The International Steam Pages

Shibanxi Holiday 2009 - Huangdan Coal Mine

Click here for the main Shibanxi Holiday 2009 page.

We were on another 'Long March', this time to Huangdan, a small town south-west of Bagou, in the bottom left of the map below:


Arriving on the edge of town, we could hardly miss yet another small coal mine, operating on 600mm gauge - although we saw some newly constructed 300mm chassis which we were assured were for use inside the mine.


Power is provided by four battery electric locomotives built in Leshan in March 1995 according to their plates, it seems from our observations that there must be a large number of such creatures at work in the area.



Our arrival coincided with the lunch break so we were able to relax and recoup our strength before activity restarted, in fact the surface workings were barely 200 metres long but as photogenic as any such operations I have seen in China, here half a train load is propelled back up to the mine:


Another train was hauled, crossing a full train at the mine entrance:


Note the map of the underground system with the one way routes marked:


This is the unloading area seen from both ends:



Unloading was extremely slick, for this mine the coal now goes out by road, apparently it formerly went out by river:


At the far end is a headshunt used for tipping spoil (this is a March 2010 picture hence the different lighting conditions)::


The 'master shot' here is undoubtedly of a train rounding an extremely tight right angled bend:


In an ideal world, we shall be back to record it on video but it's a 3 hour hike from Bagou to carry tripod, camera and ancillary kit (actually done in 2010 - see below)! From the reactions of everyone here, it was perfectly clear that this was a place which had yet to be graced by a visit from any other gricers let alone the Industrial Railway Society! 

Operational notes - this place has aroused interest in the modelling community.

Trains are of two types, coal and spoil.

Coal trains tend to be split at the tunnel mouth as they are too long for the unloading run round loop. The first half is taken down and propelled back. For the second half, the loco runs round and hauls back up to the tunnel mouth. The two halves are then combined with the front half running into the tunnel and reversing to pick up the other half.

Spoil trains tend to be shorter and the loco will run round in the coal unloading loop and propel the wagons into the head shunt for discharging. Not all the wagons can be discharged at one go, so the train will be moved back to the loop and the remaining (full) wagons propelled back into the head shunt.

You can see some short video clips of the operation from March 2010 on and

We visited Huangdan a second time, coming up the river from Ma Miao. On this occasion we caught a bus to Shixi at 15.30 which took 90 minutes and made a comfortable connection with the last train of the day up to Bagou. We saw two different timetables for buses between Qianwei and Huangdan (via Shixi but NOT Yuejin), they showed variously 6 or 7 return journeys a day between the early morning and afternoon - the 08:30 from Qianwei would make a good connection with the first train down of the day from Bagou. The fare was CNY 13.

Rob Dickinson