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Hong Kong - Yuexi - Kunming - Hekou - Sanmenxia - Changsha - Yingtan - Jingdezhen - Nanpiao - Fuxin

My latest solo trip to explore China's railways saw me go in a slightly different direction this time, chasing China's oldest diesel locomotives, rather than the usual steam pilgrimage. It wasn't a complete steam free trip, however, with my final two days spent in Fuxin. Had I known that Fuxin would be retiring its steam fleet in June during the planning stages of the trip and also that a couple of the places I would visit had closed or suspended their operations, I would have budgeted more time here. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Plagued by sickness and unable to hold down any food for nearly three weeks while moving almost 9,000kms by rail with fifteen trains as well as three internal flights was challenging to say the least. Once again my very good friend Rick Wong from Hong Kong helped pre-book my trains and much information and advice was provided by Felix Sun.

Given the length of this report, I have split it into three sections. The first part contains Hong Kong, Kunming, Yuexi and between. The other two parts are as follows:

Part 2 covering Hekou, Sanmenxia, Jingdezhen and between - click here

Part 3 covering Nanpiao, Fuxin, Beijing and between - click here

For those who are interested in steam only, click here for Sanmenxia and here for Fuxin.

14 & 15 April 2016

I had four days in Hong Kong and found some spare time to visit the Hong Kong railway museum, unfortunately being on a day with heavy rain. My previous visit was 16 years earlier and every time I tried to visit since, found it closed. The model railway collection is a bit tragic with most of them warping (resin built) or totally inappropriate for a KCR collection - a French TGV train for example. The rest of the museum is well presented and laid out. There is also a lot more information posted than I recall seeing first time as well as a good collection of old railway tickets, uniforms and other railway paraphernalia. Admission is free.

Rolling stock exhibits are as follows :

0-4-4t steam Bagnall locomotive is still under cover and unchanged, apart from some annoying Perspex covers to keep children and nitwits from climbing on/in it. This was used on the Fanling-Shau Tau Kok narrow gauge line until closure in 1928.

G12 diesel, #51 Sir Alexander. She was repainted back to the original KCR colors of dark green & silver for the museum and added to the collection in 2004. Being left in the open, the elements are starting to take a toll on her. Hong Kong's other G12's were exported back to Australia where they were built, and are subsequently now in storage.

Six passenger cars, most of which can be walked through.
#302 third class coach (built 1911)
#002 Guards coach (built 1921)
#229 baggage car (built 1955)
#112 first class coach (built 1964)
#276 economy coach (built 1976)
#223 third class coach (built 1955) - opened for school groups etc for educational use

Gandy dancer, or human powered pump trolley.

Diesel powered trolley.

On the East Line, asides from the usual SP1900's and Metro Cammell e.m.u's, the only other trains seen was the Ktt with the push-pull Swiss built Re460's and a number of China Rail trains, all behind SS8's. Of particular note, the repainting program of China's passenger car fleet has now reached Hong Kong with all trains having at least a few of the 'fast becoming standard again' dark green and yellow livery, in the mix.

A list of the (operational) locomotives seen and photographed in Hong Kong over these two days are as follows :

SS8 0156, 0163 + 3 others unidentified
TLN 001, 002

16 April 2016

My first day in China mainland and my hope that I would have recovered from the flu prior to my arrival was not to be, although I was slowly recovering. My flight with HK Express (UO273) got me to Kunming on a leased Hainan Airlines A320 at about half past 10, leaving me enough time to get to Mayuan market to see the return meter gauge passenger service from Shizui to Kunming North. Mayuan has a series of level crossings where local traders must move their stalls off the tracks for trains as they approach. My pre-arranged driver John Xie had forgotten about my arrival which I had booked a few weeks prior, so I took a taxi into town instead. This left me with a very narrow window for seeing the train, but my taxi driver was enthusiastic about his driving to say the least and according to the published timetable, I arrived about 2 minutes prior to its arrival.

After waiting for nearly 30 minutes I assumed that I had missed the train and headed to the northern part of the city, a region called Puji to find one of two surviving members of the original DF class. Felix Sun had visited here a few months prior and found it working around a large factory complex here alongside a much more modern DF7G. The taxi from Mayuan took less than 10 minutes to reach Puji and the driver dropped me at the level crossing that lies between the small yard and the factory compound.

The locomotive shed (more like a canopy), is very close to the level crossing and I came across a DF2026, a 1972 built locomotive from the Qishuyan locomotive works, shut down at the end of the line. The Qishuyan built DF class can be identified over their more common Dalian cousins by the larger main headlight housing. One of the workers I met mentioned that she is no longer used, but started once a week to keep her "alive". She was pulled from active service a few weeks prior and apart from her weekly start up, will only be used when one of the DF7G's is away for overhaul. Even this is an unlikely scenario as it appears one locomotive could easily handle all the traffic, particularly as factory production is currently not high.

The factory also owns a pair of Sifang built DF7G's. One is numbered 0091 (Sifang, 2005) and is in a very attractive rare red/grey color scheme. The second DF7G is a new addition to the factory fleet and is the reason for the demise of DF 2026. She is numbered 0086 and is carrying builders plates dated 2007 (also Sifang). This is questionable as the date is two years younger than the purported plates of 0091! Either way, she has recently had an overhaul and is wearing a very interesting and equally good looking chocolate and white livery. Both DF7G's are devoid of the China Rail logos and are branded YTTL instead.

There are two small yards here, one handling tank cars to the west and the one closer to the factory with containers using a mix of C type gondolas and N and X type flat cars. The factory area is off limits, but walking around the yard is open for all, including toddlers it seems. Traffic was light with only a couple of moves done, all by DF7G 0086. One very interesting thing I found as an Australian is the high number of eucalyptus trees which were introduced to China in the late 19th century. I stayed in the yard for a few hours before moving on to Kunming Bei to see if I could catch the meter gauge passenger train arriving from Wangjiaying.

On arrival at Kunming Bei, I found the station locked up with all exits sealed. On one door I found the current timetable, which you can find by clicking here and also another poster which put a real downer on the rest of my time in Kunming. The passenger service had temporarily been suspended and it just so happened this was over the time of my visit! The museum had also closed by the time I got there, and with me in Yuexi the next day and the museum closed on the Mondays and Tuesdays, it wouldn't be until later in the week that I would be able to visit. This wasn't such a bad thing , as I only had half an hour before I had to head off to Kunming station for my first overnight train, and the museum as I would later discover deserves much more time than that. I decided therefore to head to the train station early to pick up my rail tickets and get some dinner prior to boarding my overnight train to Yuexi in southern Sichuan province, some 733 rail kilometers north of Kunming.

Collecting the railway tickets was a bit of a complicated procedure, first queuing in a ticket office for half an hour only to be told to go to another one instead. For visitors, go to "ticket office #1". Usually collecting rail tickets is an easy process, however I needed to replace my passport due to damage sustained on the last trip. Unfortunately the ticket website (www.12306.com) now permits only four tickets to be booked until the passport is "verified" by China Rail. The procedure for this seems to vary between stations and is not automatically done upon picking up tickets. To get around the problem and by Rick's suggestion, we booked the other eight on my old details and I took both passports with me. After another lengthy queue, I picked up the first lot and went for dinner before returning for the second batch. Fortunately this worked without any problems, despite severely annoying the ticket lady who probably had better things to do rather than work. Amazingly, she didn't query the butchering job on the cover of my passport made by the passport officer back in Australia.

There was less than half an hour to catch my train, K166, to Yuexi. Locomotive on point from Kunming was a Chengdu bureau SS7C 0076 - my first journey behind one of these very beautiful tri-Bo electric locomotives. Photography on Kunming platform was unchallenged and I found a pair of DF5's shunting cars as well. By the time I had boarded, darkness fell very quickly making photography all but impossible out the window. Noted in the locomotive holding yard just to the west of the station were HXD1C, 1D and 3D electric types, but was unable to obtain any road numbers.

A list of the (operational) locomotives seen and photographed in Kunming is as follows :

DF 2026
DF5 1950, 193*
DF7G 0086, 0091

SS7C 0076
HXD1C ****
HXD1D 01**
HXD3D 01**

17 April 2016

Yuexi is located in southern Sichuan province on the Cheng-Kun line at co-ordinates 2844'26.00"N 10236'07.93"E. The mainline here is single track with overhead, with passing loops at every station (plus some others in between). This section of track is a torturous route for trains with very steep grades and sharp curves. At a certain point on the mainline, you can see the same line in front of you twice, passing 200 & 300+ feet below respectively.

K166 arrived on time in Yuexi at 0642 on the Sunday morning and it was raining rather heavily, thankfully this only lasted about an hour and a half. I enquired if there was a left luggage area so I could store one of my bags, but there isn't. A China Rail staff was nice enough to take me to a binguan which is located on the station platform. While this did require the renting of a room at 80 yuan, it was still a much more palatable option than lugging around two backpacks and was a very good shelter for the rain plus a good place to charge some batteries while I was out in the field. The entrance to the binguan is a bit ghetto, but the rooms are actually quite nice with clean bed and bathrooms (although squat toilets), hot water, internet, etc. I will most likely stay here if I return to Yuexi. Checking in was a bit of a process and the owner had to get the assistance from the local police lady which took some time, but I was able to take some photos on the station platform and by the time she figured everything out, the rain had stopped.

Traffic levels are very high and there is usually a train passing through every 15 - 30 minutes. This is one of the last railways in China not using the new HX series electric locomotives. Freight is solely in the hands of SS3 and SS4G locomotives (or both) in either single, double or triple header formation. This may not last for long however with China Rail planning to begin mass retirements of their SS3's over the next couple of years. Few passenger trains pass through during the day, only two were seen - K9494 (SS3) and K118 (SS7C). Two other passenger trains were seen after the sun set, including my train back to Kunming, K145, both SS7C hauled.

First destination was to the Tienma viaduct, less than a kilometre from the station. To get to the vantage point as shown above, walk along the only road out of the station and where it splits, take the uphill road and walk past a couple of houses. The sight that greets you is nothing short of astounding! The first train through was a north bound courier service, comprising of a string of box cars with a pair of converted passenger cars spliced in between and behind SS3 4333. Waiting in Yuexi already was a south bound double header mixed freight with SS3 4479 & SS4G 0247 waiting for it to pass.

Other trains to pass through was a rare single locomotive mixed freight with SS4G 0719 heading towards Chengdu followed shortly by a pair of SS3's #5234 & 5118 with a long train of empty hoppers. A triple header departed Yuexi with SS3 5151, SS4G 0132 and SS4G 0077 with a long mixed freight and while it was unfortunate it was not a north bound train, it was still an awesome sight and sound to behold. It wasn't long before the serenity was destroyed by some very friendly but rather noisy children, followed by their parents and while I don't mind chatter in the video, the constant barrage of "Hello's" and "OK's" etc got a bit much for the video and I decided it may be a good idea to move on to the cement factory's rail yard. Felix had told me that it is possible to walk the mainline from the station to the cement works, however I decided to take a safer alternative and found a road that passes under the mainline and then tried to locate a back entrance. On the way I saw a pair of SS3's #4377 and 5121 heading south with a rake of box cars, but more than 300 feet below. I decided to hang around at this spot for SS4 0089 & SS3 5144 which were waiting at Ganai with a north bound mixed freight.

My motivation for heading to Yuexi in the first place was to find DF1885 which is now China's last operating member of the DF class (unless you consider DF 2026 in Kunming which I saw the previous day to be an operating unit). With Kunming's locomotive as good as retired, this would be my last chance to find one actually working. The cement sidings are some distance from the factory with cement moved to the loader by conveyors. Entry into the factory is forbidden, however visits to the yard are tolerated as it lies outside the factory's boundary. I was starting to get a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to find an entry point at the eastern end of the yard and I certainly didn't fancy the walk back into town and then retrying via the station, however I pushed on around a sharp corner and there she was!

DF #1885, a 1970 built Dalian machine, wears a seemingly lighter shade of green than most other members of the DF class that I've seen. Externally she is getting very rough, but the shiny wheels and lingering smell of unburnt oil and diesel, indicated she had been moved very recently. I dumped most of my equipment in a little hut in case the ever threatening rain clouds decided to open up and then proceeded to take as many detail photos as I could. I was about to leave when a driver came over to start her up. I quickly raced back to the hut and set up the video camera just in time for a superb smoke and noise show that would rival most steam locomotives.

It took a few minutes of idling before the smoke began to dissipate. The driver asked me if I would like to join him - of course there was no way I was going to pass this up! At the end of the yard he pointed at some official looking people near the gates of the yard and asked me to alight. Unfortunately my cab ride last perhaps 2 minutes covering a distance of 50 yards, however this may not have been such a bad thing, as I was able to get some fantastic photos of the noise & smoke show that would follow, something I would have otherwise missed out on.

After dropping off her train of wagons at Yuexi station for pickup, she entered the yard again light engine and was shut down outside the crew building. The driver was apologetic for not being able to take me further, but to make up for it offered me a full tour of the locomotive in the cab and motor room, even opening up panels and cabinets for closer inspection. The cab, although ancient by today's standards is well maintained. The engine room was even more interesting, the biggest surprise was the amount of fire extinguishers lining the exterior walls - running down both sides from one end of the engine room to the other - a total of 48 plus a further two in the cab! This must surely be some sort of record. There were many pools of diesel and oil sitting on and around the engine.

The crew here are extremely accommodating and very friendly. Best of all there are no plans to retire her yet, however parts are fast becoming unavailable and things progress very quickly in China so the sooner you get here the better. Apart from when the locomotive is being repaired (usually on site), she works every day, Sunday being the quietest day with a minimum of 2 - 3 moves. There would be no more work for her to do until later in the evening, so after I exhausted my photographic opportunities, headed back into town to catch more action on the Tienma viaduct and the station area.

Most freight trains were stopping at Yuexi station for the crew to pick up their prepared meals. I enjoyed no less than four trains in the space of an hour grind to a halt and then slowly take off again. The SS4's are impressively noisy machines, sounding similar to an air raid warning. The rail crews were all very nice offering a wave and a hello.

Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for a bored policeman who had just started his shift. The cop in the morning had no problems with me hanging around, but the new one became increasingly agitated about my presence and his requests grew from "be careful of the trains" to "this area is restricted - no photos!". So I left the station and found a few spots where I was able to get equally good photos until darkness fell.

The end of the day was approaching and I headed up stairs to my room to pack up and get ready for my overnight train back to Kunming. I also decided to make a back up of my SD cards in case the police man decided he wanted to check/erase any of the photos I had taken. Sure enough as I checked out, there he was standing at the entrance of the door. I walked past him and he followed me, asking for my ticket and passport. He then started carrying on and pointing over to the binguan I had come out of - presumably asking me to wait inside until my train arrived. I was growing tired of him by this stage so took my passport and ticket back off him and walked off down the platform to where my sleeper car would roughly line up and sat down. He eventually got bored at my reply of "pudong" (don't understand) to his onslaught of questions and left me alone. Train K145 got me back to Kunming in hard sleeper class.

A list of the (operational) locomotives seen and photographed in Yuexi is as follows :

DF 1885

(diesel rail cars)
GC-220 14212
GC-270 14224, 14226
JW4G4080 1404103

SS3 4005, 4144, 4329, 4330, 4331, 4333, 4377, 4479, 4526, 5118, 5121, 5135, 5140, 5142, 5144, 5146, 5151, 5234, 5239, 5240
SS4G 0030, 0040, 0077, 0089, 0108, 0118, 0123, 0132, 0143, 0205, 0245, 0247, 0290, 0719, +1
SS7C 0076, 0140, 0153

18 April 2016

I arrived back in Kunming about half an hour late on an appallingly overheated K145, the delays being attributed to a temporary bottleneck, due to some new lines being installed to the west of Kunming station. I was unable to secure a soft sleeper upgrade and the beds were really living up to their "hard sleeper name". I believe sleeping on a nest of fire ants would have been more comfortable. I woke up with a splitting headache, a result of the constant supply of cigarette smoke and had also somehow acquired some rather extreme plumbing issues, a problem that would ultimately curse me for most of the rest of my time in China. It was particularly bad this day and I went to my pre-booked hotel (Home Inn, Kunming North) to see if I was able to check in early which happily they agreed to. As it would have been faecal suicide to be away from a bathroom for any great period of time, I was unable to stray too far from the hotel and I was only able to explore a little of the line around Kunming North which I began around midday.

I found an open gate leading on to the Kunming North train station platform, left open by a group of photographers undertaking a modelling photo shoot. The railway museum was recently rebuilt and moved to the north side of the tracks at Kunming North. Previously this was adjacent to the main station building. Access to the museum is through the main station building, although today being a Monday, it was closed. It was too difficult to see inside through the glass, however I was able to make out a few exhibits, of which I go into more detail on April 20.

Once past the station, I noticed down a siding some familiar looking passenger cars. These are ex-Vietnamese Railways in a very distinctive blue, white and red color scheme. For followers of Vietnam railways, there are nine cars here numbered C51746, C51725, C51710, C51722, C51720, C51713, C51734, C51752 & C51732. I was about to look inside, but then found out that most of these appear to have been converted into makeshift homes! They are all in a reasonable condition and all appear very complete. Reports from Kunming are very scarce and I don't recall hearing about them before, but they appear to have been here for some time. In the same siding were four flat cars, one loaded on top of another one, these had disappeared by the next day.

The passenger car holding yard was locked although a hole in the gate allowed me to get a few photos. In the farthest two tracks are a number of freight wagons - C30 (hoppers), G30 (tank cars) and P30 (box cars). There were also a number of passenger cars, mostly YZ m1 type (presumably being 'hard seat, meter gauge') and a few baggage vans. All were painted rather smartly in light grey & blue with red lining, similar to a typical standard gauge 25K class car. The biggest surprise here was a steam locomotive! Definitely not Chinese, and identified as a Burmese ST class 2-6-4t #770. The story being that Burma donated a pair of these locomotives to China after receiving a batch of meter gauge passenger cars surplus to China Rail after passenger services to Vietnam were dropped in the 2005, I'm still not clear if there is any relation to Chinese railways at all. There is also an ex Burmese steam crane behind the locomotive, quite sad they're not undercover. The other Burmese ST class 2-6-4t (#759) is in Beijing museum, seen November 2013. I also found out later that there is another one of these in the Yunnan Railway museum, which takes the known total now to three (#774).

After photographing some of the wonderful railway architecture, I made my way back to the hotel to exfoliate my digestive system and rest for the remainder of the day.

19 April 2016

I had booked driver John Xie to take me to Yiliang today with a visit to the Jiuxiang Scenic Area in the afternoon, a non-railway location renowned for its extremely beautiful scenery and a labyrinth of caves. Without too much trouble, John was able to locate the old station and let me out while he parked the car. I walked through the main entrance building without being challenged, but oddly a station attendant saw me go through onto the platform and locked the door behind me! In one of the platform sidings was a very long string of freight cars, predominantly C31 class hoppers and G31 class tank cars with a couple of P30 and P31 box cars. These wagons are strikingly similar to typical standard gauge cars, only a miniaturized versions. Most builders plates showed dates of 1994 - 1996.

Yiliang was once a major station on the Yunnan meter gauge line. It is located 65 (railway) kms east from Kunming North station. The station has three platform accessible tracks and another three freight tracks. There are further tracks in a small yard just south of the station and a locomotive depot area with a number of sheds, inspection pits and even a turntable. The station has seen little action since passenger services ceased and usually only sees one freight train in each direction per day. The beautiful station building (interior wise at least) now appears to be a car park for scooters, presumably for station and depot workers.

In the depot were a trio of locomotives, a pair of DF21's #0004, and 0010 with DFH21 #101 spliced in between. The DFH21 was receiving some attention and started up a couple of times while the fitters went to work. The DF21's are relatively young motive power on the railway, the class of 11 locomotives built in 2004 by Sifang. They are used on mainline duties, often in conjunction with the older DFH21 locomotives.

No trains were seen during the couple of hours I had here and with little else going on, I looked for an exit, finding one up the line through the courtyard of some fabulous French built buildings. John had been attempting to find an entrance into the station to have a look for himself, but gave up and was having a snooze in the car when I got back to him. Next we were off to the Jiuxiang Scenic Area, about 30 kilometres north east of Yiliang - a none railway location and a very rare thing for me to do when I travel in China!

The caves are one of the two major tourist attractions in Yunnan province, although significantly less popular than the stone forest in Shilin. As I tend to stay away from large crowds, I decided to go here instead. Being a weekday and rain forecast later, I didn't anticipate the crowds to be too bad. How wrong I was! An endless stream of tourist busses had lined the roads into the grounds. All through the rest of the afternoon there was wave after wave of tour groups passing by, but enough quiet times in between to take literally hundreds of photos. The network of caves takes a good three hours to walk through and is seriously impressive. Some of the lighting effects are a bit tacky and the manners of many range from impolite to downright dangerous, however it is still well worth a visit if you are in the area. By the time I emerged through to the other side a massive storm had hit and the returning cable car service had temporarily ceased due to the lightning. While the ever growing crowd lingered under whatever shelter they could find, I decided to line up at the gates anyway which was still under cover. This turned out to be a very wise decision as a few moments before the rain stopped, the queue almost instantaneously swelled well back into the caves going about 100 meters away.

The drive back was quite long and John had become quite sick, so I suggested he took the next day off which I had planned to visit the many standard gauge industrial railways around Kunming and we meet up again a few days later on the 22nd of April, which he was more than happy to do. In part this was because I had no interest in catching a second virus in as many weeks! He took me back to Kunming via the meter gauge line through the extremely beautiful areas around Shui Jing Po to Feng Ming. This section of the line sees the standard gauge line from Kunming to Guiyang pass over a couple of times. When one sees the size of the mountains, it is simply an incredible feat of engineering, more so that it was built over 100 years ago.

A list of the (operational) locomotives seen and photographed in Yiliang is as follows :

DF21 0004, 0010
DFH21 101

20 April 2016

As my visit to the industrial railways was postponed until April 22, I decided to finally pay a visit to the Yunnan Railway museum. The museum was recently completed and comprises of two sections. The South hall is the bulk of the main Kunming North railway station and is connected by a walkway to the new North hall. Simply put, the museum is probably the best one I have yet visited in China. There are endless exhibits, most of these being related to the meter gauge and 600mm railways built by the French in the early 1900's. It's also clean, well presented and good value at only 10 yuan for entry. Better still, it was very quiet with few visitors (at least during my visit!).

South Hall :
The ground floor of the building has the souvenir shop, security area and not much else. There are two floors, the first with exhibits from Yunnanese life and Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Dai and Miao ethnic groups rather than the railway.

The second is dedicated to the construction of the Yunnan meter gauge again with much information about the colonisation by the western cultures. Many of the translations are somewhat aggressive towards the colonials as well as the pre-communist Chinese governments. There are literally hundreds of exhibits used during the construction of the railway including tools, surveying equipment, etc.

North Hall :
The Northern hall contains all the juicy bits. Artefacts and railwayana of the operation of the railway, including the rolling stock exhibits on the lower floor. The upper floor contains some very beautiful 7-1/4" gauge models of many of the freight wagons, passenger cars and steam locomotives used on the meter gauge system. Other relics include furniture from the old stations, signalling equipment, tickets, uniforms, documents, etc. There are even a few builders plates and number plates that would look very good in my collection!

All the locomotives are in very nice condition and they are all kept in tip top shiny condition (that is unless you are viewing from the upper deck where the dust is very thick). The usual ropes and signs request people from not clambering over them, however this didn't stop a very loud woman from launching her clearly uninterested 2 year old child on the foot plate of a couple of the exhibits for the ultimate child photo. She was told off soon after. The attendants are employed by the Kunming railway bureau and all wear the standard China Rail uniform.

With the remaining daylight hours before my next overnight train, I decided to try my luck on the meter gauge line at Wangjiaying, the eastern most edge of the remaining passenger services and the beginning of the freight network towards Hekou. I took a taxi here for 85 yuan from Kunming North and despite being quite off the beaten track and complicated by another huge civil project, we arrived about 30 minutes later. Freight traffic still survives here as there are a number of large industries that still rely on the railway, this despite the opening of the standard gauge line that parallels it somewhat. Wangjiaying is the freight exchange location between the meter gauge and the standard gauge. While not a great deal of trains reach Wangjianying, there is always at least some shunting going on and by the time this report is written, passenger services should have resumed again also.

Wangjiaying's meter gauge yard has six tracks in its yard, three of which were occupied by long strings of wagons, chiefly C31 hoppers, G30 tank cars and P30 & 31 box cars. On my arrival there was no locomotives in the yard. On the standard gauge side of things, a pair of DF5's #1957 plus one other unidentified unit were kept busy for most of the day.

On the meter gauge however, there were no locomotives around for a good half an hour so I walked up the mainline where the Kunming-Guiyang line almost meets up. Surprisingly after a half hour walk and an hour or so of waiting, nothing turned up on either line. There are four new railway lines currently under construction in the area, a pair of seemingly normal standard gauge lines heading south and what appears to be a CRH line nearing completion.

Beaten by the heat, I walked back to Wangjiaying and almost immediately on my arrival heard the wailing of an air horn coming from one of the eastern most sidings heading towards me. This was DFH21 077 with five rusty G30 tank wagons heading into the yard. For the next half an hour the crew shunted various wagons around the yard before stopping a little longer than usual in a spur track. More air horns heading my way! DF21 0005 (2004) and DFH21 0093 (1984) rolled down hill with an enormous mixed freight train.

The rest of the day I enjoyed running around the yard after 077 making a number of shunting moves around the yard. The crossing keeper was very happy to have me around, just told me to be careful of the moving trains.

I headed back towards Kunming near 6pm and eventually found a bus which would get me to Chunrong Street metro station, and then onto Kunming north. To save your cash, I would recommend taking the metro to Chunrong Street station and then a taxi to Wangjiaying. Getting a taxi back from here is another story as you will most likely not find one, however future visitors will probably be able to make use of the passenger services once they resume again anyway.

Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Kunming for my next overnight train to Hekou, on the border of Vietnam, train K9816. This is one of four daily services to Hekou on the new standard gauge line that roughly follows the meter gauge. The train was packed, but I still managed to score bed one in car one as I booked so far ahead in advance. Upon boarding however, the car attendant scribbled something illegible on my ticket and then crammed me amongst the crowd of people on board. I soon discovered China Rail had taken over the berth and had put me back in the middle of the carriage somewhere. This was all very well, however by the time they got me back down to the other end of the carriage, all the luggage space in the racks and under the beds was now taken, leading to a very uncomfortable night. My mood was not improved by the very grumpy policeman who nearly destroyed my new passport trying to get a photo of it for the registration process (something that I've not had for a few years, but would experience quite frequently this time round).

A list of the (operational) locomotives seen and photographed in Wangjiaying is as follows :

DF5 1957, 19** DF21 0005
DFH21 077, 093

Continued in part two - Click here!

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