Completed: 30 October 2012
|Beijing Prelude||Sandaoling 22 - 27/10||Baiyin 28 - 31/10||Part 2|
I've produced a DVD of this trip and also of the many other trips I've made to China from the 1990s to date. Click here to see the list of all my China DVDs.
Sandaoling spoil line No. 5 at Xibolizhan on 26 October 2012
all photos © John Raby, 2012 unless otherwise stated
On my first trip to China in 1980, I skipped the Temple of Heaven in order to see Chinese steam locos at FengTai marshalling yards. Today, with steam gone from the Beijing area and 32 years on, I had time to fit in the Temple of Heaven. Several things stuck me, the vast area within the walls, the numbers of local Chinese and tourists who go there and how sterile it is now that it no longer fulfills its original imperial religious purpose.
Otherwise, I was interested to see two of Beijing's last trolley bus lines in action. Routes 105 (from the west) and 106 (from the east) both terminate at the north west corner of the Temple of Heaven complex.
Prior to the main tour John and Michael went off to see the last known working QJ in China now accessible by high speed train to Qufu East and then a 40 minute taxi ride. Michael had arranged official permission so they were able to see the loading operation with the QJ and diesel both in action. The diesel trips a full train of empties from China Rail, splits the train and then both locos slowly push half a train through the cement hoppers to load. The QJ works chimney to the loads and is best seen when it comes of the train. Previously owned by Dae Woo, the plant is now owned by a Chinese company CUCC. Without permission (obtained in advance), there is little chance that you will get a good view of the action unless you access via the back way, penetrate the site by about 1 km and avoid security!
This 2012 tour duplicates some locations (Sandaoling, Baiyin & Fuxin) visited in September-October 2011. Please see http://www.users.waitrose.com/~jraby/sandaoblog.html for a comparison of then and now.
- Arrived around 2 pm and with a smooth transfer and hotel check in, we were out to Xibolizhan around 4 pm and had a good 2.5 hours looking into the western end of the pit (probably 9 locos visible) and then some sunset shots west of Xibolozhan which feature below. Of note since last year, they are stripping overburden from the rim on the south side (by train) and filling the central north bottom of the pit with spoil with trucks. There was one service train down in the pit and 2 working on the tipping lines relaying old track panels. It very busy on the spoil side of the pit and a great introduction to Sandaoling for the newbies. One loco was seen by the blue loader so some coal is being taken out as well.
JS 6224, 6209, (on the Jordan Spreader 04), 8077,
8080, 8089, 8076, 8081, 8195, 8167, 8190, 8173, 8040, 8368, 8225 and
8053 + 8314 and 8358 on trains to deep mines.
SY 1304 (on engineers working)
DF8B 0247 (working), 0248, 0249, 0250
Our first full day with time at Dongbolizhan and
the cliff near Kenkonzhan in the morning and Xibolizhan in the
afternoon. Early morning was cold but it warmed up and we lost the
exhaust steam by about 10 am and it didn't really cool off before
sunset. However, the potential for early morning and late afternoon
photography and video was excellent and we overall we had a good day.
We had a mixed day with an excellent early morning start at the Xibolizhan for sunrise, shift change and the passenger train which also served the pit again (unlike last year). We also had a drive to Nanzhan and saw a JS head towards the deep mines where another loco on a train was visible. However, knowing how unphotogenic this working can be, we gave this up in favour of the east end of the pit. Unfortunately, in the afternoon, things ground to a halt. We walked into the east end of the pit to the waiting JS on empties only to find that there was no coal at the blue loader and it would be hours before any train moved. We abandoned this for a drive back to Xibolizhan where there were also minimal trains. This was put down to a safety check prior to the communist party conference in November! Pollution had built up and as the sun descended into the murk and with no trains moving, we came back for an early beer.
Dongbolizhan early morning followed by a workshop visit and then another walk down from the east towards the blue loader in the afternoon. This was slightly more successful than yesterday as we saw 2 loaded and 2 empty trains before sunset but action was slow because the washery was full. We surmise that they were waiting for wagons from China Rail.
We planned to spend all day at Xibolizhan but the day started cloudy and windy so we had a rethink late morning which led to a drive to the deep mines at lunchtime but the cloud cleared and the wind dropped and we finished the day as planned at Xibolizhan.
A late arrival in Lanzhou meant we had to rush to
see the afternoon passenger train to Shenbutong. We didn't make it! You
could also blame the stop for the excellent Lanzhou beef noodles but we
probably wouldn't have made it anyhow. Instead, we spend the afternoon
at Baiyin Gongsi marshalling yard where 2 SY and 2 diesels were quite
active shunting. The Shenbutong passenger arrived back at 17:30 and we
stayed until the departure of the 18:25 passenger to Shenbutong. Loco
SY 1581 Shunt, SY 1013 Shunt, SY 1047 Passenger service, GK1C 0427 Shunt, GXD1A 0206 Shunt
Stored in the works was SY 2008 (renumbered for the Beijing Olympics and still with the Beijing Olympic logo above the headlight) and SY 1470. SY 2008 looked the most likely spare loco for the 3 working locos. In the other section of the works, one loco was under heavy repair and SY 1067 was parked near the coal loader and being cannabilised for spare parts.
Our last full day in Baiyin. We went up the valley in the morning and waited after the Shenbutong passenger for the freight wshich came shortly after the passenger returned to Baiyin. At lunch we had a look at Baiyin Town station and after a further session up the valley with both the Shenbutong and Sanyelian passengers steam, we finished at Baiyin Town station.
That probably ends the selection of photos from Baiyin. Unless I get anything really good on our last part-day tomorrow, the blog will continue on a new page after we have had a day at Pingzhuang on 2 November.
Your comments on this blog are welcome.