China February 5 to 22, 1999

I flew into Chifeng. Propeller aircraft, low altitude, nice view. Taxi to bus station, minibus to LinXi, taxi to Reshui, all in one day. Horribly cold bus trip!

6.2. to 7.2. Jingpeng pass

Not much news. It is a fun as ever. Heavy trains, some light engines east to west, one nearly light engine working (2QJ + 7 freight cars) west to east.

8.2. 99: To Daban, Chabuga.

Passenger train has loco QJ 2645.

The depot has been developed a lot since last year, with a totally new park, statues, and a museum engine, "4335 Made in England", a 2-6-0 from USA, painted green and plinthed outside. They also have a nice wall picture of green landscape and SiMingYi bridge and steam trains. Everything covered with glossy lights and flags for Chinese New Year celebration.

Not many engines to see here, most of them just come in and get out immediately to the next train.

Chabuga is a lesser depot. 4 engines seen here.

I also visited Haoluku. It is plainly a locomotive servicing point without repair facilities and situated in the middle of nowhere. Landscape is sand dunes with a little grass and shrubs. No town nearby, only railway accomodations. No locomotive repair facilities.

Engines seen

Baiqi engines (all of them working the section to Haoluku):

2624, 6044, 6353, 6483 6564, 6633 passenger loco, 6636

6831, 6835, 6854 (olympic rings painted on front), 6855, 6912 (passenger locomotive),7052, 7088 , 7114, 7136, 7138, 7139

Engines near Benhong (also Baiqi depot based)

6078 (??), 6579 decorated passenger loco, 6304 passenger loco

Daban engines (43 in use)

(one of them must be of Chabuga)>

2645 (passenger loco to Haoku), built in 1975

2706

6079 has been here before (brochure of Jintong railway, 1995), but now on scrapyard.

6110 6125 6135

6274

6301 ex passenger loco, brass characters, ex Wuhu, 6351, 6358, 6375, 6388, 6389

6517, 6577, 6580

6631 passenger loco to Chabuga, 6638, 6639, 6687

6715(??),6725, 6735, 6760, 6763

6828, 6838, 6839, 6878

6911 (earlier in Hohhot bureau, passenger loco), 6925, 6996, 6998

7002 (built 1984), 7007, 7009, 7010 7012 7037 7040 7041 7063

7137, 7143

Dumped engines or waiting for repair: 1760, 6632, 6230 (in service in Oct 2000), 7048, 6630 (in service Oct 2000) , 6027 Giesl ejector, 6050, 2388

Chabuga engines (16 in use)

(one of them listed under Daban, unknown which one)

3073 passenger loco Tongliao section

6751

6358

6478

6687

7049

6375

6884 (Daban engine in 2000)

6988 bad shape passenger Chabuga-Tongliao

6992 (autumn 2000 Daban engine)

7038, 7105, 7112, 7163 dead or in works, 7164

Dumped: 1758 after accident, 4-axle tender of 3073.

I stayed on the Jitong line until the Chinese New Year celebration. The last day I got a terrible sandstorm which even made electricity fail. The whole Jingpeng pass area was blacked out. They had to use hand signalling and running trains by hand written orders because the signals did not light! Visibility was sometimes down to 100 meters.

17.2. on train 712 from Reshui to Jining and further to Baotou.

6579, with red bands around the smokebox, and lots of Chinese characters also, heads us into Benhong. Really the good old form of supershine engine. Finally, at Benhong, they change the engine to a DF4. Steam is finished for some time. They have a depot here, same layout as everywhere on this line, no workshop. A few engines, amongst them passenger engine 6304, parked here for the way back. It is extremely cold, and still blowing hard. Before Jining I put on all clothes I have. And still it is barely enough.

Seen on line: DF4 6451 built 96, 6027, 3126, 3451, 3539, 7156, 7281, 7286, 7295, 1292, 6004, 6005, 1810, 1404, 1405, 1410, 1414, 3380, 7058, 7057 (from 1992), 3841, 3379 all green DF4B. There seems to be nothing else (only DF5 blue type shunters).

DF4C 4339 seen in the evening at Baotou.

A few DF4C are running Baotou-Hohhot, else only DF4B.In Baotou, I stayed in the railway hotel, about 10 minutes to walk from the station Baotou Dong.

Baotou Dong 18.2.99

Their JS 8000 series are all from 1987, 8200 series from 1988.

JS 8007 and 8279 and QJ 7059 not seen, but in depot roster marked as dumped.

JS 8001,3(ex works 10/98),4,5, 7, 8,9, 10, 8279 supershine, 8280, 8320, 8321, 5, 6, 7, 9. About 8322 I have no information. Not seen at least.

QJ6834 arrives 7.30 from Baotou west. 6519 Linhe passenger train

QJ 6565, 6563

QJ 6831 built 1985, 6836 without blinkers

Locomotives have either been seen or seen on depot roster marked as "in use" and assigned personnel.

Got to station at 6, in order to see the passenger trains with JSs. Locomotive people are proud of their engines and immediately invited me on board. But this time I did not want a ride. Got some good video shots of departing trains. Shiguai train is short, but the others up to 13 cars. Then to the depot, just across the rails from station. Very welcome there. Handed out pictures from my last time. Every locomotive here has four crews. On one JS entering the depot they let me drive myself in the depot entrance track. A bit scary. I did not drive fast, as there were too many people crossing the rails. Back and forth to hotel in order to warm up or wash, and load batteries. Taxis cost 6 by meter, 10 without. Cold day, windy. At station the entrance to railway area is difficult. Better to go one block west of station. There everyone crosses the lines.

I just wanted to photo the start of the last passenger trains, but the locomotive people going to Shiguai on the evening passenger train invited me on the locomotive, so I went there on 8009. They let me fire their engine. Very hard climb, 30 promille in part. But never more than half throttle opening. Bad coal. Everything from fine grains to blocks of 30 centimeters. Coal chute on tender partly blocked by block coal and frozen coal. Had to hack coal into pieces using a hammer. We run up to Houba at sundown. Hard work even with four passenger cars. I wonder how freights are doing this.

Down to Shiguai where new crew takes over. They do not want me on the locomotive, so back ride in train. Dirty. They just sweep the floor without water. Ticket to Shiguai is 6.50, back 2 Yuan. Understand that who can! 2 locomotives in steam in Shiguai, waiting for the freights after New Year. Today no freights running. Back to hotel by taxi. Warm bath after letting water run for 20 minutes. The hotel is badly maintained. But I have been there before, so I am staying there because of goodwill.

Baotou-Aobaogo-Dongsheng 19.2.99

Taxi is waiting at 7. To Baotou main station 40 yuan by meter. Its a long ride, but good roads. I could have taken the 6.53 train, but was too lazy to get up that early. Get some Jianlibao and peanuts etc, and the ticket, and new toilet paper (important, you do not find it readily available at toilets!), then on train. It is WASHED! But windows freeze during the run. Do not choose a seat where one of the window panes is open! It only makes the inside freeze. A JS passed the station in full steam with local passenger westwards. QJ 6711 (built 1984) has our train. They run at full steam! I am in YZ not knowing about the RZ car. But the RZ car is in the back part of the train. Train gets quite full after a while. Coal trains run only to Wanshuiquan Nan. I see 2 QJ parked here. We pass the power station, singing sands viaduct and run all the way up to Dongsheng without a water stop. Then water, and further to Aobaogo. I get off. People at station friendly and tell me the schedule (which is not followed anyway). I head off in direction of Dongsheng.

QJ 6014 SB empties

1811, 6018 + helper 2586 SB 46 cars coal

3068 SB empties

6247 + 6472 SB empties

6017 SB empties

2586 alone SB

QJ+2670 SB empties

2877+1892 tender first SB empties

17.15: 6245, 7044, 6017 NB 50 cars coal

17.50: 6247, 6473, 2586 NB 47 cars coal

Nice long bridge about 3 kilometers above Aobaogo.

Landscape very dry, dry river beds. Not much rocks, mountains here consist of gravel from the ice age. Maybe just old moraines. Line inclines max 9 per thousand. The three-engine trains run quite fast, compared to Jingpeng line.

The last up train comes just after sundown, and after it has passed I hurry up walking towards Dongsheng. I get off the line at a dirt road at km 103, and soon after walking at full speed through some villages I see a taxi which then brings me, dirty as I am to, Tian Jiao Hotel.

Luxury hotel of best class. 540 Y for a suite. Cheaper single rooms are available, but now I need some luxury. Everything works (only the remote controls of the two TVs do not). Had a nice and warm bath. Got clean! Good, after many days without. But otherwise the hotel was empty. The few guests who are here are business people from Dongsheng. Import/Export of Cashmere wool products. Restaurant has nearly no guests, and no tomatoes. But other vegetables, and they make a nice meal for me. The hotel manager does not speak english, but one of the receptionists does. They are extremely helpful. Get a taxi for me for next morning (the 2Y per kilometer type. 150 Y for the ride to the Singing Sands Gorge. Shabazi is unknown to them, probably because there is no road to there, but the Singing Sands (Chiang Sha Wen), as the tourist center they are, are known. So I go there. By the way Dongsheng is the nearest town to Djengis Khan Mausoleum somewhere out there in the landscape.

20.2.99 Singing Sands Gorge

Started at 7 from hotel in Dongsheng, sun up 7.10, arrival 8.20. The road is asfalt, only the last 6 kilometers a side road of worst quality. But also the asfalt road is a blend of OK and horrible. Sun up at gorge 8.50, QJ6473 with the passenger train 9.05. I got it at the south end of the bridge. Full speed and steam! Temperature gets warm and nice. Just below zero. Not too much wind. I have to get off clothes. Now I am travelling with all my things in my backpack. A bit heavy, but I wander around. On both sides of the bridge and to the newly constructed cable car. Otherwise I see a lot of erosion. The cliffs are in fact clay blended with stone. And all trees are planted. A flood has covered some of them high up in sand.

Trains are:

9.05 SB passenger QJ 6473

9.45 SB empties with 1611 (about 46 cars)

11.40 SB empties 6745 Giesl ejector

12.00 NB 1891 high blinkers coal train 4000 tons

12.55 SB QJ? with a blue front plate, oil tankers and coal empties

13.25 NB 2977 coal

15.15 NB 6711 coal 43 cars

16.00 SB empties 1891

17.15 NB passenger 1611 (has stoker!)

The line has a grade of 9 per thousand at the passenger stop at the village and over the whole viaduct.

I sit near the village the last two hours. The children immediately observe this and come. Got invited into a house, but the farmer was alcoholized. Several other were also. So I get out again after drinking only some hot water. The women abviously donĂt like the alcohol. I see them feed the animals, donkeys, horses, pigs. A southbound freight passes here, in a good double curve. And then off with the passenger to Baotou. I am now riding in a full RZ car. Still nice, as seating is only 2+2. Today is the home journey day after Chinese New Year. Full trains whereever you look. For the train to Beijing I only got hard seat. A horrible night follows. But I am lucky as the other people near my seat are family people, nice people, not drunk. And everyone has a place ticket. The train is full! No dining car, but they continuously sell stuff from trolleys. So I survive on soup, sausages, Jianlibao and peanuts. They only smoke in the gangway between the cars!

21.2. At KangZhuang they put a NY7 helper on the train. Then a very slow ride over the Badaling pass. Several stops on the line, maybe to cool the brakes. NY7 in front, DF4 in back, and 16 or 17 cars. But we see the Great Wall and all the other remainings from that great time. 33 promille down to Nankou. There, NY7s do most of the traffic, and NY7 0030 brings us into Beijing. A lot of rubbish is flying around here, at the eastern outskirts of the town. It seems like they have no special place to put it. Temperature is rising.

Locos seen on the way and in Beijing depot:

DF4 6283, 1860 built 1990, 0608, 0387 built 1981, 0643

DF11 010, 0113, 0115

DF10F 0002 green, front like a DF11

Two dumped Henschel engines, 1 dumped DF5

Double BJ 2004

An unknown pink-brown engine marked TIANJIN GYD, looks like a DF11. Probably a rail service car, measurement car or something like that.

Depot full of DF4 orange, DF11, BJ, DF4D, but also running Henschel engines (NY6 and 7)

NY7 0017 on the way to Badaling.