The International Steam Pages

CNR Steam in China, May/June 2001

I have to say the prospects of the smells from public toilets in China in the Summer would put me right off this kind of trip, but if you like watching steam trains (probably you won't get many good photographs in Summer) then why not try it. Peter-H Patt records the dying gasps of main line steam on CNR.

A foreword: with the prospect of rapidly vanishing steam activities on CNR rails, a limited vacation time available and the wish, not to stay at each and every ludian and not to travel hardseater overnight unexpectedly I decided to organize some parts of my trip through the well-known Mr. Zhang from CITS Changchun.

I know that taking taxis and planes to travel through China is not the perfect cheap way of public transport but it saves time and allows you to chase trains...

I followed the standard Northern China steam path: Da'an Bei - Fuxin - YiXian/Beipiao - Yebaishou plus an excursion to Wuhai. My sighting information will just show freight trains but no passenger duties (except steam hauled ones).

Partly I have been accompanied by Frank Ebert (Da'an Bei-Fuxin-YiXian) and traveled the rest of my itinerary alone.

These are the headlines:

1.) Steam in the Shenyang bureau will not finish in August 2001. All visited depots told us that they will continue using steam until summer 2002.
2.) No deadline was given for the Hohot-bureau (Wuhai Xi) yet.
3.) If you have to pay it, the visitor's fee for Da'an and Fuxin depots is "officially" 100Y - don't pay more and demand a receipt!
4.) At least 4 new DF5 (built in 2001) have taken over shunting duties in/around Da'an Bei.
5.) The daily mixed Da'an Bei-Taipingchuan can be QJ- and DF5-hauled. No other passenger trains are steam hauled currently (DF4 and DFH3 do the job).
6.) Beipaio-Chaoyang passenger trains: QJs run smokebox first on the stretch Chaoyang-Beipiao.
7.) Fuxin-YiXian-Yebaishou: fixed freight paths exist but except a few sure QJ workings, trains change haulage every day. There is apparently no different schedule on weekdays and weekends.
About 50-70% of all trains are still with steam (but not all are pure QJ hauled!).
8.) Wuhai-Jilantai branch: still 100% steam with unpredictable schedules. Shunting done by JS.
9.) Baotou-Dong: all JS have been withdrawn and replaced by DF5.

19 May: after an uneventful Lufthansa flight I arrived in Beijing and got shocked by 36 degrees Celsius temperature at 08.00H in the morning already! I took the airport bus to the city and went to Dahuichang by underground/bus around noon and found ng locos 02 and 04 ready for action and SY 0231 simmering in the yard but, unlike my December visit, not shunting this time. Action on the ng started on time at 14.00H but lasted only until 15.30 when both locos finished work for that shift. I stayed in Beijing overnight to wait for my travelmate Frank who arrived the following day.

20May: in order to save time to travel to Da'an we took a China Northern flight to Changchun where we arrived at 12.30H. A minibus awaited us already and took us towards Da'an Bei. There were working sites every 3-5 kilometers on the road so that driving was quite tough.
At Nong'an station we overtook QJ 6280 with a long freight to Da'an Bei which waited for the crossing with K651, hauled by DFH3 0010+0224. Stopping at Qianguo later we found QJ 6891 and QJ 6809 in the small depot, together with steam crane Z151-517 (if anybody is interested in steam crane statistics…).
At 18.10 JS 6237 (high deflectors) arrived with a short local freight from Da'an Bei, while QJ 6280 and QJ 6891 already waited in the yard to depart to Da'an Bei: QJ 6280 departed at 18.15 light engine, the latter one followed with a heavy freight 15 minutes later.
The first sign of grooming bad news were 2 DF5 (building year 2000 and 2001) shunting around the station with no JS to be seen.
We continued towards Da'an Bei, stood in one of the ludian and were eager to go to Taiyangshen the next morning.

21 May: things started badly this morning: when we arrived at the station around 06.00H we had to discover that all shunting duties had been transferred to brand-new DF5 (as seen in Qianguo already). Later we learned that only 1 JS was used for the shunting group of Da'an Bei which includes work in Da'an Bei, Da'an, Qianguo and Changshantun, the rest was done by DF5. All other JS were stored at Da'an Bei depot.
The trains L701/702 consisted of modern tourist train stock and had DF4 at the front, departing at 06.13.
As expected, QJ 7086 departed with the daily mixed to Taipingchuan on time 06.27H. What we didn't know and had to find out now is that the local passenger train to Taiyangshen was published everywhere to depart at 06.38H but was retimed and departed 06.28 now - while we were shooting the departure of QJ7086 the DF4 hauled north-bound passenger left the station without us…
As the weather was overcasted and didn't show any hope for improvement we decided to stay around the station/yard/depot.
These were the movements we saw:
QJ 7173    freight    from Ranghulu    06.45
QJ 6368    freight    from Ranghulu    07.10
QJ 6347 freight    from Ranghulu    07.25
QJ 6886    light    from Ranghulu    07.40
QJ 7119 freight    from Taipingch    07.50
QJ 6847    freight    to RGH         08.00
QJ 6886    freight    to CGQ         08.25
QJ 6924    freight    from RGH    08.30
QJ 6435    freight    from TPC    08.40
QJ 3179    freight    to RGH         08.50
QJ 6851    light    to CGQ         09.20
DF4    freight    from RGH    09.30
DF4    freight    from TPC    09.40
QJ 7119    freight    to TPC         09.50
QJ    freight    from RHG    09.55
QJ    freight    from TPC    10.10
QJ 6875    freight    from TPC    10.30
DF4    freight    from RHG    10.30
QJ 6435    freight    to TPC         10.40
QJ 6882    freight    to RHG         10.50
QJ 6924    freight    to RHG         11.00
QJ 6435    freight    to RHG         11.20

Thanks to a strong wind the gray clouds had disappeared in the meantime and we enjoyed a mostly sunny day. As the yard was empty and nothing would move within the next time we decided to visit the depot where we couldn't enter without having paid the official fee of 100 Yuan. Security is very tight (as we should discover 2 days later) and you have no chance to enter the depot without paying the fee.
Those locos were present: QJ 3251 / QJ 7081 / JS 6481 / JS 6239 (all under steam).
within the next 5 months these QJs will be scrapped: QJ 6852 / 3181 / 3115 / 3287 / 2764 (which has the tender of 6682) / 2749. Cold but serviceable: QJ 6484 / 6308 / 6809.
Additionally we got the information that steam will NOT finish in August 2001 but is very likely to end in summer 2002 because the electrification of the Beijing-Harbin mainline saw some serious delays in the Shenyang bureau area.

We changed locations and moved on to the big river bridge, staying at the small harbour and watching these trains:
QJ    freight    to RHG         13.30
QJ     freight    from RHG    13.50
DF4    freight    to RHG         14.30
DF4    freight    to RHG         15.00
QJ    freight    to RHG         15.40
QJ    freight    from RHG    15.50

Returned to the crossing north of the yard we saw:

QJ 3251    freight    to CGQ         16.10
QJ 7081    light    to CGQ         16.30
QJ 6367    light    from RGH    16.40
DF4 + QJ 6371 + DF5 light from CQG    16.40
QJ 7104    light    from RGH    16.50
QJ    freight    to RHG         17.00
DF4    freight    from RGH    17.10
QJ 6371    freight    to RGH         17.20

Unfortunately the clouds became dominant again and we decided not to waste time for grey and dark pictures and went back to the ludian.

Around 22.00 we returned to the shed and found QJ 6281 and QJ 6143 beside several DF4.

22 May: not wanting to miss the passenger to Taiyangshen again we went to the station around 05.30H to have enough time to photograph the mixed before boarding our train. To our surprise we saw a DF5 being in charge of the mixed today! Indeed this train can be hauled by QJ and DF5 now! Departing north on the train we saw QJ 6882 and QJ 6325 in the depot.
Basically on every station on the way we crossed freights hauled by QJ 6887 / DF4 / DF4 / QJ 7081.
We had hoped for a lot of trains as we had seen yesterday's activity on this line but we were a little bit disappointed (the weather changing from cloudy to sunny during the day again). During our walk from Taiyangshen to Lizhi we met:
QJ 63xx    freight    to DAB         08.00
DF4    freight    to DAB         09.20
QJ 6882    freight    to RGH         11.30
QJ 6924    freight    to RGH         12.10
QJ 6484    freight    to RGH         13.20
DF4    freight    to DAB         14.00
QJ 6887    freight    to RGH         14.20
QJ 6847    freight    to DAB         14.50
DF4    freight    to RGH         15.10
QJ 7081    freight    to RGH         15.30

At Lizhi we saw:
QJ 6112    freight    to DAB         15.50
DF4    freight    to RGH         16.40
QJ 7173    freight    to DAB         16.40
QJ 6361    freight    to RGH         17.30
QJ 6847 freight    to DAB        17.30
QJ 3251    freight    to RGH         18.50
We went to a small good restaurant at Lizhi (follow the main road off the station and you will find it after 500 mtrs on the right side), had a very good dinner there and took the evening passenger train back to Da'an Bei.

23 May: The weather hadn't improved and thick clouds covered the sky, again we hoped that the conditions would change during the day. Indeed the sun came out in the morning but disappeared soon after again…
The mixed to Taipingchuan was DF5 hauled again, the early morning trains noted were:
DF4    freight    to TPC         06.50
QJ 7104    freight    to TPC         07.20

Having seen QJ 7104 departing with the oil-tanker-train we had the crazy idea to chase it. Crazy because we didn't know how bad the roads along the line should prove to be.
After 9 kilometers and 40 minutes drive we arrived at Jianshe - just to see QJ 7104 still waiting in the station! Within the next 20 minutes it was crossed by another freight heading towards Daban, lead by QJ 7086 + DF4, followed by QJ 6571 with its freight train to Daban.
Superb QJ mainline action!

Furthermore the following activity was recorded around Da'an Bei:
DF4    freight    from RGH    09.30
QJ    freight    from RGH    10.00
QJ 7086    freight    to TPC         10.30
QJ 6571    freight    to TPC         11.00
QJ 6773    light    to depot         13.00
QJ 7081    freight    to RGH         13.40
QJ    freight    from CGQ    13.50

We decided to visit the depot again and had just entered the depot area when a security guy demanded to pay another 100 Yuan entry fee. We went to the office with him and showed our receipt from the first visit. Of course it was not accepted because it is valid for 1 day only. Thus we decided to move out and go back to the crossing. On our way out we were stopped by armed security who indicated that we should return to the depot immediately to pay our fee. We refused (as we haven't taken any picture inside yet) and continued leaving this place.
We spend another afternoon at various spots around Da'an Bei and noted the following trains:
QJ    freight    from RGH    14.40
DF4    freight    from RGH    15.00
As the weather got really worse now we went back to our ludian before taking T1344 at 01.21H to Dahushan.

24 May: On our way to Dahushan we overtook QJ 6089 with a local freight at Heitan. This train followed our passenger and we met it again at Dahushan.
Dahushan itself has a small shed where we could see a dumped QJ and JS awaiting their fate to be scrapped one day.
By taxi we went on to Fuxin where we were refused to enter the shed. So we simply walked to the southern end of the yard where QJ 6707 and QJ 6725 (deflectorless) shunted; QJ 6321 and another QJ were already lined up for their departures at 11.10 and 11.50 respectively. Those 2 trains should be regular steam performers the next days! JS 6479 shunted some wagons in a siding.
As the weather wasn't too good again we did not bother much about the industrial activity around Fuxin: we just saw SY 0941 / 1010 / 1369 and electrics 041 / 390 at Taiping before heading towards YiXian. On our way we stopped at Qinghemen: SY 0720 served the mine at Aiyouying, transferring from/to its base at Qinghemen via the CNR mainline. SY 0035 was found cold at Aiyouying.
We saw:
QJ 6226    freight    to YIX         15.00
SY 0720    light    to AIY         15.10
SY 0720    light    to QIG         15.40
QJ 6671    freight    to YIX         16.10
QJ    freight    to FUX         17.00
A huge black line of clouds with heavy lightning had built up in the meantime and just in the moment we closed the doors of our taxi it started raining…

Arrived at YiXian we found a good hotel (Kaishen binguan) with inroom shower/hot water facilities for 80Y (off the station behind the crossing on the left!). Looking out of the window we saw a sunny strip below the black sky and headed to the station where a friendly station master told us to hurry up because QJ 6671had just arrived with its local southbound freight. Not only this - it waited for a crossing with another freight train which slowly moved into the station, hauled by QJ 6753!
Mainline steam crossings in wonderful evening light!
Even this train had to wait - for another freight on its way up north: we hoped for a 3rd QJ in the station! Unfortunately it was DF4 hauled …
Nevertheless the day had ended perfectly - never give up!

Frank had to return home already today and we took a taxi to Jinzhou where he boarded the night train to Beijing. On my way back to YiXian I stopped briefly at the Bajiaotai power plant to find JS 6211 and JS 6244 in the small "depot" just beside the crossing.

25 May: With my limited Chinese knowledge I tried to explain my taxidriver that I wanted to go to Shangyuan station early next morning. He nodded promptly which made me a little bit suspicious - I had read in other reports that it is not so easy to go there…infact it was quite easy because he took the main road which makes a huge turn across the countryside - it took me 1,5 hour to go there.
From the mentioned reports I had hoped to find a QJ eldorado - but at least during the 3 days I have been there it was more a photographer's nightmare…
I had decided to walk back to Zhoujiatun where the taxi driver should pick me up again and met the following trains on my way (approx. timings for Zhoujiatun):
DF4    freight    eb    08.00
DF4    freight    eb    08.45
QJ 7117    freight    wb    09.15
QJ    freight    eb    11.40
QJ 6410    freight    wb    12.40
DF4    freight    wb    13.30
QJ 7117    freight    eb    13.40
QJ 6750    freight    eb    14.00
DF4    freight    wb    15.10
DF4    freight    wb    15.50
DF4    freight    wb    18.00
DF4    freight    eb    18.00

Very disappointing: only 4 out of 12 trains during 10 hours were steam hauled…

26 May: Having learned something from the low level of activity yesterday I had made a masterplan where to shoot what train to optimize my results…it worked fine - except that most of the masterminded trains were diesel hauled now…
QJ 6226 shunted at YiXian station around 05.30 before I went off to Zhoujiatun station where I moved around this day and saw these trains:
QJ    freight    wb    07.00
DF4    freight    eb    07.30
DF4    freight    eb    08.10
DF4    freight    eb    09.00
QJ 6991    freight    eb    11.40
QJ 7117    freight    wb    12.30
QJ    freight    eb    13.00
QJ 6410    freight    wb    13.10
DF4    freight    wb    13.30
DF4    freight    eb    14.20
DF4    freight    wb    15.40
QJ    light    eb    16.10
DF4 + DF5 freight wb    16.20
DF4    freight    wb    17.30
DF4    freight    eb    17.30

Another day with lots of diesel movements and bad weather on top. I started to become frustrated.

One more note: as you can see from my sightings there is definitely no special weekend schedule (Friday vs. Saturday) - I spend the following days around Beipiao where I couldn't see any change of activity from Sunday to Monday either.

27 May: This morning I continued my trip to Beipiao where I found a good hotel (Bei Mei binguan, 140Y per room incl hot water any time and rooms well kept).
After a short visit of Beipiao station (nothing to see) I went off to Beipiaonan where QJ 6679 passed me with the Chaoyang passenger - I expected this train to run tender first and thus didn't care much about it but it steamed away smokebox first! Logically the return to Chaoyang would be tender first now…The schedule for these trains (as described in various other reports) remains unchanged but all locomotives on these passenger duties run tender first to Chaoyang and smokebox first to Beipiaonan now!
At Luotuojing a QJ was ready to depart so I went to the river bridge south of the station and waited for the trains to come:
QJ 7117    freight    sb    09.00
QJ 6679 pass    sb    09.25 tf

In Beipiaonan station I was greeted by 4 QJs: 6226 / 6672 / 6991 / 7117 and found this steam action:
QJ 6691 banked by QJ 7117    freight    to YIX         10.30
QJ 6672                 freight     to BPO        10.40
QJ 6990                 freight      from YEB    11.00
QJ 7117             light     from Nanling    11.10
QJ 6990 banked by QJ 7117    freight    to YIX         11.30
QJ 6172                 freight     from BPO    12.00
QJ 6943                 freight     to YIX        12.30

I tried to chase the latter train but as it consisted of 8 cars only it was too fast - even uphill the train run faster than the taxi did because the road to Nanling station is being rebuild right now…

East of Nanling I waited for the next trains from Fuxin, the 2 steam hauled freights at 11.00/11.40 departing Fuxin were due to arrive soon:
QJ 6321                 freight     wb    14.00
DF4                 freight     eb    14.20
QJ 6410                 freight     wb    14.40
This time the schedule worked perfectly!

Back at Luotuojing I wanted to give the depot a try - and I wasn't arrested nor asked to leave the place: everybody was very friendly and I was even invited to the depot and could move around in- and outside the depot without any hassle! In the small depot I found QJ 6095 / 6382 / 6410 / 6672.
Back at the bridge I saw:
QJ 7117 + 6172            light     to BPO        17.00
QJ 6679                 pass     to BPO        17.10
QJ 6679                 pass     to CHA        18.20 tf

The railwar service between Beipiao and Beipaionan was worked by DMUs 1007 + 1008.
Be careful if you ask for "the station" in Beipiao: everybody translates it with Beipaionan because it is the more important station…

28 May: the day started around Beipiaonan:

QJ 6679                 pass     to CHA        06.40 tf
QJ 6943 + DF4            light     from YEB    07.20
DF4                 freight     to YEB        07.30
QJ 6679                 pass     to BPO        08.30
DF4 + GKD1-4008        freight    to YIX         08.50
QJ 7117                 freight     from BPO    09.00
QJ 6672                 freight     to YIX        09.30
QJ 6679                 pass     to BPO        09.40
QJ                 freight     from YIX    09.50
QJ 6911                 freight     to YIX        10.40
QJ + QJ 6172 (banking)        freight     to YIX        12.00

I had to move on and visited the Chaoyang yard on my way to Yebaishou around 14.00:
I found QJ 6943 shunting while QJ 6471 + QJ 6409 waited to take a freight train to Yebaishou.
Before I could enjoy the departure of this train a policeman arrived, arrested me and guided me to the station. On the way I managed to change my film in the camera though and smiled at the 8 (!) grim looking fools waiting for me at the railway-police building. Of course I should hand out my film and my notebook - unfortunately I never understand what those revolutionary heroes want from me.
After their disappointment that I could speak English only I pretended to have understood suddenly what they wanted and showed them some steam locomotive pictures - which they commented with just "No" and finally told me to leave. Magically I had no problems to understand this again…
Unfortunately I had to use the official way out now - I just reached the rails again when I saw my train storming out of the station. Thanks to my good driver I got 3 more shots from this train on our way to Yebaishou!
At Bolouochi I waited for other trains to come but only 1 made it during daylight:
QJ 6776        freight    to YIX         18.00

As mentioned in some other reports you may now avoid the serviceless and overpriced Jianping Binguan because there are at least 2 other hotels available: either the railway hotel on the left side of the station which is cheap but offers no shower. Or you may take the "Shancheng Binguan" which is the last building on the right side before the road bridge to Yebaishou town (if you follow the main road straight off the station). On its 3rd floor it offers spacious rooms with hot water and the biggest bathrooms with showers I have ever seen in China (all for 120Y).

Having not been in Yebaishou for several years I was shocked to see how fast this small town had developed: not only 2 new hotels, but also new buildings everywhere - sometimes I had problems to recognize some previously well known streets.
But the depot is still there and will use steam until summer next year (as already confirmed by the Da'an depot). In Yebaishou I was also told that the local mayor presses hard to keep the steam locomotives in service because the railway told him that they will sack a few hundred low-qualified workers with the end of steam maintenance at the Yebaishou depot. The unemployment rate in Yebaishou is already high and the town officials would like to avoid another sharp raise!

29 May: looking out of the window I got frustrated right away: sunshine with big black clouds moving exactly in the direction of Yebaishou…

At the well-known crossing close to the depot I saw:
JS 8328            shunting                 05.00
QJ 6990            light from depot             05.10
DF4 + QJ 6086        freight         from SHI    05.20
QJ             freight         to YIX         05.30
QJ + QJ 6086        freight         to HGS         05.30
QJ 6411 + QJ 6990     freight         to HGS         06.00
DF4 + QJ 6086        freight         from HGS    08.10
DF4 + QJ 6086        freight         to HGS         08.30
QJ 6677            light to depot             09.00
QJ 6417 + QJ 6729    light to depot             09.50
QJ 6086            light from HGS/to depot        10.00

The weather got bad now and it started to rain. What else could I do than visiting an old friend at the Yebaishou depot who showed me around. I found these locomotives (all in steam):
QJ 3268 / 6086 / 6409 / 6414 / 6416 / 6417 / 6418 / 6554 / 6677 / 6726 / 6728 / 6729 / 6776.
The rain had stopped meanwhile and it was fascinating to see more than a dozen locomotives steaming in the depot but it meant as well that line-duties were majorly diesel right now.
A quick look at the dispatcher's board showed the sad truth: only 1 steam only hauled train would leave Yebaishou within the next 5 hours! All other trains would be diesel only or have a diesel in front of the steam loco! As the only pure steam train would work to Hongshi which I had photographed a lot of times in the past I decided to drive eastwards to wait for the doubleheader from Chaoyang.
To cut a long, sunny, DF4 dominated afternoon short: it arrived at 19.00H, the obligatory cloud covered the sun and I didn't even take a picture. It was nice on video though…

Having had enjoyed the DF4 parade today I wanted to keep Yebaishou in my memory as I had learned to love it during all my previous visits during the early 90s (steam all over the place) and bought a train ticket to continue my trip to Wuhai - via Beijing tonight.
The train should leave at 01.30 and I visited the depot before the departure of my Beijing bound train again: now escorted by not less than 6 security guys I took pictures of QJ 6321 / 6414 / 6418 / 6776 / 6728 / 6729 / 6x21.

No sleepertickets were available (neither at Yebaishou station nor on the train) so I bought a dining-car ticket for 40Y and had some hours of sleep before the conductor woke me up at Chengde to move me to a free hardsleeper berth.

30 May: The train arrived at Beijing station on time (10.15), by taxi I went to Beijing Xi where I bought a softsleeper to Wuhai Xi (I thought…) for 340Y to depart on train T177 at 15.26!
On the train I realized that my ticket was good to Wuhai only, the conductor didn't bother and told me to pay at WuhaiXi - what I had to do at the ticket control gate: 16Y on top.

31 May: the train arrived at Wuhai Xi at 10.00 and after dealing with a taxi driver we searched for a better place to stay than the WuhaiXi Binguan or just a ludian - and we found a small hotel in Wusutu, some 5 kilometers south of WuhaiXi with hot water and decent rooms with showers for 60Y the night. If you are fancy to go to WuhaiXi, go to the Yongtai Binguan at Wusutu: if you travel on the mainroad WuhaiXi-Wusutu-Yinchuan you will find a white obelisk on the right side and a wide tar road branching off at the obelisk. The next house on the main road, right side, after the obelisk is the hotel, it has its telephone number in red neon lights displayed outside: 3442894!

After booking the room I continued to the road bridge 1 kilometer further south and saw already the daily mixed slowly approaching the big curve at km 6. This and the other trains I saw during my walk from the bridge to km 15.7 where the other big road bridge is located, were:

QJ 6909        mixed    to WUX         11.30
QJ 7065        freight    to JIL         13.10
QJ 7056        freight    to WUX         15.30

My taxidriver picked me up at the big road bridge, not believing that I walked the entire way and we drove back to Wusutu to wait for the uphill mixed in perfect evening light:

QJ 7056        mixed    to JIL         20.00

We chased this train to the big bridge and got a fantastic silhouette shot 40 minutes later!
Sometimes it is worth to have a taxi (I paid 150Y) because I could easily chase all evening trains between the 2 bridges!

The weather had been sunny (and hot!) the entire day and it continued to be desert-like for the next days. Unfortunately the traffic level during daylight decreased day by day…

01 Jun: Wandering around the big road bridge I saw:

QJ 7065        freight    to JIL         08.30
QJ 7056        mixed    to WUX         12.10
QJ 6909        freight    to JIL         13.40

Back at Wusutu I waited for hours to note:

QJ 7056        mixed    to JIL         22.30

02 Jun: again at the big road bridge:

QJ 7057+JS 8265    light    to JIL         11.00
QJ 7056        mixed    to WUX         12.30
QJ 6909        freight    to JIL         13.50
QJ 7065+JS 8264    freight    to WUX         19.00

and at Wusutu again:
QJ 7056        mixed    to JIL         20.00

03 Jun: disaster day:

QJ 7065        freight    to WUX         06.00

and nothing else…
My schedule this day was very tight because I had to catch K178, leaving WuhaiXi at 18.07!
I visited the shed at WuhaiXi very early in the morning and found not a single QJ present. Thus all engines must have been on the line and I had hoped for a lot of traffic - but it didn't happen.
The taxi-driver waited for me at the big road bridge and I extended my deadlines to leave the line and to return to Beijing in 15 minutes intervals…still hoping for a train rolling over the big bridge in perfect afternoon light. Nothing happened. No train since the early morning, even the mixed didn't show up until:

QJ 7056+QJ 6909 mixed    to WUX         17.00

Back to the big bridge - and the mixed had stopped at km 6 again because the track had been covered with sand during the day of non-activity on the line. The crews had to shovel the sand from the rails - while I and the driver got a little bit nervous because the departure of my train advanced without mercy. After hours (as it seemed to me) the train moved again - just to stop in front of sand-dunes on the track at km 5 again. I got mad…just 20 minutes to go, warm evening light, a QJ doubleheader just 1 km away from me - and no sign of movement.
15 minutes to go: whistling - but no movement. 12 minutes left: the train started moving and passed me 2 minutes later.

Running back to the taxi, with highspeed to the station, storming to the ticket counter, buying just any hardseater, finally on the train at 18.05! Phew…

I managed to get a hardsleeper to Baotou-Dong where I left the train and stayed overnight.

At the depot at Baotou-Dong I found no JS and the service-board in the dispatcher's room noted diesel engines for all duties only. The crew explained that all trains to Shiguai are DF5 now and the JS had been transferred to Baotou-Xi.
I checked it again the next morning: the Shiguai passenger was DF5, indeed.

04 Jun: After visiting the station I continued to the airport and took an Air China flight to Beijing and connected to my Lufthansa flight without problems.

Rob Dickinson