Yuanbaoshan and Jingpeng
07 to 20 September 2003
by Bryan Acford
These notes supplement Duncan’s report of the first weeks of the trip.
Beijing Railway Museum (7th September)
In addition to the locos which are on display in the main a hall there are two other locos within the factory compound adjacent to the musuem. They are both unrestored, but appear complete including nameplates and are protected under tarpaulins. They are:
Metre Gauge JF51 No 738 (2-8-2T)
760mm Baldwin No 23 (0-10-0), ex Gigi - Jejiu??
The factory is on the right hand side as you cross the sidings approx 800m from the museum building. They are beside the security barrier and I was allowed to inspect them. There is also a small tank locomotive stuffed and mounted at the factory entrance.
Yuanbaoshan (Sun 15th September)
I headed to Yuanbaoshan for a lightning visit in the hope of finally getting some shots in the sun. 6544 took the 0700 mixed which shuffled out of Xizhan on time with just two tipplers in addition to the passenger stock. It had already shut off as it emerged from the over-bridge beyond the station. Around the same time a rake of empties headed in the opposite direction to Majiawan and the loco was apparently going to shunt the mines up the branch until around 1300.
6246 headed north with empties at 0830 and crossed 6544 with returning loads at the first station. Presumably 6246 was going to bring the passenger stock back.
8218 and 8250 were also in steam.
By 0900 it was hazing over and there was little immediate sign of other activity so it was time for breakfast and the long drive to Reshui.
Jingpeng Pass (15th – 20th September)
Over six days I only saw one other photographer on one occasion and so can claim to have had the whole pass to myself!
Traffic levels and general observations were much as reported by Duncan with days varying from almost unbroken activity to long periods with of inactivity in one or both directions. The weather was also mixed with little rain but 3 days of solid cloud. On the other hand when the sun shone the visibility was superb and there was little wind.
By the end of the week there seemed to be a drop in westbound traffic and most days had one or two pairs of light engines. On one day there were eight daylight eastbound departures from Jingpeng between 0600 and 1600. Four of these trains detached their front loco at Shangdian which then headed back to assit a following train which had arrived from Haoluku with a single loco.
Later in the week some 8xxxx trains started to appear, on this occasion they were long trains of empty oil tanks heading westbound, often with only a single loco. Also worth reporting is that at Chabuga and to a lesser extent Reshui loaded coal heads west as well as the more common eastbound flow.
One apparent effect of the passenger re-timing is to reduce the number of early morning departures from Daban reducing the opportunities for morning shots on the east side of the pass. The general trend seemed to be for westbound departures be during the late morning and early afternoon. On the other hand this can lead to a good flow of early morning eastbound departures from Haoluku to balance the loco workings.
The big difference from a fortnight earlier when Duncan had been there was that autumn had begun to arrive and trees and hillsides were changing colour and the mornings were cooler. The harvest was also in full swing bringing more colour to the fields but also giving problems moving between locations because of the local villagers using any side roads as the most convenient flat surface to process the harvest. This particularly affected the old road through Xiakengzi. There was also an increased amount of agricultural vehicles and animals clogging up the side roads. I had the impression that the autumn colours would be at their best over the following fortnight, but would only last as long there was no wind to blow them away. Based upon our experience last year it only took a couple of frosts to kill much of the undergrowth and give the whole place more of a feel of winter.
Another problem at this time of the year is that the land adjacent to the railway is becoming increasingly overgrown. This particularly affects the cuttings both on the pass and on the section to Linxi, but there are also bushes at rail height on some of the large embankments at some of the classic locations. Some of the small trees are also remarkably fast growing, some places that were clear a year ago are now essentially impossible. On the bright side I actually saw a Ji-Tong track gang at Shangdian doing some gardening for the gricers and doubtless the locals will be keen to use the larger bushes for firewood come the winter.
There were few unusual loco observations but of particular note was the ex-works 6849 (without deflectors) of Baichi returning hauling a train. I also saw 3 separate locos working on either side of Daban over the fortnight. The Daban breakdown crane and support vehicles also appeared in an eastbound train on one day.
QJ 6110, 6351, 6356, 6385, 6517, 6577, 6630, 6735, 6760, 6763, 6773, 6808, 6828, 6849, 6851, 6878, 6882, 6925, 6986, 6996, 6998, 7002, 7009, 7030, 7040, 7041, 7112, 7119, 7137.
Based upon my observations over the last two years it appears that locos working out of Chabuga all now carry a Daban code rather than the previous Chabuga code. Does this mean that Chabuga is now being treated much more as a sub shed of Daban rather than having it’s own allocation? Baichi locos still carry their own shed code.
The triangle at Linxi has now been severed by new road construction. It actually seems to be part of a disused loco servicing facility, was this used during the construction of the line?
One minor item of note is that I finally met an official of the Keqi Tourism Bureau who explained how they host many Chinese visitors who visit the many beauty spots in the area. They are apparently the target clientele for the new hotels in Reshui, I counted at least five under construction. One hopes that it does not change the simple charm of the place.
Like Duncan I found it to be a different (and frankly more attractive) place when compared with the bleakness of winter and plan to return at around the same time next year.