The International Steam Pages
Steam in Northern China, April 2002
Peter Patt led an Intra-Express tour in April 2002. Here are the main points....
Is it the most active CNR steam depot now? We spotted 9 different QJ/JS engines in action - where rlse can you still experience hard working QJs with a CNR depot code?
In addition we noticed at least 3 JS locos ahead of track-maintenance trains between Wuhai Xi and Xishanzui - but were not able to catch the engine numbers... Unfortunately the line between Wuhai Xi and Jilantai will be either closed or dieselized in June (ask 3 different people and you will get 4 different answers!). But as everybody quoted "June" as the month of action, it might be true that something happens then.
The Wuhai Xi roster shows the following engines allocated to the depot: QJ 6829 / 6909 / 7056 / 7065 / 7066 plus JS 8011 / 8012 / 8014 / 8264 / 8265 / 8266. We saw all but QJ 6909 and JS 8011. The local shunting as well as the service of the coal mines around Wuhai Xi is still under JS control while up to 4 QJ hauled trains per day run to Jilantai. The official freight timings from Wuhai Xi are: train 47091 19.20, 47093 01.20, 47095 09.20, 47097 16.30 - but in reality only 47095 runs more or less on time (it departed from 5 minutes to 3 hours late during a 3 day period).
We were lucky to see such a high number of trains during our visit only because the line had been closed for several days due to very heavy sandstorms prior to our arrival which covered the track under 40 cms of sand, thus all freight tracks in Wuhai Xi and Jilantai were full and had to be cleared as quickly as possible! Under normal circumstances the number of trains would have been lower, though.
The steelwork is still a steamy place (and still has very unfriendly police) but no YJ
could be found in service. We noted the following engines:
2 QJs still shunt at Wanshuiquan (in our case QJ 6567 and 6573), 2 engines do the job at Dongsheng (QJ 6308 and 6171). Coal trains are normally DF4 hauled - with the odd QJ interfering from day to day - we were lucky to watch QJ 7053 departing with a northbound train from Dongsheng and, thanks to the new highway/motorway, we got it again at Singing Sands. Otherwise: if you like shiny new diesels in various colour schemes - Bao-Shen is your place to go!
And sometimes you may find strange trains like the local passenger from Baotou to Shenmu which runs as a pull/push operation right now: the DMU NY1-4012A is being powered by a DF4 locomotive.
The repairshop is just a shadow of its former glory: only SY 1251 and 1399 plus JiTong's QJ 6632 (ready for steam test) were found. Not to forget the lonely Northern survivor GJ 1018 of course... The locomotives of the scrapyard, formerly known as a museum, have been removed from their original place and are now scattered all over the entire area between the museum and the repair shop.