 6250, plus SY 1315 with some boiler cladding removed. Previous reports mention another SY, but it was not seen.

Back at the washery, SY 0934 arrived with about 20 loaded wagons from No. 3 mine. The JS went to the works and shunted JS 6249 between buildings, then returned to the stabling point, being joined by 0934.

Finally, at 17.45, the SY shunted some tank wagons in the siding near the stabling point and took them to near the washery. During the day nothing had moved at the washery itself or to/from CNR. I was told the last bus back to Wuhai was at 18.30, but to be safe caught one at 18.15. It took a full sluggish hour.

10.        JALAINUR         8 & 9 April 2009.

While changing trains at Chengdu I checked the daily flight from Hohhot to Manzhouli and found it was now at 14.35, which suited me (previously 08.30, too tight for the 07.49 train arrival from Wuhai). I paid 900 yn; travelling a day later would have been 720 yn. The (?hourly) airport bus from the airport office in Chengdu was a bit erratic, being 20 minutes late and giving just 7 minutes to spare at check-in.

At Manzhouli airport a taxi driver asked for 90 yn to the station and accepted 60. I purchased a ticket for the overnight train two days later to Harbin and then walked over the footbridge to the west of the station. By now, 18.45, the last through bus 2 to Jalainur had gone, so I ended up on the 19.40 train. The red painted hotel opposite Jalainur station asked for 200 yn for a room, eventually conceding 180. The first one shown had no curtains. But next morning they said the reduction meant I could not have a free breakfast. It would cost .......20 yn. After discussion this became 10 yn.

On 8 April both diesels were in use, but on 9 April they were in their shed from at least 12.30 to 16.30, so the railway was 100% steam. There were two top and tail trains to the north deep mine, Lutiankuang, at 09.30 and 12.15, plus a further single loco one at 15.15, each of 25 to 30 trucks. There is a surface narrow gauge electric line around the mine yard. A rope worked steep inclined shaft delivers pit props, etc, and is used by a six coach man-rider.

Redundant track sections from the big pit, plus the accompanying steam crane, were taken to an unloading point to the west of the pit at a higher level than the spoil trains.

Locos seen in steam included 0867, 1126, (?? 1128), 1303, 1416, 1448, 1450, 1535, 1587, 1601, 1618, 1648 and 1690.

The overnight 18.38 Manzhouli to Harbin does not stop at Jalainur, so it was bus 2 to Manzhouli. This did a slow circuit of the town and dropped me off after 50 minutes at the road leading to the footbridge across the lines west of the station. The base of the statue at the bridge has a couple of odd looking locos.

11.        JIXI      10 to 15 April 2009.

 

a.         HOTEL.
The Jixi Fandian had a single room for 100 yn. The shower and toilet unit were inside a glass cubicle within the room, and later I noticed an increasingly unwelcome smell of, well, drains. A restaurant meal had disagreed with me and next day I fled to have a recovery day feeling sorry for myself in the slightly superior National Territories Resources Mansion, 160 yn. The temporary stomach upset, plus rain that turned to sleet, meant my time in Jixi was not very productive and I concentrated on the two busiest areas.

 

b.         CHENGZIHE/ZHENGYANG.
Frequent buses to Zhengyang, 2 yn, leaves from the ad-hoc local bus station just to the north of the NTRM hotel. Locos in the area were: 0863, 1018, 1058, 1340, 1351, 1369, 1544 and 1545.

There were some new concrete poles lying alongside the line at the summit between Zhengyang and Xinghua, but otherwise no sign of electrification works east of Chengzihe. The poles carrying a cable on the stretch alongside the road between Dongchang and Zhengyang have been there for some years.

c.         DIDAO.
The double track electric railway from the ‘upstairs’ part of Hebei washery to a separate mine, reported in 2005, has closed. At Hebei there are dumped drams, etc. and a short line to a loco shed with electric loco 24 and one other outside. SYs in use: 0407, 0950, 1205, 1213, 1340, 1446.

 

12.        BENXI AND BEITAI       17 April 2009.

 

a.         HOTEL.
At Benxi I could not find the Shi Zhen Fu Zhao Dai Suo hotel, mentioned in a 2004 report as outside the station, and skipped the two that were close to the railway. I ended up in the slightly posh Ming Zhu Hotel, just to the north east of the station in the second road from the left. No reduction on the advertised 274 yn for a double room. Breakfast at 06.55 gave time to catch the 07.29 workers’ train to Beitai.

 

b.         BEITAI STEELWORKS.
As we arrived at Beitai, SY 1075 ran past light engine. From the bridge across the CNR and shed line I walked down the private road to the shed, where SYs 1005 and 2019, plus a track maintenance crane, were in steam. 1077 was out of use with part of the motion removed, as if for travel and 1114 was stored outside with a plastic bag over its chimney. A further OOU SY was inside the shed with number plates removed. Also 3 diesels. The shed only has two workshop benches for minor running repairs.

Beitai steelworks has three separate groups of buildings. One is opposite the CNR station. From the north-west end of these three tracks lead past a rocky hill to a second works. Both have at least four blast furnaces. A third group is across the river.

I returned to the CNR station and walked on to a platform area outside a building that had a view across the CNR lines to a level crossing within the steelworks. Although well clear of any running line, a CNR ‘security’ man asked me to move, as I was inside the CNR security fencing. Locals do not use the CNR as a footpath.

I cannot promise that what I did next will work for anyone else.......... From the CNR station I walked away from the railway to a roundabout and then north along the road past a police check point. This road, which has a further police check point at the far end, is semi-public. Further police points are at the turnings from it into different parts of the steel works. There are no buses, houses or shops along it.

A bridge carries the CNR to the west, plus a parallel steelworks line, across the road and river. The road reaches a turning into the steelworks just after going under that bridge. A view over the wall showed a SY shunting. About 250 metres on an open gate near a slag tip and quenching bay gave a good photo spot for SYs that brought ladle wagons here. Continuing outside the wall past the rocky hill, there is a bridge carrying an internal road from the buildings across the river, across the road I was on and across the railway lines as they fan out at the start of the second steelworks site. Steps up to this bridge gave a good vantage spot and I spent about 2 hours here photographing. A few people asked what I was doing, but did not object. Later I walked on to the end of the works, and then alongside a line that looped round across the river to the far end of the buildings on the other side, but there were no further photo opportunities. Returned to catch the 16.45 workers train back to Benxi. This was a very pleasant day as several locos were in excellent external condition, carrying painted boards across their buffer beams. There are also many diesels – I probably saw about 12. There were no obvious ‘steam only’ duties. At least one triangle means locos facing one way are later seen facing the opposite way. I did not go into any restricted sections of the works. A proper official full day’s visit to include those would be well worthwhile. SYs seen working/in steam: 0792, 0825, 0864, 0935, 1005, 1054, 1075, 1514, 1560 (or 1580), 1577, 1648, 1684 and 2019.

13.        PINGZHUANG     18 April 2009.

There are now evening trains from Benxi to Shenyang, whence I caught the 22.48 train to Pingzhuang, arriving at 08.15. Taxi to the Ping Mei Hotel, but they claimed to be full (or maybe no longer take foreigners) so a second taxi to the Pingzhuang Hotel, where a twin room for 200 yn was instantly offered for 140, with breakfast. This is far cheaper than a previously reported 300 yn. The hotel is 10 minutes walk to the railway station (left outside, then bear right at the next junction) and 10 minutes to the bus station (straight ahead outside, then diagonally to right where it meets the next main road). A taxi to the ‘brewery’ level crossing got me to the washery where SY 1052 was on a part-loaded train. 1079 set off south light engine from the stabling point and shortly afterwards (11.00) a hard-working 1425 brought a loaded train from mines to the north of the city. I decided to walk the line to the CNR junction at Pingzhuang Nan. 1079 passed me tender first returning with empties. A bridge beyond the sidings at the junction of the branch to Wujia mine (where there was a train of empties) was OK to photograph 1052 drifting over with a loaded train at 12.15, followed by 1425 on another at 12.45. 1052 then returned light engine to pick up the empties mentioned earlier and headed north. I followed, then went around the back of the brewery to the ‘per way’ sidings, passing dumped JS 1001 in a compound on my right. In steam were SYs 1487, 1764. Stored intact in reasonable exterior condition were 0517, 0942, 0943 and 1085.

I did not check the open pit itself for activity and returned to the washery to walk the line north to the far end at Giushanlijing. Three loaded trains passed in the next two hours, headed by 1425, 1052 and 1079. Then taxi back to the hotel. Being a Saturday, I did not try to get into the loco shed or workshops.

14.        YUANBAOSHAN   19 April 2009.

Buses run the 45 minute journey from Pingzhuang bus station to the one at Yuanbaoshan at least every half hour, passing the road junction outside the Pingzhuang Hotel. The last one back is 18.00. It was a wet day and a slow start meant getting to Yuanbaoshan station at 11.00, just as JS 8250 arrived on the passenger train from Fengshuigou. JS 8418 and a diesel were outside the shed. Shortly afterwards, 8418 went light engine towards Fengshuigou. I followed it on foot as far as the long bridge some 5 km away, to wait for its return. 8250 had the 14.10 passenger from Yuanbaoshan. 8418 eventually returned on a loaded coal train at 14.40. After some 30 minutes a local bus took me back to the station, but 8418 was not there. It had run straight to the CNR, returning light engine at 16.00. The locked shed was not investigated for other locos.

A search on 18 April for somewhere decent to eat in Pingzhuang had not been successful, so I went to the hotel restaurant, open for evening meals 17.00 to 19.00. A completely dark room was laid out meeting style with chairs and tables facing an OHP screen. I was the sole diner. The 4 staff gave me their full attention. The meal was fine.

15.        BEIPIAO     20 – 22  April 2009.

20 April. The 08.46 from Pingzhuang arrived at Beipiao Nan just after 13.00. The station is a building site. In the mud outside were a few taxis and a No. 5 bus, which took me to Beipiao. Alighting at what seemed to be a central roundabout in the ‘new town’ I asked about a hotel and was led to the Beipiao Hotel, in a courtyard off a back street. It took some time to reduce the price for a twin room from 280 to 240 yn, breakfast included. From the hotel I turned left at the entrance, then left again and down the hill to reach the CNR line. After realising that Bernd’s 2007 map of the area had south at the top, I found the mine railway and walked downhill along it towards the loco coaling point. SY 1550 passed me on empties and returned at 16.40 with 4 loaded wagons, presumably from Taiji mine. On past the deserted stabling point and quiet workshops to a road crossing off the main road just beyond Taiji mine. From here a local bus sped back to the ‘old town’ area, where half a dozen long distance buses were dotted round – there is no bus station. This was close to the washery, where 1004 was shunting.

21 April. Took the same route to the mine railway and climbed the disused coal tip here and waited for a train to pass on the line below. There was steam from a loco shunting near the loco stabling point and from two at the washery. Two hours later 1550 plonked uphill with four empty spoil wagon flats. Followed it to the washery where 1004 and 1451 were also in attendance. There was nothing in the CNR yard. Continued along the line to Sanbo mine, where there were two loaded and four empty wagons, plus one loaded and two empty flat spoil wagons under the screens, and nothing happening. The line continues beyond the mine up the side of a hill to some spoil tips about a kilometre away, not shown on Bernd’s map. There is no run-round, so trains must be propelled. It looks like there is one a day.

Back at the mine, the screens were in action and at 15.20 SY 1004 arrived light engine to take away the six loaded trucks. I walked back to the washery, but there were no further trains in my direction.

22 April. Headed along the line to the mine at Sijing. There is a disused coal tip near the end of the line and on this sunny day it provided an excellent place to sit and wait, and wait. I could see a train from Taiji mine to the washery at 11.30, but nothing else until a SY plus 4 empties appeared at 16.00. It left those wagons at Sijing, picked up 4 full ones and headed back almost immediately. My photo position turned out to be only so-so as the loco was just shuffling along in both directions. A nearby hill would have been a better spot, except that blasting in a quarry on the other side threw up stones. They landed on the grass where I might have been. A bus on the nearby main road returned me to Beipiao, arriving before the SY. The last infrequent No. 5 bus to Beipiao Nan is at 16.20, so a taxi for the 17.41 train to Fuxin, arrive 20.00.

16.        FUXIN 22 to 24 APRIL 2009.

22 April. At Fuxin I decided against the hotel opposite the station (and sounds of loco horns) and instead took a taxi to the Guo Tai, used previously. Closed. A local pointed out the Zhong Nan Hotel, a few metres away. Feeling pleased at getting a good twin room for 130 yn, I went off for a meal, returning at 22.00. The two hotel staff and two ‘security guards’ greeted me, insisting I could not stay, but not why! There was then a long heated discussion between them and other guests in the corridor outside my room. Eventually an English speaker appeared and said the hotel did not take foreigners. They would send me by taxi to the Caesar Hotel. When I got there the Caesar would not take me either, pointing towards the Ying Tong International. They offered their only remaining room at a discount to 800 yn. No thanks. The staff wrote the name of the Zhong Lin International Hotel, another taxi ride away, where a twin room at 258 yn was reluctantly reduced to 220. Hmm, quite a run-round. The hotel was good, and only about 1.5 km from the CNR station, but not near a shop or restaurant.

23 April. At Wulong at 08.30 to see SYs 0770 and 0988 standing in steam and 4 more locos on trains in the yard to my left. These included 0941 and 1818. The other two set off on trains to the north-east before I got to them. Also here was diesel loco 5D 0067.

In the past steam had been seen on a line across the far side of the big pit (not, as far as I know, shown on maps), and I set off to find it. Initially this was along the remaining a single track into the big pit, which still has some use, possible for track recovery. The reversing point to the north-east had electric locos 6599 and 8424. Bits of the former overhead remain, without the copper current wires. From here a footpath led up to some small mines above the pit and to the once-electrified line that runs around the east of the pit to the mine. I had wondered if this line continues to join the spoil lines above Lijing mine, but it is dead-end. I saw an electric NG line in the mine on the wrong side of a strict security person. At 13.10 SY 1319 arrived tender first with 8 empties and swapped them for 15 loaded wagons before drifting back downhill. Along this line, as elsewhere around Fuxin, there are remains of demolished hutongs. I followed the line to where it meets the ‘main line’ near Xiudaokou station.

In the per way depot alongside the ‘main line’ west of here were dumped SYs 0911 and 1395. Later I discovered the disadvantage of going by tender numbers. A short distance further towards Wulong, close to Taiping station, is a new two-building museum of coal mining in Fuxin, opening in May. Outside are plinthed SY 1395 (if this is correct, then it cannot be 1395 in the per way yard) and electric loco No. 28. One building had a mock-up mine and the other mostly photo displays.

On to the stabling point SY 1359 was in steam, plus long dumped SY 0541 and YJ 403. Behind, the electric depot has some 20 dumped locomotives.

Working in the nearby yard were 0941, 0989, 1210 and 1319. I went to the ‘other’ stabling point where at 17.00 locos seemed to be gathering for a shift changeover. In steam were 0770, 1195, 1320 and 1396, being joined by 1319. Dead in the small shed was 0988 (seen in steam in the morning).

Fuxin seems to have moved its dumped locos around. In the carriage sidings adjacent to the stabling point were JF 508 and SYs 0036, 0127, 0340 (or 0380 or 0540), 0391, 0570 (or 0576) and 0770. I had seen 0770 in steam earlier in the day, but did not realise this contradiction until later. This does not account for all the dumped locos seen previously – have some finally been cut up?

The afternoon passenger train, 17.52 at Wulong, had diesel loco 5D 0066.

24 April. Unable to gain access to the works before walking to the spoil tips above Lijing mine. Trains are propelled. Lijing had remains of electric wiring. Locos seen at work were 0941, 1195 and 1210. To the station for the 13.08 to Jinzhou. I do not know where the shed is for the diesels, but it seemed that only two were in use on both days.

17.        QINHUANGDAO      26 April 2009.

Reports have mentioned SYs on a line into the hills. A town map indicated that this starts from a junction with the CNR line into the docks and then crosses that CNR line to run north-west through the outskirts of the town. I accessed this line and followed it to the CNR interchange sidings. A few piles of raked-out ash showed that steam had been here in the past few months. But there was a very new looking DF 10D 0198, dated 2008 and labelled QRMO. I did not see a loco shed. It may be steam has now finished.

18.        BEIJING HOTEL   26 April 2009.

Stayed at the Jian Yuan hotel in Xidan, 200 yn for a single room. Demolition along the main road near the metro station means the China Post building, mentioned previously as a reference point, has gone. For the hotel, take the south-east exit from Xidan station, go ahead and take the un-named third turning on the right. This is directly opposite the square clock tower on the other side of the main road. On the corner, partly hidden, is a pedestrian subway to Aviation Building, for airport buses from 05.30 to 21.00. At the end of this short road, turn left. The hotel is a few buildings along on the left, but is set back, so you only see it when you get there. At the end of this road are 4 OK - looking restaurants.

19.        FINAL BITS AND PIECES.

* Mudanjiang still has a QJ in shed yard, seen on right of train arriving from Harbin.
* Changchun still has a SY in shed yard, on right side, south of station when travelling towards Shenyang.
* Lanzhou still has an OOU SY in works on north side of line about 15 km towards Xian. There are 2 DL.
* Trolleybus routes near Harbin and Shenyang stations have closed and wires are removed.
* Trolleybus routes remain at Hangzhou (to the left when leaving station) and Jinan (go straight ahead from station to the route on a main road about 600 m away).
* Shenyang station has a useful 24 hour Wang Ba in the north-western part of the main building.

David Thomas

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© 2009 David Thomas