The International Steam Pages

Steam in Vietnam, New Year 1997

The following is a report of the Dorridge Travel Vietnam tour, between 29th Dec 96 and 3rd Jan 97 by the tour leader Hugh Ballantyne. 


141-206 was station pilot at Hanoi Ga station. The only Vietnamese built 2-8-2 at Ga shed was 141-122 in good working order but not in steam. Shunters working in the yard at Hanoi Gia Bat were 141-159 and 141-202.


A special train from Hanoi Gia Lim station departed at 07.30 with 1-4-1199 hauling 4 coaches. Arrived Haiphong at 12.15. Dumped here OOU is 141-198.
During the afternoon 141-165 worked a trip into the docks and carried out shunting, mainly to deliver empty flat wagons and collect loads of steel including steel being directly off-loaded a Vladivostock registered ship. The group was charged U$1 per head to enter the docks which in view of the shunting was good value for money as movement inside was unrestricted. Engine turning at Haiphong is by means of a triangle on the south side of the station goods yard.


The group travelled by bus from Haiphong using 2 ferry crossings and arrived at Uong Bi at 09.15 for a standard gauge steam goods charter. This train, comprising GP6 Class 2-8-2 1040 with ten bogie loaded coal wagons and two coaches at the rear, departed 09.30, tender first, westwards to Kep. At Mao Khe there was a 30 minute stop for water. This is a small stabling point and 1055 in steam was being coaled by hand (female labour). Also present was a dumped GP6 with no visible identification but which is believed to be 1041. At Kep, the loco took water, ran round its train and it continued smokebox first south to Hanoi Yen Vien on the mixed gauge line arriving at 17.15.


New years Day in (North) Vietnam started dull and overcast but a well cleaned 141-182 was ready with the Dorridge mixed train comprising 5 box cars and 2 coaches at the rear, for departure from Hanoi Gai Bat station on a long journey south down the main line. At Phu Ly the weather improved somewhat and by the middle of the day the group was in position on the lineside for pictures through the hilly section south of Ninh Binh. But Murphy's Law prevailed (that will translate well for our Japanese readers!) with cloudy conditions at the critical moment but later at Bim Son, good pictures were had of the mixed train being shunted at the end of its journey. A visit to the cement works branch found 141-164 ready to leave the exchange sidings with a train back to the mainline and 141-192 shunting in the cement works yard.


141-199 was again provided for a special mixed train comprising 5 bogie open wagons and 2 coaches to the rear north westwards on the mixed gauge branch to Luu Xa for a visit to the nearby Nguyen Iron & Steel Works. The engine ran smokebox first and the journey time on an easy schedule with only 1 southbound train crossed took 3 hours. Following a short bus ride from the DSVN station to the steel works and brief formalities, entry was allowed. Here there were 2 metre gauge 2-6-2Ts, 131-409 dead in the shed with repairs to its motion and 131-436 working. All 6 standard gauge GJ 0-6-0Ts were seen: 1037 was under repair in the shed, 1032/42/45 serviceable at the stabling point and 1032 and 1034 shunting. Close access to the blast furnaces was not permitted so the group had to content themselves with pictures of the working locos and the blast furnace several hundred yards away in the background. Back on the DSVN line it was noted that the standard gauge did not seem to be in use and for our return journey to Hanoi Yen View 141-199 ran tender first despite repeated assurances earlier that there were turning facilities at Luu Xa.


A morning visit was made to the main steam shed in the Hanoi area Yen Vien which contains locos of both gauges. Standard gauge GP6 1027/29 in works, shed yard serviceable 1007/19 and 1040 with the latter in steam. In addition there were 4 unserviceable, 1014/44/45 and one unidentified. On the metre gauge there were 17 141s present of which 141-179 was in ex-works condition and 9 141s definitely appearing OOU.

Rob Dickinson