The International Steam Pages

Shibanxi Holiday 2011 - Day 17 - Bagou Bath House Blues

Click here for the main Shibanxi Holiday 2011 page.

Here are two rather ordinary pictures of an empty Shibanxi coal train, taken at Bagou station and again about 500 metres down the track. What makes them unusual is that it is the same train... The real interest lies in what happened between the two shots.

From time to time, some observant visitors will notice that empty coal trains have a couple of wagons of coal, which on the face of it is a 'Coals to Newcastle' situation. That coal is bound for the bath house at Bagou and comes from the large company mine at Sanjin - if Huangcun coal were to be used then it would have to be 'paid for'. It is brought up on 'as required' basis and its arrival seems unpredictable, certainly when we captured the scene on video last year, we knew only that it would happen 'very soon' and were loitering in the area on a dull day. Certainly, the people who did the unloading arrived running down the track.

When we first witnessed it, the coal was in wagons at the front, today they were at the back so the fact that we didn't have our video cameras with us was unimportant, we couldn't have mixed the sequences. I spotted the coal on the train as it went past me at the station and I shot down the track towards the bath house, picking up Yuehong along the way who had left the guest house after me. By the time we got there, the coal was already being let out, the final picture may look as if I am about to be mown down but the loco was actually stationary.

 I went round the corner for the departure, Yuehong stayed back to shoot the crew working on their loco - it turned out later it was more than a bit sick...

Once the train had left, there were more photo opportunities...

After the coal had been shoveled away, the coal pickers will have been back, but we had to get back to the station where the main business was to see off Jin Jizhou, Zhang Wei and JoJo Zhu. The coal train had been in the second passenger train's slot and there was a platform full of frustrated travellers, when the train appeared it was well over half an hour late:

And the 'Blues'? JoJo had a hang over and Jin and Zhang missed their bus from Qianwei to Chongqing where they were meeting old friends before flying home to Shaoxing - instead they had to go to Chengdu and take an expensive high speed train. None of them looked too happy as they boarded the train. We went with them as far as Jiaoba, what we were up to is covered in the next blog page:

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson