The International Steam Pages

Steam Discoveries in Northern China, 2002

Report on Search for Steam in Liaoning Province, China May 23-26, 2002, by Louis Cerny


Four previously unreported operations were discovered, one previously mentioned operation (Dengta-Huazi) was found to be more extensive than previously reported, and details were obtained on the passenger operation at Waitoushan. All of these lines are in mountainous territory with photographic potential. In addition a 5th unreported line was found earlier in May by Sun Xiaolan's group and is being reported here for the first time.

Two of the previously unreported operations head east from the Dalian-Shenyang Main Line south of Haicheng. These were found by checking out lines on a local map after the original target of the search, the Haicheng-Xiuyan line, was found to be diesel powered with two freights each way each day. The other two lines were spotted from the Luoyang-Benxi highway, which follows the rail line marked 4A on page 4 of the Quail Map. My interpreter on the trip was Deng Feng.

Dashiqiao Mineral Railway

This JS-powered line is about 30 km long with a branch about 5 km long. It starts at an interchange on the west side of the Dalian-Shenyang main line just north of the Dashiqiao station, then climbs a steep grade to the north before crossing over the main line on a bridge. It then turns east towards the mountains, climbing up and tunneling through a ridge into a highly industrialized mining valley. This area has a complex of tracks and was said to contain the engine shed, but this was inside a security perimeter and not visited. The line continues on, turning to the north into a scenic rural mountain valley. A branch here goes up a second such valley. Two JS locomotives were seen in operation out of the five said to be here. An engine driver said he had never before seen a foreigner looking at this line.

JS 8041 near point B on the map, 23rd May 2002.

JS 8041

JS 6308 heads north up valley just south of Zhaobao, 23rd May 2002.

JS 6308

JS 6308 heads back towards Dashiqiao from near Zhaobao, 23rd May 2002.


Tangwangshan-Pailou Local Railway

This SY-powered line is about 20 km long and heads east from the Dalian-Shenyang line at Tangwangshan (8 km south of Haicheng), going via Bali into the mountains to reach Pailou, where the shed is located. The last 8 km into Pailou is closely paralleled by the Haincheng-Xiuyan highway. (I believe this is the origin of the stories of steam on the Haicheng-Xiuyan Railway. Some one assumed that railroad paralleled this highway, whereas that line is actually located to the north.) One SY was observed making a round trip from Pailou to the China Rail interchange in excellent afternoon light. Another SY is said to be on the line.

SY 1076 heads east into the mountains with freight between Bali and Pailou, 23rd May 2002

SY 1076

If one takes the road heading south at Bali, the scenic sections of the Dashiqiao line can be reached directly by this road, which includes a scenic lakeside drive.

South of Haicheng map

Gongchangling Mining Railway

This JS and electric powered railroad is located at Anping (about 31 km from Luoyang on the Luoyang - Benxi line). The steam activity is mostly near the China Rail station and at one point three JS could be seen in motion simultaneously. The JS work the yard on the north side of the mainline across from the station along with the China Rail diesels. The main factory is located north of that yard. Neither the factory nor the yard is electrified, so that all traffic to and from the factory is moved by steam. The mining railway crosses the China Rail Luoyang-Benxi main line east of the Anping station. The crossing consists of double-slip switches so that the China Rail main can be used as a yard lead. A JS pulling a long cut of cars was seen doing this, looking like a China Rail freight heading upgrade for Benxi. The railway also has extensive electric operations climbing into the mountains around Anping. JS seen in use were 5250, 8044, 8239, and 8252 (there may have been many more).

At Anping, JS 8239 of Gongchangling Mining Railway uses CNR main line to benxi as yard lead, 24th May 2002.

JS 8239

Gongchangling map

Beitai Steel Mill

Further east along the Luoyang-Benxi line, at km 55, was perhaps the most impressive find of the four days. Local information is that 17-20 steam locomotives are active here. The locomotives were well-maintained, some in "super-shine" condition, with plaques and other signs and raised ornamentation. The shed, which had a shop building which looked to be as big as the main building at Daban, is located to the east of the mill. The mill itself is in a 4 km-long linear layout between the river and high mountains.

The surprising thing here is the easy accessibility to a significant amount of the operation. At the China Rail Beitai station, the interchange yard with the steel mill railway is fully open. An overpass east of the station gives a good view of engines going to and from the shed. Best of all, to the west of the station, the China Rail tracks are paralleled for about 1 km by a steel mill "main line" which connects the various parts of the mill. This line, with 3-4 steam movements per hour, is not obstructed from view in any way and is outside the steel mill security perimeter. Eastbound moves face a stiff grade here. SY seen in use and identified were 0322, 0825, 0930, 1514, 1561, 1567, 1577, 1684, and 2019. Many others were seen in use, but they stayed inside the security perimeter, so numbers were not obtained.

SY 2019 comes off shed at Beitai Steel Mill. Two other SY can be seen in the background by shop building, 26th May 2002.

SY 2019

SY 1561 in supershine condition switches Beitai Steel Mill, 26th May 2002

SY 1561

Beitai map

Dengta-Huazi (Dengta Industrial Railway)

This line heads east from the Dalian-Shengyang mainline at Dengta, 28 km south of Shenyang. It has been previously reported as having two SY.

However, it turns out the this 20 km line has a previously unrecorded branch about 8km long which leaves the line about 2 km from the end, which I will call "North Huazi," and heads southeast into the mountains via high fills and deep cuts to an industrial area with its own separate shed I will call "South Huazi." The branch then continues into a valley with two mines/factories.

An especially notable feature of this line is that the China Rail interchange yard at Dengta, which is on the west side of the Dalian-Shenyang main line just north of the Dengta station, is reached by coming onto the main line south of the station. One can thus seen an SS4-powered freight followed by an SY-powered freight using the same mainline rails.

Engines seen at "North Huazi" were SY0209 and 0978 (in steam). Engines seen at "South Huazi" were SY 0443 (in steam), 0901, 0903 (in steam) and a forth SY. Also present at the south shed was JS 5806 complete but out of use.

SY 0443 uses the Shenyang - Dalian main line at Dengta for a short distanvce as it heads from the interchange yard on the west of the main line to its own line east to Huazi on 25th May 2002.

SY 0443

SY 0443 pulls loads from the mine/factory at location marked B on the map, 25th May 2002.

SY 0443

A single headlight mounted on top of the smokebox gives a different look to SY 0903 on 25th May 2002.

SY 0903

Huazi map

Weitoushan Coal Mine

This passenger operation is a short 3-or-4 km shuttle from the Weitoushan China Rail station to the Weitoushan Coal Mine "Company Town," and the train I saw on May 24 was well used. The line uses one SY 1012, and runs on previously electrified trackage, paralleling the China Rail line on the south side heading to the west, then making a horseshoe curve and another curve to reach the town station from the northwest. This may actually be a fairly new operation for steam following de-electrification.

Meihekou Mining Bureau Railway

This 25 km SY-powered system in Jilin Province just north of the Liaoning border was visited by one of Sun Xiaolan's staff circa May 1, 2002. It interchanges with China Rail at Heishantou, km 213 on the Shen-Ji line, shown on the Quail map as line 9 on page 4. The line runs parallel to the China Rail line north of Sanchengzhen at a separation of about 5km. This line is about 20 km long and the connection to China Rail about 5km. The line has four passenger round trips a day and serves 6 coal mines. SYs noted in use were 0791, 1216, 1445, and 1662. One or two others are said to be on the property.

Meihekou Map

Other Notes

The Dongjingling Local Railway north of Luoyang was said by a level crossing attendant to have started using diesels earlier this year. A crossing attendant at a secondary track near Shiqiaozi (northwest of Benxi) said steam was still used there. The isolated system (Pindingshan-Erhulai-Sidaohezi) shown on the Quail map east of Shenyang was visited by Sun Xiaolan and was found to be abandoned.

The number of new finds in such a short time make it likely that there are many dozens or even hundreds of undiscovered local and industrial steam operations in China.

The trip was made via a non-stop flight from Washington to Seoul, Korea. The flight reached Seoul in the evening, and KoreaAir provided dinner, a hotel, and breakfast prior to a morning flight to Shenyang. Round trip fares were in the 900-1100 US Dollar range.

Rob Dickinson