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CRSG Trip Reports

March 5 - April 2, 1998

Thorge Bockholt

Beijing - Qiqihar on F.T.

6th March

On my fourth trip to China I travelled partly on my own and two weeks with Markus Fischer (Switzerland). I made the following observations:

I arrived at Beijing Airport at 8:45 a.m., took an Airportbus (16 Y) to Beijingzhan and could get a hard-sleeper for the above noted train leaving Beijing at 11:50 a.m. The train was not full on the whole way. The food served in plastik-boxes costs now 10 Y and is totally overpriced regarding the quality. After sunrise I saw on the Baicheng - Qiqihar - section 2 DF4-hauled freights and Exp 194/196 Hailar - Hohot with DF4. Pas 702 Qiqihar - Siping was DFH3-hauled. There might be no steam on this line anymore. Sanjiang station saw a tender-first QJ with an unknown passenger, northbound at 9:15.

Qiqihar - Nenjiang

In Qiqihar I could not see any steam and I decided, after buying a very useful schapka, to go to Nenjiang by Fast 673. This train was totally overcrowded, but I could get a hard-sleep by paying a to high supplement of 45 Y. On the way trough flat area I noted the following trains:

          12:15          freight SB DF4

          12:30          freight SB DF4

          12:50          freight NB DF4

At Fuyu:  13:20          freight SB DF4+DF4

                         freight NB QJ 2971

At Laha:  14:20          freight SB DF4

At Nehe:  a shunting QJ and a DF4 at the coaling-facility

At Laolai:               freight SB DF4

At Nenjiang:             Freight NB DF4 3025 and a second one, both in

                         orange livery


7th March

I went to Xinkan (first station from Nenjiang) with Pas 806 (DFH3). 6:30 saw a southbound leaving steam train in Nenjiang. At a nice cutting just north of Xinkan station I saw at 7:30 a banked DF4-hauled freight, 8:00 DF4 1487 with SB freight, 9:00 DF4 1208 and banker DF4 1207. At 10:15 QJ 3084 with SB local freight Nenjiang - Fuyu. Afterwards I had some difficulties with the local police and I had to follow them to the station. I told them, that taking photos is not forbidden. After a call they agreed with me and a very friendly conversation gave me the following information: On the section Nenjiang - Qiqihar only the local freights Nenjiang - Fuyu (number 4xxx), two pairs per day, are QJ-hauled. The above mentioned freight had only few wagons. Except of them and some special freights all trains are diesel-hauled. Nenjiang - Heihe should have two (or two pairs of) freights, steam hauled. Timetable page 200 shows Nenjiang - Heibaoshan - line. There are Pas 991 and 992, but there is no passenger further in direction to Heihe. In lack of time I could not visit this line. But Nenjiang station saw no JS.

I left this area by Pas 804 Jiagedaqi - Qiqihar to Fuyu. 16:30 saw a QJ-hauled NB freight taking water.

I stood in Nenjiang in the tielu-l?dian, small single room for 50 Y without showers, bad choice. It is just right of the station. In Fuyu in the Hailun l?dian, triple for 25 Y, shared with chinese people. Staff is obstrusive, showers and warm water not available. One of the worst l?dians I ever had.

March 8th

Fuyu station saw a shunting QJ, a 6:30 northbound leaving QJ-freight and another QJ under steam in the yard. DF5 0408 was also seen. I left Fuyu by tourist train Y233 Qiqihar - Bei'an - Heihe (DFH3-hauled, from Bei'an DF1). The train was very clean and not crowded. The landscape is mostly flat with a lot of poor villages. The stations up to Yi'an have no good loading facilities. In Gucheng WB freight with QJ 2818 was crossed, in Guojia at 9:40 a WB freight.

Bei'an and surrounding

8th - 11th March

On the Bei'an - Yi'an - Fuyu - line only few trains could be observed, passengers DFH3-hauled, freights QJ-hauled, partly tender-first. Near Bei'an possible photopositions are not existing. Bei'an - Suihua - line: All freights and passengers are QJ-hauled, the Fasts and F.T. have DFH3. Traffic is good. For example the 11th saw the following trains in Bei'an, all QJ:


     7:30 freight to Bei'an

     10:45 freight to Bei'an

     11:30 freight to Bei'an, only 1 wagon

     12:15 Pas 771/ 775 Harbindong - Bei'an

     12:30 freight from Bei'an

     13:30 freight from Bei'an

     15:30 freight to Bei'an.....

Shunting in Bei'an is done by QJ, most times two locos were seen. Visiting the depot Bei'an is no problem, but the locoshed could not be visited, anyway no locos were seen there. The depot is very busy and in the morning some nice photo-possibilities are offered. Likewise the pedestrian-bridge across the platforms and a bridge near the depot will also do.

Bei'an - Longzhen: Most trains are JS-hauled, but there were two single-headed DF1 hauling passengers and freights on random. Even F.T. 511 Shenyang - Longzhen was JS-hauled between Bei'an and his destination. The line runs mostly trough flat landscape except some sections about half way, where the area is hilly with some trees/ wood and some cuttings. Longzhen has a triangle to turn round the locos. The provincial railway-line Longzhen - Heihe is 100 % DF1. The passengers are mixed-trains with two YZ-coaches. Forrestry railway Longzhen: A report said that there should be a forrestry railway in Longzhen. But I am sure there is none. Probably it (the report) meant the Railway of Zhanhe to the east. In Longzhen I saw no loading facility for wood at the station, the freights leaving Longzhen to the south had only few wood loaden and also I saw and heard nothing in the whole area either - please be more exact and correct in your reports, I lost one day searching this line! Traffic on the mainline Longzhen - Bei'an is quite good with about one train in each direction every two to three hours.

I stood in Jun Gong Binguan (Military Hotel) with single (=double) room for 70,5 Y (!). The room was very humid and water is not available except three hours in the evening, but staff is very friendly.

I left Bei'an on the 11th by F.T. 512 Heihe - Shenyangbei. Getting a sleeper was very difficult (I paid double price what was not correct, I believe) No water was available on the whole way and the coaches in YW were not very clean.

Locos noted:

QJ: 2818, 2846, 2858 (?), 3192, 3253 - 3256, 3359 -  3361, 3413, 3415,

3427, 3450 (?), 3474, 3522, 3535, 3567, 6839

JS: 5663 (?), 5993, 6000 dumped, 6554, 8263, 8313, 8314, 8315

DF1: 1216, 1393, 1394, 1599, 9204

DFH3: 0119, 0134, 0136, 0161, 0243

Z151: 439, 518

Siping - Zhengjiatun - Tongliao

12th March

Depot Siping saw from train 701 to Zhengjiatun no steam loco, but a working steam-crane. On the way to Zhengjiatun only DF4-hauled freights could be seen. All passenger had DFH3. There might be no steam on this line anymore. In Zhengjiatun station JS 5949 was shunting, also QJ 6571 was seen under steam. QJ 3109 was dead, QJ 2976 and 3182 for scrap. I went further on Pas 884 to Tongliao and saw the same as above: DF4 with freights, no steam! The same on the Tongliao - Taipingchuan: A short visit on this line saw only DF4 freights. On 13th from 12 to 15:30 7 freights were noted, all diesel! Hard times!

Tongliao area, Tongliao - Xinlitun

12th - 15th March, and 29th - 31st March

This line to the south is quite steamy and runs through nice and photogenic semi-desert, but poles mostly on the eastern side are a big problem in the morning. Traffic is high. The most freights are QJ, partly double-headed, passenger are DFH3-hauled. But 29th and 30th saw 1 freight DF4-hauled, 31st saw 2 DF4-hauled freights (Alarmbell is ringing!) - Especially the area between Bahuta and Mulitu can be visited from Tongliao easy by Minibus leaving the main busstation (opposite the Main Railwaystation) at 7 a.m. Price is 4 Y to Yamenying, 6 Y to Bahuta. There is a frequent busservice the whole day on the parallel running street. 29.03. to 31.03. in best time for photos between 11:30 to 15:30 due to maintanance works the line was closed and the visitor was very disappointed about that. The whole line (driven on at 28th by Pas 893 Jinzhou - Tongliao (the former Fast 629/ 630), which offers RZ) runs through flat but sometimes hilly semi-desert landscape with sanddunes, some trees and a few lakes. The above described section is typical for the whole line. You do not have to visit the whole line I believe. Zhangwu has a depot, where a lot of QJ could be noted. Mulitu, Yamenying and Bahuta have narrow gauge sandrailways from the station to the east crossing the road with an l/c with barriers. Locomotives are 2-axled diesellocos. The trains are pushed out of the station to the dunes. The loading and unloading is done manually with shovels.

There is a tall switchyard east of the main station. Leaving freights to Xinlitun - direction could be seen.

Accomodation: I stood one night in the big l?dian opposite the Main station, which is cheap (32 Y single room) but in horrible condition. I changed to Keerqin Binguan (Taxi is 5 Y), which offers very friendly and good service. Very clean single room with showers is 80 Y, double is 82 Y. It could be well recommended, but it is anyway the best and only hotel in town. Tongliao has also some bakeries with good rolls and cakes. A supermarket offers few western chocolate. The food in the small fandians is quite good and people very friendly everywhere. A nice town in Inner Mongolia.

Locos noted:

QJ: 2063, 2855, 2985, 3281, 3346, 6084, 6370, 6462, 6464, 6465, 6485, 6521,

6537 - 6539, 6621, 6684, 6768, 6770 - 6774, 6777, 6778, 7120, 

DF4: 0339, 0384, 0394, 0466, 0492, 0509, 0533, 0544, 0546, 0535, 0653,

0654, 0656, 0670, 2163

DF4C: 4015, 4074

DF5: 1436, 1460

DFH3: 0007, 0080, 0121, 0148, 0242, 0248, 0251, 0254

Tongliao - Galadesitai

15th March

I left Tongliao by Pas 713, which is only half-full. Train is very clean, staff very friendly and service is very good. The young railwaymen are highly motivated and it seems, as they are very proud of their railway and their job. As this line was decripted in CRJ by my friend Julien Blanc I can confirm his observations about this line from Tongliao to Jingpeng. The landscape is sometimes fantastic and offers thousands of photo-possibilities. Sometimes hilly, with mountains in the background, wetland with horses, small villages. But infrastruktur is a big problem: no streets, no cities for accomodation. I have to visit this area, but I do not know how!

Locos noted on the way:

QJ: 3073, 6576, 6911, 7041, 


15th - 23rd March

I met my friend Markus Fischer (Switzerland) there. We stood in the Electric power company Hotel (last one on the left hand side at the end of Reshui to Jingpeng) in Reshui. Double is 80 Y, rooms are good, but service is not so good anymore as the times before. We hired Mr. Wu Guo Li and his taxi for 200 Y per day. He owns now the old Police-Jeep (Beijingjeep with 4wd), which enables you to go to Liudigoustation by car. He is a very friendly man and now he also takes photos. Too much is written and said about the Jingpeng-Pass. I will not do so. The number of trains vary every day very strong. Ask at Shangdianstation for the trains. Do not forget some gifts. Coins and postcards are welcome.

You have to pay a fee as a visitor in this area for taking photos. A very persistent guy forces you to pay 100 Y and gives you a permission and a very bad map of the area. He is from Chifeng Municipal Tourism Bureau, Jingpeng Agency. I refused to pay, but he told us that we have to leave the place on the next day. So I paid finally, but told him, that it is not okay to take money from the visitors without any service. It is typical for China: Bad service and to high prices. It is a kind of theft. - On the other hand: 100 Y is a fair price and the Inner Mongolia autonomus region is very poor. And building such a very nice railway is very expensiv. I hope they will build another one with my money!

Climate in this area: The biggest problem that prevents you visiting Jingpeng in three days is the weather. Every day was very windy up to storm on some days. Taking photos was very difficult, sometimes senseless. One day had strong snowfall, the other days sunshine the most times. Temperatures were between -10 to +5 degrees Celsius. Three day lay a lot of snow, which drifts away very easy and thaw at the third day. The beginning of the spring!

The most QJ are refurbished and now in very good condition. Staff is everywhere very friendly and helpful. I am really pleased to see such a nice railway. It is furthermore one of the best things in the steamworld today. The only mainline in China with 100% steam! (?) I will come back?

Locos noted:

QJ: 2645, 2706, 6110, 6274, 6301, 6351, 6389, 6517, 6538, 6577, 6580, 6638,

6639, 6687, 6763, 6828, 6838, 6876, 6996, 6998, 7002, 7009, 7010, 7012,

7040, 7137, 7143

Reshui - Fuxin

24th March

We left Reshui at 10 a.m. by minibus to Chifeng (20 Y). In Chifeng we took a sleeper bus for 50 Y to Fuxin (as they told us). Do not do this. It was a horrible journey of dirt roads. And our destination was Qinghemen at 11 p.m., 30 km from Fuxin, but we found a taxi. And the fair was earned by the drivers without giving us a valid ticket. But the train reaches Fuxin at 3 a.m., so we could have a night in the cheap but fine l?dian (descript in my summer/ autumn report) next to the station (25 Y per each person in double).

Fuxin - Xinlitun

25th March

I investigated the section Xinqiu - Daba. I thought that there must be some nice possibilities for photos, but it was very disappointing. Area is quite interesting, but except two bridges no photo is possible. Traffic normally is quite high, but not on this day with a gap of 3 hours. The first bridge from Xinqiu is strongly guarded by an angry and proud railwayman. Markus lost his film, I had a lot of trouble because I crossed the bridge. I know, there was a sign which prohibits the crossing, but in China nobody pays attention to that. He wanted my passport and hold me. I did not so and after a battle of words I left this place, quite uneasy, but no police was informed by him. Be careful at this place.

My descriptions of this place in Summer/ autumn report is still valid. A very steamy place!

Fuxin - Yi Xian, Beipiaonan

26th March

Weather was bad (hazy and warm), so we decided to leave to Yi Xian with QJ-hauled Pas 866 Fuxin - Jinzhou. The best hotel in Yi Xian opposite the station had no warm water, so we went to the Yi Xian Binguan. A very old and wrecked house, double was overpriced 100 Y. On this day we went to Beipiaonan. The great bridge just west of the station is photogenic the whole day. The passengers Beipiaonan - Beipiao are QJ-hauled and have three YZ.

Zhoujiatun (Yi Xian - Chaoyang - line)

27th March

The section Zhoujiatun - Lijiagou is very photogenic with e.g. a stony viadukt just east of Zhoujiatun station or a wonderful irony bridge some kilometer further east. Taking photos was really no problem, but traffic is very low. And about 50% of the freights are DF4. It is a shame. One of the best areas in this region, and I am to late again. Visiting this section is well worth it, but access is difficult. Also the section from Beipiaonan to Chaoyang will be similar and will have some more trains because there are direct trains from Chaoyang to Beipiao.

Because of bad weather I left this area again to Tongliao via Xinlitun (see above). After three days in Tongliao I left this town with F.T. 558 Tongliao - Beijingbei. Getting a YW-sleeper was no problem, the train is not crowded. The Jing-Tong - line is a quite spektacular line but 100% DF4. Near Shitanglu the line runs along a great and clear lake and the Great Wall can be seen in different states. On this day the blossom began made the landscape white and pink. A wonderful view outside the train.

Locos noted in Fuxin/ Yi Xian/ Beipiaonan/ Xinlitun:

QJ: 1876, 1923, 6370, 6375 (?), 6385, 6476, 6478, 6486, 6672, 6705, 6707,

6772*, 7116, 7120*

JS: 6479, 8235 (shunting Fuxin)

DF4: 2117, 2271, 7313*, 7320, 7473

* = seen in Xinlitun

What remains?

It is horrible to see how fast steam fades away in China. Areas which where described in the latest reports as very steamy lost all in the last months. There is only the Ji-Tong-line which provides 100% mainline-steam. Is it worth it to spent so much money for visiting only this area. Okay, the eastern part of this line has to be developed, but is it actually possible to visit it? You need an own car, the best will be a Jeep with a lot of food, a heating and a couch. Or will it be possible to stay in bigger villages and to go to the line every day? Difficult to say! And apart of this? Most areas are visited by me, there is nothing new. Okay, some regions are still worth visiting, but for second-class photos, for so much troubles, for so much expenditure? It could have been my last trip to China for steam, but I am not really sure about this. The obsession will be stronger, I know, and the San-Mao-Rwy or some lines in Central China are still unknown by me. But the clock goes against us. I think, there will be only one winter in north-eastern China. Nothing will be remain longer, I am sure. And in Central China? One summer or two, not more! This is the beginning of the very end of steam in China, go now, or you will be too late. No, it is too late now!

The latest timetable was published at the beginning of April and I am pleased to offer you this for DM 10 + postage, please email me: Thorge Bockholt. Also comments, tips, criticism and your report is well recommended.

Errata: In my last report I told, the passenger Chengde - Longhua had YW-coaches. That is wrong. I meant YZ-coaches, of course. Sorry for that!

Thorge Bockholt
Dresden, April 1998

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