FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Out and about in Diaobingshan

Posted in China, Diaobingshan by folkestonejack on January 14, 2011

The late morning didn’t seem to promise much so we headed back to the station but then news came through of an unexpected steam service so we dashed back to the minibus and headed to the nearest decent location we could find – taking a back alley to a small park with a view of the bridge on the approach to Diaobingshan station.

As we drove down the back alley I didn’t imagine that the location would promise much but it was unexpectedly charming. Having said that, I’m sure the locals must have wondered what a crowd of westerners were doing crouched down by the stream trying to get the best shot!

SY 1771 on the approach to Diaobingshan

SY 1771 on the approach to Diaobingshan

I think a shot closer to the semi-frozen stream and lower down would have given a better perspective. There were perils to this though, as those closest to the stream discovered when the ice gave way and revealed not water but smelly black sludge. Eek!

SY 1771 passes a striking row of trees at Diaobingshan

SY 1771 passes a striking row of trees at Diaobingshan

After visiting a couple of level crossings (as you do!) we headed back out to the line to Daming to get a different shot with the spoil heaps in the background.

SY silhouette

SY silhouette

After this final shot we collected our luggage from the hotel and started our three hour drive to Fuxin. Midway we stopped at a service station restaurant and had an impressive (and very tasty) meal – there really wasn’t much any difference in quality or price to the places we had been to previously in Jixi.

We arrived in Fuxin at around 9pm and a little exploration showed that there really wasn’t much in the immediate vicinity of the Zhonglin International Hotel except for a petrol station (with an enormous queue of taxis waiting in line). Having established this I retreated to the hotel for a few much needed bottles of beer.

More photos: Diaobingshan gallery

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A diesel interlude (and homage to the DF4)

Posted in China, Diaobingshan by folkestonejack on January 14, 2011

Ok, so I’m on a trip to see the last bastions of steam… and yet, it’s hard to resist the evocative sound of a DF4 when it’s before you. It might appal the steam purists but one of the pleasures for me on a steam trip like this is that it throws up a number of interesting opportunities to see diesels at work in China every now and again. The random nature of these moments makes that all the more satisfying.

Today, we had the chance to see two DF4Bs at Diaobingshan (DF4B 7754 and DF4B 7755) as well as a couple of DF5Bs. Although the DF4B diesel electrics are pretty much ubiquitous across China my trips have usually served up the uglier, boxier diesels such as the DF5s. It was nice to see some DF4B action on this trip… and this small gallery is my homage to the DF4B and the other diesels at Diaobingshan!

Steam commuter

Posted in China, Diaobingshan by folkestonejack on January 14, 2011

It says alot when 7am qualifies as a late start, but I wasn’t about to quibble. It was most welcome after the ultra early start yesterday…

Once we had all made it down to the minibus we headed off to Wangqian with its distinctive church. Most of the group headed up to the top of the quarry to get a shot of the steam hauled passenger service making its way across the landscape, but having tried that last year I stayed down in the village for an arrival shot. It proved to be a good decision as the sight of the SY making its way round the curve with the smoke playing across the sun was simply wonderful.

SY 1770 with the morning passenger train to Wangqian

SY 1770 with the morning passenger train to Wangqian

After regrouping we drove to Gushanzi to board the tender-first return working to Diaobingshan. A ticket for the journey cost one yuan per person (approximately 10 pence) which is an incredible price for a taste of real steam in the 21st century… indeed, my steam hauled trip into town with the local commuters is the only time in my life that I have experienced genuine steam (with the exception of steam on the Poznan-Wolsztyn line). Unforgettable.

Return to Diaobingshan

Posted in China, Diaobingshan by folkestonejack on January 13, 2011

After our early morning start it was a welcome move that took us into ‘Californian Beef Noodle King’ (a popular fast food chain in mainland China) for some hot and filling noodle soup. Later, after visits to the station and to the workshop, this was supplemented by meat filled pancakes in another local eaterie.

Initially it seemed that not much had changed in Diaobingshan but it soon became apparent that there is alot of construction taking place here – there were rows and rows of apartment blocks under construction on the far side of the station.

After visiting a few locations, the day ended with some interesting shots on the run in to Daming with the SY hauled passenger service seen against the backdrop of a spoil heap and then again at the end of service at Daming itself. All of this good work was rewarded with a wonderfully spicy meal in the evening…

Early morning in Diaobingshan

Posted in China, Diaobingshan by folkestonejack on January 13, 2011

There are early mornings and there are *early* mornings… a 4.37am arrival at Tieling (with a wake up call from the attendants on the train half an hour earlier) was definetly one of the latter! Thankfully a combination of coffee and biscuits were on hand to revive me for the onward minibus ride to Diaobingshan…

It was a clear and colourful sky that greeted us at Sanjiazi – a marked change from the murky grey skies of Jixi. Standing at the platform edge watching a tender first passenger working head into the station amidst a sea of red lights was the perfect way to start the day.

Tender first into Sanjiazi

Tender first into Sanjiazi

A little later we headed out to a bridge over a frozen river on the Diaobingshan-Daming line. A year earlier we had a long walk to reach the spot but a new road spared us the agonies of frozen fingers and feet…

It was one of those locations that just shouted out its photographic potential from every vantage point – whether you were up close to the bridge, down amongst the reeds on the frozen river or up on the bank. It was the latter viewpoint I chose in the end and was richly rewarded with the beautiful sight of the SY hauled passenger service crossing a stark landscape completed by a distant conical spoil tip.

A steam hauled passenger service crosses the landscape on a service from Daming to Diaobingshan

A steam hauled passenger service crosses the landscape on a service from Daming to Diaobingshan

If only my video had co-operated and kept working for a few moments longer, I’d be able to complete that with sound but never mind… the picture itself captures everything I felt about that moment.

Five and half hours in a fridge

Posted in China, Diaobingshan by folkestonejack on December 17, 2009

A cold start (somewhere around -16 today) but that didn’t deter anyone from venturing out from the bus on the 1km walk to the first location of the day. Mind you, it did give me quite an incentive to complete the return walk as quickly as possible to get my hands on a warming coffee!

Xiaonan

In the afternoon we began our five and a half journey to Meihekou over some incredibly ice roads, up and down through mountain valleys on a route you would have looked at in disbelief (even here in China the sat-nav has alot to answer for!). Nevertheless our driver took everything in his stride. In the back most of us were well-wrapped up. The windows were all iced up which was probably a good thing, I’m not sure I really wanted a better view of our overtake of a lorry on an icy hillside road without barriers…

Needless to say, we survived- arriving in Meihekou at around 8.30pm

Another day, another hilltop…

Posted in China, Diaobingshan by folkestonejack on December 16, 2009

In Diaobingshan both steam locomotives and diesels were in use for passenger services but for our benefit the passenger services on the scenic Faku line were switched from diesel to steam for the day – presenting an unforgettable sight from our hilltop position in the afternoon.

Our viewpoint gave us a 180 degree view over the line – overlooking the frozen waters of Paoziyan Reservoir and a monument to a coal productivity target reached in 1997. It was definetly one of the highlights of the entire trip.

From a hilltop on the Faku line...

More photos from Diaobingshan (formerly known as Tiefa)

Diaobingshan

Posted in China, Diaobingshan by folkestonejack on December 16, 2009

Our first day in Diaobingshan (after arriving last night) started with a scenic viewpoint above a stone quarry from which we could observe the misty morning…