The International Steam Pages

Steam in Sichuan, September 2003

Report based on mining business trip, 16 September - 2 October 2003, from John Middleton

Beijing Railway Museum (16 September 2003)

I was the only visitor on a very wet afternoon which was good for photography but one wonders about their income. Vast sums appear to be being spent as Phases 2 and 3 which appear to be for small exhibits and other facilities are currently under construction adjacent to the main hall, architects models of these were on display.

An additional loco to the list in CRJ 134 which is now on site is Romanian built Co-CoDE ND3-0001.

Opposite the Museum entrance is the Beijing Academy of Railway Sciences / Railway Test Centre (? Correct name). As you approach the Museum there is a back entrance to the Test Centre (on the right, over the level crossing, about 20 yards after the Museum entrance) and just inside the gate, under tarpaulins were 600 mm Gauge SN 23 Baldwin 0-10-0 and Metre Gauge French design 2-8-2T JF51.738. These are standing on short lengths of track but have obviously been there some considerable time. I found them by accident and they are easily missed not being visible from the Museum entrance - but only about 50 yards from it ! Close by and outside the Offices of the Test Centre is a replica "ROCKET OF CHINA" 2-4-0T on a plinth.

Query: The two named 2-8-2's MAE ZEDONG and ZHU DE which placques describe as JF 304 (of 1941) and JF 1191 (of 1942) appear to be much more modern locos, that have seen little use, are they really JF's ? If they are they must have been extensively rebuilt. "304" has an air receiver dated 1.1975 whilst that on "1191" is dated 12.1977, there is no other identification on them.

Jie Xiu (Shanxi Province - on the Taiyuan - Xian main line). Jie Xiu is a coking center (and very polluted as a result). During three days of business, no steam were noted at any of the local facilities and the people I met were aware of none. On the main line (very busy) most trains noted were DF4 but with BJ on some passenger including. There is a large diesel depot at Jie Xiu and early BJ 3011 was noted here. An odd working noted passing through Jie Xiu had an NYJ type trainset with NYJ 4009 B on the front but with DF4-2476 on the rear - both seemingly under power. Pilots in the area were DF7C.

Xian - Chengdu (Shaanxi/Sichuan Provinces) This spectacular main line has a Gotthard style spiral at the northern end near Baoji and SS4 are used as pilots on most trains. These run from Baoji to Qinling (45 km from Baoji). Brand new SS4-7060/61 (with 2003 plates) were both noted on these pilot duties. Passenger trains appear to be exclusively SS6, at least north of Yangpingguan. At Hongqing (118 km from Baoji) there is a narrow (about 600 mm) gauge electrified system running into a coal mine on the east side of the line. No locos could be seen but there were many wagons and a miners passenger train. A standard gauge electrified branch was noted running SE from Hongqing, this was new but not yet in use and it disappeared into the hills (possibly industrial).

SHIBANXI (Jiayang Power Company Railway) (22-23 September 2003)

Two days of clear blue skies were very welcome after a week of rain. This line is an absolute delight, scenic, full of Dickensian character, quite busy and well worth the effort needed to record it. Everyone was friendly but the manager said that he didn't like foreigners who did not take the time to sit down with him and talk for a while. Having done this, nothing was too much trouble and the crews even remembered to make smoke at pre-arranged locations for no-more consideration than a "Railway World" back number and some prints. The Y30 asked as a fare seems more than reasonable and is certainly not a rip off, at least you get ten Y3 tickets as a souvenir which means the money contributes to the lines income and therefore its survival ! Dual pricing for tourists is an accepted practice in many places these days.

Traffic was much heavier than in Greg Howells report of 10 days previously with two freights both days I was there.

There were 4 passenger trains and two freights each day. Two steam locos were in use, No.7 on the passenger and No.14 on the freights. In the shed were the two other steam No.10 (spare) and No.9 (wheels out under protracted overhaul, its tender stored in the yard). No. 7 is running with tender No.13 which possibly explains recent claimed sightings of loco No.13. All these are Kp-4 type 0-8-0.

The lubricators on two of the locos had small dated plates as follows; 10 - 8.1966 and 14 - 6.1976. These possibly indicate the date of two of the locos but may be not these two as lubricators undoubtedly get swopped around.

The manager confirmed that all the other locos have been scrapped.

Electrics 01-03 were all seen, 01/02 both working with 03 spare. The coal trains from Yueyin arrived at Shibanxi about once an hour.

Diesels 01/02 were dumped in the yard and now look quite derelict.

The pattern of operation was passengers departing Shibanxi at 05.30/09.00/14.00/17.30 returning about two and half hours later. Time-keeping was good with slick station stops except when some locals tried to unload a sofa from one of the 4-wheelers ! On 22/9 the first freight wasn't seen but the second arrived back in Shibanxi at about 15.00. On 23/9, the first freight left Shibanxi at 07.15 with a load of bricks and empties, it arrived back at 10.15 having crossed the returning 05.30 passenger and the outbound 09.00 passenger, both at Mifeng. The second freight left Shibanxi at 12.00 and on its return crossed the 14.00 passenger, also at Mifeng, arriving back at Shibanxi about 15.05. On 23/9 both freights ran the whole length of the line.

Whilst the locos visible appearance is dreadful and they don't seem to have seen paint in years, they seem to work well enough and certainly handled the loads without any problems over the two days I was there.


The police on the crossings near the loco shed were extremely vigilant and it was not possible to walk down the tracks to get to the shed. They had no objection to photography at the crossings though. Between 07.30 and 08.30 it was very busy with SY's 1207, 1523 and 1612 all shunting up and down. 1612 disappeared towards Chengdu Dong propelling a long rake of wagons returning about 20 minutes later. At 08.30 all activity ceased and the three locos retired to the coaling stage at the western end of the yard (shift change ?). There is a row of shops between the main road and the coal stage and by negotiating with one of the owners to go upstairs it was possible to take photos of the locos at the coaling stage from the rear windows which overlook it.

Rob Dickinson