The International Steam Pages
Steam in Southern China, November 2000
Bernd Seiler has been in one of the lesser explored parts of the country. Click here also for the second part of this report.
"My first guided south-China tour was an outstanding success. Here is a brief summary emailed from China:
Owing to space limitations on my server, the images from this report have been removed (15th June 2004).
We found JF still working beside all four diesels. JF in good technical and external condition. Five were under steam, two for the rarely free-line service (both lines, within two days one train on the mainline and two to the Wangshiwa branch with JF, one more JF-hauled train in the night to Wangshiwa), one for heating oil-wagons, one shunter and one spare. The Railway is planning to replace all steam by beginning of 2001. Tongchuan has all together 12 steam locos, including the under-steam-spare QJ of the state railway and the SY of the local industry. The officials would like to keep at least one JF serviceable for as a tourist attraction. We held an official permit for the line and the shed. Some rumours of arrested railway enthusiasts, who had to handover all films and pay a huge amount of money to get free were confirmed by the locals. The local TV operators made a film about our group including a interview with my why we are going all the way to Tongchuan only for steam!
This is a new line, unknown till now. I found it on the new Sichuan province map. It is a 762 mm ng line with 100 percent steam, but it is situated in a restricted area. The line belongs to a prison, there are check points at the road and the railway refused my attempts to buy a ticket. So it seems it is impossible to visit this line without official permit. But the officials don't issue permits for the prison area (of course ...).
There is no change apart former visits. One 0-8-0 C2 and one 4-4 TH 52 diesel are handling all the traffic. The new road is now finished and the two daily mixed trains have lost lots of their passengers to the buses. Also here the official are dreaming about a tourist train. The shed master said that they have four steam locos. One is in use, one is spare, one is dumped behind the shed and one is away for heavy overhaul. The fifth loco they scrapped two years ago.
The railway put three electrical locos, built in 6/2000 in October in service between the powerplant and the first station, so all steam operation with freight trains is finished. But the passengers remain steam. The area is more sensitive for gricers than last year, some enthusiasts here were denied to enter the area. But the staff is still very kindly. Beside the three electrical locos (0-4-0) they still have the dumped Mudanjang-diesels (two) and five C2 (three serviceable). Numbers later, after my arrival in Germany end of December.
Longchang - Luzhou:
This will remain steam (QJ) till next year. The loco drivers started to train on DF1 diesels. Just these days the construction work for the new Yangtze river bridge started to extend the line southwards about for 27 km. There is an ore mine, and they will carry the ore via rail to the harbour of Luzhou. The traffic is down to two pairs of trains, only one of them during daylight. The timetable is not worth the paper it is written on, so you have to be very patient if you want to see steam here. Departure time \"in several ten minutes\" means, you have to wait for hours. Only two QJs were under steam, one for free line service, on as pilot in Luzhou. The long line of dumped locos in Luzhou disappeared, only two QJ remain.
Luzhou - Longchang, opened 1994, ceased passenger service 1995 because of the opening of the highway, QJ 3175 freeline service, QJ 3289 shunter in Luzhou, dumped in Luzhou were QJ 3479 (serviceable) and QJ 2989 Where are all the other QJ's here? Line extension started this week with the construction of a new Yangtze river bridge. First they like to complete an extension to the south of abut 27 km to connect an ore mine with the planned station at the harbour. Should be open in 2003. Only two pairs of trains daily. One turn is tender first. Photographical potential is good. It seems there is a regular run, starting+ at 11 am im Longchang mostly delayed some hours.
This was as reported. All branches are served by SY (less than one train per day!), state railway used DF1 as usual.
Wansheng - Nanchuan: The first real \"Plandampf\" charged with U$1000) in China was a total sucess! The officals did everything we ordered. The regular train was steam hauled from Wansheng Bei to Nanchuan with several \"overtaking-stops\" for us. The SY 1074 was in outstanding technical condition so it could accelerate the train up the 1:33 gradient with fantastic sound. there are SYs coming from the Chongqing port administration, they may have changed to diesel now. All JFs disappeared (probably to Chongqing steelworks for scrap). The line is very scenic and the weather was sunny for South China.
Wansheng: At least two mines are served by SY: Gukouhe at the state railway line (first station after Wansheng) and Hongyai in a tight valley about 10 km far from the Wansheng station. These mines use a approx. 610 mm electrical line, but only a few meters are outside the mine. Police here don't like photographers. Locos seen: SY 0039 (in 1999, October, now CQ steelworks heavy overhaul), 0640 (1999), 1260 in use 2000, 1444 spare under steam 2000, 1621 in use 2000, 1657 in use 2000, 1763 in use 2000. There is a concrete \"No Admission\" sign (in English!) at the entrance of the cookery. Staff is kindly. Less than one train per day to the mines were quoted by the staff, but normally the Hongyai mine will see a train per day.
This was as good as ever. With one exception: I am on the black list of the steelworks because I visited it last year ithout official permit. This time we had a permit and about six or seven security guards and two guides for ten steam fans! We could enter the ashyard and the loco shed. Numbers later. The steelworks has a fleet of 11 GJ (0-6-0) of which we found three in use. We saw 1007 in use, 1027 dumped, 1030 in use, 1062 repair, 1063 repair, 1065 dumped, 1069 in use, 1075 repair, also known to be here are 1010, 1019 and 1047 of which one was seen without numberplates. SY: 0037 heavy overhaul, 0357 minor repair, 0606 repair. YJ is awaiting their scrap in January 2001, although still complete and stored in the shed. GK-diesels and DFH 5B-diesels. Overhaul of steam locos still continues.
Beijing Dahuichang limestone factory:
As good as ever, the loco driver did run a special shunting duty for us without the demand of money - very unusual these days. Locos are in bad external condition. The SY is still under steam with the YJ stored in the shed without a roof.
Today the group is on the diesel worked 610 mm rly near Beibei (north of Chongqing), but I am staying in the hotel because I am feeling too sick.
Almost unbelievable: We had only one day with rain (today) and one other day without sun. And we were in South China!