FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Farewell to China (for the last time?)

Posted in China, Pingzhuang by folkestonejack on January 18, 2011

The final shot of the day (and of the trip) came with a tender first working back to the stabling point as the light steadily disappeared. Once we had that in the bag we headed to a local restaurant and then on to Chifeng (a one and a half hour drive away) for the 9.06pm night sleeper to Beijing.

The final shot of the trip

The final shot of the trip

This is my third trip to China for steam and I suspect that it will be my last. I’ve said that once before and changed my mind but this time feels more certain. There are only a relatively limited number of industrial lines in operation still and I think it’s fair to say that I’ve seen a good chunk of what is left. Not that you couldn’t go back and find many new photographic opportunities in familiar places ­čśë

Anyway, I think it’s over for me. It would be different if there were lots of other industrial lines to see but its a bit late in the day for that (if only I had started just a few years earlier…). On the other hand, if the suggested new QJ destination materialises that might be a different matter…

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Steamy afternoon in Pingzhuang

Posted in China, Pingzhuang by folkestonejack on January 18, 2011

Our afternoon in Pingzhuang began with a rather sad, but inevitable, vision of the future – an out of use JS class steam locomotive (JS 1001) sitting alone in a locked compound.

JS 1001 in a locked compound at Pingzhuang

JS 1001 in a locked compound at Pingzhuang

Things improved from here on in – we were lucky enough to be at Gushan Yijing when SY 1079 headed past with loaded coal wagons at 13:41 and moments later we were treated to a light engine movement from our fifth SY of the day – SY 1441.

SY 1079 passes Gushan Yijing with loaded coal wagons

SY 1079 passes Gushan Yijing with loaded coal wagons

Around 3.15pm we returned to the fields to see SY 1441 working tender first with some wagons. Shortly afterwards SY 1017 came through the level crossing light engine and later returned in the failing light with more wagons. It seems practice here to split long lines of wagons into two and bring them back with two separate workings.

More photos: Pingzhuang Gallery

An electric interlude!

Posted in China, Pingzhuang by folkestonejack on January 18, 2011

Around midday we headed up to the stabling point for the electric locomotives used in the open cast mine.

It was a pleasure to see two East German built LEW electric locomotives (7364 and 7324) on the tracks behind the industrial complex at Zhuangmei – with one train tipping out its load wagon by wagon for transfer to yet more wagons at a lower level. A third LEW electric passed by on its way into the open cast mine.

Three LEW electrics at Pingzhuang

Three LEW electrics at Pingzhuang

We took a wander to the edge of the open cast mine and had a look in. It seemed like a fascinating system (although clearly long past its glory days) and I would have loved to spend days exploring the place and photographing these incredible electric veterans in this environment but we definetly didn’t have that quantity of time to spare! I just felt lucky to have had this opportunity at all as this was, after all, a trip to see the last steam survivors.

Electric locomotives 7326 and 7328 on the upper level of the open cast coal mine at Pingzhuang

Electric locomotives 7326 and 7328 on the upper level of the open cast coal mine at Pingzhuang

Electric locomotive 7370 on one of the lower levels of the open cast mine at Pingzhuang

Electric locomotive 7370 on one of the lower levels of the open cast mine at Pingzhuang

The other LEW electrics seen in and around the pit were 6707, 7326, 7328 and 7370 but this was clearly just the tip of the iceberg (some reports have mentioned 37 electric locomotives). I’d love to find out more about the workings in the opencast mine and will be an eager reader of any future reports on the activity there.

Pingzhuang Mining Railway

Posted in China, Pingzhuang by folkestonejack on January 18, 2011

We arrived back at Pingzhuang at about 10am and headed to Zhuangmei where we found two locos at the washery (SY 1079 and 1017). A third loco (SY 1052) arrived a short while later with some covered coal wagons. It was a lovely location with a great industrial backdrop and perfectly blue skies.

Three SYs at Zhuangmei

Three SYs at Zhuangmei

After getting all the shots we could at Zhuangmei we drove on to the southern station at Pingzhuang Nan. The road has a height barrier midway which caused a moment of concern but our minibus turned out to be the perfect size!

At Pingzhuang Nan most of us clambered up a large heap of coal in the yard ready to get a good shot of the imminent freight train. SY1017 duly arrived chimney first around 11.15am with 27 wagons and left tender first at 11.55 with 55 wagons. It was a great sight rumbling across the bridge over the dried-up river bed.

SY 1017 approaches Pingzhuang Nan

SY 1017 approaches Pingzhuang Nan