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Steam in China - March, April 2010

by Rick Coles

Zoucheng, Shibanxi, Sandaoling

Just back from a private trip with Mike Ma and three UK mates.

Some observations :-

First sighting was on the freeway south of Jinan en route to Zoucheng. The tender of SY 1215 (tank and frame and bogies separate on the same truck) and loco frame, wheels, valve gear etc. on a second truck. Boiler and cab may have been on a third truck but we didn't see it if it was. The trucks were registered in Guangdong!

Zoucheng, 25th to 27th March - QJ 7189 and QJ 3461 in service along with a host of quite smart DF4DD diesels. On arrival about 5pm QJ 3461 was in "loco" but QJ 7189 came into Dadongzhan yard a little later with empties from the power station.

Next day both steam came out of "loco" around 10am. Seem to do all the spare jobs left over by the diesels. QJ 3461 took empties out to Baodian or Xinbglongzhan mine. QJ 7189 worked light to the workshops. It came back after lunch, worked out light to Dongtan mine and then worked a loaded train to the power station. Later in the afternoon, QJ 3461 worked loads also to the power station. Both were chimney first hauling good loads and looked splendid although Mike Ma said we were lucky to see so much steam activity in one day.
Weather was spotless too! Next day the two QJs were both being prepared for service (again expected to leave "loco" around 10am) but we had to leave before we knew what work they would do.

Shibanxi, 28th, 29th March - C2 07, C2 09 and C2 10 in service, two with different tender numbers (one No.08 which seems very odd). No coal on Sunday but two tourist specials so all three locos in use. The last regular train of the day had no tourist car for those who worry about such things. Only two steam coals on Monday, one between first and second regular Pass and one before third regular Pass. This third Pass ran back to Shibanxi as a Mixed with two small open wagons of "ballast" (I guess) behind the loco as far as Mifengyan and then at the rear of the train. As I was catching the train at Caiziba I didn't get a pic ..... damn!!!!

Sandaoling, 31st March to 2nd April - the usual frenetic activity. JS 8189 and JS 8221 on pit coal trains (Mike explained that the new blue coal loader built at the eastern end of the pit is too low for the loco unit of a JS to pass beneath, hence the change to loco-first on the pit coal trains instead of tender-first). Building a new coal loader for trains in the pit seems odd if Sandaoling is really going to abandon steam hauled coal trains from the pit in the near future.

Only three 6000 series JS seen in service (which tallies with what we were told last November that the 6000 series would be taken out of service and replaced, if necessary by 8000 series). JS 6261 was still with the Jordan spreader, JS 6436 had a work train and only JS 6224 was in service on a spoil roster (it was in works last November). JS 6204 and JS 6208 which were on China Rail work last November were in the dump on this visit.

All trains to/from China Rail had a single DF8B diesel (different loco each day with a cast of thousands in the cab - crew training presumably). These are said to be second hand but, with numbers DF8B 0247 and DF8B 0248 (the ones we saw in use the other two were "buried " in Nanzhan yard), it seems like they must be late production units from Qishuyan and its hard to see why China Rail would pass on late production units second hand.

A fair bit of JS activity to the two deep mines with JS fore and aft on one train on one day which split at No.1 mine, half loaded there and the other half propelled up to No.2 mine. Loaded trains came back to Nanzhan separately.

Two SY (1593 and 1720) on work trains in the pit, a third stabled at Nanzhan along with two JS locos in steam but we didn't see any of these three locos do anything over the three days. Presume the fourth SY was in works.

Rick Coles

Note: Rick's Images Photo Gallery site http://galleryrick.photonation.co.uk has pictures from each of the three locations visited.
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2010 Rick Coles