Baiyin Mineral Railway

The Baiyin Non-Ferrous Metals Company operates a number of mines and smelters in the Baiyin area of Gansu Province in northwestern China. The company produces copper, aluminium and other metals and the complex is served by a network of railways that extends out of the industrial area into the mountains to the north. The whole operation was steam worked with a small fleet of SYs providing the motive power for ore, chemical and passenger trains. The first diesels arrived in early 2010.

50 pictures

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Benxi Steelworks

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Benxi Steelworks still used some unusual steam locomotives in 1992, including a USATC 0-6-0 tank and an 0-4-0 fireless. There are a couple of diesels and electrics here as well.

5 pictures

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Miscellaneous Industrial Railways

A collection of pictures from various industrial railways across China including Peitun, Yanzhou, Yongcheng, Zaozhuang, Jiawang, Huludao and Bajiaotai.

8 pictures

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Sandaoling Mining Railway

Sandaoling, near Hami in the remote north-western province of Xinjiang, is home to the last steam worked opencast mine railway in the world. Rail operations within the pit are being scaled down as trucks and conveyors take over. Trains over the long line through the desert to the CR interchange went diesel in early 2010 but there are still more working steam locos at Sandaoling than anywhere else on the planet. The railway rosters a mixed fleet of over 20 JS class and a few SY class 2-8-2s.

173 pictures

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Fuxin Mining Railway

Fuxin, in Liaoning Province, has been a major coal mining centre for many years. The industry is now in steep decline and a number of the area's mines have recently closed, robbing the railway of much of its traffic. The extensive electric system serving the opencast mine has largely closed and the remnants have been dewired. The remaining lines are mainly steam worked, albeit with reduced traffic and a couple of diesels handling some of what remains. The passenger service ceased in mid 2012.

51 pictures

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Pingzhuang Mining Railway

Pingzhuang is home to an extensive mining railway serving five deep coal mines and an opencast pit. The opencast electric system has recently closed but the deep mine system is still active and worked by a small fleet of SY class 2-8-2s. Traffic levels aren’t high but it’s still possible to get some good shots.

22 pictures

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Jixi-Chengzihe Mining Railway

Jixi sits on one of China's major coalfields and there were no less than five steam worked railway systems in the area. Chengzihe was almost certainly the busiest of the Jixi mine railways with plenty of steam action and some of the best industrial backdrops in China. One of the photographic highlights was the morning shift change at Dongchang when the line's SYs gathered in the yard around 8 o'clock. Electrification work started in 2010.

64 pictures

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Jixi-Didao Mining Railway

The Didao system is a compact coal mining operation located north-west of Jixi city and is centred on the washery at Didao Hebei. Much of the action was tender first but it was possible to find chimney first workings and impressive industrial backdrops. Didao dieselised in Autumn 2010.

36 pictures

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Fushun Mining Railway

The opencast mine at Fushun was developed in the early years of the 20th Century and is served by an extensive electrified rail system. These pictures were taken on two trips over 20 years apart, in December 1984 and October 2008, and show various classes of locomotive including a KD6 2-8-0, three different types of electric loco and, unusually for China, an EMU.

20 pictures

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Fula'erji Industrial Railways

Fula’erji is an industrial town on the Nenjiang (Nen River) about 30 km south-west of Qiqiha’er and is home to a number of large industrial plants, several of which have their own rail systems. This gallery contains pictures of the smart JS class locos working at the No.2 Power Station and the scruffy SY class at the Heilongjiang Chemical Plant.

9 pictures

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Beipiao Mining Railway

This small coal mining system centred on the town of Beipiao had just received its first diesel a short time before we got there in late 2010. There was still some steam activity but the diesel had already taken over the bulk of the work and a couple of the older SYs were already being scrapped behind the depot. Most of the rest sat in the shed, stone cold and with nothing to do.

4 pictures

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Beitai Steelworks

Beitai Steelworks has long been one of the most difficult industrial locations to photograph steam but official visits recently became possible, at a price. We had a two day visit in November 2011 and found it a fascinating and rewarding place to photograph steam locomotives at work as well as other aspects of the steel production process such as pouring iron and slag tipping.

29 pictures

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Huanan Forestry Railway

Unusually for a forestry railway, this narrow gauge line in north-eastern Heilongjiang handled very little timber. The reason for its continued existence was coal mined at a remote spot in the hills. It was a fabulous line that ran through a variety of landscapes including a hill section where loaded trains were banked. Frequent closures and chronically unreliable engines towards the end meant it wasn’t an easy line to photograph but it was one of the most rewarding. Closure finally came in April 2011.

46 pictures

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Baotou Steelworks

Baotou Steelworks was one of the first industrial locations I visited in China. In the 20 years since that 1988 visit, the locomotive fleet has changed significantly with SYs and diesels replacing the ET7s, JFs, JSs, XK13s and YJs. These pictures were taken in March 2008 as steam operations drew to a close. Other pictures from previous trips will be added as time permits.

6 pictures

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Dahuichang Limestone Railway

The last place you would expect to find a steam worked narrow gauge railway is Beijing, China's bustling modern capital. However, only a short distance from the glass and steel towers of the city, diminutive C2 class 0-8-0s shuttled back and forth, hauling trains of tubs between the quarry and the limestone plant at Dahuichang. The line closed in 2005.

6 pictures

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Dayan Mining Railway

Dayan lies in the far north-east of Inner Mongolia and is the location of a number of coal mines and a power station, all linked by a railway system. The line was totally steam worked until 2006 when the first diesels arrived.

4 pictures

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Gongwusu Mining Railway

Gongwusu is located in western Inner Mongolia, near the border with Ninxia and well off the beaten track. Hardly surprising that it wasn't discovered until 2007 and has seen few western visitors. It's not very busy and gets by with one working engine most of the time. However, there are a few pleasant locations for those who are patient enough to wait for soome action.

6 pictures

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Hegang Mining Railway

Hegang is another town that's been a major mining centre for many years and is now in decline. Like Fuxin, much of the system is electrified but a significant proportion of traffic is hauled by SY class 2-8-2s. These pictures were taken on a short visit to the depot at Hegang in 2005 and a longer stay in March 2007, just before steam gave way to diesels.

7 pictures

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Jiayang (Shibanxi) NG Railway

This isolated narrow gauge operation is an absolute delight. The scenery is superb, the gradients are steep, the rolling stock is in a class of its own and the locals are friendly. All it needs is some sunshine to bring it to life. The catch is that this part of Sichuan experiences more cloudy, wet weather than Manchester. Fortunately the clouds do break occasionally.

23 pictures

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Jixi-Donghai Mining Railway

Donghai is the smallest of the JIxi systems serving a single mine, Donghaikuang, east of Jixi. It does have a long connecting line to CNR but chimney first trains were downhill. The line dieselised in 2010.

8 pictures

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Jixi-Hengshan Mining Railway

Hengshan was the second busiest of the Jixi systems and featured a steeply graded "main line" between Xinhengshan and Zhongxin as well as a long rural line to Zhangxin. It was also the first system to get diesels.

12 pictures

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Jixi-Lishu Mining Railway

Of the five steam worked systems in the Jixi area, Lishu was probably the most scenic and almost certainly the least productive. Lishu's mines are located in beautiful hilly country well away from the city so when the SYs did venture out, there were some excellent photo opportunities. Qikeng mine closed in 2008 and the line dieselised in 2010.

15 pictures

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Meihekou Mining Railway

Meihekou's mining railway was a small operation linking five mines with CR at Heishantou. It wasn’t the busiest or the most scenic line in China but was quite photogenic with relatively uncluttered locations and nicely kept engines. The line is now totally dieselised.

8 pictures

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Nanpiao Mining Railway

Nanpiao's mines are running down and the whole system had an air of decline about it. However, the line is steeply graded and runs through attractive country so it was possible to get good pictures in steam days, particularly if there was some snow on the ground. The line is now totally dieselised.

20 pictures

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Pingdingshan Mining Railway

The Pingdingshan Coal Company runs one of the most extensive industrial railways in China. The system serves over a dozen mines in the Pingdingshan and Baofeng areas of Henan Province in central China and used around 20 steam locomotives of three different classes before dieselisation.

24 pictures

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Tiefa (Diaobingshan) Mining Railway

This busy operation links several large coal mines in the Diaobingshan area, north west of Shenyang and was 100% steam worked until 2004. Most of the passengers were still worked by SYs until recently. The area is largely flat and infested with concrete poles, making conventional photography difficult. However, at sunrise and sunset, it came into its own.

8 pictures

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Tongchuan Mining Railway

The Tongchuan line was unique for keeping JF class 2-8-2s in service until the end of 2004, long after the rest of the class had been withdrawn. It was a very scenic line that climbed to mines high into the hills making the old locos work for their living. Unfortunately the weather around Tongchuan was notoriously bad with poor visibility being normal for most of the winter. The line is now totally diesel worked.

6 pictures

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Weihe Forestry Railway

A vast network of 2'6" gauge lines was built to exploit the forestry resources of Manchuria but in recent years most have closed as logging operations have been scaled down. The Weihe Forestry Railway was the last to use steam traction and finally closed in March 2003. These photos were taken a couple of weeks earlier when the railway was still very busy.

10 pictures

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Yaojie Industrial Railways

The mining town of Yaojie is blessed with two industrial railways, one heading south through a spectacular gorge to connect with CNR in Haishiwan and the other serving an aluminium smelter and a ferro-alloy works up the Datong River valley north of town. At the time of our November 2005 visit both lines were steam worked but the first diesel arrived on the southern line a few weeks later.

8 pictures

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Yuanbaoshan Mining Railway

The Yuanbaoshan Mining Railway serves a number of coal mines and a major power station south of Chifeng in eastern Inner Mongolia. The line's main claim to fame was its fleet of smoke-deflector fitted JS class 2-8-2s. These attractive engines were kept very clean and made excellent photographic subjects.

6 pictures

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Zhalainuo'er Mining Railway

This large opencast mine in the far north east of Inner Mongolia was entirely steam worked by a large fleet of SY class 2-8-2s. Imagine Clapham Junction transplanted into the Grand Canyon and you get the idea. This was almost certainly the most spectacular steam location to survive into the 21st Century. The opencast mine system closed in 2009.

33 pictures

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