The International Steam Pages
Two Visits to the Suileng Forestry Railway
Wilson Lythgoe writes:
I first visited Suileng in May 2006 and reported on SY Country soon after. I wasn’t able to illustrate the report back then but can now and some of those photos, along with the report, may interest.
That was back in 2006 and I’d had such a great time I always intended to revisit. I looked at the possibility in 2011 but was advised ‘there is no passenger service either in Suileng or in Xinglongzhen’ and there the matter rested until this year when I put Suileng on the agenda again.
After six nights at Xinglongzhen I only had two nights remaining for Suileng though, before I needed to head for Harbin, so it was only going to be a quick visit. It was a long one hour thirty six minutes standing in an extremely smoky and crowded vestibule of train 4031 from Xinglongzhen but once settled into a 139Y suite at the Jindu Hotel, followed by some comfort food at the nearby Dicko’s, I was suitably revived and ready to venture forth.
As in 2006 Bus 3 still terminated outside the narrow gauge station but once in the yard things did not look promising. There was rust on all the tracks, not a lot, but enough to look as if it had been a few days since a train had passed over them. Maybe the logging season had already finished…….
As I wandered through the yard towards the servicing area and workshops it soon became obvious I had the place to myself. There didn’t seem to be another soul around but it did give me the opportunity to roam freely. Mind you there was little to see until I came across five of the lines engines sitting outside a shed. (SN-99803, 99804, 99806, 99807 & 99808)
Wandering in the opposite direction I found a number of loaded wagons…….
Beyond this point was the main unloading yard with two large gantries and a large number of empty wagons in the sidings but with very few logs to be seen. Heading back to the station I found two men pushing a bogie wagon: there was life here after all! They were friendly and curious as what I was up to and I wanted to know if there were any trains. We quickly established that the railcar service was long finished and there were no other trains running.
As I headed off for Bus 3 I pondered on the passenger exit from the platform. It was similar to what could be found at small China Rail stations throughout the country and I wondered when the last paying passengers had passed through its gates.
On the way back to the hotel I visited the Culture Park to check out the railway display comprising C2 031021 with guards van…….
….and SN-99809 plus carriage.
Back at the hotel I checked other visitor’s reports about Suileng on my suite's computer. Bernd Seiler, after his 2005 visit, listed the line as having eight diesels with one being used as a spare parts donor: I’d seen six so that left one and the spare parts donor unaccounted for. In January 2010 Derek Jenkins mentioned C2 021 being stored in a shed in what appeared to be good working order. Was this the loco now plinthed or had numbers been changed with another?
That evening I asked the hotel receptionist when the hot water would be turned on. Like my previous visit it was for two hours at night but there was also a long palaver relating to 06.00 to 08.00 in the morning. She may have meant there was also hot water then but being a cautious chap I chose to shower that evening. It was a wise choice as at 06.00 the next morning both water and electricity were turned off but breakfast was available!
I’d been in China for twenty eight days now, it was close to going home time and I wasn’t really enjoying Suileng. I’d definitely been spoilt by all the ng action at Xinglongzhen and Suileng had turned out to be a non-event. No water or electricity was the final straw! I decided to head for the China Rail station and a Harbin bound train...Australia was calling me home.