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C2 Class 0-8-0 Narrow gauge steam locomotives

The beautiful little 762mm gauge C2 Class became a favourite locomotive for narrow gauge operators across China thanks to its simplicity and ease of maintenance. This was evidenced by the amount of them still running and outliving all of their counterparts. They are of Polish & Soviet origin, the first being imported, with later examples built in northern China in areas such as Shijiazhuang, Harbin and Mudanjiang. They were most popular with timber railways in these areas, but also saw coal, passenger, general freight, etc. These seem to be destined to be the last working steam locomotives in China, as the last standard gauge steamers are gradually retired.

My photographs of these locomotives were the result of my final trip to China where I was able to squeeze in three lines - Yinghao, Xingyang and Shibanxi.

If narrow gauge is your cup of tea, then please check my from Yinghao videos, Xingyang videos and Shibanxi videos.

Xingyang's C2 locomotives
Xingyang had a pair of C2's with only one in operation at any time. C2 207 was the in service locomotive on the day of our visit in 2006. Xingyang lies at 3474'N 11321'E in Henan province, approximately 30 kilometers west of the provincial capital of Zhengzhou. Work was seasonal and visiting the line was a bit of a gamble. It closed forever in 2011.

Yinghao's C2 locomotives
Yinghao was a narrow gauge coal railway operated by a fleet of C2 0-8-0's that needed to be seen to be believed. The line was located at 3444'N 11138'E in the far west of Henan province. It was reported that the line would be replaced by diesels in 2008, however images from Google earth seem to indicate the entire railway line has been removed and replaced with trucks.

Shibanxi's C2 locomotives
Shibanxi is a relatively famous railway line, unfortunately now for the wrong reasons. It is situated in Sicuan province, 2916'N 10321'E. The line was originally a coal railway serving mines and towns which were not connected by road and as such, there was a passenger service also. Shibanxi's C2's had the unusual characteristic of having all of its driving wheels flanged. In the late 2000's, the railway ceased coal operations, but stayed alive with a new bustling tourist industry - predominantly by local Chinese. The railway management have built new passenger cars, painted their rolling stock in colors Mickey Mouse would have been proud of and much of the infrastructure along the line was razed and replaced with modern a modern look. The C2 locomotives themselves were fitted with new SY style tenders and painted, again in garish colors. So while the line lives on, with a seemingly bright future, it seems that much - if not all - of its charm has now disappeared. My photos from late 2006 show what the line was like prior to many of the changes.

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