The International Steam Pages
More Steam in China, October 2003
Extreme Steam Trip Report, by Michael Rhodes, Vernon Murphy, Steve LeCheminant and Nick Dodson guided as always by Weishu Li.
BA039 LHR-Beijing, arrive Beijing 0930 on 11/10/03
Lunch and then off to Beijing Xi for train K145, the 1510 to Nancheng which we took as far as Handan which was reached at 1940. Overnight was in the Handan Hotel, a fine establishment with a beef chilli hotpot that would remove paint!
12/10/03 Dreary, rainy and +6 to +10
Handan steelworks, which in spite of previous reports was a really neat and compact works in which we were allowed access to all areas including the blast furnaces, slag tipping and engine shed. The works is said to produce 5 million tonnes of steel per year and is expanding. The railway side of things has 13 SYs and 13 GK diesels as well as 2 abandoned YJs.
We saw the following during our morning visit:-
The on by road to Anyang where we stopped at the Anyang Hotel for lunch - this was the site where Vernon and I were marooned last December by a pea-souper fog and it was nice to see the place! On by road to Zhenzhou and a brief visit to the over bridge at the north end of Zhenzhou north yard. This is said to be the biggest freight yard in Asia handling 12,000 wagons per day, there were 7 SS4 electrics lined up at the north departures. We overnighted in Zhenzhou.
13/10/03 - Sunny with a top temp of 18 degrees.
Xuchang-Dacheng - this narrow gauge line is 170 kilometers long and runs a daily passenger as well as coal trains. We passed through Xuchang on the road journey from Zhenzhou to Pingdingshan and visited the narrow gauge shed. It houses two 0-8-0 steam locomotives, one overgrown with creepers and the other inside the shed and said to be steamable for charters. Not sure whether to believe this but it looked in pretty good nick.
Pingdingshan 13/10/03 to 16/10/03 three days of glorious sun with temperatures up to 25 degrees
As many people have been here I shall not bore you with a blow by blow account of the days but rather list all the mines we found. The system was being resignalled during our visit so traffic was down, but compared to the dense fog of last year it was a joy to be able to see anything!
Mine 1 - steep 2km branch from main yard at 24/1000
I think we found all 13 mines around Pingdingshan and I drew a map with the other mines like Hanzhuang etc. on.
Hanzhuang, Gaozhuang and Dazhuang are 58, 56 and 53 kilometers west of the main yard, well beyond Baofeng. There is one passenger each day to the end of the line and the three collieries between them produce less than 1 million tonnes of coal a year which equates to no more than 5 trains per 24 hours and only one or two in daylight.
Locos seen during the visit were:-
Resignalling in Pingdingshan
Mine 1 Line
Mine 13 to Mine 8 Passenger near Mine 8
Then on 16/10/03 caught the K339, 1132, Zhenzhou to Kunming as far as Liuzhou and then drove to Hechi.
17/10/03 to 20/10/03 - three days of haze and misty sunshine with temperatures up to 30
There are good locations around Wenping, Pohua station, Douchuan station and the viaducts north of Kenfu.
During our visit we saw the following:
We drove from Hechi to Guilin and then flew on the 1655 China Air flight to Chengdu and after an overnight in Chengdu drove to Shibanxi. I cannot compete with the detailed report by our webmaster but suffice it to say I agree with his sentiments - this line is great. We stayed in Qianwei, 20 minutes drive from the terminus of the line and very moderately priced.
The line has 2 operational steam locos No.7 and No.10 and two in need of repair in the shed (No.9 and No.14).
The bottom 5 kilometers of the line were electrified prior to 2000 and 3 electrics built near Shanghai arrived in 2000. There are also 2 1991 Mundanjiang diesels which never ran much as the line couldn't get spares for them. Prior to electrification the line used 6 0-8-0 steam engines. The line also owns 160 coal wagons which carry 6 tonnes each. They work in standard 42 wagon rakes to the main mine at Sanjin.
As for closure dates - who knows - certainly some time next year with June to November covering most options. It's a great line don't miss it.
Caught the 2105 flight from Chengdu to Beijing
A day out at Tangshan - the steelworks was out of bounds due to new management not allowing visits so we just did the pit. This still uses 3 SYs and a funny locomotive with a JS boiler and frames but an SY tender and cab. Anyway - very enjoyable couple of hours photting here even though the passenger trains have gone over to brand new GK diesels and September 2003 coaches. Steam will finish here in December 2003 as 2 more diesels are on order.
Home on BA038
There is still a tremendous variety of steam action to photograph in China but it needs more and more travelling and more and more patience (except at Pingdingshan where there are trains all over the place!). The next visit is planned for February - can't wait.