The International Steam Pages

Summer Steam in China 2003

Greg Howell sent me regular reports during the 2003 summer which I was unable to post as I was in Java. Here they are in reverse date order:

Sat 16 Aug - Shanghai No 5 Steelworks

A quick visit was made with a Chinese colleague and the operation appeared as during my June visit.

SY 0880 was on the furnace shunt, returning to the shed at 09.00 for a tea break.
SY 1744 was standing next to shed with a rake of coal wagons
SY 1576, 1666, 1742, 1755 were out of steam.
DM 822 was on the ng crucible shunt.

Mon 18 Aug - Zhengzhou area

Following Bruce Evan's report in March, my plan was for a weekend visit to the Xingyang railway before going to Pingdingshan, which would allow me to cut short the visit to Xingyang if there were any operational problems on the ng. Eventually, work commitments got in the way & I could only have 1 day in Zhengzhou and so I flew to Zhengzhou on the Sunday evening and stayed at the Holiday Inn. The hotel arranged a taxi for the next day to take me to Xingyang for RMB400. (Beware : There are 2 Xingyangs in Henan - the narrow gauge line is at the nearer but seemingly lesser known of the two!)

Xingyang ng

The main Zhengzhou road is a construction site and the taxi took 1 hour to reach the centre of Xingyang (30km). The shed (tel : 0371 4661065) was found just to the west of the CNR station but unfortunately all 3 locos were present - 1 dumped, 1 having its motion repaired and 1 outside undergoing running repairs. The staff said that a "small"(?) train would run in 3 days time. After Bruce's problems with the police, I asked for the head of security but was told that there had been many foreign visitors and that there was no problem with photography!]

The clay is loaded from an underground conveyor located 1km south of the main Zhengzhou - Luoyang road and is just visible from the road. The rails were rusty and there was no sign of any activity. The line crosses under the main road in a short tunnel, 1 km west of the westernmost roundabout. The line then runs north initially on a ledge on the side of the erosion gulley and then in countryside, before swinging to the east when it gets to the city outskirts. It then heads towards the CNR station.

There would be a very good morning photograph of the departure from the loading point from next to the main road and, by walking north from the road, there should be other good shots of the train on the ledge in the afternoon. Where I saw the line after this point, it appeared difficult to photograph, although I did not find the reported bridge at the midway point. Along the northern side of Xingyang, I struggled to find the railway at all due to the complexity of the roads, compounded by diversions due the major roadworks.


Faced with nothing to do, I took my taxi to the next town west of Xingyang where Bruce had reported SYs in the yard and a steam worked branch.

The rail served factories are located west of town on the south side of the CNR. The yard is to the west of the factories and the branch heads westwards out of the yard. SY 1674 (b 1989) and GK1GC 6060 (b 1997) were standing outside the control room.

At 13.30 SY1406 arrived tender first with tanks from the factories. Both locos face north/eastwards. At 13.30 ??5D 0021 (b 2002) arrived from the branch with a couple of coal wagons and a rake of loaded limestone wagons. At 13.40 SY 1674 propelled these wagons eastwards towards the factories.

Shangjie is at the northern apex of a road triangle with the Zhengzhou -Luoyang road forming the southern edge. The western road out of Shangjie descends steeply past the junction with the main road until the railway crosses it on an overbridge. Hence, the branch appears to face a stiff climb up to the yard although it seems to take the long way round. The main road and branch both head southwards from the overbridge, roughly parallel, for over 5 kms.

At 15.00 SY 1406 appeared on the overbridge drifting tender first with 13 coal wagons heading south out of Shaengjie. I followed it to Gong???? where there are many cement works and it passed a home signal. A track gang told my taxi driver that 1406 would not return until 18.00 and, as the weather had clouded over, I made a slow exit back to Zhengzhou.


Saturday 19 July - Shanghai Coking & Chemical Co Ltd (SCCPG)

The Chinese name of the company is Shanghai Jiaohua Youxian Gongsi and its address is 4400 LongWu Road in the Wujing district of Shanghai, in south Puxi (tel: 6434 3241). By taxi from central Pudong, it took 40 minutes in quiet Saturday morning traffic.

Located a few miles south of the XuPu bridge, the plant is on the east side of the LongWu road and the exchange sidings are on the west. There are 3 level crossings across the LongWu road :

Northern :     SCCPG siding that was not seen used but appeared to be for tank wagons and there were tank wagons in the exchange sidings.

Middle :     SCCPG line to the coke works. When not in use, the loco is stabled on the west side of the road where there is a pleasantly air conditioned crew room.

Southern :     Serves what is reported to be a chemical plant. DF7 5045 was seen hauling 6 tank wagons out of the plant and there was a diesel shunter 0003 inside the plant.

The SCCPG loco in service was JS 8258 (built 1988, it does also carry 8528) and the crew and railway staff (all SCCPG employees) were very friendly. The weather was very hot but surprisingly sunny - almost full sun!

08.27    JS pulled 23 coke wagons out of the plant, chimney first - unfortunately straight out of the sun!
-    Shunting in exchange sidings
09.23    JS propelled empties into plant
-    Loco was under coke loading stage and was assumed to be loading the empty rake that had just been propelled in.
09.45    Departed plant with loaded wagons
-    Shunting around yard, including leaving some empty wagons in the plant entrance
10.20    Loco returned to stabling point next to level crossing and the crew took a break.
    At which stage I left very hot!

I have a report that suggests that the loco does a 08.00 - 16.00 operation with shunts into the plant at approximately 09.00, 12.00 & 15.30. I was not with my Chinese speaking colleagues and so cannot confirm this; however, judging by the 2 trains of loaded coke pulled out in the "9 o'clock shunt", there will have to be many more trainloads to cope with the 24 hour operation of the coke works and it would be surprising if this was possible in a single shift. (Greg was later able to confirm the single shift theory.)

Sunday 20 July - Hangzhou

Caught K821 from Shanghai Nan to Hangzhou and was hauled by a 2000 built DF4D. There was a SARS temperature check and a health declaration form to fill in before boarding.

A few miles north of Hangzhou there were about 10 dumped JS locos (typically 81xx series) in a yard, in states varying from ok to derelict.

At Hangzhou station, it appeared that a lot of the tickets were being purchased by touts who, when the official seating allocation became sold out, offered their tickets to the public at (presumably) a premium. Certainly the outbound hard class ticket was 25Yuan (but I travelled soft class) and the return was 33 Yuan for A/C hard class. On the return there was a body temperature check when entering the waiting rooms at Hangzhou but no health declaration form. Returned on K810 to Shanghai main station.


This is my first business trip to Shanghai since Easter due to the SARS outbreak but, with the potential risks of SARS and the lack of good photography at this time of the year, I chose to stay in Shanghai city for the weekend. With weak sun followed by overcast weather, I was able to enjoy 35degC and no steam exhaust!!


Shanghai has always been reported to be relatively SARS-free - whether this was due to government manipulation or good fortune is hard to determine. However, there are few visible signs of the problem :

  • Before leaving the plane everyone had to measure their body temperature with a paper thermal strip & self-declare the result on the standard Chinese health declaration form.
  • At the airport, we filed passed a thermal camera but you no longer have to stop & be measured individually.
  • There is a casual temperature check at the hotel every time you enter
  • The hotel is quite empty but filling up gradually
  • Universally catering staff seem to wear face masks


Located in Puxi, 30km north of Pudong centre at the junction of TongJi Road and ShuiChan Road (tel : 5667 9080). My office tried to get me permission to visit the steelworks but we were refused entry and so I visited on spec on Sunday when there was likely to be no management working. My Chinese colleague was refused permission at the first security gate that we approached because he mentioned photography. On ShuiChan Road, no mention was made about photography at the gate nearest to TongJi Road. We were allowed unrestricted access but asked to be careful!! We kept a low profile and I only took cameras out of my rucksack when taking pictures. We did not encounter any problems.

Present on the shed :
In steam - SY 1744 (built 1993)
Not in use but appeared complete - SY 1666, 1742, 1755
SY 0880 was in use shunting the furnace building
SY 1576 appeared at the shed with empty wagons.

As previously reported, there were also 2 single cab narrow gauge diesels at the furnace building :
DM 822 shunting small crucibles into an adjacent yard
DM 820 shunting bar from the adjacent building


A "new" timetable has been published in May 2003 although it claims to be only a reprint. It has been reformatted but I could not see any obvious timetabling changes. Certainly the trains that I have previously used were unchanged eg. Beijing to Chifeng.


It is my understanding that before SARS there was a daily train running for tourists. My office tried to get me a ticket for the Maglev but was told that it had been suspended because of SARS but that tourist tickets will be available from 5 July 2003. I will confirm this when I visit next month.

Rob Dickinson