FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The deep mines

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 13, 2012

After leaving Dongbolizhan we headed to the deep mines at Beiquan where we hoped to see some trains to/from Nanzhan and shunting around the washery shunt. At this point the line crosses a barren and near featureless landscape which makes the soaring background of the Tianshan mountains all the more spectacular.

JS 8358 and the Tianshan mountains

JS 8358 and the Tianshan mountains

The control office assured us that a steam propelled train was due but we had a lengthy wait before anything appeared, then we all groaned as the hum of a DF8B drew closer to our positions in the middle of nowhere. We could easily have abandoned our positions but thankfully we persevered and were soon rewarded by a steam propelled train which we followed to the second mine at Beiquan.

Loading at Beiquan

At the mine the train was being loaded a few wagons at a time by a few diggers whilst an endless stream of lorries made the trip along the dusty road with full loads of coal to add to the mountain. After watching the shunting and false departures around here we moved on to the first mine and watched a JS make a slow crawl along the line as yet more lorries rumbled along the parallel road.

A slow crawl through the dusty landscape between Yijing and Erjing

The landscape here was quite incredible – there was something about the combination of the barren landscape, the power plant chimneys, thick clouds of coal dust and a demolished village that left you thinking that you were looking upon a vision of hell. It was all very well us spending a day there taking photographs, but it must be a harsh environment to live in.

By late afternoon, there were three JS class steam locomotives gathered at Beiquan – two locomotives from the Nanzhan pool (8358 and 8366) and, strangely, one of the locomotives usually seen working spoil trains (6209). JS 6209 is one of the oldest steam locomotives in use at Sandaoling having been built at Datong in 1981 and presumably was a temporary substitute for one of the out of action Nanzhan locomotives. After watching JS 8366 depart we took our leave from Beiquan and headed away to find a suitable spot for sunset.

Gallery from Beiquan

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