FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Shift change in Fuxin

Posted in China, Fuxin by folkestonejack on January 16, 2011

After a quick breakfast in our hotel we headed to our bus, which was parked right outside the entrance. Any thought that we could delay the moment of experiencing the cold of a bitter Fuxin morning were soon dispelled… the thermometer inside the minibus showed the temperature inside to be -23. Having said that, it was colder outside…

The morning was illuminated with a golden light that made it impossible to resist the temptation of shots of the varied local traffic against the slowly rising smoke from the steam locomotives parked above the new underpass. And so, we found ourselves standing in the middle of the road to get a good shot… luckily it turned out that Fuxin taxi drivers could be remarkably tolerant of mad westerners like us!

SY 0770 and 1397 side by side in Wulong Yard

SY 0770 and 1397 side by side in Wulong Yard

Our spell at the shift change was followed by quick stopovers at the spoil heap and at Lijing before we settled in for the 8 hour drive to Pingzhuang via Beipiao.

More photos: Fuxin gallery

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Lineside in Fuxin

Posted in China, Fuxin by folkestonejack on January 15, 2011

The late morning and afternoon took us to a variety of lineside locations, none of which I had seen on my previous trips. It just goes to show that you can visit a place twice without having the same experience.

It started with a distant view over the spoil dumps at Fuxin where two trains were already working. A little later we had the chance to see one of these come rolling back down (whilst imagining how much more impressive they must be charging their way up!).

The next stop was a small level crossing and station at Miaodong (I think) where we saw SY 1396 rattle through with some empty coal wagons. Followed by another level crossing, this time at Taiping, where we could only marvel at the chaotic arrangement of the level crossing box (one of the few here not replaced with a neat yellow box).

Finally, as the day began to reach its conclusion we returned to some places that I was familiar with – the small depot and a nearby stabling point.

After the day’s efforts we headed straight to a local restaurant and enjoyed wave after wave of sweet potato, sweet and sour pork, aubergine, chicken with cashew nuts and red chillies, beef and cabbage. All washed down with a local beer – Meixue. Who could fail to love China with such a mix of stunning food and steam!?

Beauty in the strangest of places

Posted in China, Fuxin by folkestonejack on January 15, 2011

After shift change we headed on to the mine at Lijing where we saw some of the shunting operations with two locos (SYs 1195 and 1397) from the safe vantage point of the level crossing.

It is possible to find beauty in the strangest of places and amidst the most polluted environments, a category which Fuxin easily falls into. This was never truer than at Lijing mine where the trees were coated in a thick white deposit, which gave them a strange and presumably poisonous beauty. This was the backdrop for the first photograph:

SY 1195 at Lijing mine

SY 1195 at Lijing mine

Away from the mine was a forest of poles. Normally this would be anathema to a photographer but there are sometimes occasions when the sheer ugliness of a backdrop turns it photogenic, at least for me anyway! I rather liked the shot of a SY 1195 steaming through this setting…

SY 1195 steams through a forest of poles

SY 1195 steams through a forest of poles

Mind you, since I find industrial backdrops particularly attractive my sense of beauty is probably well and truly skewed already…

Strangely beautiful... or not?

Strangely beautiful... or not?

The Fuxin experience

Posted in China, Fuxin by folkestonejack on January 15, 2011

On all the trips to China that I have made there have been amazing sights on the railway and incredible food. Alongside this I have been struck by the friendly welcome from railwaymen and workers wherever we have been. I have not always captured that side of these trips with my camera, but hope that for once I have provided a snapshot of that friendly (if perhaps a little bemused) reaction from our time in Fuxin.

Workers at Wulong Yard, Fuxin

Workers at Wulong Yard, Fuxin

Changes at Fuxin

Posted in China, Fuxin by folkestonejack on January 15, 2011

The impending demise of steam at Jixi has made Fuxin one of the steamiest places in China and, in theory, the place should thrill any steam enthusiast. However, for some reason I find it a hard place to like.

Our minibus took us to a familiar location – the main level crossing at one end of Wulong Yard. However, I found it a little hard to get my bearings at first. Nothing seemed quite as I remembered. Gradually I pieced together what I recalled of the place and started to realise what was missing or had changed.

In the year since I last visited Fuxin the disused coal loading facility in Wulong Yard has been demolished along with the small building at the foot crossing. As if that wasn’t enough, a new underpass now runs underneath the railway. On the morning we visited the workshops were also shut up which added to a general sense of desolation. How much can change in such a short time!

We weren’t alone either – it was great to see some familiar faces from previous trips that I’d been on and found myself unable to stop myself from uttering the usual cliche about it being a small world. Ho hum…

The new underpass

The new underpass

A more familiar sight... SY 1378 passes over the crossing on the way out from Wulong Yard

A more familiar sight... SY 1378 passes over the crossing on the way out from Wulong Yard

Fuxin

Posted in China, Fuxin by folkestonejack on December 15, 2009

An early start to the day so that we could make it to the stabling point in Fuxin City in time to see a number of steam locomotives gather for the morning shift change. Not that we have had any late starts anywhere, other than on sleeper trains!

Fuxin is an industrial city in the throes of rapid modernisation. The coal industry is in decline but at the moment the railway at its heart still delivers an incredible concentration of steam motive power in one place – as we soon discovered.

Make no mistake, this is no preserved line… at the stabling point it seemed that an underpass was under construction, necessitating the strengthening of the line. Unlike the UK, everything carried on around this work – on one set of lines six SY class steam locomotives gathered whilst on the other side workers lifted some track into a new alignment using crowbars. It was amazing to be able to stand amongst all of this.

The highlight of the morning was the arrival of a tender first SY with a heavy coal train. Try as it might it was unable to manage the final stretch into the power plant, slipping reapeatedly. Another SY was sent out to assist giving us the sight of a double headed tender first working.

Although steam survives here the historic backdrop of hutongs has been swept away in most places – vast residential complexes now standing in their place. Needless to say, these are not as photogenic!

Over the course of the day I photographed 11 steam locomotives in use, which is quite remarkable in the 21st century. It is hard to gauge what the prospects for steam are here. Diesels have arrived, but at the same time in the workshop they were overhauling two locos (one JS and one SY).

More photos from Fuxin Coal Railway