FolkestoneJack's Tracks

In search of the last QJs

Posted in Chenghe, China by folkestonejack on February 26, 2009

As much as I would like to have seen a QJ in full flight on the Ji-Tong Railway that time has now passed and there are few opportunities to see the class anywhere in China. The appeal of this trip had been the chance to seek out the last remaining QJs in operation. Originally the plan had been to go to Zoucheng but this unravelled when the lines decided to reduce their operations to match a drop in demand for their coal.

Our tour leader Bernd Seiler arranged a substitute QJ charter at Chenghe for which I was most grateful, fearing that the QJ would remain forever beyond my reach. I’d be the first to admit that the QJ at Chenghe was a sad sight and in many respects it was just as well I hadn’t seen them at their peak. I’m sure that this was a shadow of their performance on heavy freight trains across Inner Mongolia, but having never seen a QJ I was happy to take anything…

QJ 7181 had been repaired overnight, noticeably with an unconventional use of a glove! Even with these efforts, the brake system was not working as it should so a DF4 was added to the tail of the consist of wagons.

As the locomotive would be in steam for a final time a local television station came out to film our visit and photographers from the mine joined the group to record the final rites. After the usual pleasantries we all crowded into a small railcar and headed out to Podicun viaduct around 11.30am in the midst of a heavy blizzard! We made the best of the conditions to take shots of the QJ at various positions until about 3.30pm. It was, shall we say, challenging.

Apart from the poor weather, it was also incredibly muddy – by the end of the day everyone seemed to have their own garden attached to their feet – which made it all the more embarrassing when we decamped to a nice clean hotel restaurant for a meal at the end of the day!

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