The International Steam Pages


Steam in China December 2002/January 2003

Ameling Algra was back in China again and reports on his independent trip:

A four week trip, covering Pingdingshan, Dahuichang, Tiefa, Benxi, Beitai, Fuxin & Jingpeng. Using a guide for two days (Beitai & Benxi), individual travel for the other destinations.

Travelling

  1. There is now a third version of the chinese timetable, smaller than the standard (5 Yuan)
  2. getting train tickets seems to be getting easier every year, even without using the form in Duncan Peatties timetable. Just a piece of paper with date, train number, dep time, class, & saying ''Baofeng'' or ''Fuxin'' did the trick.
  3. most if not all buses between Chifeng and Jingpeng now seem to go through Reshui, which makes the journey to Reshui even easier than before. From Reshui to Chifeng we went on a comfortable big bus (with video) for 45 Yuan each, in just over three hours.
  4. one thing to avoid: snoring in hard sleeper. While traveling from Chifeng to Beijing in a crowded hard sleeper (we got two upper bunks) I was woken up in the middle of the night by an agitated Chinese who started shouting at me. As I did not react, he brought in the policeman who took away my pillow and also shouted at me. I just smiled at him and went asleep again. I will never be sure but I think the commotion was about my snoring. (One day someone will take a video of Ameling snoring and play it back to him.....RD)

Hotels

Pingdingshan: Jinxiu Hotel, Yuan 148 including Chinese buffet breakfast. Good quality and service but extremely overheated. There are more hotels nearby.

Shenyang: railway hotel in Shenyang Bei station: Y 128 for an excellent double including breakfast. The (big) hotel is in the middle of the railway station. South exit number 1 to the right or number 2 to the left.

Daobingshan (Tiefa): red building at the right hand side of the railway station: Y 100. No hot water in the room but excellent bathhouse on the second floor.

Daobingshan (Tiefa): Tiemei Hotel - we were dropped off there by our taxi and spent the first night there. Big building, Y 240 double including Chinese/western(!) breakfast. My room had a very strong cigar smell. The other hotel is much more convenient.

Benxi: Tian Yi on the right hand side of the railway station. With our guide, we even went in from the platform through the kitchen. Y 135, good quality. Beitai can easily be visited from Benxi (20 minutes by train).

Reshui: Railway Hotel. Still very good. Y160, bargained down to Y140. Excellent service. The reception girl arranged a very good minibus taxi & phoned for train timings in the morning.

A girl from Daban

While looking for music to add to my video, I found a CD with Mongolian songs including one with the title ''A girl from Daban''.

Steam

Pingdingshan: a disappointment. Traffic levels were low, we rarely saw a ''line up'' of more than one loco at the yard. Most trains JS, some deflectorless QJ, we only saw one (very clean) SY. Photographic potential seems to be limited, even though we don't mind industrial background. But maybe the weather influenced our opinion. We stayed four days, hoping for a change in the weather. It did change: from poor to miserable. We should have gone to Weihe instead........

The working to Wuyang or Wugang from Bailau might be interesting. It is a well patronized SY-hauled train (arr Bailau 08.55, dep 09.10, arr. 16.55, dep. 17.10). There are more passenger trains at the other end plus hopefully a lot of industrial workings. I regret we did not check it out...

Minibuses:

To the yard: take no 36 on the road along the hotel to the north. After it bends to the right, stay on the bus till you see that the bus stop is shared with bus 37, changed to 37.
To the mining railway station & lines north of this station: also take bus 36 to the north, then cross the road near the mining railway station & change to bus 20 (if you are only going to the passenger station you can easily walk)
To Bailau: take bus 38 on the north-south road to the south. It ends in Bailau. From where it ends the railway is to your left. You have to make a detour though, going a bit to the right first, then south, cross China Rail, onto a main road and then left.
Flat fare rate on all minibuses is 1 Yuan. (I will add a sketch map)

Tiefa: has improved because the through diesel Shenyang service has been replaced by a steam train to Daqing and connecting China Rail train from there. We bought a permit for two days (Y110 per person per day...), to film in stations & mines etcetera, and spent five days there. To go to the permit issuing office, take the footbridge at Daqing station to the south, go on south till you reach the main road and then go left. The permit issuers are in a building adjacent to the main building of the railway, with plastic deer in front (taking a print of the photograph of the building on their website might help finding it). We probably got two permits already made for the Steam in Paradise group. There is at least one interesting regular freight. All five days we saw a long train going from Daqing to Faku, on three days it was double headed, around 10 am.

Beitai: our guide took us to the spot where steelworks & CNR run parallel. A bit disappointing, so I insisted we should go west, to where I saw lots of steam plumes. After CNR & steelworks line diverge, there is a large yard surrounded by a rather high wall with open entrance doors. Lots of activity here, excellent.

Benxi: nothing to add to previous reports. Due to pollution, light is a problem in the morning. If someone wants to do Beitai & Benxi in one day, I would suggest to do Benxi in the afternoon.

Fuxin: was a suitable stop between Benxi & Reshui. The system is a shadow of its former self, with hardly any traffic (steam) on the double track mainline, apart from the two passenger workings. Nice electrics though.

Reshui: I was reluctant to go there again but it is definitely the best show there is these days so we enjoyed our full six days very much. Two days on the eastern side with much traffic east-west, then four days on the western side with hardly any traffic from Daban, so we were lucky. Enough snow on the hills to make for nice video. No sign of the leather jackets.

Dahuichang: operating as usual


Rob Dickinson

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