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Beijing - Changchun & Jiutai - Hengdaohezi - Harbin - Tumen - Fushun - Fuxin - Luopoling - Dahuichang



This is part three of my summer 2015 trip to China, covering Fuxin, Luopoling & Dahuichang.


To return to part one, covering Beijing, Changchun & Jiutai, Hengdaohezi and between, please click here

To return to part two, covering Harbin, Tumen, Fushun and between click here

14 September 2015

Somewhat refreshed, I decided to get the spoil dump out of the way today. The revised weather forecast showed sunshine for my five days here, a stark contrast the forecast before I left for China of overcast, rain, rain, rain, overcast etc. After breakfast I went on foot to the two rail underpasses and found #1460 in the depot. This locomotive had been turned and faced east, unlike all the other working locomotives facing west. Rather than attempt entry into the workshops, I carried on towards the spoil dump thinking I could return here later on in the week. This never eventuated and I would find it locked for the next four days.

From the workshops, I walked up the mainline towards Pingan mine. About a minute after passing the level crossing, I heard the bells and the unmistakable sound of a hard working steam locomotive coming towards me. 1359 passed slowly by me with five heavily loaded hoppers. I was thoroughly impressed with the thick, black smoke effects which turned out to be quite common during my time here. Who said steam trains in the summer were boring?!

Ultimately, I never made it to the top of the spoil dump as I was put off by the dust being kicked up by erratic wind and had no desire to damage my camera equipment. But, no matter, I found a number of very good locations between Wulong mine and near the top of the spoil dump just before the track splits. Initially traffic was scarce as track repairs were being undertaken on the spoil track adjacent to Wulong mine, but after two hours, which gave me plenty of time for the walk up, I was able to enjoy four hard working trains to the dump and a three fast downhill empties back to the mines. Loads varied between fine stones to large basketball sized rocks, but no fly ash trains from the power station were noted.

By 3pm, the heat won out and I was starting to run low on drink supplies, so I started the descent back down to Pingan. In the later afternoon sun I spotted the unmistakable shape of an EL-2 electric locomotive parked behind the mine. I had missed locating this long dumped locomotive, as well as stripped & dumped SY 0988 and old passenger car on my November trip, despite reading it in David Thomas' report from six months prior.

SY 0988 is looking very worn, starting to rust heavily and, as David wrote, nearly every usable part has been stripped off. The EL2 is not fairing much better, but looks a lot more complete with only aesthetic parts missing or damaged. The paint is pale and the builders plates have clearly been removed well after her retirement with tell tale fresher paint squares where these would be placed. Again, asides from aesthetic or easily replaceable items, the cab appears to be complete with all switches, buttons, lights, etc still in place.

What interested me the most however, was the passenger car. It is clearly very old, and would most likely be in a museum in most other countries. I would like very much to receive further information about this passenger car if anyone has it. One end has a platform for entry via a door on the end of the car, similar to the old 'Wild West' passenger cars in the USA. It appears the other end has had the platform removed, possibly to suit it more as a workers car rather than its original form. The platform has side gates made of turned wood work and very detailed lattice work around the roof edges. The bogie style is very old, and looks to be from the period around 1940 or so, but I am of the opinion that these have been recycled from a freight wagon as this was a common style around this time.

Inside the car is quite amazing with some very beautiful timber work lining the ceiling. Above the doors at each end of the car, there is a very intricate wood carving. It has most likely been used as a workers car and although worn out, is in remarkable condition (the interior at least), with only a small section of the plywood panelling broken. The seats appear to have been removed a very long time ago. Wooden grates have been placed over the windows, again most likely to protect workers from any glass breakages that may occur, which is still common practice in many mine areas where accidents are frequent, although usually steel mesh or bars is used.

Only two trains were seen between here and the hotel, those being DF5D 0065 returning from Wulong mine with a long train of loaded coal hoppers and 1210 heading to the spoil dump with four loaded hoppers. It turned out to be a very productive first day in Fuxin.

A list of the locomotives seen and photographed in Fuxin on this day are as follows :

(steam)
SY 0988 (dumped), 1210, 1319, 1359, 1460, 1818

(diesel)
DF5D 0065

(electric)
EL2 8424 (dumped)

15 September 2015

I started my second day at Wulong, taking an electric trike taxi to Wulong mine for 4 yuan. Initially I believed the driver was having a lend quoting me 10 yuan, but with the lack of these taxis around my hotel, decided to oblige him all the same. His thick accent had thrown me off between "Shr" (ten) and "Sz" four)!

After loading up at the local corner store with cold drinks for the day, I walked towards where the action appeared to be happening, predominantly between Wulong and Pingan mine. 1210 spent much of the morning shunting hoppers about Wulong mine and with not many spoil trains heading to the dump, I decided to head towards Pingan mine as a number of movements were taking place there. SY1397 was the first locomotive seen at Pingan mine which started a train of loaded hoppers towards Fuxin, in spectacular fashion as seen below.

After seeing SY1319 making for the line towards the large pit, I decided to follow it. I didn't see any trains using this line in November last year. This turned out to be quite a busy line and soon after I started walking down this line, a rail car came along pushing a whale belly flat car laden with a Bulldozer, oddly with the operator still seated inside his machine! It returned some fifteen minutes later, minus the bulldozer.

This was promptly followed by the return of SY 1319, tender first with her five empty hoppers putting on a very nice show with lots of noise and black smoke. This is an excellent location in the afternoon with good lighting (sunlight) and a long uphill gradient with hard working, albeit empty, trains.

The track seems to have had a large section rebuilt with piles of twisted rail and broken sleepers simply cast off to the side of the line. The ballast is nicely applied, however in one section near the bottom of the gradient, it appears something has caught on a sleeper and caused quite a bit of damage to the rail joiner as well as a few other sleepers. However this didn't appear to have stopped the traffic.

Walking to the bottom of this line and around a corner, I soon found myself overlooking the vast pit. I almost made it to the level crossing when SY1818 arrived with a spoil train. It appears trains have resumed dumping in the pit as well as the spoil dump. This provides some superb backdrops for photos! One worker was particularly delighted at my visit and scaled a fifty foot pile of rubble to greet me. I gave him an Australian 5 cent coin for his trouble and then he started calling all of his friends and sending them photos of me. Fortunately SY1818 was taking its time unloading and he left by the time it came past again, once again descending the great wall of rubble back to his little hut in his slippers, not something I would try with my steel cap work boots! In fact, after I saw what was in the pile of rubble he climbed up on was made of, decided I wouldn't attempt it even with a hazmat suit. It appears that some construction truck drivers have been dumping asbestos and other construction rubble with tell tale fine white crystals exposed through cracked skirting boards and panels etc. Having lost my mother from a related illness some years ago, I left immediately and advise people to be careful when walking around dumped rubbish in this area as I found it to be quite a common sight.

I walked back to the main road and ended up quite close to the power station just as SY 1397 entered the power station grounds light engine. It returned some fifteen minutes later with a loaded train of rubble, but surprisingly not the same fly ash that was seen last year.

A list of the locomotives seen and photographed in Fuxin on this day are as follows :

(steam)
SY 1210, 1319, 1320, 1397, 1818

(diesel)
Railcar M-01

16 September 2015

Today I had an unfortunate late start after sleeping through my alarm clock which meant I missed the supplied breakfast as well. My goal for the day was to visit the locomotive depot, an open air twin track setup up. I had completely missed going here in November last year, despite being quite easy to find between the CNR mainline and mining railway. On my arrival locomotive 1319 was in steam and on standby duties. Her crew were most friendly and the driver was quite surprised to see himself in one of the handout photos I gave him that I had taken last year near the spoil dump. He was very grateful and carefully placed it in his perfectly sized top pocket, not allowing any of the other crew members to touch it!

After a sit around and a chat, the crew set about making minor repairs and adjustments to their steed. One of her injectors was leaking very badly, but was repaired after 20 minutes or so.

My next stop was the storage yard, which saw me part with an inch thick stack of my hand out photos to gain entry, but well worth it! This yard lies adjacent to the depot and is where old rolling stock is literally put out to pasture, in most cases never to run again. At the time of my visit, it contained fifteen C62A & C62B coal hoppers, a pair of old workers box cars and a dozen steam locomotives in very decrepit condition. A complete list is provided below, the biggest surprise being JF-508, a class that has been long out of operation. I'm unsure why it hasn't been disposed of yet, as it would be of no use to the railway for spare parts. No sign was seen of the YJ that was stored here many years ago. Below is a sample of photos I took during my time here.

After I left here, I decided to try and repeat my success from last year near the workshops. Many trains passed by, but many of the small weeds have grown into huge trees and these impeded the view quite significantly. The workshop was also closed and locked with no one about to ask if I could take a look.

Unsatisfied with the shots I was getting, I started to pack up the video camera to find a better location and nearly missed SY 1397 pulling out of a siding with a crane train in tow. I managed to get a number of pretty decent photos of it before it disappeared. While most of the crew were friendly as usual, one worker took great exception to his crane being photographed and made 'taking picture' motion with his hands at the loco and then pointed to the crane shaking his hand furiously. Oddly I had the same experience in Ganzhou back in 2013. Not sure what it is about blokes with cranes. Happy with what I had got however I obligingly lowered the camera which satisfied him enough to retreat back to his cab.

I made a brief stop at the level crossing on Meicheng road getting DF5D 0080 and SY1320 in gleaming condition, both heading towards Wulong mine within a couple of minutes.

With only a couple of hours of daylight left and once again overcome by the heat, I made for the mining museum to see if anything had changed to find the entire park undergoing a massive restoration and possible total rebuild. The entire park is starting to subside into the ground apparently by "10cms or more" every year. This is not particularly surprising as they decided to build it right on the edge of an open cast mine! In multiple places, the foot paths are cracking, with some pavers significantly raised above others. The huge monolith overlooking the path has sunk quite severely into the earth by well over a foot in depth, with some pavers in the immediate vicinity sinking with it. Large cracks have appeared in the two angled buildings and were both deserted, probably for good reason!

Despite this, both the locomotives are receiving a complete overhaul and the freight cars are currently being repainted. The gondola and caboose are now in oxide red, although this may have just been a primer. SY 1395 (ex-0939) had a small army of workers all over her. Already much of the decaying boiler jacket that we noticed last year, has been replaced with sheet aluminium. The headlight has been removed and the paint is being stripped back for a full repaint . Future visitors should soon be able to enjoy another super-shine locomotive at Fuxin!

The other locomotive, an articulated ZG150-1500 is also receiving a lot of attention. The paint has been taken back on the undercarriage and the body work was being given the once over with a grinder. Most of the windows have been smashed out, most likely as a result of the works going on around her, but I'm sure new ones will be installed shortly. The workers here were taking a break and they all pleaded with me to come over the safety rope to join them for some tea. They gave me a hard hat to wear and we shared a good half hour in the shade of #-28 while they sifted through the photos I had left.

A list of the locomotives seen and photographed in Fuxin on this day are as follows :

(steam - all dumped)
JF 508
SY 0036, 0076, 0127, 0576, 0391, 0540, 0770 x 2 (one should be 0940), 0911, 0941 w/tender from 1359, 0989 w/cab from 1378, one unidentifiable tender & one unidentifiable locomotive
SY 1395 (ex 0939) (preserved)

(steam - working)
SY 1319, 1320, 1359, 1397, 1818

(diesel)
DF5D 0067, 0080

(electric)
ZG150-1500 028 (preserved)

17 September 2015

Despite battling some huge blisters on my feet, I thought I would like to spend my last day around Wulong mine again and most of the time between level crossing south of Wulong mine and Pingan mine. Today was the first day where visibility was very poor, there was not a cloud in the sky, but the sun was totally blotted out by a constant supply of dust from the spoil dump which engulfed all of Fuxin and beyond thanks to very strong winds. I noticed also today seemed to bring in the beginning of the farmer's fire season - a rather unfortunate practice where farmers set alight their harvested fields to promote new growth. This practice is apparently being regulated, but you'd never know it. Nevertheless, some of my best photos were acquired this day as the light was more even on the trains rather than the extremely strong sunlight that left many angles (usually the front end of the locomotive) in very dark shadows.

I found many good spots in less than a kilometer and at one stage during a rare anomaly with mobile data availability, was able to set up my phone on the tripod and Skype call my usual travel buddy Steven back in Sydney with a couple of these workings.

I found all six serviceable steam locomotives today working trains to the spoil dump throughout the day from the power station and the deep mines, with most locos taking it in turns to shunt wagons around Wulong mine. The section of track here is also quite popular for performing boiler blowouts. For any visitors here, if the loco crew are shooing you away from here, chances are it's because they don't want to steam clean your face! The black smoke produced by a couple of these locomotives was very impressive. DF5D 0067 which made her maiden appearance to me to Wulong with 22 C61, C62A & C62B hoppers.

A list of the locomotives seen and photographed in Fuxin on this day are as follows :

(steam)
SY 1210, 1320, 1359, 1397, 1818

(diesel)
DF5D 0067

18 September 2015

Hoping to once again get an early start was again thwarted from a suspected allergic reaction to some food highly saturated in MSG. This saw me get a terrible night's sleep and I eventually woke up a lot later than I had planned leaving me only an hour to spare after checking out and heading to Fuxin train station for my train back to Shenyang. With the little time I had left, I made for the shed to see if anything was present.

SY1320 was the standby locomotive of the day and was being given a good clean over by the crew and even some small red paint touch ups to her wheels. The crew offered to move the locomotive up and down for a pack of cigarettes each, they didn't seem to be interested in the usual gifts of photos and/or foreign coins. So smokes it was and they made a few slow runs up and down the yard, the last one with me inside it.

It was all over far too soon and I took a 3 wheel taxi to the station and boarded the severely crowded K7327. I did have the choice to get hard sleeper at the time, but it hardly seemed worth it and I opted for a hard seat. Sadly my neighbours weren't a sociable bunch with all of them thoroughly engrossed on their little tablets with the latest soap operas the moment they arranged themselves, but at least I was lucky to have a window seat.

Traffic en-route comprised of DF4D, DF11 & DF11G on passenger services and HXN3 & HXN5 on freight. The line is in the early stages of construction for electrification with new overhead masts lying along the railway ready to be mounted. Asides from this, there is a multitude of new lines being built - seemingly high speed and elevated for what must be 50 kilometers at least.

Arrival at Shenyang saw the first signs of rain I had seen and it was extremely heavy. Being rush hour also didn't help my quest in locating a taxi, although one took pity on the foreigner after 45 minutes in a torrential downpour (not that I minded given the heat stress I had been experiencing for the past two weeks!) and after 20 minutes, I arrived at Shenyang Bei and on the 2125 service to Beijing aboard good old K54.

A list of the locomotives seen and photographed in Fuxin & Shenyang on this day are as follows :

(steam)
SY 1320

(diesel)
DF4D 0053, 0138, 0216
DF5 1194, 1266
DF11G 113/14 + 1 unidentified
HXN5 unidentified

(electric)
HXD3C 0406, 0436, 0545, 0736
HXD3 unidentified
HXD3D 0224, + 1 unidentified
SS9 0010, 0011
SS9G 0060, 0080, 0189

19 September 2015

I had another full day in Beijing, again planned as a buffer zone if my trains were delayed or cancelled. As it turns out, I arrived back right on time and organised my driver in Beijing to take me to Luopoling and Dahuichang. The weather forecast threatened overcast skies in Beijing the day before, but after being lied to so many times by these nitwits over the past couple of weeks decided not to worry. It looks like I made the right call on that, because today was brilliant blue skies, a rare thing for Beijing.

Traffic levels were much the same as my November visit with a few notable changes. The 8K's are now very much an endangered species with only two seen during my time, a big drop from last year. I believe they will be gone within a matter of months if not sooner.

HXD3D's, of which none were seen in November 2014, are now quite common on passenger trains which appear to have reduced (slightly) the number of HXD3C's. I like these striking red units very much and they add some very nice color to an already beautiful Luopoling!

Diesels are still the exception on the Fengtai line now, and the same as last year two mail trains were seen with DF4DK's. This year I had the added bonus of a green DF4B heading towards Beijing light engine (6388, Datong).

The only other diesel was the a blue DF7C on the branch line with a short train of hoppers and the unusual cabooses that the branch line like to use, most likely for having accommodation for the guard to switch the tracks for all the industries that these train serve.

Below are another few images from the superb bridges of Luopoling. If you are lucky enough to visit Beijing on a nice day like this, make it your priority! You will not regret it.

I got my driver to run me to Dahuichang to see if Paul Molyneux-Berry's news of the two stored C2 narrow gauge steam locomotives was still current and I'm happy to say they are still there. Some track is still there, particularly the mainline for as long as I could manage walking, this time not restricted by the heat, but the overgrowth! I made it to the front of the shed with great difficulty gaining a number of cuts and scratches from the surrounding shrubbery for my trouble. It appears all tracks have been removed from the front of the shops, however they may still be there hiding amongst the 6ft high weeds.

There was a keyhole sized hole in the door and from there I could make out the front of both of the locomotives, one with "2" painted on the front, but unfortunately my camera was totally incapable of focusing through this. The only other photos I was able to get were through a window next to a side door to the shed with an actual path. The only photos I could get as proof are of the tenders shown below. Not a soul was to be found anywhere in the entire area so no further information or access could be obtained.

And thus ended my latest China adventure. Back to the hotel for the next day's early morning flight to Hong Kong and then onto Japan for 2 weeks.

A list of the locomotives seen and photographed in the Beijing area on this day are as follows :

(steam)
C2 02 + 1 unidentified

(diesel)
DF4B 6388
DF4DK 3010
DF7C 3029

(electric)
8K 100, 146
HXD2 1056, 1096, 1100, 1123, 1126, 1152
HXD3C 0463, 0515, 0558, 0644, 0742, 0748, 0932, unidentified
HXD3D 0259, 0267, 0377, 0379
SS4G 0613, 7019, 7237, 7238, unidentified
SS8 0103

(electric multiple unit)
CRH380AL-2576

Summary

Beijing - A lay day that turned out to provide some excellent results. This was my first time to the popular rail photography site on the Citadel wall. Disappointing regarding the DF10F, but the DF11Z made up for that!

Jiutai - Jiutai was a frustrating location in the strong sunshine, especially as the working locomotive had nothing to do. Operations are, at least currently, done in the early morning - however anything can change at short notice.

Hengdaohezi - This was an amazing place, to make the discovery of not only the SY, but a Royal Flush with the JF, JS and QJ. In afternoon sun, the photos turned out amazingly well. The mainline action was also fantastic with frequent trains including classic DF4B and DF8 traction.

Harbin - I didn't spend too much time here and it was an unplanned visit, having given up on Xinglongzhen due to exhaustion. Photos were average and not a great amount of trains were seen. In hindsight I would have most likely visited Harbin East instead where the overhead wires don't get in the way as much.

Tumen - Incredible! My first visit to the North Korean border and I enjoyed every minute of it. To make the amazing find of North Korean locomotives made my day. The people I met were extremely friendly and accommodating.

Fushun - My first visit to this huge network and in hindsight I would have spent another day here over Fuxin just to be able to take it all in. The pit is very impressive and the interesting locomotives are a real privilege to see in operation, especially the ED-85's given their age. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the e.m.u. yards as well.

Fuxin - I suspect this will soon be the last steam centre of China. It's quite easy to get around by either walking or electric trike taxis. Trains are frequent and hardworking. I was very surprised at the smoke effects I was getting here being equally impressive to winter time.

Luopoling - Amazing. Just go.

Dahuichang - Well, its dead. This was my first visit here and at least I can say I saw some narrow gauge trains!

Given some pretty astounding discoveries made after little or no prior information, I am intending to make another trip to China next year some time. There must be dozens of locations worth a visit. Suggestions are welcome! At present I am intending to visit a number of local railways in central and southern China, including - finally - the Kunming narrow gauge, should it still be in operation. A word to the wise for those travelling in autumn. Don't listen to the weathermen - take sunscreen. And a hat. Preferably a sombrero.


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Return to part two here


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