The International Steam Pages

Steam in Northern China, February/March 2003

Ian Jamieson reports on Enthusiast Holidays 'Freezin yer ***** in China' tour.

While not quite that cold (down to -17degC), our manhood was certainly on the small side, but the skies were mainly blue and the steam was fluffy, white & plentiful, as was the beer.

We visited JiTong, Weihe, Benxi and Tiefa, where much was fully operational as reported recently elsewhere (Rob Dickinson/ Bernd Seiler sites etc).

Main news at Tiefa, from Works manager, is that 2 DF/4 diesels are arriving in June 2003, and steam will phase out slowly by 2005, and completely by 2008.

Other big news is that the Beijing Railway Museum is open (09.00 to 16.00 daily) and is BIG and will be BIGGER !

Currently there are 16 steam (GJ/JF/JS/PL/QJ/SL/RM and KF006 4-8-4) , 6 diesel/electric locos and some carriages, but the building can hold up to 90 locos or carriages.

Dahuichang Limestone Railway 23rd Feb 2003

As expected, 2 locos (Nrs 03 and 04) running in the afternoon. On our day, in fog !

JITONG 24th to 28th Feb 2003

Pretty much as expected...

BENXI 1st March 2003

Activity much as previous reports, this is very active and concentrated in a small area (about 1 mile) with steam and steeple cab electrics. The air is cleaner at the north end, smog afflicts photos at the south. As with Jalai Nur, we were allowed everywhere including both shed areas, except that the guide would not take us to the slag tipping area.

0-4-0F nr 5, 2-6-2 PLz 50 and 0-6-0T XK28 are stored (preserved) in the shed.

To give an idea of the scale of activity, 24 nr. SY were in steam and active during our 3 hour visit :
SY 701, 702, 704, 705, 709, 711, 712, 713, 715, 716, 717, 718, 719, 720,721, 722, 723, 724, 729, 731, 732, 733, 735, 736.
Red smokebox slogan on SY723 refers to 4th May 1919 which became Childrens Day from 1949.
In addition steam cranes Z151 and Z601 were active at the shed, as well as electrics Bo-Bo 1003, 1004, 1005, 1008, 1011, 1017, 1018 and Bo-Bo-Bo 1512 & 1514 in the Limestone yard and across a public road level crossing.

There is a Works map next to the Offices (near the level crossing) showing all lines and works. Vic has helpfully added a 'You are here' arrow to this (in English) as the map is 'upside down' to what you actually see from there. The electrics work in the yard at the bottom (east) of the map.

TIEFA 1 & 2 March 2003

Workings on this Saturday & Sunday were as per the timetables previously reported on Jan 19th.

Locos working included:
SY 979, 0393, 0435, 0665, 1255, 1412, 1683, 1749, 1751, 1764, 1769, 1770
SY979 has blue 'QJ style' buffer plate and a smokebox slogan " Tommorrow will a better day" The 17xx series SY were built in 1999.
In the Works were:
JS 5029, SY 0860, 0063: all Out of Use
SY 1767: light repairs
SY ?? built 1999: heavy overhaul, in orange undercoat

ch03516.jpg (60190 bytes)

Main news here, from one of the Works managers, is that 2 DF/4 diesels are arriving in June 2003, and steam will phase out slowly by 2005, and completely by 2008. At least one SY will be preserved here.

When photographing in the Sanjiazi area, noted that many coal trains & empties take the East to South chord, which is not used by the passengers. Also all trains generally ease off at level crossings.

All passenger trains call at Sanjiazi, which has a warm waiting room under the signal box.
For track bashers, a useful circuit uses trains 207 & H210:
Diaobingshan dep 18.32: Wangqian arr 19.33/ dep 19.53 Diaobingshan 20.25.
Admittedly this is in the dark- but the locals are friendly - and the cost for nearly 2 hours of steam haulage ?
1 Yuan (8 pence) return !

WEIHE 3rd & 4th March 2003

Not as active as suggested in Florian Menius report of Jan 12th, but still busy.

Locos are in poor mechanical condition, although some are fairly clean.

While videoing 034 passing on a loaded train near Weihe, a coupling rod broke. The driver merely uncoupled the offending rod and continued on his way ! The locos were usually a ball of steam ascending the steepest banks, to the delight of those using video , but the chagrin of those shooting stills !
The Hotel at Weihe was comfortable, with a vast new dining area, but the bathroom bulbs would be emitting darkness if the output was any lower ..... Roads were icy and treacherous around Shuanfeng.

JALAI NUR (near Manzhouli) 5th & 6th March 2003

On 5th and 6th March 2003, Jalai Nur operation was much reduced, with only 1 or 2 coal cutting sites at the bottom of the pit. There was no spoil cutting or removal. However, even at this level of activity, there were 5 or 6 SY in the pit at any one time, and 4 or 5 shunting at the exchange sidings and loading plant at ground level above. We were told the pit may be shut during April due to low coal demand, and the Works staff were largely on holiday, possibly over April too. The one-coach passenger train was operated daily by SY1416, around 9am and 4pm, which is confirmed as the smoke -deflectored SY.

All trains here are planned and charted on a train diagram, controlled by colour light signals and even exchange single line tokens in the pit . Staff were very friendly everywhere here, although reluctant to give cab rides, especially in the pit. Perhaps this is due to the very large pair of powerful binoculars the Pit Manager possesses. These were used to find a certain well-known tour leader who became enthralled by the activity and missed the lunch deadline ! (we won't mention who, will we Vic ...).

For some reason, the guide would not take us to the industrial sites on the west of the pit or to the power station, although at least 2 SY could be seen, in the distance, shunting and trip working.
Locos operating in the pit were:
0958, 1182, 1256, 1257,1284, 1374, 1650, 1663, 1689.
Locos operating in the exchange sidings were:
1041, 1126, 1256, 1416, 1424, 1618, 1688
Loco in the Works:
Dumped at 'Wagon works station' 'Daqiaozhan'
0056, 0924, 1234, 1448.

The storage dump of locos, about 1km away from the east side of the pit is rail-connected and accessible by a dirt road from the NE corner. The loco lines are behind a crane/digger storage area in an open field. Surprisingly, most locos were complete and in fair to ex-works condition, backing the idea these are brought into use when coal demand is higher, possibly in summer when more (unfrozen) spoil is cut.

Locos in store: (as lined up)
SY 0957, 1654,1681,0614,1587, 0959, and JF 841;
1401, 0795,1240,1119,1303,1496,1285,1449,1258,1586,1690.
Of these, 1119 and 1303 were clearly ex-works.

China Railway Museum, Beijing 7th March

China Railway Museum is in an enormous brand-new building and worth a visit, as we had pretty unrestricted access to climb over footplates etc, as well as seeing decorated 2-8-2 JF 304 Mao Zedong. 1st names in Visitor's book were 4th March.

There is a huge curved roof hall with 8 tracks (one of mixed gauge) and a floor area of 16,500m2.
The hall can accommodate 80-90 locos or carriages, but the following stock is there now:
4-8-4 KF006,
2-10-2 QJ 001,
2-8-2 JS 5001, JF1 304 Mao Zedong, JF 1191, JF1 2101, JF1 2121, JF6 3022. (one named Zhu De)
4-6-2 SL 601, SL12 890 , RM 1001.
2-6-2 PL9 146 (Belgium 1922)
2-8-0 KD7 534 (USA S160 type)
2-6-2T PL3 51
0-6-0T GJ 1019
0-4-0T Nr 0

plus Diesels & Electrics:
DF 1301, DF4 0001, DFH5 0001, I 2 0008, BJ 3003 SS1 1008
and 2 carriages, one hard class open the other ex-Premier Zhou Enlai's personal business/sleeping coach.
We were told that another 26 locos are expected to arrive.
There is a another large exhibition/teaching/small exhibits complex in construction alongside.
Address: China Railway Museum, North of Loop Line, No. 1 Jiuxianqiao North Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing.
Fax: (86) 10-51845304 Tel: (86) 10-51841314 or 51841374. (This as copied from back of brochure).
Admission 09.00 to 16.00 daily: 20 Yuan.

Back to the normal world ...running trains, building airports, selling models and growing flowers.... (guess which was the Aussie ...)

With thanks to: Nick Bartlett, Paul Hamley and his Chinese colleagues at Nottingham University for translations of slogans.

Rob Dickinson