The International Steam Pages


Steam in China - December 27th 2000 - January 14th 2001

Report by Mike Tyack

Detailed below are the sightings/inconveniences/disasters encountered by my group of 10. The tour consisted of the standard itinerary of Baotou & the Ji-tong line. Flights were with Frog-Flap via Paris - in each direction a Boeing 777 to Beijing. No real nightmares in-flight, but, when you are used to the standard of service of British Airways, Air France comes a distant second. The meals were average in both directions, no sign of the liqueurs despite being advertised in the in-flight meal guide and on the return run there was no orange-juice to be had at all - a fairly essential aspect of in-flight catering!

Ground arrangements were handled with the usual efficiency by Sun Xiaolan of CLSLPA in Shenyang. Despite still recovering from 5 broken ribs, a broken leg & collarbone resulting from an accident in July whilst en route to check out the Shenchi-Shuozhou line (had we all known then what we know now, we could have prevented months of pain & distress!), Xiaolan handled the occasional quirky demands of the group (where's the hot water? / my loo doesn't work / when is the weather going to improve?) with her normal good humour.

Beijing-Baotou

Travelled on Train 177, 15.56 from Beijingxi. 8 of us in soft Sleeper, 2 in Hard Sleeper. The brand-new carriages made the hard sleeper seem like absolute luxury, not something that anyone would ever have dared to say in the '90's! On time arrival at Baotoudong at 04.30, in preparation for the 'avoid the lorry & pot-hole' journey to Dongsheng. Do the drivers of the coal-trucks ever sleep?

DONGSHENG - December 29th-31st, 2000

Another one to add to the rumour-mill, depending on who you are prepared to believe! Station staff at Aobaogou claim that traffic will double during 2001 with trains at 45-minute intervals. Yes, well!

December 29th

A cloudy start to the day to the south of Dongsheng. No wind. Sunrise 0805. By mid-morning the cloud began to break & the rest of the day was clear. Westerly wind picked up early in the afternoon. Sunset 1720.

Booked trains at Aobaogou were:-

Northbound

10.21 - 41028
15.03 - 31036
15.43 - 7416 (passenger)
17.24 - 45142

Southbound

10.42 - 7415 (passenger)
12.53 - 45135
13.48 - 51137

Actual observations as follows:-

09.15

QJ + 6195 + QJ banker

 

NB

Coal

Bridge 4

09.40

6193

 

SB

Empties

Bridge 4

10.50

6018

7415

SB

Passenger

Bridge 3

11.25

6711 + 6247 + 6171 banker

41028

NB

Coal

Bridge 1

12.40

QJ x 2

45135

SB

Empties

Bridge 2

13.40

6178 + 2977

51137

SB

Light

Bridge 2

14.15

6348 + 6193 + 6178 banker

31036

NB

Coal

Bridge 4

14.40

6346

 

SB

Light

Bridge 2

15.25

6178

 

SB

Light

Bridge 4

15.45

2936

7416

NB

Passenger

Bridge 1

16.05

6171

 

SB

Light

Bridge 1

17.20

QJ

 

SB

Empties

Bridge 1

17.25

QJ x 2 + QJ banker

45142

NB

Coal

Bridge 1

Train 41028 was held to give the S/bound passenger priority - the same pattern was repeated the following day.

December 30th

Another day of excellent traffic levels. Clear & cold. A severe frost overnight gave the impression of a snow-fall! Sunrise 0805. Still in the early morning with a light N/Easterly wind developing towards midday. -10C. Sunset 17.25.

Booked timings of Northbound trains at Aobaogou were as follows;-

07.08 - 45122
09.16 - ?
10.21 - 41028
14.03 - 45134
15.03 - 45136
15.42 - 7416 (pass)
17.24 - 45140

Actual observations were as follows:-

08.25

QJ x 2 + QJ banker

45122

NB

Coal

Bridge 3

08.35

QJ + 1969 at rear

 

SB

Empties

Bridge 3

09.40

6348 + 6088 + 1969 banker

 

NB

Coal

Bridge 3

09.45

2938 + QJ

 

SB

Empties

Bridge 3

10.15

6171

 

SB

Light

Bridge 3

10.48

QJ

7415

SB

Passenger

Bridge 3

11.35

6247

 

SB

Light

Bridge 1

11.55

6287 + 6573 + 6171 banker

41028

NB

Coal

Bridge 1

12.45

1969

 

SB

Light

Bridge 1

13.35

QJ x 2

 

SB

Light

Bridge 1

14.20

2938 + 6784 + 1969 banker

45134

NB

Coal

Bridge 1

15.35

6194

7416

NB

Passenger

Bridge 4

15.50

QJ

 

SB

Empties

Bridge 4

16.20

6346 + 6171 banker

45136

NB

General Freight

Bridge 4

16.35

6287

 

SB

Light

Bridge 4

17.10

QJ x 2

 

SB

Empties

Bridge 4

17.50

6247 + 6088 + QJ banker

45140

NB

Coal

Bridge 3

December 31st

A bright start. However high cloud drifted down from the north by mid-morning & the afternoon at Singing Sands was a wipe-out. After the passage of the passenger, we gave up & headed for Baotou with the intention of taking an earlier train from Baotoudong to Hohhot - T274 at 19.07. Back to reality in hard-seat!

Booked Northbound workings for the day at Aobaogou were as follows:-

07.08 / 09.16 / 11.35 / 14.03 / 15.43 (pass) / 17.24

Actual observations as follows:-

08.05

QJ x 2 + QJ banker

 

NB

Coal

Bridge 3

08.20

6247

 

SB

Light

Bridge 3

08.50

6863 + 6194 + 6247 banker

 

NB

Coal

Bridge 4

12.55

QJ

NB

Coal

Singing Sands

13.40

6193

 

SB

Empties

Singing Sands

14.20

QJ

 

NB

Coal

Singing Sands

15.30

6711

K994

NB

Passenger

Singing Sands

January 1st, 2001

Happy New Year & a great start, when the planned daylight journey on the Hanlu to Daban was cut short by a change to the working timetable as of 1/1/2001!

During 2001, the railcar will operate on EVEN days from Hohhot EVERY month, as the system used during 2000 had proved too confusing & there had been a large volume of complaints from intending passengers that they could not work out the days of operation. Needless to say, it was impossible to elicit information of this change before January 1, so a swift change of plan was called for. Our intended leisurely start at 08.47 turned into an early morning hard-seat journey on T1456 to Jiningnan at 07.12. The delights of travel in China!

QJ7058 wandering around at Baita near Hohhot. What was that doing there?

The prospect of 5 hours in the wind-swept misery that is Jiningnan was avoided by a long lunch starting at 10.45 until such time as we opted for the safety of a hotel room rather than gate-crash the wedding party that was about to start in the hotel restaurant.

Eventually it was time for the overnight train (or so we thought!) to Daban, &, as inveterate Jiningnan visitors, we made sure that no-one was in need of a visit to the world-famous station 'loo'. QJ 6304 took over T6051/4 at Benhong & we settled down for the journey.

January 2nd 2001

Haolouku at 0400 & we waited & waited! It had snowed & the snow had drifted. Men with shovels were despatched to clear the cuttings & tunnels. Finally we got to Jingpeng at 08.10 (3.5 hours late) with a frost-encrusted QJ7040 in charge, overtaking QJ6389 & friend waiting with an east-bound freight. As we sat at Jingpeng, what should appear but the previous day's railcar from Daban, due at 20.37 the night before!! The journey onwards to Daban saw a west-bound train in virtually every passing loop, & an eventual 5.5 hour late arrival at 13.30. Travelled by bus from Daban to Lindong - 2 hours.

08.10

Jingpeng

Eastbound freight

6389 + QJ

 

08.30

Xiakengzi

Westbound coal

QJ x 2

 

09.05

Shangdian

Westbound coal

6135/7009

 

09.55

Liudigou

Westbound Passenger (!)

7007

 

11.15

Galadesitai

Westbound freight

7112/6630

 

11.45

Yuzhoudi

Westbound coal

QJ x 2

 

12.05

Linxi

Westbound freight

6925/6517

 

12.30

???

Westbound coal

QJ + 7012

 

12.55

???

Westbound coal

6905 + QJ

 

13.30

Daban

Westbound freight

6274/6992

 

LINDONG - January 3-5, 2001

It seems that all of the supershine QJ's (6301/6630/6911) at Daban are working the section east to Chabuga. Yamenmiao to Lindong is a stiff west-bound climb for about 15km. Locos take water at Lindong before continuing east/west, so most trains stop here for a minimum of 10/15 minutes. All trains are single-headed. Chabuga to Lindong is approx. 2 hours, Daban to Lindong 3 hours for the standard freight.

January 3rd

A day of unremitting gloom & wind. Horrible. By mid-morning, I gave up the fight against the 'hack' & returned to the hotel. A good decision.

Booked trains were:-

Ex Chabuga

06.00 - 44132 08.35 - 22820 10.30 - 44134 12.05 - 51062 14.00 - 51064

16.48 (at Lindong) - 6052 (passenger) 16.20 - 22822

Ex Daban

06.10 - 44175 08.00 - 44135 11.05 - 22847 12.20 - 22849 13.40 - 44129 16.00 - 44143

17.40 - 22811

Actual observations as follows:-

07.40

6884

44132

Eastbound Freight

Lindong Station

07.40

QJ

 

Westbound Freight

Lindong Station

08.25

QJ

44175

Westbound Freight

Yamenmiao

09.50

6580

22820

Eastbound Freight

Km 698

10.25

6125

44135

Westbound Freight

Km 698

12.30

6301

44134

Eastbound Freight

Yamenmiao

13.15

6884

22847

Westbound Freight

Yamenmiao

14.10

6577

51062

Eastbound Light

Yamenmiao

15.15

QJ

22849

Westbound Freight

Lindong

16.00

6981

44129

Westbound Freight

Km 699

January 4th

A clear & still day - whoopee!! High cloud appeared mid-morning, but soon melted away. -24C rising to -17C during the day. The west-bound Daban passenger (6058) was running seriously late - & after obtaining details of the day's workings at 07.30, it dropped another hour against its booked arrival at Lindong! Sunrise - 07.40 at Yamenmiao. Sunset - approx 16.30.

Booked service as follows:-

Ex Chabuga

05.35 - 44152 08.00 - 22832 09.30 (at Lindong) - 6058 (passenger) 10.10 - 22834 13.20 - 22836

16.48 (at Lindong) - 6052 (passenger) 16.00 - 44134 17.40 - 22838

Ex Daban

07.05 - 44147 10.30 (at Lindong) - 6051 (passenger) 09.40 - 22835 12.45 - 44151 14.50 - 22839

16.10 - 44161 16.55 - 44149 17.40 - 44155

07.30

QJ

44152

Westbound Coal

Km 696

08.35

6580

 

Eastbound Coal

Km 700

09.50

6884

22832

Westbound Coal

Km 700

10.30

6631

6058

Passenger

Km 700

11.05

7002

6051

Passenger

Km 701

12.25

6577

22834

Westbound Freight

Km 698

12.50

6301

44147

Eastbound Freight

Km 698

14.50

6981

22835

Eastbound Freight

Km 695

15.15

QJ

22836

Westbound Freight

Km 696

15.50

7040

44151

Eastbound Freight

Km 696

16.40

6911

6052

Passenger

Km 696

January 5th

Clear sky & little wind! Similar temperatures to the previous day. A day which looked good, according to the timetable, but one on which trains just didn't appear within the expected time-scale! By 3.30pm, the first signs of an incoming front from the west were visible. The day was over anyway, so we headed for Reshui! 4 hours by bus - thank goodness it had a heater!

Booked workings:-

Ex Chabuga

06.15 - 44122 07.20 - 22820 11.30 - 22830 12.30 - 22832 13.50 - 44123

16.48 (at Lindong) - 6052 (passenger)

Ex Daban

07.10 - 44125 10.30 (at Lindong) - 6051 (passenger) 11.00 - 22821 12.35 - 44125 14.35 - 44137

15.20 - 44143 16.10 - 22835 17.30 - 44126

Actual observations:-

07.30

QJ

 

Eastbound Freight

Yamenmiao

09.00

6577

44122

Westbound Freight

Km 699

10.35

6911

6051

Passenger

Km 696

11.50

6580

22820

Westbound Freight

Km 697

13.20

6981

44125

Eastbound Freight

Km 698

15.10

QJ

22830

Westbound Freight

Km 696

JINGPENG - January 6-13

Nothing changes - it's still the greatest remaining show on earth! Excellent traffic levels, when the trains turned up!

The 01.05 from Haolouku & the 00.55 from Daban were regular late-runners, but never appearing just on sunrise! The late January Chinese New Year undoubtedly kept the traffic moving in the early part of the month. And there appeared to be very little over-night traffic.

Substantial snow-falls occured between Christmas & New Year (rumour has it that no trains ran on January 1), but the fronts which produced this snow continued to bounce backwards & forwards. Unlike previous visits the Siberian 'high' was not in charge of the weather patterns at Reshui this year!

And the latest in the money-grabbing world - pick the wrong station-staff at Galadesitai & its 10 Wangs for the day's timings! Which is, I suppose, better than the attitude of the staff at Shangdian, who showed both us & a group of Japanese the door, when we asked which train had just passed through!

Which brings me to 2 pleas:-

  1. To all Japanese visitors to the Ji-tong line - do you have to stand right on the top of every ridge & hill, thus ruining many other photographers' shots?

  2. To those participants of Steam & Safaris & other groups, who cab ride a QJ, do you have to hang out of the window in gaudy un-Chinese coloured dress? Do you not have eyes?

I await the first case of assault & battery on a fellow photographer at Jingpeng & predict that it will not be long in happening! If it can happen at Dongsheng, it can surely happen at Jingpeng. Will this happen during the February 'Plandampf', or will anyone turn up? Surely, this ranks as the 'Greatest Joke on Earth'?

Only 2 QJ's were in anything approaching clean condition - 6389 & 6760 - & even that is stretching the definition of the word 'clean'. QJ7009 is barely identifiable!

January 6th

Weak sun all day through unbroken cloud. Very little wind. Not cold by January standards. Late afternoon it began to snow. Substantial previous snowfalls had made the roads very difficult - is there no such thing as a 'dozer' in China? And we all thought that Britain was unprepared!

Booked workings were:-

Ex Haolouku

01.05 - 44155 07.00 - 22847 08.20 - 22849 09.20 - 44157 10.35 - 44121 12.35 - 22821 13.30 - 22823

16.35 - 22805

Ex Daban

04.00 - 22824 06.25 - 22820 09.15 - 44126 10.50 - 51042 12.10 - 51044 13.40 - 44102 16.15 - 51046

17.15 - 22820

Actual observations:

07.50

QJ x 2

44155

Eastbound Freight

Reshui Bridge

09.35

QJ x 2

22824

Westbound Freight

Reshui Bridge

10.35

6925 + 6905

22847

Eastbound Freight

Tunnel 7

11.20

6878 + QJ

22820

Westbound Freight

Tunnel 7

12.20

QJ x 2

22849

Eastbound Freight

Level 3

12.40

QJ x 2

44126

Westbound Freight

Level 3

13.25

QJ x 2

44157

Eastbound Freight

Liudigou

14.10

QJ x 2

44121

Eastbound Freight

Shangdian

15.00

QJ x 2

51042

Westbound Light

Tunnel 2

15.40

QJ x 2

51044

Westbound + 10 wagons

Tunnel 2

16.35

QJ x 2

22821

Eastbound Freight

Tunnel 2

January 7th

Misty, murky start. Appalling visibility all day - there was none! Little wind. Reshui-Shangdian was WHITE!!! Brightened up late morning & clapped out completely mid-afternoon. Warm at -5C. The best part of the day was the sunset & a corking silhouette of 22826.

Booked workings were:-

Ex Haolouku

06.30 - 22825 08.35 - 44121 11.30 - 22827 14.00 - 22829 15.30 - 22831 17.30 - 22833

17.50 - 44139

Ex Daban

00.20 - 22824 04.00 - 44132 05.00 - 44134 08.05 - 44136 10.00 - 44138 12.00 - 22826 13.40 - 44140 16.05 - 44102

Actual observations were:-

10.00

QJ x 2

44132

Westbound Freight

Tunnel 7

10.50

7040 + 6389

44134

Westbound Freight

Level 3

11.05

6905 + 6925

22825

Eastbound Freight

Level 3

12.05

QJ + 6876

44136

Westbound Freight

Level 3

12.20

6992 + 6274

44121

Eastbound Freight

Level 3

13.05

QJ x 2

44138

Westbound Freight

Liudigou

14.05

7114 + 7052

22827

Eastbound Freight

Level 2

15.45

QJ x 2

22829

Eastbound Freight

Reshui Bridge

15.55

QJ

22826

Westbound Freight

Reshui Bridge

January 8th

Misty, dull. Weak sun all day. Variable westerly wind. Clearance to the north in the afternoon, but did not push far enough south to be of any benefit! Daban operations bore no resemblance to booked workings by the afternoon! By the end of the day the cry was - 'bring back the wind!'

Booked workings were:-

Ex Haolouku

01.05 - 44133 04.00 - 22835 07.15 - 22827 08.35 - 44135 13.00 - 22839 14.20 - 44127 16.00 - 22807

17.50 - 44139

Ex Daban

00.55 - 44144 08.05 - 44146 09.05 - 44120 13.00 - 22820 14.40 - 22824 16.00 - 22826

Actual operations:-

09.00

QJ x 2

44144

Westbound Freight

Shangdian

10.50

QJ x 2

44146

Westbound Freight

Xiakengzi

11.05

QJ x 2

22827

Eastbound Freight

Xiakengzi

13.00

QJ x 2

44135

Eastbound Freight

Xiakengzi

14.00

QJ

44120

Westbound Freight

Xiakengzi

15.20

QJ x 2

22839

Eastbound Freight

Xiaoyingzi

15.30

QJ

22820

Westbound Freight

Shangdian

16.10

QJ

22824

Westbound Freight

Xiakengzi

January 9th

The cry was answered! Dawned clear with a brisk south-westerly wind. -20C. Spirits rose! Cloud bank moved back in late afternoon. Spirits dropped! Does anyone know what a 56xxx series means?

Booked workings were:-

Ex Haolouku

07.30 - 22847 08.40 - 44129 10.00 - 22845 11.40 - 44121 12.30 - 22823 14.40 - 22825 17.40 - 22827

Ex Daban

06.40 - 22832 09.15 - 51042 10.10 - 56002 12.40 - 44102 15.05 - 51044 16.30 - 44130

Actual movements as follows:-

08.10

7114 + 7052

00.50 ex Daban

Westbound Freight

Shangdian

10.20

QJ x 2

22847

Eastbound Freight

Xiakengzi

11.30

6630 + 7040

22832

Westbound Freight

P/way straight

12.50

6876 + 6389

44129

Eastbound Freight

Side Valley

13.40

QJ x 2

51042

Light to west

Xiakengzi

14.05

6905 + 6925

22845

Eastbound Freight

Side Valley

15.00

QJ x 2

44121

Eastbound Freight

Tunnel 4

15.45

QJ x 2

22823

Eastbound Freight

Xiaoyingzi

16.20

QJ x 2

51044

Light to west

Shangdian

January 10th

Clear Start . -25C. Brisk S/W to W wind. Cloud increased mid-morning, as did wind. Snow whipped up from ground into a haze layer. Weak Sun. Remarkably, it cleared completely mid-afternoon.

Booked workings were:-

Ex Haolouku

01.05 - 44147 06.10 - 44129 07.00 - 22831 09.00 - 22833 10.35 - 44121 12.00 - 22841 13.00 - 22845 16.05 - 22843 17.30 - 22847

Ex Daban

06.55 - 22830 08.05 - 51052 09.00 - 22840 10.50 - 22842 13.05 - 44126 16.00 - 22826

Actual workings were:-

07.55

6735 + 6638

00.50 ex Daban?

Westbound Freight

Shangdian

08.10

QJ x 2

44147

Eastbound Freight

Xiaoyingzi

09.20

7009 + 6639

44129

Eastbound Freight

Honggong

10.30

7052 + 7114

51052

Westbound+ 7 vans

P/way straight

11.50

6351 + 6905

22831

Eastbound Freight

Side Valley

12.55

7112 + 6517

22833

Eastbound Freight

Dayingzi

13.30

QJ x 2

22830

Westbound Freight

Dayingzi

14.10

6356 + 6274

44121

Eastbound Freight

Tunnel 3

14.40

6630 + 6760

22840

Westbound Freight

Tunnel 3

15.25

6992 + 6828

22841

Eastbound Freight

Tunnel 3

15.45

6763 + QJ

22842

Westbound Freight

Tunnel 3

17.05

QJ x 2

44126

Westbound Freight

Shangdian

January 11th

Clear. Cold. -30C + wind chill = app -40C!

Booked workings were:-

Ex Haolouku

06.10 - 44137 07.00 - 44139 09.05 - 44141 10.10 - 22855 11.30 - 44145 15.20 - 22817 16.35 - 44127 17.20 - 44129

Ex Daban

04.00 - 22822 07.00 - 51046 08.05 - 22824 09.05 - 22826 12.35 - 22828 14.05 - 51048 15.25 - 51050

Actual workings were:-

09.05

6639 + 7009

44137

Eastbound Freight

Xiakengzi

10.20

6905 + 6351

44139

Eastbound Freight

Xiakengzi

11.40

QJ x 2

22822

Westbound Freight

Honggong

12.10

6517 + 7112

44141

Eastbound Freight

Honggong

13.30

QJ x 2 + QJ at rear

22824

Westbound Freight

P/Way Straight

14.30

6274 + 6356

22855

Eastbound Freight

Dayingzi

15.05

QJ x 2

51046

Light + 5 wagons

Xiakengzi

15.35

QJ x 2

22826

Westbound Freight

Xiakengzi

16.05

QJ x 2

44145

Eastbound Freight

Dayingzi

17.05

QJ x 2

22828

Westbound Freight

Liudigou

January 12th

A still day! -25C. Cloud bands around at the start of the day, but cleared late morning.

Booked workings were:-

Ex Haolouku

06.40 - 22865 08.35 - 44153 09.30 - 44121 11.35 - 44127 13.35 - 44125 15.45 - 22831

Ex Daban

06.10 - 22834 08.05 - 22836 09.00 - 22838 10.20 - 44128 11.50 - 44130 14.55 - 22840

Actual workings were:-

09.40

7143 + 6639

22865

Eastbound Freight

Tunnel 4

11.10

6638 + 6135

22834

Westbound Freight

P/Way Straight

12.20

6389 + 6992

22836

Westbound Freight

P/Way Straight

12.50

7009

44153

Eastbound Freight

Side Valley

14.50

QJ x 2

22838

Westbound Freight

Tunnel 3

16.05

6351 + 6763

44121

Eastbound Freight

Xiaoyingzi

16.05

QJ x 2

44128

Westbound Freight

Shangdian

17.00

QJ x 2

44127

Eastbound Freight

Xingxiao

17.25

QJ x 2

44130

Westbound Freight

Shangdian

January 13th

The last part-day. Still start. Clear. Wind picked up & changed direction as the first eastbound approached - wipe-out at Tunnel 4, we could not even see the locos! We might as well have not bothered & headed to Chifeng after breakfast!

Booked workings were:-

Ex Haolouku

06.10 - 22831 08.05 - 44131 09.15 - 44133 10.30 - 22833 11.45 - 44121 17.30 - 22815

Ex Daban

06.55 - 22846 08.05 - 44132 09.15 - 44134 11.00 - 44136 12.30 - 22828

Actual workings were:-

10.00

QJ x 2

22831

Eastbound Freight

Tunnel 4

11.00

7143 + 6638

44131

Eastbound Freight

Tunnel 2

11.55

QJ x 2

22846

Westbound Freight

Summit Tunnel

Chifeng-Beijing

Train 2560 to Beijing, despite being in the timetable at 19.15 from Chifeng, actually departs at 20.20 & arrives in BeijingNAN at 06.43. Once BeijingBEI is re-built (& not before time!), which is due to be completed in June, T2560 is due to revert to its original schedule - we'll see!

Thus endeth the saga! Mike Tyack.


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk