Moments of Magic II
November - December 2013
20-23 November
24-30 November
Pingzhuang, Yuanbaoshan
& Hongmiao 1-3 December
11-19 November
3-5/7 December
5-7 December
These boxes are hot links. Click on them to go to the reports.
Bagou Station on a previous visit. All changed now. You should be able to see what it looks like now below.
Passenger train above Caiziba in the spring. For winter views, see below.
For loco lists, maps and other trip reports for this system, click on this box to go to the page for this railway on the website SY-Country.
Given the current state of Chinese real working steam, The Jiayang Coal Railway at Shibanxi is definitely still worth a visit.

We arrived late on 11 November and on 12 November we saw locos No. 10 and No. 8 in use of service, tourist and engineers trains. In addition Electic No. 2 and one other were in use on coal trains.

The new timetable has 3 service trains and 2 tourist trains daily. The Chinese only version is here. I'm working on a bilingual version.
We caught the first tourist train at 10:30 with No. 8 in charge and a wedding party on board heading to Jiaoba to celebrate at the bride's family home. My video clips of this are here:
Wedding 1
Wedding 2
Wedding 3
Wedding 4
On our full day in Bagou we caught the late-running first train around 8 am to Mifeng and walked back to Bagou.

Locos in use today were 8, 10 & 14. As an aid to recognition, 8, grubby gold with red China Rail headboard and slogan on tender, 10 green, no headboard, 14 grey/black, white headboard.

There were no engineers trains today but at Mifeng a train of bricks was waiting to enter the station. When the first return passenger had run round, it entered, ran round and then followed the passenger down towards Sanjin to drop off the bricks for a new construction 5 minutes below Mifeng.

On our walk back, we saw the first tourist train, the second passenger and the third tourist train. We were back in Bagou in the rain in time for a rest and a last outing to see the final passenger train.

There are 3 video clips today.
Eagle's Beak Tunnel
Noodles for lunch
Bagou in the rain
Here are today's photos:
We are back in Sanjin and although I have wi-fi in room 508 above the office at the hotel, it is very slow. As a result, although I have lots of photos and video clips to share, they will have to wait for a faster internet connection. What follows is text only for now.

What we know now about Shibanxi.

There are currently only 5 working locos although we have only seen 3 in use. Although No. 16 theoretically made 6, loco No. 9 has been moved up to the museum at Mifeng and the loco previously there which is said to be the third ex-Pengzhou loco has been moved to Shixi to be renovated for use by Spring Festival 2014.

The track renewal was to solve problems with the new tourist coaches. Some curves such as Caiziba have been relayed to try to improve the ride/avoid derailments. A long test train was run on 14 November. The results are not known but if the results were OK, we can assume the major track repairs are completed.

As well as the scheduled trains, building materials such as bricks, sand and gravel are still moved by special freight trains. The only freight we have seen loaded onto a passenger train was cardboard, plastic and metal for recycling and market produce. Pigs may still be taken to market but not at this time of year.

The scheduled tourist trains run at 10:30 and 14:00 from Sanjin. They often run as just loco and one coach. They have a timetabled stop at the curve before Jiaoba for a run past and may wait a while at Mifeng to allow passengers to inspect the open air railway museum. They go as far as Bagou but sometimes go on to Huangcunjin if there are enough passengers who want this.

The regular passenger trains still start from Shibanxi 15 minutes before their scheduled Sanjin departure. From Sanjin, they leave at 07:00, 13:00 and 17:00 except on Saturday and Sunday when the last train runs 30 minutes later. They take roughly 1 hour to Huangcunjin and 1 hour back to Sanjin. On Saturday and Sunday the 13:00 departure does not run. In quiet tourist periods, this may not be compensated for by any extra tourist trains.

Tourist train locos normally travel light engine between Shibanxi and Sanjin. They need to water at Shibanxi but coal at Sanjin. The depot remains at Shibanxi.

Extra tourist trains may run at the weekends and at other time if there is the demand.

One and sometimes 2 electric locos handle all the Sanjin - Shibanxi coal traffic to the power station. Around 10 return trips a day may be run.
Sunday 17 November

This will probably be the last update to the Shibanxi page during the tour. I am back in Bagou for the night with a better internet connect but tomorrow is our last full day at Shibanxi and we will then be moving on to Baiyin via overnight train to Lanzhou from Chengdu.

I will have spent 7 full days at Shibanxi and overall, I can still recommend this as the nicest place to spend time in China. Seven days has not exhausted all of the railway possibilities and more time would be required to hang out and hike around Bagou.

The weather has now set fair and this is the second day with sunshine all day. There are touches of autumn on some trees.

Below, find the final photo and video clip selection. I hope you will enjoy them and want to come to see it for yourself (again).

It would be best to avoid the weekend (or go hiking on Saturday and Sunday) as outside the main tourist seasons there are no extra tourist trains and the 13:00 return passenger working does not operate Saturday and Sunday resulting in little choice for reasonably priced transport up the line and fewer trains to see.
Caiziba downhill clip
Mifeng last train
First train above Mifeng
Lunch in Bagou
The top table shows the 2 timetabled tourist trains. Timetable points are Sanjin, Mifeng, Blowdown spot near Jiaoba, Bagou and Huangcunjin. Run everyday. Trains do not stop elsewhere and not all continue beyond Bagou.
The bottom table shows the 3 timetabled passenger trains. The first train runs daily with a tourist coach attached M-F, the second train runs M-F only, the last train runs 30 minutes later at the weekend. Trains start from Shibanxi 15 minutes earlier and terminate there 15 minutes later. Timetable points are Sanjin, Mifeng, Xianrenjiao, Bagou, Huangcunjin but trains stop at every station including Caiziba and Jiaoba.
There is a new battery electric loco in the works at Shibanxi. This is designed for a new tourist experience - possibly Bagou to Huangcunjin using the open 'cage' coaches which are parked at Bagou.

There is a new halt around halfway between Sanjin and Mifeng. This is located at a nice viewpoint and will be used for short tourist workings from Sanjin to Mifeng during the tourist season.
That's the end of the Shibanxi section. Go to the top of the page and click on the box to read the Baiyin section.
Shibanxi 11-19 November