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China Railways Trip Reports

29 December 1998 to 18 January 1999

Bruce G. Evans

Bejing area (29 December and 18 January)

Time was spent at Liangxiang south of Beijing and at Fengtai ‘bridge’, the extremely busy spot for watching trains between Fengtai station and diesel depot.

On the line south from Beijing towards Baoding and Shijiazhuang most traffic is now hauled by electric locos. Many passenger trains are hauled by the SS8 class locos while freight traffic surprisingly is hauled by SS1s that have been transferred in from elsewhere. A few freights and passengers continue to be worked by DF4s and DF4Bs from Baoding or Fengtai depots. At Liangxiang, south of Changxindian, an ND4 and a DF7B were present. The ND4 was doing nothing. The DF7B was shunting freight wagons and in due course departed along the branch extending westwards from here.

At Fengtai three of the new DF8B freight diesels were seen. Another new type noted, working through Fengtai on passenger workings on the line towards Datong, is a Datong-built DF4C (presumed to be a DF4C, the locos look identical to the now common Dalian 4xxx and Ziyang 5xxx locos). All locos of this type seen had 1998 builders plates, were numbered in a new series beginning at 0001 and appear to be allocated to Zhangjiakou depot. Locos up to 0020 were seen. Several very new Ziyang-built DF4Cs were also seen but these seemed to all be allocated to Fengtai.

Single ended BJs 2011 and 2012 were seen hauling a workers passenger train through Fengtai, evidence of the decline in importance of the BJ type.

At Fengtai depot ND4s 17, 24, 27, 38 and 44 together with ND5 0163 and several Tangshan-built DF5s were dumped.

Baotou (31 December to 5 January)

Workings on the Shiguai line and at Dongsheng to the south were generally as reported recently. National Railways steam activity in the Baotou area does not appear to have reduced over the past year. No recently delivered diesels were seen.

On the Baotou-Shenmu line, apparently owned by the Shenhua Corporation Group, two QJs, 2670 and 3068, are locos previously reported in recent years on the Jiexiu-Linfen line. These locos are thought to be new arrivals after further dieselisation on the National Railways line.

Around the end of December, 1998, several DF4B diesels were seen at Dongsheng depot by a CLSPA guide. He was told that these locos were en route to Baotou depot for routine attention from a line in Shanxi Province. This seems to indicate that the line from Daliuta to Shouzhou on the Taiyuan-Datong line is open.

According to locals railway construction south from Shenmu towards Yan’an is now underway. Apparently the line as far as Yulin, about 130km south of Shenmu, will be owned by the Shenhua Corporation. This section of line is expected to open within a year. South of Yulin it is thought the new line will be owned by the national railways. Developments relating to the new railway construction need to be clarified as the additional through traffic that can be expected to move along the new north-south corridor must poses a threat to continued QJ operation through Donsheng to Baotou. (See also news on the Pucheng-Yan’an line in Section 5).

The late morning daily freight working at about 11h00 from Baotoudong onto the circle-line was noted once with double-headed JS. The normal arrangement as far as the circle-line junction with the Shiguai line is apparently QJ train engine plus a JS banker.

From the junction station a branch-line extends north-westwards. According to locals this serves a chemical factory and is worked by SY 1049. This loco was not seen though.

At the Baotou No 1 Heavy Machinery Factory what appeared to be an old JS was noted shunting. A high wall unfortunately prevents a clear view of operations. On a previous visit what was also thought to be a JS was noted here. The complex is large and it is thought that there would be several locos in use.

The adjacent power station, Baotou No 2 Power Station, also has its own locomotive or locomotives. JS 8130, brought empty gondolas from the power station to the national railways Xinxiancheng Station and after a short spell shunting in the station yard returned with a string of gondolas loaded with coal.

Immediately east of Xinxiancheng Station is the Baotou No 2 Heavy Machinery Factory. The depot for this plant is close to the rail access gate at the eastern end of the station. SYs 0124 and 0457 were in steam, SY 0677 was dead but looked in working order.

Locos seen:

SY: 0124, 0457, 0677

JS: 8001, 8003, 8005(BT), 8008(BT), 8130, 8279(BT), 8320, 8321, 8322(BT), 8327(BT).

QJ: 1611*, 1891*, 1892*, 1969*, 2586*, 2670*, 3068*, 3162*, 6018*, 6247*, 6248*, 6249*, 6287*, 6289*, 6473*, 6519(BT), 6563(BT), 6565(BT), 6711*, 6836(BT), 7044*.

Depots: Baotou-BT.

Locos marked with an * were on the Baotou-Shenmu (Shenhua?) line.

Baotou to Datong (6 Jan)

National Railways workings between Baotou and Datong remain much as before with no new locomotives seen.

A high-deflectored SL is parked in a yard north of the mainline, near the first station west of Hohhot.

Although the works appears largely derelict, activity involving the use of some railway rolling stock continues at what is thought to be Hohhot Steelworks. A number of bogie gondolas from the works were noted fully loaded with coal and smoke and steam plumes were visible from several chimneys at the works. No locos could be seen though.

At Gudian just north of Datong industrial QJ 3037 was noted in steam at what appears to be its usual parking spot, the entrance to what is thought to be some form of steel processing plant. (a small power station seems to form part of this works).

Yuncheng to Xian (7 Jan)

Between Yuncheng and Mengyuan no steam was seen on this Beijing Bureau line. Freights were mainly double-headed DF4/4B and passengers double-headed BJ. A BJ was shunting freight wagons in Yuncheng yard (another indicator of the drop in fortunes of this class).

Once on the Zhengzhou Bureau line from Mengyuan to Xian, again no steam was observed. Freights and passengers on this electrified line were SS6, working between Xian and Sanmenxia, and SS1 respectively. Shunt locos at main stations were orange DF7Bs except at Mengyuan where an earlier blue DF7 was being used. At Lintong and Xinfengzhen DF4Bs were in evidence for the line towards Hancheng.

The only industrial locos seen along this route were a pair of orange Ziyang-built GK1Cs at the power station north of the line at Luofu. SYs and JFs had been seen here several years ago.

Xian (7, 11 and 12 January)

Chinese Railways steam activity at Xian itself has almost disappeared. Only two QJs were seen in steam in the city, one passing light engine through the main station and one at the small depot at Xian West.

Industrial steam in the form of SY 1471 was noted at the small yard at Sanmencun Station, one west of Xian West Station. According to workers this loco is from a factory to the south of Xian. A long spur extends from western side of this yard directly south. While at Sanmencun SY 0805 in steam passed through in a westbound freight train headed by a DF4. Presumably this train (and therefore the SY) was headed for the line north from Xian.

A JMY380 standard gauge industrial diesel was also seen at Sanmencun. Although having a single cab it differed in several respects from the previously seen Shijiazhuang-built JMY380s and may be a product of the Changzhou factory or another factory building similar industrial locos. Between Sanmencun and Xian West stations to the south of the mainline there appears to be a string of large state enterprises manufacturing heavy electical equipment. This loco seemed to be serving these plants.

Through freights and passenger trains between Xian and Baoji appear to be all worked by SS1 electrics, many from the early series. DF4/4Bs are present and work freights on the non-electified lines, while passenger trains on these lines are mostly hauled by BJ diesel-hydraulics. Shunts are either DF7 or DF7B.

On 12 January SS7s 0083 and 0084 arrived at Xian depot presumably on delivery from Datong. These locos bear the Xian depot character and are possibly to be used in due course on the new line from Xian southwards to Ankang. This will be a mountainous route with the longest rail tunnel in China. Between Xian and Xinfengzhen to the west there is now considerable construction activity associated with this new line. The junction between it and the east-west mainline is about 15km east of Xian, considerably further west than shown on the currwnt Nelles map.

With the completion of the new Xian-Ankang line and the Shenmu-Yan’an line further north a major north-south rail corridor will be opened. As indicated earlier this must represent a threat in the near future to the Baotou-Daliuta QJ operation.

At Xinfengzhen diesel depot dumped QJs 3301 and 6591 were seen. Most locos at the depot were DF4/4Bs for the line north towards Hancheng and Houma. Three interesting diesels were DF1s 1683 and 1836 and BJ 3082. These three locos all carried the characters for "1 Bureau, 2 Depot" and are thought to be locos used for construction workings on the new Ankang line. While withdrawal of DF1 diesels from Chinese Railways service has been taking place for many years now this was the first case noted of a BJ possibly having been disposed of by the Chinese Railways to a Ministry of Railways construction unit.

Locos seen:

QJ: 3301, 6591.

SY: 0805, 1471.

Xian to Tongchuan (8 January) and Tongchuan area (8 to 11 January)

Passenger trains between Xian and Tongchuan follow the route via Xianyang, the junction to the west of Xian, Yanliang and Yaoxian. Most passenger trains on this route are worked by Xian based BJs although DF4/4Bs are also sometimes used. Freights seen were all DF4B hauled. Shunt locos were diesel in the yards near Xian, DF7s being seen. From Yanliang onwards though all shunt locos were QJ, all locos bearing the easily recognisable Xian depot code.

The shunt loco at Yanliang was QJ 6533, at Yaoxian QJ 6719 while at Tongchuan QJs 6531, 6550 and 6718 were present. At the mainline junction at Xianyang about 6 QJs were noted dumped.

The only industrial loco seen was what appeared to be a JMY380 diesel-hydraulic at a chemical plant south of Sanyuan Station. There may also be steam here. In the Yaoxian area there were several large cement works and according to workers at Tongchuan there is at least one SY at these works.

Tongchuan is a small coal-mining city and most rail freight traffic is coal from the mines around the city. The Tongchuan Coal Mining Administration has a railway system part of which appears to have formed a section of the now disused local railway between Tongchuan and Baishui. There is a mine at Tongchuan South Station, where the interchange between the coal mine system and the national railways is, and then several others up to about 30km away. The railway system consists of a ‘mainline’ of about 10km and spurs to the various mines. Locos seen were six JFs and a DF7B (3134) diesel, possibly the first recorded in industrial or mining use. According to workers there is a second DF7B (3135) and there may be more JFs. Three more diesels were said to be on order for delivery this year, the dieselisation being due mainly to pressure from the city to assist with pollution reduction. Based on the traffic levels noted a fleet of five diesels would probably spell the end of regular steam operation. Because of their heavier axle-load and extra pair of driving axles the diesels are able to haul significantly greater loads than the JFs.

There are very steep grades on the mine system with some grade posts indicating 3%. Unfortunately there are no loco turning facilities away from Tongchuan so some workings are tender-first. One train was seen with JFs front and back but this may not be a regular working.

While based at Tongchuan a visit was made to Qinjiachuan Station on the Pucheng-Yan’an Local Railway (owned apparently by the Xi-yan Corporation). This station is near to the town of Huangling, an hour and a half’s drive north of Tongchuan. Qinjiachuan is an important station as many of the freights on the local railway start or terminate here. Much of the traffic is oil tankers - there is apparently a refinery in the area. There is a small loco stabling facility here.

The local railway, opened only a few years ago, appears to be very prosperous as it is now practically fully dieselised. Locos for freight haulage are reported to be 8 new DF4Bs delivered between 1996 and 1998 and the first of the DF4D freight version, delivered late in 1998. The DF4Bs seen were all Dalian-built freight locos in the 7xxx series but orange liveried. This showed that since ending deliveries of this type to Chinese Railways 3 or 4 years ago Dalian has been building small numbers each year to meet orders from local railways. The DF4D, numbered 0348 and in a similar blue and cream paint scheme to that used on the DF4Cs, passed through double-heading with a DF4B on a heavy freight train destined for Yan’an. Interestingly the DF4D is fitted with jumper cables for multiple-unit working, something not commonly seen in China. Locos for passenger workings are apparently 3 BJs acquired second-hand from Chinese Railways, yet another indicator that the national railways now have surplus locos of this type. Shunt locos are apparently three DF1s also bought second-hand from Chinese Railways. According to loco staff at Qinjiachuan there may still be a handfull of QJs used for shunting at Pucheng, the interchange with the national system. The loco staff also indicated that more diesels were on order to cope with the increased traffic expected when the Shenmu-Yan’an line opens in about two years time.

Another newly built railway line, and one that has not been seen reported on before, connects with the local railway at Qinjiachuan and is owned by the Huangling Coal Mining Administration. It serves a large coal mine at Diantou about 40km to the west. (Why is the rail connection not via the existing railway south from Diantou?) The new line has impressive engineering with 12 tunnels and over 20 viaducts or large bridges. It is steam worked and according to one of the loco drivers has 5 QJs, 2239, 2314, 2442, 2694 and 6694. QJ 2694 worked a loaded coal train into Qinjiachuan around lunch-time, and departed with a string of empties half an hour later. Because of a lack of turning facilities empty trains to the mine are worked tender-first. Sadly most of the up-hill working is with empties towards the mine.

Staff on the mine railways at both Tongchuan and Qinjiachuan indicated that major repairs and intermediate overhauls of the steam locos was performed at a Chinese Railways works or depot at Meijiaping on the line south from Tongchuan. It may be an interesting small works to visit. According to railway staff at Tongchuan there are more coal-mines with steam locos along the railway from Yaoxian northwards towards Diantou.

Locos seen:

JF: 2113(Sf-57/4), 2365(Sf-57/5), 2368, 2371(Dl-57/3), 4022(Sf-57/4), 4025 (all Tongchuan Coal Mining Administration).

QJ: 2694 (Huangling Coal), 6531(XA), 6533(XA), 6550(XA), 6718(XA), 6719(XA).

Depot: Xian-XA

Luoyang area (13 to 16 January)

Pindingshan and Baofeng

The small city of Pingdingshan between Luoyang and Luohe is the headquarters of a large coal-mining railway system operated by the Pingdingshan Coal Mining Administration. The connection to the Baofeng-Luohe mainline is at Pingdingshan East Station. The mines served by the railway network are located north of Pingdingshan and are spread out along a generally east-west axis. The locos in use include SYs, ’old’ and ‘new’ JSs and, increasingly, QJs. The number of locos in use is between 20 and 25 mostly SY and JS. It appears that the older JSs are gradually being scrapped, JS 5175 was being cut-up at the time of the visit, and when additional locos are required second-hand QJs are obtained from Chinese Railways.

As on many of these large coal-mining systems a passenger service is operated. The length of route served is about 65km in total. One passenger train made up of standard type 22 hard-seat coaches with mesh-covered windows and hauled by an SY was seen.

The mine system has facilities to perform full overhauls of its own locomotives. It may also overhaul locos belonging to local railways, of which there are two nearby, as QJ 2226, previously reported on the new local railway that intersects with the Xuchang narrow-gauge line at Yuzhou, was stripped down in the mine works.

National railways traffic through Pingdingshan Station appeared to be all hauled by DF4/4Bs from Baofeng depot.

Baofeng depot contained many DF4/4Bs and a few BJs. Among the DF4s was one of the rare Ziyang-built 3xxx series locos. Only about 40 of these were built in the mid-80s before Ziyang switched to the improved DF4B type (numbered from 3101 upwards). Several QJs, including 6186, were dumped at the depot. The only loco noted in steam was a JS that may have been returning south after overhaul at Luoyang.

Locos seen:

SY: 0200*, 0276*, 0367*, 0758*, 0854*

JS: 5175*, 5644*(Dl-59), 5818*(Dl-60/3), 6225*, 6253*, 8120*, 8122*.

QJ: 2226, 6186.

Locos marked with an * belong to the Pingdingshan Coal Mining Administration.

Luoyang Area

Freight trains on the east-west mainline through Luoyang change locos at Luoyang with Japanese built 6K electrics being used west as far as Sanmenxia and SS4Bs being used east to Zhengzhou. Passenger trains are worked by Xian based SS1s. The electrified line north of Luoyang towards Houma and Xinxiang sees both 6Ks and SS4Bs on freights while a DF4 was seen on a passenger working.

At Guanlin, the first station south of Luoyang, which is the present change point from electric to diesel traction on the line south and the junction for the branch to Yiyang, JS 6497 was in steam at the loco facility. According to workers here the branch is still steam-worked. Other locos seen at Guanlin included a DF7B shunt loco and several DF4/4Bs from Baofeng depot.

Leading off from the Yiyang branch a short distance south of Guanlin is a spur leading to a factory complex described as the Guanlin Steel Plant. This is not a large works and no blast-furnaces or slag tips could be seen. Two SYs, numbers unknown, were noted shunting in the works. A second spur southwards from Guanlin appeared to lead to a large factory about 5km south-west of the station but it could not be ascertained whether any industrial locos were based at the factory.

In the western suburbs of Luoyang there are several large state-run factories set up during the 1960s with Soviet assistance. The factories include a ball-bearing factory, a tractor factory, a glass factory and a diesel-engine factory. At a level-crossing in the area a small orange painted diesel of a type that was not immediately recognisable was seen propelling several Chinese Railways wagons. The loco may have been a Sifang-built GK0B. It is likely that there are more industrial locos in this area.

As found in the Xian area DF7Bs were encountered around Luoyang that come from the 6xxx series originally built for hauling heavy, 5000t, freights on the Zhengzhou-Shijiazhuang line before electrification. It seems most or all of this series have now been relegated to shunt duties.

Locos seen:

JS: 6207, 6497(LY).

Depots: Luoyang-LY.

Yima Area

The open-cast Beilutian Coal Mine near Yima, west of Luoyang, was visited. Coal volumes from this mine have dropped and only about 10 steam locos are now required. The fleet is a mixed one of JSs and SYs. Three SYs, 0308, 0584 and 0945 were also found dumped at the mine.

At Yima Station the shunt loco was DF7C 5086.

At Tianmenzhen, a short distance east of Yima on the main road to Luoyang, a diesel worked 762mm system was found. The system serves a silica-sand mine or quarry supplying the big glass factory at Luoyang. The one train was seen made up of side-tip wagons hauled by what looked like a full-width body JMY380 diesel.

Locos seen:

SY: 0308(Ts-70/10), 0584(Ts-72/11), 0945(Ts-75/1), 1295.

JS: 5937(Dl-60/9), 6061(Dl-61/6), 6215(Dt-81).

All the SYs and JSs were at the coal-mine system at Yima.

Jiyuan

The Jiyuan-Wenxian Local Railway, one of the narrow-gauge provincially owned local railways in Henan Province was visited on two days. As previously reported this line is of interest in that for a distance of at least 5km it is located on the edge of what is the main road through the small city of Jiyuan. The depot and small central yard are located in the western part of the city and west of here the line is located for some distance in the median between the cycle lane and motor vehicle lanes. On this section the line crosses through a major traffic circle and it is amusing but almost tragic to see the diminutive locomotive literally fighting it out with all the forms of road traffic that one encounters in modern China. After passing under the Luoyang-Jiyuan manline the narrow gauge line swings northwards to a stone-crushing plant and several coal loading platforms the furthest at about 5 or 6km from the depot.

Eight or nine standard ng 0-8-0s were found at the depot, two in steam, 01 and 05, two more (02 and 03), in what seemed to be close to serviceable condition and the remainder (06, 07, 09 and others without clearly visible numbers) in various states of disrepair inside a shed. Of the two in steam one was clearly in not so sound condition. This loco failed out on the line during the night between the two days that visits were made and its condition seemed to result in only one train being run during the day on each of the two days.

Loco 06 appeared to be the only non-Chinese built loco. It carries a works plate from Chrzanow bearing the number 3836 of 1959.

All the locos seen faced east although there did appear to be a triangle at Jiyuan. Traffic appears to be coal and stone destined for customers at Wenxian the southern end-point of the line. Both trains seen consisted of open gondolas loaded with stone, the one train being made up of about 15 wagons. On the one day the eastbound train left Jiyuan at about 12.30pm while on the second the train seen departed much earlier around 8am. The impression gained is that normally there could be two trains eastbound during the day.

Jiyuan is an easy one and a half-hour drive from Luoyang. There seemed to be a reasonable hotel close to the depot, a short distance along the road north from the traffic circle described above. While at Jiyuan a ‘friendly’ policeman advised that although Jiyuan is an open city any foreigners staying overnight in the city are required to be registered with the police – there are no similar controls on people coming in from Luoyang for the day.

Luoyang to Beijing (17 January)

This journey was made during the day so as to be able to see railway developments and activity along the route. It was made hard-seat but in surprising comfort in a low-numbered train made up of new type 25 coaches. For these trains now all hard-seat tickets have seat numbers allocated via the computer system. The coach was at no times overcrowded.

Luoyang to Zhengzhou

As previously indicated on this section SS1s and SS4Bs haul passenger and freight trains respectively. Shunt duties are a mix of JS and DF7B, four JSs being seen, each in a different yard.

Locos seen:

JS: 6297, 6496.

Zhengzhou

Zhengzhou Station was literally crawling with new SS8 electric passenger locos. One DF4D was seen presumably for workings on the non-electrified line east from Zhengzhou. No steam was seen while passing through the city.

Zhengzhou to Anyang

On this section mainline workings were generally SS8 on passengers and SS4B on freights. A few DF4s, mainly in the 3xxx series were seen around Xinxiang. Shunts were generally DF7Bs, most being 6xxx series ex-heavy haul locos, with a few DF7s.

An interesting development on this section and apparent all the way through to Shijiazhuang was the stencilling of loco numbers on the roofs of many of the DF4/4Bs and SS4Bs. In some instances considerably more information, possibly advertising, extends almost the full length of the lower roof.

At Xinxiang major civil engineering works associated with the doubling of the line to Yanzhou was being carried out.

The first steam loco seen along this route was of an unidentified type (only the back of the tender was visible and the loco was some distance away) at a large power station about 1km west of the mainline about 10 to 15km north of Xinxiang.

At Tangyin QJ 3453 was in steam and is thought to have been a loco belonging to the Henan provincial local railway that extends east from Tangyin.

At Anyang two JSs were noted in steam and a BJ diesel was also present. Some or all of these may be used on the branch west from Anyang.

Locos seen:

QJ: 3453.

Anyang to Shijiazhuang

Loco types noted were generally as for the Zhengzhou to Anyang section.

No Chinese Railways steam was noted on this section. In the Handan area the DF4Bs seen presumably now work the branches west from here.

The first steam locos seen were in the distance at the large coalmine and power station complex at Matou, south of Handan.

Between Matou and Handan there is considerable civil engineering activity presumably associated with the new line eastwards to Jinan. This has been reported as having been opened but it was evident that much work was still to be completed before the full services could begin. A QJ, presumably a construction loco, was seen in one of the perway yards associated with the new construction.

Shijiazhuang

Additional loco types noted here were Russian built 8G electrics on the line towards Taiyuan and SS1s on the Beijing and possibly the Taiyuan lines. Shunt locos noted were DF7 and DFH5.

In the large freight yards a diesel loco was seen which appeared to be an orange painted ND5 but it was at too great a distance for positive identification.

Shijiazhuang to Beijing

No steam was seen on this section.

Between Shijiazhuang and Dingzhou construction works was in progress on the new east-west electrified coal-line from Shouzhou (south of Datong and linked to coal fields at Daliuta) to a new harbour at Huanghua on the coast south of Tianjin.

Bruce G Evans


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