FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The end is nigh…

Posted in China, Nanpiao by folkestonejack on December 14, 2009

Started the morning with some porridge (well, I say porridge but it was actually ordinary rice in a thin watery liquid). I tried it out of curiosity but found it to be as tasteless as it looked… I found myself longing for the kick of the spicy breakfasts, noodle soups or dumplings that I’d become accustomed to!

This morning brought the news that the last survivor had hit some problems, which might explain why we saw it pass from the hillside assisted by a diesel.

SY1299 with a diesel assisted freight working to Zaojiatun

Later, from yet another hilltop vantage point, we could see a column of steam above Zaojiatun as it shunted. It had been due to take an occasional freight working out of Zaojiatun but the load was too much for the loco to haul in its condition. As this news filtered back, we baled out and started on the drive to Fuxin.

SY1299 shunts in Zaojiatun

With the age of steam resting on the shoulders of this single surviving steam locomotive, it can’t be long before time runs out.

More photos from Nanpiao

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The last survivor

Posted in China, Nanpiao by folkestonejack on December 13, 2009

Our overnight train (the 23:55 sleeper from Beijing) arrived in Jinzhou at 5.30am. Bleary eyed we clambered out and boarded a charter bus to take us the final 40km to Nanpiao.

The railway that serves the Nanpiao colliery system sits in a particularly scenic landscape, long making it a favourite for photographers. However, things are changing fast here.

At the start of the year three SY class steam locomotives were in use but by the time we arrived only one sickly locomotive remained (SY 1299), relegated to shunting and minor freight workings. The passenger and freight workings on the line are now covered by four rather tatty BJ class diesel hydraulic locomotives (rather rare in themselves now) and a couple of DF5 class diesels.

The age of steam is almost at an end here.