The International Steam Pages

Tiefa Coal Mining Administration, January 2000

Although the Weihe Forestry Railway was my principal target for the trip, I had a number of other visits lined up, starting with a system which has had very little attention so far. I later sampled Fuxin area steam. See also Duncan Cotterill's visit here in March 2000.

Owing to space limitations on my server, the images from this report have been removed (15th June 2004). 

Tiefa Coal Mining Administration (also known as Daqing Coal Company) - Tiefa is about 40km west of Tieling which is 77km north of Shenyang. There was a brief report in Continental Railway Journal a year or so ago suggesting that there were at least 20 SYs here. In November I was given a sketch map of the system which I have added to and amended - if the original producer gets in touch I will be happy to add a proper thanks. In addition to coal trains the system was known to run passenger trains although many ran during the hours of darkness. Adrian Freeman was here briefly in November 1999 and provided me with a copy of the then passenger timetable but it has since been heavily amended. Look carefully at the date on the worksplate!

January 13th 1999

I spent the entire journey from Weihe to Tieling in the restaurant car of train 452, there was no possibility of a sleeper and so, in addition to my basic fare of Y45, like everyone else there I was levied a further Y20, but at least I had a seat unlike most of the people who got on with me. At Tieling, there were two steam locomotives in the yard but it was dark and I could not face marching through the large amount of recent snow (it fell three days earlier I found out later) to identify them. Perhaps it was just as well as there was a bus to Tiefa waiting outside the station and it left almost immediately. It was full and the windows were iced up so I could see very little but it was clear the countryside around was flat. I was put down an hour or so later at Tiefa, the police lady said the Hotel was three junctions away and I walked when a three wheeler or town bus would have been a better idea. The Tiefa Binguan had not seen many Western foreign visitors to judge from their reactions, but it did not stop them asking an outrageous Y400 for what was clearly going to be a very ordinary room. I soon got them down to Y250 which as I expected was still a lot for what was on offer, but I was tired and had saved a lot of money the previous night! I asked where the station was (in the area of town known as Diaobingshan) and, after a quick breakfast, got there around 09.00 (it is on the east side of town, slightly north of the centre). {For other independent travellers, town buses 1, 2 and 3 run along the main street north-south. Bus 3 also runs to the station. Some buses from Tieling go into the town centre past the hotel. I suspect there are cheap local hotels too, but being Liaoning, they may not be allowed to take foreigners.}

The light was not yet good, but there was lots of steam from SYs 1749, 1751 and 1769 and the steam crane. 1749 left tender first at 09.25 on train 105 (for the timetable see below). Before 1751 left on train 205 (also tender first, it was to be the theme of the next two days), 1765 (this is the number I wrote down but it is almost certainly wrong as this is a Chengde loco. RD) arrived light engine and I was then surprised to see (DFH3?) 0123 arrive on a passenger train (783 - see the timetable!)

I took the return working to Daqing (Y1) to see the line and visit the loco stabling point there. Just before the train left, I was surprisingly joined by two gentlemen one of whom turned out to be Lui Chang Jui Teh, the interpreter of the Tiefa Coal Mining Administration. He was there to help me if needed, but I assured him I was doing fine and I was about to ask him some questions about the operation when he got off at the first stop (to go back to the office no doubt!). Note his telephone number if you have any problems here - 6821040. This is 1771....

I have to confess my main aim was to photograph 1771 which Adrian Freeman had reported as carrying a September 1999 builder's plate, but just as I was celebrating seeing it at Daqing, I realised that I had the wrong target because shunting the yard was 1772 which turned out to have an October 1999 plate. (So watch out for 1773 etc and one with a 2000 plate - now that will be a collector's item one day!) Also here were seven other SYs in steam (a full loco list is appended below) together with JS 8044 which was shunting. I suspect the latter is a China Rail loco as it had the (railways) emblem which none of the SY's carried. The loco crew were fascinated with my antics as I tried to photograph the loco - although it was quite sunny, there was a stiff northerly breeze which blew down the steam that all SYs ooze continuously, they have too many modern gadgets like steam operated fire doors. Eventually, I was invited on to the footplate and was followed by half a dozen more staff (everyone knew what was going on because the locos have radios) before I rode down to the stabling point with half a dozen wagons of loco coal. I was just about to make myself at home there when a member of the management came out of the office and politely told me to keep out of the facilities. Well, it did save me taking several more not very good photographs of the SYs. Below is 1772....

I had originally planned to take (diesel) train 787 back to Sanjiazi west) to see the returning passenger trains but it was so cold I decided to keep warm by walking instead - just as well it was half an hour late. As I walked along, it was clear that there were no 'master-phots' to be obtained here. As I left 1764 and 0439 rolled in together light engine. A little while later I was overtaken by 1147 on empties - smokebox first but you couldn't the coal wagons as the steam blew down. 0860 then came east with fulls, but it was tender first and then 1764 went back west again light engine.

A word on the layout between Tiefa and Daqing. The line between Tiefa and Sanjiazi (west) is double track, elsewhere it is single track as far as I know. Both north and south lines leave here and there are in effect two large triangles on either side of the 'main line' - coming together again at Sanjiazi (east) - the only connection which is not present is north-south. At Sanjiazi (west) are two tender bodies, one is labelled 5250 (JS I suppose), the other is of the SY type. I have used the names east/west instead of their proper Chinese names for ease of understanding.

As I arrived at Sanjiazi (west), I saw a tender first train on the south to east curve. I was relaxing with a sausage in the lee of the station to avoid the wind waiting for the diesel when at 13.35 I heard first one steam whistle and then another. Round the north to west curve came 1749 on the return passenger (108) and almost immediately afterwards 0393 and 1771 tender to tender appeared on a train of empties. With the south side blocked by parked wagons, I was piggy in the middle as the two trains approached. It would have made wonderful video but the jury is out until I see the slide. I had time to walk to the top of the station (just) before 1749 left. Around 14.15, (DFH3?) 0188 finally turned up on passenger 787, followed immediately by 1751 with the return passenger (206 off the south line, much to my surprise tender first again! Just after it left I saw another tender first train on the south to east curve and to top it all 1183 arrived in the station from the north line, you guessed it, tender first, did some shunting and headed off for Tiefa at about 14.45. A couple of minutes later, 1749 arrived, necessarily tender first on passenger train 107. In theory, I suppose 1751 would have been smokebox first on 207 but the light was failing and I was cold and tired after the overnight journey. So I walked to the nearby main road and caught a bus back to town.

It had been a very interesting day, but I doubt I took a single decent photograph. Having made the effort to get here, I decided to invest one more day of my rapidly diminishing stock to having another look at operations. Although I knew the west line was more interesting scenically, I decided (as Adrian had found) that there might be very little action and to go back to the Sanjiazi - Daqing section.

January 14th 1999

This was a day when I saw more steam activity than I can remember for many years. I have tabulated my observations below, all trains coal fulls/empties unless stated, (TF = tender first):

Time Loco No Comments
08.30 0435 at station, off train 404 - I suspect my notes on the arrival time are wrong, the journey time looks too long.
08.50 1767 arrival at station with train 204
09.00 1749 arrival at station with train 106
09.16 0435 departure from station with train 105
09.28 1767 TF departure from station with train 205
09.40 1751 arrival at station with train 406

I now took a minibus east intending to get down at the level crossing between Sanjiazi and Daqing. However, my brain was not yet up and running because I got off at the first one, on the north line. Before I could remedy my error, 1255 came by heading north so it was not a total disaster. For the rest of the day I headed slowly west, hence where I say trains are east or westbound, it means I did not know which of the lines they were working from the junction.

The day started overcast, turning a little misty with the sun turning from milky to quite acceptable around 12.00, although it was never very strong. There was a very slight northerly breeze.

Time Loco No Comments
10.30 0088 diesel passenger to Shenyang
10.35 0435 Light engine to east (loco off train 105)
10.45 1772 TF to west
11.00 0665 TF to west
11.20 1771 TF to west
12.00 0393 TF to west
12.05 0435 Light engine to west (loco for train 108)
12.40 0979 TF to west (probably to south line)
12.50 1255 TF to east (presumably off north line)
13.05 0860 to west (first real photo opportunity!)
13.15 1683 TF to east (off south line)
? 0435 TF on train 108 - not observed directly
13.45 0078 diesel passenger from Shenyang
? 1767 TF (?) on train 206 - not observed directly
14.30 1771 south line to east
14.35 ? TF east to north
14.40 0435 on train 107
14.42 1183 west to south - just two wagons
15.20 0979 south to east
15.20 1767 on train 207
15.35 ? west to east
15.35 ? TF south to west
15.45 ? TF north to ?

At the end of the day it was only 1km to walk to the main road to get a bus back to Tiefa.

Photographically the highlight was undoubtedly 1767 on train 207 which I took at the coal mine just south of Sanjiazi. Otherwise, it was just nice to spend a day watching steam trains go by like I used to do near Gloucester (west of England) in the early 1960s.

It was time to move on to Fuxin, any longer here and I would not have time to make the pilgrimage to Jingpeng.


If you want startling photographs of trains in the landscape then don't come here! But if you want to see an intensively worked railway with steam on passenger and freight then you don't have many better places (maybe Fuxin) to go in 2000! For the independent traveller, Tiefa is readily accessible, the hotel is acceptable and public transport will get you to the busiest sections of line easily. I look forward to receiving more reports from visitors who have used this report as a springboard to explore the parts of the system I didn't reach. I was very glad I had come here.

Loco Roster

The SYs (17!) I saw here were:

0393/0435/0439/0665/0860/0979/1147/1183/1255/1683/1749/1751/1764/1767/1769/1771/1772 (I recorded 1765 but I am now doubtful on this.)

Others (2) which have been reported/said to be here are:


There are probably more (how about 1766/1768 for a start?)

Tiefa Area Maps - The first is my original, the second a much better overall effort courtesy of Duncan Cotterill!

Tiefa Map

Tiefa Map

The Tiefa passenger timetable. Apart from Tiefa, the other destination(s) are the furthest points that each train reaches (or comes from). Apart from trains to the west, all trains call at Sanjiazi (west) about 10 minutes after/before the Tiefa times. (It differs significantly from that operating in November 1999.) All times are taken from the board above the booking office at Tiefa station.

nb Duncan Cotterril reports the following changes in March 2000: (Diaobingshan = Tiefa)

203*06:30 Diaobingshan 06:40 07:00 Wangqian
202*06:40 Wangqian 06:50 07:03 Diaobingshan
103*06:42 Diaobingshan 06:52 07:02 Daming
303*07:21 Diaobingshan 07:31 07:33 Daqing

North Line

Train No 101 103 105 107 109 111
Tiefa 00.38 06.56 09.16 14.30 18.01 22.10
Damingzhen 01.23 07.43 10.03 15.16 18.47 22.57
Train No 102 104 106 108 110 112
Tiefa 00.59 06.34 08.55 13.44 17.53 22.31
Damingzhen 00.13 05.50 08.08 12.58 16.54 21.46

South Line (? = this may be called Xiaunan I believe)

Train No 201 203 205 207 209 211
Tiefa 01.08 06.54 09.28 15.00 18.13 22.50
? - 07.20 - 15.33 18.54 23.23
Wangping 01.47 07.48 10.10 16.03 19.14 -
Train No 202 204 206 208 210 212
Tiefa 06.13 08.43 14.14 18.04 22.00 00.30
? - - 13.33 16.58 21.20 23.57
Wangping 05.29 08.00 13.13 16.38 21.00 -

East Line (3xx steam, 78x diesel through workings to/from Shenyang Bei and Anshan)

Perhaps the experts can tell me how many other industrial railways in China have a passenger service worked at least in part by China Rail diesel locomotives and coaches). If you are arriving/leaving via Shenyang then this is a serious travel option.

Train No. 301 786 303 784 788 305 307
Tiefa 01.20 05.37 07.08 10.07 15.11 17.23 22.39
Daqing 01.46 05.57 07.36 10.33 15.37 17.58 23.05
Train No. 302 783 787 304 306 785 308
Tiefa 06.23 09.12 13.57 17.18 18.58 20.30 00.16
Daqing 05.59 08.45 13.23 16.49 18.32 20.04 23.50

West Line

Train No. 401 403 405 407 409 411 413
Tiefa - 06.40 11.30 14.31 - 18.30 21.20
? 00.50 07.45 12.32 15.30 16.20 19.23 22.13
Dongmangton 00.43 08.09 12.47 15.51 16.33 19.37 22.27
Train No. 402 404 406 408 410 412 414
Tiefa 02.08 08.40(?) 09.41 - 17.21 21.08 -
? 01.13 07.13 08.36 14.43 16.15 20.13 23.03
Dongmangton 01.00 07.00 08.17 14.30 15.59 20.00 22.50

Rob Dickinson