The International Steam Pages

New Steam in China

This page consists of four parts, Hami, the Yongcheng Coal Railway, Louis Cerny's latest steam discoveries and a brief account of what should have been an interesting visit to Shanghai No. 5 steelworks. 

Near Hami in Xinjiang, is reported to be a busy coal mine railway which is mainly JS operated (5th May 2004). It is a long way to go and it is definitely a case of everyone planning a 2004/5 winter trip by which time hopefully the first visitor has confirmed the reports..... See my standard gauge summary page for a little more information.

Yongcheng Coal Railway - this section is extracted from the news pages of Florian Menius's web page - (March 14th 2004)

"Mr. T. Tsujimoto of Japan.discovered another steam worked railway; The Yongcheng Coal Railway uses well-maintained QJ operating over about 55km of existing lines plus a new line (to Xinqiao) under construction, where QJs haul the construction trains.

The newly discovered line joins the Qing-Fu line (Quail map 6, line 15G, from southwest of Xuzhou to Fuyang) of the National Railways at or near the station called Qingtuan on that map (but may be called Qingdin now). It heads about 25km nearly straight north from there to "Jipei", then has branches 10 km north to Chensilou (crossing highway 311), 10 km northeast to Chenji, and 10 km to Chengjiao in an unknown direction, plus the new line westwards to Xinqiao which looks to be about 12 km long.

5 QJ-powered trains were seen in a little over 7 hours. The QJs are in very bright condition."

Louis reports:


Maanshan, a city about 55 km south of Nanjing, may have more active steam locomotives than any other city on the world. The Maanshan Industrial Railway, visited on 27th February 2004,  serves a huge heavy industrial district that runs for about 9 km along the east bank of the Yangtze River and is 3-4 km wide. (About 30 square km) The industries are interspersed with residential areas so that public streets cut through them, giving access to interesting photo locations too numerous to count, see map which is only a rough sketch of the area of which the four pictures here give only a small hint.. The impression one gets in this area is of a great industrial city in the early steam-to-diesel transition era. There are some GK1 diesels, but most of the work is done by SY. In  less than four hours of observation, far too brief to get the full scope of operation, I saw 14 different SY in motion, and this I think was only a small fraction of those in operation here. At many points 3 engines could be seen working at once. I saw two areas where light servicing could be performed but I was not able to  locate the engine shed. Engines seen at work were SY 0053 (supershine), 0627, 0784, 0788, 0790, 1281, 1336, 1499, 1551, 1644, 1670, 1715, 1718, and 1733. There were many large parts of the industrial area I did not have time to explore and many other engines were seen but I couldn't get the number. I estimate about 30 steam locomotives are in operation here. The industrial area is west of the CNR main line, and the Maanshan station is about midway along its 9 km north-south reach. There are 4-hour express trains between Shanghai and Maanshan.

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SY 1670 shoves cars up 'high line' at Maanshan, 27th February 2004

SY 1644 with molten slag train, Maanshan, 27th February 2004

SYs 1670 and 1733 work one of the exchange yards with CNR at Maanshan, 27th February 2004:

SY 1551 leaves the sand and gravel area and heads towards the intermodal yard at Maanshan, 27th February 2004

Wuhu Steel Mill

This mill is located in the southeast part of Wuhu, which is 50 km south of Maanshan. SY 1554 was seem switching at the public crossing at the south end of the mill. No attempt was made to enter the mill, which has a very definite security perimeter. It is possible many additional steam locomotives are in use here.

Huainan Chemical Railway

This line is located on the west side of the city of Huainan, which is located about 400km west of Shanghai on the line to Fuyang (Quail map line 15P, page 6). It serves a large chemical complex and connects it to the CNR via a 6 km line which includes a 1 in 100 grade abou 1 km long through agricultural scenery. I saw SY0868 working flat-out on a 24-car train, and the full-throated sound it made seemed louder than 2 QJ. In addition to the frequent interchange moves , there is another move with side dump cars (see photo) from the chemical plant to a dumping area about 1 km from the CNR interchange. The dumped material is gathered by a large number of local people on bicycles. The dumping can be photographed from the top of ruins of a stone tower. SY1569 was also seen working. No attempt was made to enter the security perimeter of the chemical plant where the shed is located. There are probably other engines in use. See the map. A wide variety of hotels was available in this city. A luxury room with two double beds was 118 yuan.

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SY 1569 pulls side dump cars. The line to the exchange yard is beyond the engine, Huainan, 23rd February 2004

Pinyu Power Plant

Across the river from Huainan, this power plant uses JS for switching from the CNR interchange tracks. The interchange yard is west of the plant and there is a public road crossing between the plant and the interchange yard. JS8386 was seen in use (see photo), and another, which I think was JS8288, was in the plant (see map). 

JS 8386 at the exchange yard for Pinyu Power Plant across the river from Huainan, 23rd February 2004

The Ones That Got Away

I thought the extensive coal fields west of Huainan would be prime  targets for "new discoveries." It turns out that they would have  been - in 2002. At least four major operations in this area using  QJ and JS were said to have lasted until 2003.

Another type of "New Discovery."

My guide for this trip, both the professional and the steam parts, was Wang Jie, who was recommended by a Chinese friend of Rob Dickinson. Her cheery personality, youthful energy, dedication to client satisfaction, desire to save the client's money, and not being bothered by quick changes in plans, made her a very excellent  guide.

Shanghai No5 Steelworks

Steve Nakoneczny reports:

During a visit to my girlfriend in Shanghai, she arranged a visit for me, with a guide to Shanghai No5 Steelworks on 5th February 2004. After picking up the guide outside the gates, we drove in my girlfriends car to the main gates where we were allowed access for the guide to the main road leading to the shunting area where we immediately saw SY 1576 in “supershine” condition shunting a hopper wagon, 1576 ran light engine off to a siding area where we followed for more photos. I saw another 2 SYs in the distance near the furnace area. We were about to check these out when a number of men approached and gave me the “T” sign indicating no more photos! I was quickly bundled into the car, the keys were taken away and my girlfriend, guide etc were hustled away to a control centre. I quickly changed my film and put a blank in the camera. My girlfriend's camera was opened and film exposed. Then a guy indicated that he wanted my camera. I initially refused but my camera was grabbed and a couple of guys attempted to open the back, in the ensuing struggle my camera was dropped on the ground. I picked this up and realised there was damage. At this point I became somewhat “miffed” and the guys who accosted us, perhaps realising they had damaged my camera let us go and we left the steelworks.

She was adamant that the visit was official and thought that there had been problems at the last minute which caused the hassle. Also she wondered if being in a large City security is more sensitive than sites normally visited by other groups.

Anyway this incident shows that this site is not easy to access, a pity as from what I saw there is a lot of potential for photography, especially round the furnace area. I had planned to make a map of the site during my visit. Perhaps a larger group would be more successful.

Also, it is no use going to the main Entrance (the other side of the highway to the steelworks) to attempt access to the site, they will not speak to anyone without an appointment in advance. 

Rob Dickinson