China Nov. 1 to Nov. 20, 2001: Dongsheng, Jitong line



You are displaying Hans Schaefer's home page. 

Nov. 1, 2001: Beijing to Huhehaote

I arrived Beijing on SAS flight, had my baggage and passed customs in less than 30 minutes. Airport bus to town (railway station. Had my baggage in a locker in the soft class waiting room. This time there was a lot of police around in town, more than I ever have seen before. No explanation, no trouble for me either. Just strange. Then to China Railways Publishing Office, to check the availability of books. They have some new nice picture books, one about the modern China rail, for 450 RMB, one history of steam locomotives. Even the safety and signal book is on sale, as well as a Chinese - English- Chinese dictionary of railway terminology (a Russian and German one also). The Bachmann shop nearby was, however, closed. Had a trip on Tiananmen square, where they flew kites as always. The internet cafe in the old station building at Qianmen square was fine. Good computers, fast access, good keyboards. I headed to Huhehaote on K 263. It had NY7 0015 as its engine. Even with the station electrified, there are still no electric locomotives to see. A lot of DF4D and DF11, amongst them DF 11 0128, 0143, both Beijing depot.
There was one problem with the soft sleeper, unexpected: The loudspeaker in the compartment could not be switched off. The volume was far too high. But luckily they switched it off at 22h, on again at 7. 

Nov. 2, 2001: Huhehaote to Baotou

When leaving the train I saw the second unit of the diesel train to Daban waiting at the station. The driver knew me and wondered if I would like to have a cab ride... But not this time. After some food I headed to the Jitong line administration where I spent the day.

They currently own 115 or 116 QJ, 6 DF4D, 2 sets of diesel motor units. Chabuga has 19 QJ (2 dead), Daban 53 QJ ( 8 dead or stored), Baiqi 43 QJ (14 dead or stored) and 6 DF4D. (In the numbers, QJ 6354 is not counted, but it should be shunting at Benhong.)  In the operation office they know exactly who is driving which engine where. Actually they duplicate the information every depot has locally. Number of freight trains per day is about 15 in every direction. They say traffic is increasing. Several stations have got new tracks, and four stations are new from this year. This should improve performance, as trains have shorter waiting times for crossings. They also confirmed the working scheme between Jingpeng and Shangdian, where one engine often goes back to Jingpeng to help the next train over the pass.

They had internet access on a computer, but my site was not visible this time, timed out. Slow connection probably. They told me they sometimes got international web pages, most of the time not.

I took the train at 18.34 to Baotou. However, Huhehaote has no tickets for this train. Thus I entered the station with a platform ticket. About half of the seats in the train were empty, as people were leaving the train at Huhehaote. I sat in the hard seat part. The chief conductor had finished selling tickets, so he told me to buy a ticket in Baotou, after travel. I so did. But nobody cared.

At the station there were the usual engines and trains. Lots of DF4B on freights, both single and double headed. DF4D mostly on passenger trains. A DF4B on a two coach local train.
DF5 1566 (Huhe)
DF4B 1406 built Dalian 1987, (Jining)
DF4B 3955 built 1994, (Huhe)

In Baotou no sign of steam. I used XiHu hotel, as before. 116 RMB, warm water available, really warm. However, there was construction going on in the street below from 3.40 at night.

Nov. 3, 2001: Baotou to Dongsheng, Aobaogou

Weather was bad today. But I was up early, not seeing it. It started to rain as I entered the bus, then was thick fog on the way to Dongsheng, to end up with heavy rain when I was at the large bridge near Aobaogou.

I thought I did something smart by taking the first bus to Dongsheng. The first bus was scheduled at 6.20, but left at 6.10, without the usual slow driving through town. At the yellow river bridge we met the endless column of coal trucks heading north. It is still the old road, the new one still being constructed. Many cars had no light in darkness, dangerous driving. Driving was quite fast until Singing Sands, then came a short stretch of new road upslope, still quite good, but then we entered the construction area. The old road was completely destroyed by construction work. Our bus hit some stone and broke the springs for the back axle. We humped on at 5 km/h and our driver searched for a workshop. Finally he found one. No information about how much time this would take. "Just wait". I finally decided to take one of the minibuses around there. The bus has cost 12 RMB, I paid another 10 for the minibus, who then took on a lot of other people and headed along the new road, through construction and all, on the wrong side, to Dongsheng. The motor was a bit out of order, and my heart was beating hard every time we had to climb a hill and there seemed to be no power. But somehow we got over the hills. Full speed down helped in climbing the next hill etc. We finally made it, about half an hour after the express train had been into Dongsheng. With another taxi, I found XiongPeng Dajiudian, a brand new hotel about 1 km form the station. Their phone number is 8323636, and they were friendly and efficient. There were not many guests. All things worked, and there was a lot of warm water. They even dried my clothing in the evening, when I was wet through after heavy rain. Their official price was 180 RMB per room per night, but they only wanted 75. Introductory offer?

I finally reached Dongsheng station at 11, and there was steam: One train came in from north, another one left, accelerating hard. Then another one from south had stopped at the station entrance and started just as I arrived there, followed by a southbound one. All with QJ! I then headed south along the line, towards the bridge at km 107. Weather was too dull for photography, but video was OK. I got the first 4000 tons train working hard upwards in the curve above the bridge. It had started raining, and the rails were wet. Some slipping. Sitting at the bridge was not that easy, as the dogs from the nearby house started barking every time they saw me. Anyway, next train was a disappointment: 2 DF4, no helper! And immediately after the two came down again with empties... But these were the only DF4 seen here. It started pouring down, plus hard wind, and with a temperature of just above freezing it turned cold. I headed up again, to get the last up-train just before entering Dongsheng. Hard working. You could see the fire in the engines responding to the exhaust beats! At the level crossing km 102 were several taxis, waiting for passengers. I took one back to the hotel. Had a nice dinner, as the only restaurant guest, watched by about 20 waiters waiting at every ones table. The hotel had opened in October. I slept from 20.00

Train sightings:
Dongsheng 11.15 QJ 7053 with Linhe depot codes arriving from north (I saw that engine in Wuhai Xi Oct. 2000), QJ 6567 heading north with 4000 tons train.
They checked the brakes on the southbound train for 10 minutes.
11.39 another 4000 ton-train having stopped at the south entry pulled in with QJ 6307 (overhauled in 99), Giesl ejector, 6088, 6740 (overhauled in 99).
11.53 QJ 6740 + 2938 tender first southbound.
12.50 QJ 6452 + 6287 tender first southbound.
13.15 near large bridge: QJ 6179, 6194, 6740 4000 tons train northbound.
13.45 diesel motor unit northbound
14.15 QJ 6169 + 6088 southbound
14.30 DF4B 9497 + 9498 northbound with 50 C64 cars with coal.
15.20 QJ 6404 southbound without train
15.50 Passenger train southbound with QJ 6863 (6063?). Driving really fast.
16.53 both DF4 with empties southbound.
17.30. Last light. QJ 2938 + 2977 + 6404 with 4000 tons train up at km 102.

Nov. 4, 2001: Shabazi, to Huhehaote in the evening.

I slept , not hearing my alarm clock. Up at 6.50, taxi to station, bought some eggs and cake and soda from hawkers around the station. Nice sunshine, temperature just below freezing, no wind. Plan was to take the train to Shabazi, then walk to Xiangshawan, and from there take the evening train to Baotou. However, they told me that Xiangshawan (Singing sands station) has no train stops in winter. Thus, the trip got a bit amputated. Weather was nice, and after a while quite warm and enjoyable.
QJ 2938 had the passenger train, QJ 6863, 6551 (with some depot code), 6346 and a few others were waiting in the depot. Sun was up at 7.30.
I jumped off at Shabazi, left my baggage with the railway workers, and headed out. First was the diesel motor unit up, then QJ 6169, which was waiting  in the station with a train of empty self unloading cars. They ran a sharp start! Unexpectedly, QJ 6178 entered the station from north with another empty train at 10.15. Five minutes water stop and then again a sharp and fast start. I then headed north. They are installing new light signals, and electric switches. The hand operated switches will be out of service soon (and probably the conductors doing that also).
11.07 came QJ 6088 with the express. They shut off steam on the large bridge just north of the station, but still had good speed. On the road in the river bed I saw there were a few buses, but I did not dare to rely on them. Then came two coal trains down, 6452 at 11.35 and 7053 at 13.00, and QJ 2938 came back with the passenger train and a few self unloading ballast cars. So I took the mixed to Dongsheng. We ran late, but the fast train waited there, again with QJ 6088, and I jumped in. Got a RZ ticket on the train, but the car was full. I got one of the last seats. The YZ cars were overfilled. Many people left the train at Dalateqi.

Ticket cost Dongsheng to Shabazi was 3.50, RZ to Baotou was 15. The express even had clean windows. There was a diesel shunter at the power station at Dalateqi.
Nice run into the sundown at Baotou station. Then, diesel took over. They did not sell tickets longer than Baotou. The reason was: Baotou sells the places, and the train got absolutely overfilled. 100% on RZ and at least 120 % in YZ. Thus, from Baotou to Huhehaote I had to stand in the gangway. But nobody to sell a ticket...

They had DF4D at Baotou for the expresses: numbers seen are 3105, 3150, 0550.
DF4C had the freights. Seen: 4327, 5320.
In Huhehaote a local train with two passenger cars and DF4B 3126. The same locomotive had this two car train next morning.

In Huhehaote I used Wang Fu Fandian, out of the station, first road 100 meters to the right. 109 RMB, even room number facing the station. Even here in Huhehaote there was more police visible than usually. But again, they were not interested in me. To telephone I had to use a public phone outside the hotel. My mobile phone did not get connection until Jingpeng.

Nov. 5, 2001: Huhehaote to Baiqi

I headed right on the DMU train (997 to Daban) without breakfast. Got a lot of fruit and soda with me instead. No problem to get a RZ ticket to Baiqi. 84 RMB. The little shop on board provided me with enough food later on. East of Huhehaote, and even after Jining, the mountain tops had snow. The car was quite cold, but a conductor changed that after I asked for warmth. On the other hand, the YW car was overheated.  They still have these nice ladies for conductors. Friendly staff! 

The landscape looked as dry as ever. Here and there railway construction. Maybe a few new shortcuts to smooth curves? Some new sidings under construction along the line to Jining.

To Jining, everything is DF4:
DF4B 7057 Huhe,
6005, 7157, 6109, 1473, 7161, 3953, 7304, 6031, 7167 all Jining.
DF4D 0550 premium engine from Huhehaote.

At Benhong was a large pile of coal, then a QJ at the depot and one waiting with an eastbound freight. Snow after Shangdu. Stone walls against blowing sand and snow on the north side of the railway everywhere there was a cutting. Fruit plantations after Shangdu. Most of this is treeless country, quite flat. Only near Baiqi some hills.

At Baiqi straight to Tiedao Binguan, a nicely renovated hotel at the depot entrance. I then headed into the depot and was received very friendly, guided about half an hour and then left alone for walking around until sundown. Got a meal in a side house to the hotel, together with the hotel employees. Had a good night with steam whistles all around.

The depot had about 6 or 7 engines under steam, amongst them 6854, 6855, 6912, 6997. PLus all the dumped or stored ones. Depot staff told they are intended for Sanggendalai to Xilinhaote. My theory is that at least the locomotives with numbers below 6000 are just dumped. They did not look too well. It also looks like somebody has thrown stones into the windows of all the engines. Let us hope they will really use them when Xisang line opens.


Nov. 6 Baiqi, to Sanggendalai

Morning photography at east end of the station. The passenger to Benhong headed west with QJ 7141 when it was still dark. Two morning trains had a hard time climbing the slope east of Baiqi. Real hard work, and good light. Very good morning location. Eastbound trains have a 6 per thousand slope against them for about 5 km, then as steep down again into the next station. A good position is right at the station entrance, and one more about one kilometer farther east, after the curve. Walking back from there it was tempting to try a shortcut right over the grasslands, but a river gorge stopped me.
However, west of Baiqi came nothing until 14.30, when I already waited at the station with my stuff. There is a water reservoir just outside the depot on the west approach. Again, I saw the flights to Europe crossing over here. Then eastwards by the diesel train. RZ ticket only sold on the train. The line to Sanggendalai has more curves and some trees and sand dunes. Two good areas: One station east of Baiqi, and one before Sanggendalai. At Sanggendalai was QJ 6353 shunting oil cars before dark. Station master invited me in and then showed me to the presumable best hotel outside the station: Hengli fandian. Three rooms only, but clean. No water (got a water bottle). Toilet = "Go somewhere into the terrain". Outside are a lot of drunk people. Not a good place here.

Nov. 7, Sanggendalai - Xilinhot - Jingpeng - Daban

First I had a trip around the depot under construction. Nobody there at 7, the construction workers only arrived near 7.45. Most of them were carrying shovels and pick axes. They lived partly in improvised shelters around the depot. The layout was that of a typical steam depot. A train passed by from east, but without steam. It seems to be very flat around here.
Some people were laying rhombus formed stone patterns along the new line, they said it was to protect the line against sand storms blowing the earth away. They unloaded ties at the station, and loaded them on trucks heading 80 km north to XiMa.

Most depot buildings were up, including a maintenance hall. But most of the tracks were still lacking. They were working on the concrete structures of the inspection ditches, and of the ash pits. A steam crane was parked there, but not under steam.

Got a taxi to Xilinhot, actually a man driving back his taxi. He wanted 120, I paid him 150 and asked for a few extra stops on the way. we headed north along the new line, see my report . Most scaring was the roundabout where the Jingpeng road and the Sanggendalai road meet just outside Xilinhot: People do not drive round they way they should do, but take the shortest way, even if that is against the circle. (By the way a few days later at Daban, there was a police post checking this up. The fine was 50 Yuan).

Xilinhot is a modern town, 101.000 inhabitants, but kind of faceless. Nearly all buildings seem to be modern, and some streets with old small houses are being torn down and rebuilt with blocks. I got a bus further to Jingpeng. Just east of the town, coal seems to be just under the ground. Lots of small mines, probably with only a few people working each one. They were all producing small amounts of coal and packed them on trucks. Some of the coal was used locally in brick works all around the place. Then came long rolling hills, not much vegetation. After 80 km the road to Da Li Hu, the famous lake and summer tourist spot. But all this is closed in winter. After a while we passed a large windmill farm, and nearby some iron ore mines, probably the ones they will use Shangshuitou station for. The road was good, and the bus running fast, nearly no villages on the way, only when nearing Jingpeng.
As we were nearing Jingpeng I stopped the bus at the large railway bridge and walked the line into Jingpeng. Two trains came up and one down before it was dark. The large bridge is good for afternoon light. It was impossible to wade through the river here, but there is easy access to the bridge with stairs. Even at Majiazi it can be nice, with desert and mountains in the background. 

From Jingpeng I took the diesel express train to Daban, where I was awaited by Heliwen of Daban depot. This time I went to the railway hotel. It was 64 Yuan per night, but warm water was probably only 30 degrees at its maximum.

Summary Nov. 8 to 16

I was at Daban, working on engines. One day at Lindong, one morning east of Daban station, one day in the workshop.
The locomotives generally looked much better than before. They had their brigade numbers painted newly on the cab sides. Some engines bore red stars on their smoke deflectors, the number of red stars indicating the brigade number.
The Lindong day showed that the line below Lindong is not so photogenic anyway. Light is most of the time  from the wrong side. Trains were passing fast, so you do not get this long slog upwards as at the Jingpeng pass. I met a 77 year old man below Lindong. He was gathering plants for his fireplace, and carrying a load larger than himself. Good to show a picture like that to my kids when they think I am requiring too much housework from them... I am not sure I will be strong enough at an age of 77 to go into the hills every day and collect shrubs. He told me in 1930 they had no food and he got food and clothing from some European relief workers. In 1950 there was an airfield (maybe from the freedom struggle), in 1955 they built the village. Anyway, a few trains came up, working hard. The best position east of Lindong was at about km 696, with a large curve where the engines had to work hard.
Five kilometers east of Daban is a nice curve for the morning passenger train. There was just enough light when I was there. Probably in December and January it is not possible any more because of later sunrise. Another morning brought extremely good morning photography with QJ 6301 at Baomutu, waiting for the eastbound passenger train. That engine had a working stoker. One crew used it not much, the other one all time. They had a new slogan on the smoke box door. Somehow the engine crews are part of the deal when determining the slogan, and Mr. Heliwen is part of it.
On Nov. 13 they got Baiqi based DF4D 4055 for trial runs to Haoluku, and the days after that engine took one train east to west of west to east over the pass. They loaded 2350 tons maximum, and the diesel made it! But all else is like it used to be. Much traffic meant there were few locomotive sin the depot at every time. Still, engines are sent to workshops at Mudanjiang, Changchun, Sujiatun and Jinzhou for major overhauls, and to China Rail depots for intermediate repairs.
Two internet shops are now near the station of Daban, both with slow access, but this time I got access to all my own internet pages and to anything I tried. For emergency I had arranged for a new mail address "hansi345@sohu.com". It was not necessary. Thus this address will not be used any more. I gave the address and password to some Daban depot people for them to use. However, they will probably not read mail to there too often.
Mobile phone working: I tried my Norwegian SIM-card. No access in all the big cities, until Nov. 7 when I got access to CT-GSM at Jingpeng. After that it worked. Part of the time I got a loaned Chinese prepaid SIM card and charged it. It is dirt cheap to phone within China with that. By the way instructions about charging were printed in Chinese AND ENGLISH on the card!  Mobile phone coverage along Jitong line is definitely improving. The benefit for me was the ability to phone back to my contacts at Daban for inquiries, and with a Chinese SIM-card they could phone me.
I also used an IC Card at the public phones they are setting up all over the country now. Works as good as everywhere in the world. The cards are sold virtually everywhere. This may sooner or later put the kiosks offering phone service out of business.
Got some information about freight and coal cost: Jitong line charges 0.08 to 0.1 Yuan per ton-km. Thus, a fully loaded coal train over the whole line would cost about 130.000 Yuan. Coal at Daban comes for 230 Yuan per ton. Dirt cheap, if comparing to diesel which is about 3 Yuan per liter at the gasoline station.
This time there were a lot of empty cars to the west. Both empty C62 cars (the open ones) and empty flat N17 cars (container cars). Many blue China Rail containers have now  large letters in latin saying "China Railways". It looks nice with modern containers behind a QJ. They also had lots of empty oil cars on westbound trains.

The locomotive dispatchers at Daban depot have railway phone number 2553. Their job schedule is 12 hours on, 24 off for five days, then five days off, then start again. I saw them making schedules for freights, for 12 hours at the time, but these schedules are constantly updated as time goes by. Some freights are definitely running slower, some faster, both depending on train crossings, how heavy they are and the quality of the engines. I also saw how they determine how to send trains from station to station. For example, Yuzhoudi is calling up to Sandi before sending a westbound train. If Sandi has a train down, then Yuzhoudi may wait sending one up, because the down train would have to wait too long time at Galadesitai. It looks like every station may actually ask the two next stations about the traffic before sending trains. Generally the new stations are very much in use. I saw several crossings both at Sandi and at Hadashan. Shangshuitou opened the last day I was there. These new stations lead to shorter waiting times for the trains. But maybe, because of more traffic, there are more station stops anyway. Many times being on a freight train I experienced running into the train before us when arriving three track stations (Linxi, Sandi, Hadashan, Jingpeng). The train in front of us left as we arrived.
Walking along the line, I met some of the line inspectors. They walk the line every day. At longer intervals, a crew with ultrasound equipment walks the line. The line inspectors write a short report in the book kept at every level crossing guard's house. The inspector at Lindong walked all the way to Yamenmiao and back every day.

Westbound trains stop at Jingpeng for water. While they take water and the local workers shovel coal to the front of the tender, the locomotive crews eat in a little restaurant besides the water station. The food is good and dirt cheap. 2-3 Yuan per meal. Very fast service! They cook when you come in.
Shangshuitou station was nearly finished. One day saw a ballast train for the last finishing of ballast. The side tracks are also nearly finished. The station itself is nonstandard, with a mongolian style dome on the waiting hall. Painted in white and pink. Smart looking. I only did never get a good photo, as no train was stopping. Taking photos from a moving QJ is not easy...
For autumn colors: People said autumn colors at Haoluku are best around September 25, at Lindong about October 10.
On November 16 I jumped off a westbound freight at Shangdian about noon. Another train came up from west, hard working. An old man was collecting coal in the station and wondered probably why I was photographing. Then I found a taxi bringing me over the pass, where the next freight approached from east soon after. This resulted in some nice pictures at the tunnel entrance. It was above freezing, but cold enough for steam. The idea was to return to Linxi by the next taxi and then take a freight back to Daban. However, near SanDi I saw smoke. There was just enough time to cross the river and get the next train passing upwards in good afternoon light. And another taxi approached, going back to Shangdian, to the tunnel entrance... Again a hard working train, and off I went with the next taxi down, but now no other train came on. At Linxi was no bus, but another taxi brought me to Daban alone for 100 RMB. (This was too high a price: Heliwen went next day all the way Daban to Reshui for 100). Anyway, I came back early enough to say good-bye to the Daban people before boarding the diesel express train to Reshui again. I thought of relaxing after a hard day, but there was one of the Sifang engineer I had met before and he insisted I had to come to the cab. What a difference from steam: Nearly no sound, no vibration, and a really good view on the rails. However, I was glad maximum speed is not more than 75 km/h: the alignment of the rails and the sharp curves do not allow much more. There was no problem getting to Reshui town, from the station, as several taxis were waiting. The station road has also been improved. Things are developing!
The evening highlight was a trip to the swimming pool. That is a real treat, with hot showers, and water deep enough to swim.


Summary Nov. 17 to 1
 
Visiting Jingpeng pass, staying at railway hotel in Reshui. Did not meet photo permit mafia . On Nov. 17 on the east side, most of the day with Heliwen who came from Daban at 10.30. In the early morning I walked the hill, but there were no trains. This was good, as I also looked at the wrong places, with no sun. First place to get morning sun is the Reshui viaduct, and the curve between the tunnels. I finally got a train between the tunnels later in the morning, but wind was heavy, blowing the steam and smoke into the way. I found mobile phone coverage most of the places.
There were lots of trains in the afternoon. The area around Liudigou was best then. At one time we had two up trains and one down train in the same picture! SanDi is open now and used heavily for train crossings, as well is Hadashan station. Walking the landscape was easy. The little snow there was was melted, and the ground was dry. 
Taxi prices over the pass are: 1Y for Shangdian to tunnel entrance, 3 Y from there to Sandi, 2 Y Sandi to Reshui, 5Y Reshui to Linxi. I also visited the house of one of the new level crossing guards. The people on the small roads have no phone and listen and look before opening the gate. The gate is normally closed. A family lives at the house near the gate, and gets a pay of 500 a month. The guards at the main road are four people going 12 hours shifts every 48 hours. They have radio and/or phone.
The only News otherwise was that the railway hotel swimming pool is now open. Entrance fee 15 Y for guests not staying at the railway hotel. Nice indoor swimming pool! Good showers, warm water.
On Nov. 18 I was at the west approach of the pass. Locomotive shortage made two QJ return from Shangdian to Jingpeng for the next trains both QJ 6351 and QJ 6230 did that. DF4D 4055 came with a westbound freight. Several train crossings were at Hadashan station. Down trains are always stopped in the leftmost track, while up-trains are stopped in the straight middle track. Simingyi bridge seems to be best in the morning, later the approach into Shangdian is nice, even with light against you. Some trains were very heavy and slow. Got the information that some engines are bad, and Daban's best drivers drive these.
During one break between trains I walked up from SiMingyi to the north of the railway, all the way up the mountain. They had many planting holes for trees up there, but only every second row had larch trees. The other row was empty. It looks like coordination between digging holes and planting trees is not too good. Some holes in the planted rows also lacked trees. Maybe only 50% of the new trees survive the first few years. Near the top the terrain became quite steep, with wildly growing bushes as obstacles. Some vertical rocks had to be climbed, but that was easy enough. The sight on top was not too interesting, however. The same kind of mountains all the way to the northern horizon. It looks like Hadashan is the only mountain here with real precipices.  View of the railway, however, was nice. From up here you could see all the way down to Jingpeng and nearly all the way up to Shangdian.

In the evening I headed to Chifeng. Start 15.30 at Reshui, getting my baggage from the hotel, then waiting at the road. I finally got a taxi only myself, about at 16, for 50 to Linxi, and he drove like hell knowing that I wanted to make the train at 20.00 from Chifeng. At Linxi the driver stopped a white Toyota minibus to Chifeng. Actually he had to turn round and chase it a few hundred meters, as it did not stop immediately. This cost 40 and was comfortable. Not more people than there were seats. Even free seats. Driving was interesting. The road is being repaired and at times very bad. In between are new stretches. Most of the last half is new. The driver drove like the devil was behind him. They made it to Chifeng station at 19.55. I ran into the station, the baggage checking policeman just waved me through, the entrance guard too, and the conductor at the door let me in without a ticket. Thus I made  the 20.00 train to Beijing. Got a hard sleeper for 112 soon after.
Temperatures were below freezing in the morning, and maybe plus 10 degrees in the afternoon. Bad wind on Nov. 17, no wind on Nov. 18. There was a big group of foreigners in a bus and a small group of 4 Englishmen, but somehow  I was at different places than they.

Nov. 19, 2001, Beijing

Warm here! Was at China Rail Publishing Office for books and at the model shops. Railway models not much cheaper here than in the USA. And they were mostly sold out. Prices vary between the two shops. If you want to buy something, it would be best to phone them some time in advance, otherwise they may not have it. China Railways Publishing House has now a lot of nice picture books.