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Last update Nov 2006
This description covers some of the best photo positions from
East to West, starting at Reshui / Galadesitai, and ending at
Jingpeng. Actually, the incline starts between Linxi and Yuzhoudi,
but that part is not described here. This was written when there
was steam traction. As there may be steam special trains, this
descirption may still be interesting.
Mobile telephone coverage on the east side of the pass: The sender is in the center of Reshui town. You have coverage where you see it or it is just below the horizon, i.e. most of the way From Galadesitai station to km 506, and from km 504 to the tunnel entrance east of Shangdian.
Galadesitai station, km 516, 2 tracks. Two places are good for photography: The cutting below the station, and the hill overlooking the curve from the station to the road crossing.
From the hill belo the road crossing at Reshui, line km 515.5: A good position for for afternoon up-trains. You have the school in the foreground, and the curve and bridge at the station exit in your view.
Road crossing at Reshui, line km 515.5: A good position for early morning for up-trains and for afternoon for down trains. If you are lucky you find a few local people waiting, pigs, cows etc. And you may chase up-trains further from here, if you have a taxi parked at the crossing. (I got one uphill train three times, once here, then again at SanDi and at Liudigou. Even if it was a fast train.)
Large river bridge at km 515.2 (Reshui ErHao Daqiao). Nice early morning position standing in the river bed below the bridge. Here, the hard work starts, and the drivers had to find out the right steam pressure and cutoff for steady state working up the grade. After taking this picture you may walk up the line to level 2 near km 505 or 506 and see the train once more.
Curve at km 514.5 (south side of bridge). Nice afternoon and evening position. Also good to take pictures from higher up at level 2, but then this curve is miniature size. But you get the whole train plus villages. If you take photos of a train down here you may run up the hill and have another passing at level 2, km 506 or 506.5 (if you are in good condition and run fast enough...)
Level crossing at km 514: Good early morning position for shots against the rising sun. Here is a picture of Reshui as seen from near this crossing, in autumn 2002. Still, corn is growing on the fields. Make sure to have some photos to give away to the guard. He or she may invite you in for a tea or so.
River and road bridge at km 511.5, below SanDi: Good for down trains in the morning and up-trains in the afternoon. There are several good places for photos, here is one from the river bed. After this place the train makes a U-turn around SanDi. I have not checked out the possibilities in this large curve. At least you will see the locomotives slipping regularly, as they are not good for curves.
Level crossing with main road at SanDi, km 510: Good anyway, but best late in the day. Hard working engines, whistling, waiting cars, maybe animals, especially early in the day and before sundown. From here a dirt road goes up to Liudigou. By car I had ample time to go up (when there was no snow). I have not tried to run up here, but it could be possible with heavy trains, catching them again at Liudigou. The guard may be able to tell you when the next train is due.
The slow passenger trains stop at the new station (Oct 2001)
called SanDi, the place where there was a railway workers
house, at about km 509. This is a relatively flat spot on the
line where trains accelerate and often only one locomotive
would work. The station may be good for photography,
especially if there is one train waiting while one is driving
or with a starting train. This photo
was taken in the late afternoon.
This is Sandi station, under construction in summer 2001. Photo by Ron Olsen. And here a train starts from the station after a stop, from November 2001. The evening gives good light for shots against the sun, at the long straight stretch after Sandi.
There is a level crossing at km 507.5. Since summer 2001 it is guarded. Trains are working hard here to have a jump start for the following incline, and light is good for most of the day. Here is a photo. Make sure to have some photos to give away to the guard. He or she may invite you in for a tea or so.
High bank and cutting at km 507 . Good for afternoon (sun should be high). You may run the 250 or so meters to level 3 at 503.5 and have another passing of the train here.
High dam at km 506.5. Many good positions here. You can follow the train on all three levels. If a train is heavy, you may still run up to level 3 at 503.5. You may also go into the cutting right after the high dam, and have some nice view at the train going into the double curve. Good position if it is blowing from west. Here is an early morning picture of QJ6301 struggling up in the early morning. Light does not come here early. This is a heavier train, struggling up with 7012 as the leading engine.
A double curve leads into a cutting, before approaching the first tunnel. This place can be reached running up from level one, if the train is slow.
Between the tunnels: Km 505 - 504. There are two cuttings about in the middle between the tunnels. Light is best from noon to afternoon. If you stand on top of the cuttings outside the line, the view is tremendous. Good for video shots if you like to have an aerial view of the passing train. I also photographed from positions at the outside of the curve near the upper tunnel entrance. This is one of the best positions for early morning, as it gets the first sunlight of the day.
Above tunnel 2, km 503.5: A classic photo position, with level 2 in the background. Best in the afternoon. From here you see the trains on all three levels. Often, firemen were working in the tender here, pulling coal forward. You may also take good pictures from the next cutting, with all three levels visible.
The next curve after this is good in the evening, as it has the last light of the day. This is just below the lower outer entrance signal to Liudigou. In the background of the photo, at Galadesitai, are two other trains.
High dam at entrance to Liudigou: Good in late afternoon, but very difficult light. Light landscape and black locomotives are a hard combination. Often, cows or horses are here. Locomotives often blew out boiler sludge here. This position is one of the last to have sun in the evening. A good place is here on the south side of the tracks at entrance to Liudigou, but also from the top of the cutting on both sides of the track just before the outermost signal east of Liudigou (about 800 meter farther east).
Liudigou station: Km 500. 2 tracks. Not the best place, but the station staff are nice here. The original station building fell down due to bad grounding in summer 1999, and people have retrieved whatever material was useful. So they only use a one floor building. Above Liudigou the line is quite straight, probably not too many good photo places.
At km 496 there is a dam with two level crossings flanking it (one official with a hut and one unofficial). This nice spot can be reached by road from the road 303 (Turn left at ShiDi). This ones good all day (in the morning a good spot is the little village below the dam).
Tunnel entrance before Shangdian: Km 494. Not the best place, but you take it when passing here and a train is approaching anyway. You get the train approaching through the curve and with the signal.
Shangdian station: Km 493. 3 tracks. Good for starting eastbound trains and for asking train times. Easy access from the road. Mobile phone coverage right outside the station building on the platform.
Level crossing just west of Shangdian: Hard working locomotives, very slow, they often had low boiler pressure and lack of steam. On Sundays there may be schoolchildren here. Good morning position. Good in late afternoon too, for shots against the sun. Often, they blow down the boiler here.
Km 488 to 490: You have to walk the line to find good positions. It is dry landscape like in Utah, USA, and 3 short tunnels. Really a good thing, for afternoon especially. But partly difficult light conditions. I got one extremely good shot from the road near village DaYingZi in evening light. Enter the line walking up from TouDi or DaYingZi. Good positions just below and above tunnel number 3.
Here is a photo just above tunnel 3.
Between the tunnels, the grade is some 9 per thousand and engines work hard. You have to climb up the steep embankment to get there.
Viaduct at Erdi (ErDi He Daqiao, km 487.3, Side valley). Also known as the "brick works viaduct". km 487. Very good early morning. Your first choice in the morning on this side.
This train was very heavy and locomotive 2 was constantly spinning. February 1999.
On top of Hadashan mountain: Climb the mountain from the east side. No problem, just a little effort. I had a one hour video shot from up here. You see everything from near Jingpeng to near Shangdian!
New station Hadashan (Nov 2001), former railway worker home at km 484.
Two good positions just below this place. You may combine level 2 and level 3 shots if you run a little after the train has passed below you. Passenger trains 6051 and 6052 stop here.
Just above Simingyi bridge, below Hadashan, after leaving the tunnel, you have some cuttings. The large bridge of Si Ming Yi is visible in the background. Here, very often the fireman could seen working on top of the tender shovelling coal forward. If you have a slow train, you may run to this photo position after taking pictures in the curve below.
Hadashan stationunder construction in summer 2001, Photo by Ron Olsen.
Km 481.2 - 481.7 Simingyi Da Qiao (90 degree bridge). You may spend a day around here and take it from any angle. I have been standing on the bridge, inside the circle, on the mountain on the outside of it, on the road below it, anywhere. I know a farmer in SiMingyi and always get warm water there. I also was in the primary school here. They have a woman teacher who speaks a few words English. I was very welcome, and they showed me the whole school. Very friendly people here! For mobile phone coverage and to see if anything comes from Jingpeng, you have to walk on top of the mountaina to the west of the bridge. Some of the best light is in the early morning.
Here is a picture of the large bridge at SiMingYi in summer 2000, with sunflowers growing and an eastbound train (HeLiWen, summer 2000). The same in winter, at an ice cold December 7, 1997. Ice crystals in the air make the sun appear twice! And a train leaves the bridge. The picture is taken from the old road. And here is a coal train, about 2000 tons, on the bridge, in snowy weather. Not much wind this time, and the smoke is going right up. In November 2001 they tested a Baiqi based DF4D here, DF4D4055. Here you see it with a westbound train on the bridge, the next eastbound steam train approaching Xiakengzi in the background.
The road bridge and curve where level 1 goes into level 2, km
497.7. Good for afternoon, especially the last train of the
day with low sun. You may get it once more on level 3 from
positions near here, and then you get the reflection of the
sun on the locomotive. Just excellent. And with a taxi you can
then chase the train to the big curved bridge or to Shangdian.
Remaining here, you may have the possibility to take evening glint photos when the train passes the level above. Here is one photo after a train passed: QJ 6110 + 6125 reaching HaDaShan, just before sundown, on December 8. 1997. The mountain in the background is called DaWa.
From the primary school at the lower entrance to Tongxin village, nice shots are possible from the old road, but also from the top of the cutting right above the school. From about here down to Jingpeng you have mobile phone coverage.
The photo is a December day in 1997, very cold and with newly fallen snow. First locomotive is QJ 6388. "An explosion in steam"
The line passing Xiakengzi, km 474 to 480. Two track station at km 477. I have only walked along here. Some good cuttings and curves. You will pass here anyway when taking local taxis along the old main road. Or you just walk. Light is best for morning shots, but you may have some nice views against the light in the afternoon. This area is very good if there is heavy westerly wind blowing. Then the smoke will go right up from the engines. You also have a chance to chase the train by taxi from here. The entrance to Xiakengzi station from the lower end is good, with a curve and the semaphore signals.
Km 473: Cutting above large bridge near Biliugou, and the bridge (km 473.465-473.875). Nice all day, but especially in afternoon light. After taking a train here you may chase it by taxi to the 90 degree bridge (Sumingyi Da Qiao) and Shangdian. After leaving the bridge, the trains are in a double curve, and the landscape is like in a desert, with dramatic rocks in the background.
Down to Jingpeng station. I have not tried to photo the downmost part of the line, but trains are working hard here, so there should be possibilities, especially in the morning. There are two large brick works just one kilometer above Jingpeng. They may provide a good background.
Jingpeng: km 468. 3 tracks. Locomotives taking water, shunting, starting from the station. The station has a kiosk, for food and soda. A little restaurant also, about 100 meter to the west from station building near the water facilities. Bad dirt road to station from right below, with access fording the river. A new road (turn off highway 303 at the stone arch bridge north of Jingpeng) allows reaching Jingpeng station without fording the river. Picture: QJ 2706 and 6580 have just stopped at Jingpeng to take water, with a coal train bound for Daban, March 1998.
Level crossing with a small road west of Jingpeng. About km 464. Good for afternoon photography.
The large river bridge west of Jingpeng, km 462.814 - 463.144: Good for westbound trains in the evening. A Chinese graveyard on east bank of river.
Majiazi station. Good for evening shots. Follow the road from
Jingpeng towards Xilinhaote, about 15 km, and cross the river
on a sand road.
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