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Summary: A trip to Jingpeng pass, Fuxin, Yebaishou and Chengde. A lot of steam engines.
This trip was done before we could speak, understand or read much Chinese. Everything worked fine, without the use of guides.
Beijing main station: They sell the new time table effective from
April 1, but the English/Chinese version is only available for
1997-98. A large advertizing table at the station shows the X2000
high speed train delivered from Sweden. We got a platform ticket
and entered the platforms. Locos seen at Beijing main station
include DF11 0023 (built 96, 0034 (built 97), 0060 (built 97),
DF4D 0041, 0152, NY7 0019 on train to Yinchuan together with DF4
1658, NY6 0007 ex works arriving with train from Qinhuangdao.
Station is undergoing renovation / repair. Electrification is
progressing very slowly. Most trains had either 15 or 18 cars. It
is impressive to see how many high speed diesel engines they have
now. Something is happening to train speeds in this country...
The conductors are as nice as before. We flirted with a conductor girl on the train to Jinzhou, it nearly ended with us going in the wrong direction. (Afterwards we found that Jinzhou is not a bad place for steam!)
We then took the metro to Beijing Bei again, ate dinner at a tiny
restaurant, 26Y for 2. Bought some fruit (oranges, apples) and
some soda water for our trip. I thought there would be no fruit in
Inner Mongolia, but later found there was enough to get out there
in the wilderness.
Night train Beijing Bei - Chifeng. Loco = DF4 0404, later 0383. We slept extremely well, after the flight and the long day. I think we were sleeping from 20.30 to 5.50 when the conductor came in to awake us just before Chifeng.
Taxi Chifeng-Reshui. Found same driver as last year, Mr. Jin Lung Sai from Chifeng, Car reg no D-16792, Phone number 0476-8355360. Fast but safe driving, not much more than 3 hours to Reshui. Road had some winter damage here and there. Many places the street was under maintenance, all work done manually. The landscape looked frozen, like on Iceland. Very little vegetation, and litle villages. So different from the main flat land in China.
Hotel at Reshui on right hand side of road, with red Chinese lamps, opposite the Telecom building (and hotel). 500 Y double room for 3 nights (the fourth night cost 160Y). (In later years, I got the room for 100 and even less). Not many guests, friendly people. They had a policeman at the hotel, so he registered us. I showed my photo license from last year, which had an immediate good effect, as he probably contacted the local taxi driver later that day. Phone number to hotel 0476-5101101 or 5225033. Nice from the outside, nice stairs, but the bathroom was horrible. Water only in the two bathtubs, and the cranes were looking like having been mounted outdoors for 15 years. But things at least worked. Of 3 lamps in the room one worked. Clean room at least, and warm enough, even if they switch off warmth during the night.
Linesiding on slopes near Reshui during afternoon.
9.30 6517 + QJ going east with freight (seen at Yushoudi)
10.30 2*QJ freight eastbound
12.12 Passenger west with 6631. Chased on foot between levels 2 and 3.
12.50 Liudigou freight eastbound 6998+2645 both clean machines
13.25 Reshui westbound freight 6274+6580. Photo from level 2 to river bridge at Reshui, then passing on level 2. (6274 relatively dirty. It turned out that it had been newly painted when we saw it again on 2.4.98).
15.10 Reshui 6389 light engine west
16.00 Reshui 2706 very clean +6876 freight east (6876 was newly painted on 1.4.98).
18.40 Reshui 2*QJ west freight
We had a good time, mostly on level 2, chasing trains from level 2 to 3, or even taking them in the curve above the Reshui viaduct on level 1, and then again on level 2 and 3.
Local taxi driver Mr. Wu from Reshui with his yellow mini-van arrived and discussed his service. He has recommendations from several Europeans and got our recommendation as well, after his services. He wanted 400 Yuan per day, got him down to 200. He takes pictures of trains himself and got quite enthusiastic during the later days. His phone number: 0476-5101226. The car is old and in very bad condition, nearly a wreck, but it worked. And he knows the places, as we saw later. He speaks only Chinese. I learned lots of Chinese words from him. He got the train times for us for tomorrow without us even asking for that service.
To bed at 21.00
13.35 Liudigou 6389 west freight, crossing at Shangdian
14.10 Liudigou 6996+6638 east freight
15.50 Liudigou 6580+2706 east freight
Walked down to Reshui through SanDi and along road. Many animals outside. Walked into some back streets and saw how people repair the walls around their houses. Dried mud reinforced with straw.
18.00 Reshui 7012+6763 east freight
18.00 Reshui 6301+6998 west freight Taken at river bridge. with the local children standing around us. Some problem going to the right photo places because of irrigation ditches full of water, and wet ground around. We had to find places to jump over.
Some German Videots from a large group travelling with a bus behaved like they owned the world here :-( We probably were in their way.
Dinner at hotel. We order food by our English-Chinese dictionary and by walking into the kitchen and pointing on food we like to have. This works fine. The girls here are doing gardening during the day, planting or replanting fir trees. Some trees look like they die every year. (In fact, they replanted in Daban depot, and said that most trees die during the winter). Outside of hotel the locals sell locally grown fruit (apples) and vegetables. Got some apples. Otherwise sodawater, instant soup, biscuits for breakfast and lunch from local shops. For the worst case, they have even gloves here that match my hands...
Children greet us everywhere (hello, laowai!)
8.00 Xiakengzi 6517+2645 freight east
9.30 Xiakengzi 2*QJ west light engine
Drove down to first bridge below Xiakengzi. Much activity with horse carts, donkey carts etc. on fields. Got a nice heavy working train at bridge and curve after, chase to 90 degree bridge where we had another passing by.
9.30 Xiakengzi 6998+6110 east freight
Taxi to Jingpeng. Hopeless road. They are building a new road. And to the station it is more or less sand, and including a river crossing. No chance to chase trains from here. Station is in desert like terrain. Sand all over the place.
2706+6580 freight eastwards arrive 10.18, go 10.45
11.12 6735+6577 arrive light engine from east
All locos take water here. They also clean out some slags. 6577s tender was loaded with a whole truckload of vegetables! Mr. Wu was in Jingpeng to get processed one film. He then got us and we went to Shangdian.
Shangdian 13.02 passenger west with 6631
Shangdian 14.00 6389+7137 west freight (met both at level crossing SanDi and Shangdian)
Shangdian 14.10 6763+6638 freight east (steam until tunnel entrance, then again passing at SanDi)
Below Galadesitai station 15.40 6998+6301 freight west with 4 cabooses (many westbound trains had more than one caboose!) Heavy working even down here.
Reshui 2*QJ down with freight.
Good photo position just east of Galadesitai station. We went home on foot from Galadesitai station, releasing Mr. Wu at 16.00. He suggested to start at 6 tomorrow.
I took a haircut at a local barber shop here. Maybe it was her first time to cut the hair of a laowai...
6.41 Shangdian passenger east with 6631, taken again at SanDi.
Mr. Wu is an artist when it comes to chase cows into the
foreground for pictures of trains! Passenger train left five
minutes before schedule from Shangdian.
7.25 Reshui 6577+6876 (both locos clean) west freight, chased to SanDi.
8.10 Shangdian 6517+6110 freight eastbound
10.45 HaTaShan 6388+7012 (both locos very clean) freight westbound
Nice position, we got the upgoing train first in the curve at river bridge, then on upper level.
11.20 HaTaShan 2706+6996 freight eastbound
11.35 Xiakengzi 7137+6576 west freight
Invited to dinner by railway workers at HaTaShan (the station on level 3, 2 km east of 90 degree bridge) after delivering pictures from last time. Mr. Wu drove to Jingpeng to get processed his film.
12.50 Xiakengzi 6763+7143 east freight
13.20 Xiakengzi west one QJ light engine.
Visited elementary school at Xiakengzi, invited by teachers to go into every room we wanted, including class rooms. Very friendly people! They have 10 teachers and about 100 children. Obviously no school uniforms here, just a few with a red scarf. Opposite to standard in towns.
14.20 Xiakengzi east freight 6828 + 7002, taken right behind school, in double curve. Good position, even against the sun. Chased to Shangdian, arrive there 1504.
15.30 Shangdian 6301+6998 light engine westbound
16.40 between tunnels west of Shangdian 6577+6876 with eastbound freight, very heavy, locos often missing step. Locos left some empty coal cars at Shangdian. (There is now standing a whole empty train with C62 cars, as is as Yushoudi). Got the train again leaving Shangdian, and then at level crossing at SanDi.
Liudigou 17.30 QJ+QJ start freight westbound (we only saw it from a distance). According the schedule there should have been one more train at about 18 from Reshui, but there was none. The eastbound trains all ran about 2 hours before schedule. So we started questioning the overall usefulness of getting train times at all. Probably it is only useful to know how much traffic is which way.
No train in the early evening, so we got to the hotel and had a
Arrive Daban railway town at 9. Paid for trip 200 Yuan. Mr. Wu had hoped we would follow with him further to Chifeng, but here we want to be left alone again. Leave baggage at station. No left luggage office, but staff just stored the stuff. When coming back after noon nobody was here, but finally the people in the signal room got our stuff. Nobody wants any pay for the service. All extremely friendly.
To depot on foot, 1 km west of station. Town around station is railway people only, Daban itself is 3 km southeast of station. Very friendly people at station and depot. Visited depot. Question was if we should enter through main gate, possibly be stopped by a watchman, or if we should go in from the line or back side, and directly to the head office. Did the latter. Entered from line, after pictures from outside. Directly to director. Friendly man, proud of the well run depot. Visit costs 100Y per person. Got even receipts for that. Then they invited us to tea and then showed us around. Not too dirty place, only three years old. Line was opened on 1 December 95. They had even a sports place with basket ball equipment. Planted trees, but they did not look well, were partly dug up for replanting. Probably they do not survive the winter storms when they are razed by ice crystals. We got lunch right after, at the guest canteen (paid 30 for it, for us two), and then we were left to walk around as we wanted to. Only the workshop not allowed (hard hat needed). But not much activity in workshop. 1 QJ (1760) which came out after an hour, and a steam crane which also left the workshop this afternoon.
Typically 10 to 15 locos at depot, varying. 2 steam cranes. Locos seen:
1760 minor overhaul at workshop here
2645 (arriving from Chabuga with passenger, 6576 (very bad condition) taking over to Haolokou
6110 very clean
6274 very clean, newly painted
6301 (brass bands, railing, cabside plate, brass numbers, but not very clean)
6302 (guesting from Baiqi) 6351 6356 6358 6389
6576 6577 6580
6638 6653 6687
7002 7007 7012 7040 7041 7063
7063 shunting at station, very clean, special painting.
Verified with depot staff that the following not seen locos are still working here: 6125, 6911, 7009, 7010
Locos waiting for heavy repair: 7037, 7105, 6230, 6630, 6632, 7048.
Dumped locos at depot: One crashed loco without number, having been used as stationary boiler. Coaling is done by steam crane. Large dump of coal here. Some workers sifting coal, in order to get larger pieces for some special purpose.
Locos come in, then they get coal and water and sand, slag is
removed, and then they get a full check of all the moving parts.
Loco drivers and firemen check out the moving parts of their engines, but all other cleaning seems to be done by shed staff. They clean the wheels, and sometimes even other parts, with steam. But all cleaning is just outside. It is not quite clean on the cabs...
One freight from west with one loco front first, one tender first! One freight to east included about 10 ballast cars and about 120 workers with showels.
Station has light signals, not semaphore (as also Jingpeng).
Turning of locos by triangle. We joined 2645 for turning. I was
even allowed to be on the steam crane when it was in action, and
allowed both on and under locos. Dinner at canteen, pointing out
in the kitchen what we wanted. We slpet in the depot dormitory.
Passenger in with QJ6631, continued east with 2645, 7049 taking
over at Chabuga.
At Kailu they load crude oil. This may be the origin of the oil trains going west on Jingpeng pass. Just before Lindong they were laying track for a new station (Chaganhada?). Probably traffic is increasing and they need more places to cross trains.
Footplate ride from Lindong (water stop) to Chabuga and the last few stations into Tongliao. Took over fireman's job between Lindong and Chabuga. kept up pressure, but there were some smiles about my firing... There were seven people on the loco, the driver, 64 years old, a younger driver, probably under training, assistant, fireman, and a young boy under training as fireman. And we two. Loco did not work hard, Line went a little up and down, but quite flat, and speed never more than about 60. No speedometer on loco. The line would allow higher speeds, so why do they not run faster?
Locos seen on the way include 6853, 6125, 7112, 3073, 6302, 6079, 1760 (all near Chabuga). One dumped QJ at Chabuga (damaged in a crash).
Landscape is interesting with some mountains from Daban to Chabuga. After that flat and desert like. They are adding new sidings at several places, amongst others 10 km west of Chabuga.
Luxury Hotel 50 meters to the right of station at Tongliao. Good
service, everything works, 300 Yuan. To bed at 21.30
They were constantly going through the train and selling food and beverages. No problem if we had forgotten food. But we had enough soda (JianLiBao) from the station kiosk.
Trains from northeast arrive with good looking DFH3. Seems to be
roughly the same type of loco China delivered to Tanzania-Zambia
To Xinlitun with DF4. Flat line, nearly desert, sandy and dusty. On line to Xinlitun seen QJ 6538, 6885, 2063, 6537. Seen about 4 freights each way during our two hours train ride, 7 with single QJ, one with DF4. JS8202 shunting at Zhangwu. Depot there has standing about 10 QJ in steam, 10 QJ dumped, 1 DF4. At Xinlitun seen both green and orange DF4 on passenger trains, one QJ at high speed south to north through station with freight. We had 20 minutes to change trains, and I obtained two tickets hard seat to Yebaishou without a problem, even if there was a queue. Station personnel were friendly and helpful, even if they did not speak English. They have a wooden overpass over the platforms, good position to take photos for an hour or so.
On train to Fuxin-Yebaishou was a soft seat car, in front of
diner. Cost hard seat ticket plus surcharge 15 Y to pay to
conductor. Here is the Chinese upper class, with mobile phones and
other beepers. But its a pity they are not following up the ban on
smoking in the car.
First 25 km on the way to Fuxin nice landscape, some hills, some gradients, double track line. A good photo position is some 10 km out of Xinlitun. Seen QJ 6476, 6341 on freights.
Fuxin: Very polluted city, locos very dirty, too.
JS 6479, 8235 shunting.
QJ 6708+6478 on eastbound freight
Depot full of QJs, one SY.
SY0035 just west of Fuxin at power station
QJ 6487, 6725, 7117, 6486, 6375, 6479,6753, 6726, 6655(?)
Just west of Fuxin a flat area starts where there are lots of small coal mines. Just a little tower, less than 10 meters high, and a little dump of stones and coal. Maybe it is only a few meters down to the coal. Otherwise there were all these greenhouses, built of mud, and covered with plastic, and straw mats during the night. On some fields it started being green, but otherwise spring had not started yet.
Local passenger Beipiaonan to Beipiao with QJ
Local passenger YiXian to Shenyang with QJ from YiXian.
JS8236 shunting at Chaoyang
Landscape very polluted by plastic bags flying around everywhere. Even inside the city of Chaoyang. Horrible.
Yebaishou seen QJ 3250, 3345, 6411, 6412, 6416, 6488, 6753. All
passenger trains seen here DF4.
JS 8237, 8238 shunting.
Friendly staff at station. No problem to run around over the rails. Got freight train times for before noon hours: 7.20, 8.20, 11.45 and 13.20 trains to Lingyuan, 7.45, 9.25, 11.05, 12.05, 13.13 trains to Chifeng. The following day showed that not all trains run on Sundays. (There are more trains later during the day, no problem to get the times from the people with a red hat at the station.)
Night at Jian Ping hotel, 1 km from station, to place with a
horse memorial in the middle of town, and then right 100m. No warm
water, low standard, high price (336Y). Dinner at small local
restaurant. We even found the cinema, opposite the hotel, but no
need to see films here.
We also went into Yebaishou shed, from a back door near a level
crossing where the Chifeng and Lingyuan line part. Just did as if
we belonged there, and all people greeted us heartily. No problem
to take pictures. Maybe directors are not on job because it was
Sunday. They have a turntable, but many places around it occupied
by dumped locos. They also have a high coal silo, so it takes a
minimum of time to fill coal onto a locomotive.
Seen locos QJ 3186 4 axle tender, 3339 (tender 4 axles, 3340 4 axle tender, 3343, 3345, 6479, 6409, 6411, 6412, 6416, 6479 (Fuxin loco, dirty), 6726, 6727, 6728, 6677. The seen 33xx locos all had Yebaishou marks on their tender, 6409-6416 also.
Dumped locos at Yebaishou shed: QJ 1861, 2000 (ex supershine), 2513, 3279, 3320, 3335, 3338, 3342, 6709.
Short trip in town. Got some pineapple, oranges and bananas. The Chinese seem not to eat bananas as we. But all the dealers think we are VERY interested in bananas. Maybe they consider us to be monkeys. Got some tea in a kiosk right outside the station. Tea is served for free. So I bought some sodawater to have something to pay for. That cost only 2 for a can of ÒLycheeÓ. So now we know the real price! A man was playing a Chinese violin on the station place. Seems like old age people do this. Several other old men were sitting around him, having a good time.
To Chengde with train at 15.58. DF4. Soft seat car as yesterday.
Passed 2 SY at Lingyuan, no steam seen elsewhere.
Night at Huilong hotel. Nice hotel still, end everything works. Hot and cold water! We only needed long time to make staff understand that we wanted a room with an EVEN number ( these rooms are on the station side!).
Visit to Chengde depot in afternoon. They confirmed that there is no China Rail steam left here. Only on steel works branch. Shunting at Chengde station today was done by BJ.
Flowers were already coming out here and there. Trees were nearly
green. Just days to go. And the afternoon was warm. We remained in