The International Steam Pages
Sichuan Steam into 2000
Li Nan from Chonqing CITS who has already escorted Bruce Evans and Robin Gibbons on their (separate) trips to this area has emailed me pointing out opportunities here and also some photographs. A later report concerns the Tianfu system (a little standard gauge steam but also an interesting narrow gauge system, added 7th November 1999). He has sent me a picture taken at Rongshan which is a Sichuan ng recently visited (April 2000). He adds "It is the only line of Harbin Forestry Machinery Facory fleet in this province rather than those of Shijiazhuangs. Visiting the line is ill-advised." Why he does not say!
They have the following offering, which takes into account the July 1999 news:
"Sad News The last QJ(3169) finished its steam service in the China's southwest national mainline on the June 30th. Neijiang Depot (between the Chengdu and Chongqing Line-Oct.1, 1950 ) once owned a fleet of 30 QJs . However, this depot will repair the steams as QJs, SYs coming from the difang-tielu (such as Luzhou Regional Railway) or various factories.
New Timetable The New Timetable was published in June, 1999. Based on the April's published copy, it shows more up-graded K(Fast), Y(Tourist) and switched down some short distance schedule. It is also larger in size, A4. Factories, regional railways, mines still use steams both on standard and n.g. "
Day 7 Fly home.
Day 4 Weiyuan mine may be skipped to shorten the whole tour in 6 days.
These spots will be available during 1999 and there are quite a few other spots worth exploring:
Chengdu Seamless Pipe Works
On Oct 31, the Tianfu Coal Line was briefly visited. About 2 km away from the railway bridge and the auto cable bridge, at the terminal of the Tianfu Coal Administry line (n.g. of 900mm), five Changzhou built ZL20/1984-9 were seen, and two of them with coal wagons, about nine of them. This terminal has a unloading path down to the Jialing River where a few junks await for sailing down to the coal docks at Chongqing , on the Yangtze River.
From 1927 to 1934, the railway was built in 3 sections by "Beichuan (stands for Beibei & Hechaun) Sivilian Rail Co, Ltd.". The mine belonged to the local Tianfu Mining Co. Ltd. A Danish named "Shulz" was hired to build the line from Datianba (big rice terrace) to Baimiaozi (white temple) via Daijiagou, Shuilanya, totalling 11 stops and 16.8 km of 660mm (600) gauge. This line was referred as Baida Line. And it was the first railway with steam locos inside the Sichuan Basin, 5 locomotives with 61 wagons. The capacity was 900 tons a day. I asked if they knew any story about the Jianghe Coal Mine where a 600mm line was built at the similar time, their reply was that the Jianghe had not got the gas/diesel locomotives until 1950s, and the Tianfu had the steam locos right after the line was finished.
Due to the coal at the Tianfu spreading out with inclining layers, thought to be 65-70 degrees, the Baida Line was finished when the old mine finished. A new line was built at much lower altitude and is still in use-over 2000 tons of production carried out daily. It is the Huangliu Line, Huangguoshu (banyan tree) to Liujiagou, totally 13.8km, but 900mm gauge. The 660 gauge was very treacherous and then they put the wheels outside the frames, thus made them as 900mm. Small sized Yuejin steam locos were the major fleet. Tianfu built their own locos and its first self made one came out in 1943 from its depot. There is an underground eectrified 500mm gauge system here.
The Tianfu not only built locos, they also help the other coal mines in Sichuan by sending engineers to the Tianchi north to Hanwang, providing with some retired steam locos to Jiayang, etc.
Its main depot and the administry is at Houfengyan, 20kms from Beibei by bus. They also own a standard gauge line of 7km long connecting with the national line, two SYs (1230, 1211/1983). I expected to see a surviving YJ too but they never had it. I went to Sanhuiba (not Sanhuizheng) to see the SYs. On the way back to Chongqing, at Lishuwan station, another SY was seen (0511, owned by the No. 2 Steelworks of Chongqing).
Many good photo spots along the way I can picture the highway, n.g. line and the national line together with bridges and valleys. Of course, predicting any good sunshine here is always difficult!
Here are some pictures taken in the area:
1. GJ taken at the Chongqing General Steel Works - probably the GJs here might be the last in China to do actual work. (as reported by Robin Gibbons)
2. SY at the Chongqing General Steel Works
3. Weiyuan Coal Mine has 3 C2s with one working a coal train twice daily
4. Narrow gauge at No.3 Steel Works Chongqiing
5. The Pengzhou to Baishuihe narrow gauge
6. Neijang depot