The International Steam Pages


Battlefield Heroes DVD

Two of China's Last Real Steam
Narrow Gauge Railways on DVD
(and much more.....)
Click here to download sample clips

Perhaps because they were among the last to be 'discovered' by foreign visitors, the narrow gauge railways at Xingyang (first reported in late 2002) and Yinghao (2004) in Henan, Central China, retained their charm and innocence long after others were swamped by bus loads of tour groups. At the time of writing (December 2008), the Xingyang system is still active (just) but Yinghao has not worked for some time.

The brickworks railway at Xingyang skirts the town, mostly in a deep gully, which means that most people there do not even know it is exists. Many visitors have been frustrated to find it out of action because trains run 'as required' and, regardless of this, the service is necessarily suspended following rain as the clay it carries then becomes unworkable. Being based in Beijing, we can choose the optimum time to visit and consequently, we have been there five times and have always been 'lucky'. (And unlike a well known video team in the north of England we didn't pay to get shots like the one above... Such irresponsible and selfish behaviour makes the life of future visitors more difficult.)

 

Coal is the traffic at Yinghao, the line here is almost entirely rural in nature, running through open countryside. The sole remaining active coal mine is at the bottom of a short but steep climb which means that wagons are worked in part train loads which are then combined for the run down to Yinghao itself. Our four main visits there were all made in the spring/summer during the harvest season. 

We always aim to put the railways we film in their context, so these DVDs will cover:

Yinghao Coal Railway

  • The steam hauled trains from the lineside and on board

  • A visit to the workshops

  • Loading and unloading the coal

  • Surface workings of the coal mine including gravity and man powered skips

  • The Yinghao County community including a visit to their church and mosque

Xingyang Brickworks Railway

  • The steam hauled trains from the lineside and on board the loco and wagons

  • Fly shunting of the loaded trains

  • A visit to the workshops

  • Loading and unloading the clay

  • A visit to one of the brickworks to see the manufacturing process close up

As usual, the real stars are the people who work on and live along the railway. 

And the title? We thought you'd never ask... The literal translation of 'Xingyang' was the site of an ancient battle (look it up on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Xingyang) and 'Yinghao' translates as a hero. It's a pretty appropriate description of people working with Chinese C2s these days.


We have prepared 4 sample clips (reduced size 320 x 240, wmv format) which you can download:


The material for these DVDs was filmed by independent film producers Rob and Yuehong Dickinson who have made several visits to each railway between 2004 and 2008. It was recorded in DV-AVI format and the result will be two broadcast quality films, each on two DVDs (approx 95/105 minutes for Xingyang/Yinghao). Like 'Logging Off',  'Sweet Spot', 'Shibanxi Heaven' and 'Black Diamond Express '  these are not just another steam video, they are a total record of a way of life that has barely changed since the railways opened.

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See also:

  • Logging Off - the last year of the Weihe Forestry Railway

  • Sweet Spot - the story of Olean Sugar Mill in Java

  • Shibanxi Heaven - the last real steam narrow gauge passenger train in the world (2004 - 2007)

  • Shibanxi Gold - the last real steam narrow gauge passenger train in the world (2008 - 2011)

  • Black Diamond Express - Tipong Colliery, India's last real steam narrow gauge railway

  • Coal in the Hills - the Huanan Coal Railway in China's Heilongjiang Province

  • Funiculi Funicula - the historic Penang Hill Railway in the last few weeks before closure for rebuilding

  • Gula Java DVDs - the historic sugar mills of Java on DVD

  • Temples of Steam DVDs - steam powered rice mills in Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand

  • Dakhondaing - a Burmese Village and its Rice Mill


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk