The International Steam Pages

Steam in China, November 2002

Roy Bowden issued a brief summary of his visit:

Beijing Railway Museum

I didn't arrive in time to take part in the full opening ceremony but I was able to film the exhibits during the lunch period - JF 304 "Mao Zedong" in particular looks magnificent.


Absolutely excellent. Although QJ, JS, and SY are all very much in evidence, the JS dominates open line working. All staff on the local railway were very friendly, access was freely given to the loco depot etc. These locos are very well maintained and dieselisation does not look to be imminent. The west end of the yard at Zhongku is superb from about 09:00 to 11:30 in particular - interestingly more than 50% of the traffic seems to take the "industrial spurs" to the west of Zhongku and doesn't traverse the line through Zhongxin to Baofeng. A word of caution - China Rail staff at Baofeng were extremely uncomfortable at me filming activities around the freight yard. No problem at all with any staff from the local railway.

Luohe - Zhoukou - Jieshou - Fuyang Xi

I explored the west end of the system from Luohe to Jieshou. The manager says that Zhoukou has only 5 QJs remaining. These locos are in very poor condition indeed, and the line is expected to be fully dieselised during 2003. It already has diesels of types BJ, DFH3, and DF4. Of Zhoukou's 5 QJs, I found 6901 and 7161 in light steam at Zhoukou depot, 7011 shunting at Zhoukou station, and 6548 working a transfer freight from Luohe yard. There may well be a few additional QJs still operating from Fuyang Xi depot. Passenger train 6071 was diesel hauled from Luohe (DFH3 0065) and worked all the way to Fuyang with no change to steam at Jieshou.

Shijazhuang Local Railway

The loco depot is now firmly off limits to foreigners, and apparently those who have previously granted permission for visits have been "punished". It is still possible to visit the open line sections as far as the security perimeter at Xibaipo Power Station. QJs 6887 and 6794 were in service, a few were out of steam at the depot, and a further QJ was out of steam just inside the west gate at Xibaipo.

Handan Steelworks

Permission was freely granted to film inside the complex. All staff were friendly - invitation to dine in the staff canteen etc. Lots of SY activity around the loco depot area.

Matou Power Plant

Staff say there is no steam here. Transfers from Matou China Rail Station are handled by Handan based DF4Bs. Local police are very active in this area - a sign on the way into town says "Matou police with all their hearts for 24 hours" - a mission statement which is firmly adhered to: they don't leave you alone for a moment!

Tangwangshan to Pailou Local Railway

This line is now dieselised - SY 1076 is out of service at the depot, and the limited amount of work is now undertaken by an ex-China Rail DFH5.

Dashiqiao Mineral Railway

JS 8041 and 8117 are in service, JS 6214 is spare, and the remaining two are now withdrawn.

The loco depot is situated about 200 metres inside the security perimeter marked B on Louis Cerny's map. The depot staff know the train times at least 12 hours (probably more) in advance. The traffic pattern was as follows:- 07:30 light engine to Dashiqiao; 13:00 return to yard tender first with short train, (probably having also been to mine in the interim) followed by servicing at depot; 16:00 depart depot either for Dashiqiao or mine. So, not very busy when I was there.

Beitai Steel Mill

Beautifully maintained SYs in beautiful light - this location is extremely photogenic. The only frustration can be wagons obscuring steam movements around the China Rail station. The China Rail staff were, incidentally, very friendly and helpful - this location would be much more problematic if they weren't, considering the problems which some people have experienced around the steam loco depot and adjacent yard.

Gongchangling Mining Railway

Most steam activity takes place at the western end of Anping yard and station, transferring wagons to and from the yard and the adjacent iron ore mine. Caution should be exercised when photographing near the mine - security staff are very sensitive regarding the technology involved, and its very existence is to some extent politically motivated (providing jobs for former Chinese army personnel).As well as the locos previously reported, JS 8046, 8159, and 8245 are also here. China Rail yard staff are friendly and helpful.

Dengta Industrial Railway

In addition to initial reports, SYs 0822 and 0960 are in service on this system, while SYs 0429 and 0573 (also not initially reported) were out of steam at the loco depot.

I only observed one working:-Dengta depart 11:55; Huazi (north) arrive 12:45. Long rake of China Rail C61, 62 and 64 type wagons. Loco SY 0822 carried small Chinese characters on the side of its tender, whereas the locos at Huazi (south) had large Chinese characters on the rear of their tenders. Therefore it is possible that the two systems are separate, at least operationally. Having said that, Louis Cerny has reported seeing SY 0443 on both parts of the system, which would seem to indicate common ownership. The loco depots are as indicated on Louis' map. The JS is out of use, and stabled in a siding about 100 metres beyond the south depot. Trains seem to run on an as required basis.

Rob Dickinson