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China Railtour 2004

Part 1

At the start of the 21st Century, China is the almost last country in the world where steam engines are used on normal, everyday trains. Mostly, they run on branch lines serving mines or quarries, but there was one main line, from Tongliao to Jining in Inner Mongolia, where almost all the normal, long distance freight trains were steam-hauled. Not any longer, sadly. By April 2005, steam had gone from the JingPeng pass, and it is expected to finish on the Daban - Chabuga section by the end of 2005. That’s why GW Travel organised The China JingPeng Orient Express in October and November 2004, and why Steam Age Pictures had to be on it – before it was too late!


Click the thumbnails to see a larger version; all are JPEG files, between about 10 and 40 kB. All pictures taken from the video footage.
2368 with a train of empties (20kB)2368 with a train of empties (24kB)
2369 shunting at Wangshiwa colliery (38kB)JF 2369 starts a loaded train at Wangshiwa (21k)
27th Oct
Tongchuan, about 100 km north of Xi’an in Shannxi province, is the centre of a large mining district. It is also probably the last place where JF class 2-8-2 locomotives are still working. Five are thought to survive, and two are normally in steam for working trains to the colliery at Wangshiwa. When we were there on Wednesday 27th October, two JFs were in steam: 2368 & 2369.
JS 8246 in Yuanbaoshan yard (12k)SY 1063 at Pengzhuang yard (17k)
Unidentified SY in Pengzhuang open cast mine (21k)SY 0517 reaches the top of the climb out of the pit (20k)
Evening coal train leaving Yuanbaoshan No 3 mine (11k)
29th Oct
Yuanbaoshan, near Chifeng in Inner Mongolia, is the centre of a 30km railway system that connects several coal mines with exchange sidings on the CNR main line. It is home to 9 JS class 2-8-2s. These pictures were taken on Friday 29th October 2004.

Pengzhuang lies about 30 km south-east of Yuanbaoshan. The depot is home to around a dozen SY class 2-8-2 steam locos and a larger number of centre-cab Bo-Bo electrics that work trains to and from an open cast mine. The electrics work the stone and coal trains, while the steam locos handle the engineer’s trains that are constantly employed laying new track as the work face eats further into the hillside.

Daban MPD (10k)2 QJs leaving Daban with a fast freight (16k)
QJ 7037 comes off the triangle at Daban MPD (18k)QJ 7037 starts out from Chabuga (11k)
30th & 31st Oct
Although the outer ends of the JiTong line are now worked only by diesels, the central section, from Chabuga in the east, through Daban, to Baiqi in the West, is still worked largely by QJ class 2-10-2 locos. These 3 towns have large loco depots. We looked around Daban on Sat 30th and Chabuga on Sun 31st Oct (in the rain!)
Loco 1 leaves the unloading plant (37 kB)No 3 passes the level crossing (39 kB) 5th Nov.
On Friday 5th November, we visited Dahuichang, on the south-western outskirts of Beijing. Here, a short 762mm-gauge line connects a limestone quarry with the crushing plant, cement works, and mainline railway. Four C2 class 0-8-0 locomotives survive here, two being used each day on an intensive service. Here too, we were just in time, since the line, and the quarry it served, closed in June 2005.

We also spent three days on the spectacular JingPeng Pass section of the JiTong line, which is covered in China Railtour 2004, Part 2

While I was busy with the video camera, Corinne Henman took some excellent still photos.

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this page updated 18/07/2005