The International Steam Pages

Steam in Northern China, April 2001

This is Leslie McAllister's initial report from an April 2001 visit:

Da'an Bei. Wonderful place, steam on every line out of here! NOT just the Ranghulu line, but also a high percentage on the line to Taipingchuan and even towards Changchun. The Baicheng line may only see the "Tourist Train" with steam.

A trip on the three coach local to Taipingchuan will allow photos of freights as you cross them - very worthwhile I thought.

The "Tourist Train" runs throughout with steam from Baicheng to Qianguo (the quail name, not correct, I think?) and is a mixed - coaches plus wagons, even tankers! The 'best hotel' approach at Qianguo saw us in a Y165 place, whose restaurant closed at 7.30pm, before the train arrives, but there's a fast food noodle house round the corner which is fine, good dumplings!

The word, however, was that it will end in August, this, I think elicited from station people, rather than ops people. Quite possible, as much runs with DF4s.

JiTong was excellent, with different engines being used on the passengers from day to day, NOT the usual passenger engines. Maybe they've discovered intensive working! I will have some info to add to the"JiTong" guide in my full report, including the names of all the halts, which aren't recorded there. Night-time timing of the passenger up from Lindong to the summit was a worthwhile experience, possible from an open window in the first coach. Good sounds and satisfactory speed - a steady-ish 30mph, full log to follow. Unfortunately, I failed to time the Eastbound climb, as I didn't wake up! We had fallen to 18mph at Jingpeng, after the two tunnels.

So to Baotou, for a day. No sign of steam on circular (checked three trains) and the Shiguai branch had a DF5 on it, morning and evening. It was a national holiday period, which might have effected it. from station staff comment, there may still be a little steam?

Shenmu line remains 100% steam and is just terrific! Rode the local out to Aobaogu, then the Tourist back to Dong and HoHot (to return to Beijing). Both trains were packed solid even in soft seats! Tourist loads to 15 coaches, so is not just the last steam-hauled express in the World, but also a civilized train of nearly 600 tons.

A great trip. My thanks to your reporters who persuaded me there was still enough steam-hauled passenger trains for a travelling holiday.

I travelled behind 18 different QJs in the course of 3,600 kms of steam travel. Maximum speed was 51mph (81kph for the non-imperial!), downhill of course, on the Tourist Train from Dongsheng.

I can't wait to get back, especially if the Da'an reports are wrong! JiTong and Shenmu look OK for 2 years at least, so says the gossip. However, I saw two DF4Ds on freight on Ji Tong and there is that railcar from Hohot to Daban.

Weather was warm, but with cool mornings and evenings. Cold at night. Why get frozen in Winter?

Rob Dickinson