The International Steam Pages
Notes - Steam in China Part 5
Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.
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The Fuxin mine railway was visited in January 2001. CNR still used steam on freights from Chifeng and Yebaishou, JS & QJ yard pilots contributed to the busy steam action.
Rob Dickinson described the scene. “It's like visiting a model railway show with one of those complicated layouts where as soon as you see one train coming past your attention is attracted by another movement. Only here the scale is 12 inches to the foot, Fuxin must be one of the few places in the world whose town map probably shows more railway lines than roads.”
Our first afternoon at Fuxin was a ripper, with snow and sunshine. The mine railway had its own station, Wulang, opposite which was a head shunt. The associated road crossing saw pedestrians, donkey carts, motorbike taxis and coal trucks all trying to cross in short breaks of rail activity. In addition to the mine’s passenger and freight trains workings there was a lot of light engine movements to frustrate those struggling to cross the tracks, resulting in some near misses. At times it was possible to watch 4 steam hauled trains at work in close proximity. Deceptively old looking electrics, of 3 variant designs including crocodile types were also to be seen alongside the SYs.
SY 1397 passes the loco works 5th January 2001
SY 0770 on a load of tipplers at the head shunt opposite the mine station. The load is about to be pushed back over the level crossing.
Decorated SY 1320 takes a coal train to the CNR yard where a QJ and a JS were busy on shunting duties.
The mine railway had track running alongside the CNR to Minzu, a few km away giving the opportunity to see both CNR and mine railway trains together. The mine passenger train to Wangying loaded to 9 coaches, which meant some hard work upgrade from Minzu to the mine. The large Catholic Church could also be included in photos of this otherwise bleak area.
SY 0126 climbs out of Minzu heading for a mine at Wangying, 5th January 2001.
Walking back to Minzu I caught a glimpse of another SY heading for Dongliang on a 3 coach load. It was closely followed by a QJ hauling a CNR freight.
Back in Fuxin we headed for the large open cast mine reached by walking through a village and down a long flight of steps that led to a 3 track crossing. Winter days are short and we found the mine in shadow. Instead we set up near the crossing signalbox to catch he sun sinking, we observed a number of trains hauled by small steeple cab electrics ascending the grade and throwing sparks from the wires. To complete the session SY 0911 on a track train that included a steam crane in the consist blasted up the long grade, giving me some superb video, the engine passed and caught the glint, nice! Two days were spent at Fuxin, I regret not having longer to grasp the extent of the workings.
SY 0126 on the mine railway line from Minzu, the Catholic Church in the distance.
Shenyang - 1
Located in Northern China Shenyang had once been part of the industrial region that had powered China, known as the “Iron Rice Bowl.” Now there was social unrest, graffiti demanded “Foreigners go home!” referring to the migrant workers who once were needed.
We had a taste of the turmoil that was rarely seen by foreigners at this time. Arriving early morning having slept in the dining car as no sleepers had been available I was ready to catch up on some sleep, but our new guide was a dynamo and a railfan to boot! He wanted to go straight to a “locaI” depot. I drowsily thought I would drop out until Mr Kwon thrust some photos in front of me of the depot. Most CNR depots were off limits and guides usually knew little about the rail scene, we had the luck to have someone knowledgeable.
Mr Kwon’s driver raced us through back streets at an alarming speed. We were taken to a yard we had earlier seen from the train. A small depot was located under a lengthy footbridge that spanned the yard, the JS pilots were no longer at work, a couple were on shed for servicing and a lone example was idle in the yards. Mr Kwon was not impressed; he informed us if we had gone straight there they would have been working! I got the impression he was going to be gung-ho.
From the footbridge we could see the busy scene below as QJs and JS locos were being re fuelled by diesel powered coal -grabs and a work-gang was busy shovelling coal from a rake of wagons to supply the engines; hard yakka!
An angry rail worker came to give us a spray. He didn’t like us taking pictures of steam locomotives, “old things, a disgrace to China”. He and Mr Kwon were soon in a loud argument and both sides drew reinforcements. Our driver was PLA (army) and he got stuck in, both sides headed for the railway police demanding the other back-down; leaving us to continue photographing! We spent the time watching an SY shunt a nearby industrial spur, its loud exhaust ricocheted off nearby high rise flats, as agitated voices could be heard below!
This was an example of China in transition, on his return a victorious Mr Kwon took us into the yards to see a JS pilot which was standing amidst ice created by the loco. This was not all that interesting but a point was being made to the rail workers and to us about who was dominant in this new age.