The International Steam Pages

Steam in Central China, December 2002

Michael Rhodes reports on his visit to Tongchuan and Pindingshan::

BA039 - delayed 2.5 hours due to air traffic control strike in Russia!

CA1205 Beijing to Xian and bus to Tongchuan, stayed Red Rose Hotel which was very comfortable.

Temperature -4 to 0 degrees
Tongchuan Nan yard had JF2365 dumped and JF2368 and 2369 in steam. They made 4 trips up to Wangshiwa colliery that day with empties, all in daylight. The weather was however grey and overcast with snow flurries. The best idea of the day was a ride up the branch as far as Qiaoziliang in the cab of DF7 No.5217 with 25 empties to Dongpo colliery. We had this forced on us when our bus slipped and slid on the freshly fallen snow on the steep climb out of Tongchuan, but it gave us an excellent opportunity to spot locations along the route - and wow what a fantastic line it is. We quite agree with John Middleton's recent report - the line is basically a Chengde steelworks branch with at least twice as many possible phot spots. The branch to Wangshiwa is just fantastic - 1.8 kilometers at 1 in 33 winding its way up to a very photogenic pit head. The town itself at Wangshiwa has a funicular railway from the pit up to the shopping area!

Temperature -8 to 6 degrees, brilliant sun
Only two trips today to Wangshiwa which is the only colliery served by steam now, but both in excellent weather conditions. JF2368 and 2369 did the honours with JF2182 returning to Tongchuan from repairs at Meijiaping (more of that later).

Temperature -8 to 6 degrees, brilliant sun
Only one trip in daylight today with JF2182 doing the honours - this is the problem when traffic is light from Wangshiwa or China Rail fail to deliver many empties to Tongchuan Nan - there may be one train only.

Meijiaping - we had been told that the Tongchuan JFs are maintained here, 50 kilometers north of Xian. Not only that, but a small fleet of 3 SY were said to serve three local collieries from Meijiaping yard. As we arrived at dawn, QJ6717 burst out of the mist with a mixed freight on the China Rail lines - China Rail steam seems to be still running here.

The depot itself contained SY0369, JF2369 and 2113 and QJ6694 all undergoing repairs. The scrap line contained:- QJ3424, 2479, 3357, 2239, 6684, 7160, 2479 and JF4027

We thought we had made a great discovery until the depot foreman asked for our cards and proudly showed us the card of a Dr.Rob Dickinson who had been there a couple of years ago! Scott and Amundsen all over again.

We then caught K762 from Xian to Luoyang, passing an SY1352 in the depot at Shanmenxiaxi and an unidentified SY in steam at the Yima opencast mine. Then a 3.5 hour bus journey to Pingdingshan and a very pleasant stay in the Shen Ma Hotel. Just as well as the weather for the rest of the trip was dire!

11/12/02 - 13/12/02
Temperature -1 to 9 degrees
There are quite a few excellent locations around the yards and branches of the Pingdingshan system but when fog reduces visibility to less than 100 yards it is very difficult to be sure quite what locations are like! The system is amazingly busy and the yard at Zhongku is a great spot - if only there hadn't been fog!

During our stay we saw:-
QJ7186, 2035, 6813, 6786, 6650, 6690, 6450
JS8062, 8065, 8054, 6225, 8120, 8031, 8062, 8030, 6253, 8068, 6252(scrapped), 8338, 8122, 6292, 8057, 5644, 6253, 6429
SY1002, 1010 and 1209 (both scrapped)

The journey to arrive home just after midnight on 15th December was more like John Cleese in Clockwise than anything else - suffice it to say thick fog closes airports and motorways and the PRA can commandeer all trains!

Rob Dickinson