FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Farewell to Sandaoling

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 16, 2012

Our farewell to Sandaoling was destined to be a short-lived affair as we needed to start our 380km drive to Dunhuang at 10.30am if we were to be sure to make the 6.58pm departure to Lanzhou. It also meant that our breakfast of noodle soup had to be capable of sustaining us for the entire day, with no guarantee that we would get to eat again today if the sleeper train did not have a restaurant car!

We took the familiar road to Dongbolizhan and arrived in good time to watch the tender-first departure of the passenger train with JS 8089. The plan was to stick around until the return of the passenger train and then head to a spot in old Sandaoling but this soon unravelled as the passenger train was delayed at Xibolizhan, awaiting the final trains for the tender show. We couldn’t abandon the plan as some of the group had taken the opportunity to experience the commute Sandaoling style! The passenger train eventually returned around 30 minutes late.

Farewell at Nanzhan

Farewell at Nanzhan

After an obligatory group shot at a ruined gate in old Sandaoling we headed to a level crossing at Nanzhan where we got our last sighting of a JS class steam locomotive with one of the youngest of the fleet, JS 8314, shunting some wagons. It is incredible to think that a steam locomotive like this only rolled off the production line at Datong in 1988.

Although we had seen plenty of JS action in our week at Sandaoling it was still a pleasure to savour these final moments of working steam before we said farewell.

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Bread and breakfast

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 16, 2012

Apart from the obvious attraction of the steam locomotives at the mine, two highlights of the trip to Sandaoling were the wonderful breakfasts and the incredibly delicious bread baked on the roadside.

Uyghur bread stall and stove

Uyghur bread stall and stove

Our early morning starts to reach the railway by sunrise invariably meant that we saw these places in darkness but that added to the appeal, watching baking by the light of a bulb or seeing our breakfast being prepared on streetside stoves before being brought inside to a hungry audience!

Early morning baking in Sandaoling

Early morning baking in Sandaoling

On a quiet afternoon we headed in to the town centre for around half hour, giving us a better opportunity to appreciate the talents of the hard-working bakers who seemed to stay at their stoves all day – the same bakers we saw before the dawn were still working in mid-afternoon!

The variety of breads on offer from the Uyghur bakers seemed to differ from day-to-day, with everything from small bagel-like breads through to thin circular flat bread. I opted for one of the incredibly thin, flaky circular flat breads which had been baked with a chive flavouring. Fresh from the oven, it was simply sensational – and all for just 3 Yuan (approximately 30 pence in sterling).

Uyghur flat bread with chives

Uyghur flat bread with chives

As for breakfast, we sampled dumplings and noodle soup at three establishments – all with their own character. One place had been decorated wonderfully with a chequerboard of sprite labels across the walls and ceiling. Another place, serving noodle soup, was decorated with a poster showing a breakfast of hard boiled eggs, bread, cheese, fruit juice and coffee that must have looked exotic to the regulars in this place. I am fairly sure it wasn’t on offer! In each place we were served up really tasty food that set us in good stead for the long days ahead of us.

Gallery

A final stop at Kengkongzhan

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 15, 2012

It seem appropriate that the end of our last full day in Sandaoling should be spent at Kengkongzhan, given that it was the prospect of chimney first coal trains that lured most of us here. Indeed, a coal train was already rounding the curve as we sauntered along the ledge – prompting a headlong dash down the bank to get to a decent position.

After JS 8225 had passed with its loaded coal wagons I crossed the track to explore the photographic opportunities from the other side, particularly enjoying the spectacular view of the curve with the dramatic ‘grand canyon’ backdrop and a clear view of the mountains in the distance.

JS 8089 heads back to the coal loader with some empties

JS 8089 heads back to the coal loader with some empties

The next coal train, hauled by JS 8089, caught us a little off guard by arriving tender first. The delight of chimney first trains out of the pit is in no sense guaranteed and when combined with the somewhat erratic schedule of the coal trains shows that such pleasures can come at a price measured in patience! Thankfully, for us, normal service service was resumed by the return of JS 8225 chimney first.

JS 8225 resumes chimney first service at Kengkongzhan

JS 8225 resumes chimney first service at Kengkongzhan

JS 8225 with a loaded coal train

JS 8225 with a loaded coal train

Although we stuck it out till the sun set there were to be no spectacular sunset shots today. In any case, even if the sun had co-operated the last train past us before the light faded was JS 8089 running tender first. I know when I am beaten!

Gallery

Spoilt for choice

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 15, 2012

A short distance from the yard at Xibolizhan the tracks diverge, six lines fanning out from west to east and each ending at a different spoil dump. It’s a fabulous spot to visit as you stand around trying to work out which line is going to be next to receive a spoil train.

JS 8078 passes through the level crossing where the lines to the spoil dumps split

JS 8078 passes through the level crossing where the lines to the spoil dumps split

The five lines to the west are crossed by a rather rough level crossing (with a rather cute hand-painted sign warning of steam locomotives) and near to here there are a series of small huts. On the way up trains stop at the huts to pick up a worker with the key used to release the spoil onto the dump. On the way back down they stop to drop him off. It seemed like a classic, if baffling, bit of job creation for its own sake!

JS 8368 pushes a spoil train past the remains of the lifted track

JS 8368 pushes a spoil train past the remains of the lifted track

Originally there were six lines here but one has been lifted since my last visit. The space left by the lifted track is still marked out by telltale pairs of wooden stumps and there are small sections of mangled track lying here and there. A neat pile of track and sleepers could be seen stacked to one side.

JS 8173 with spreader crosses a bridge on the farthest east of the spoil dump lines

JS 8173, with spreader, crosses a bridge on the farthest east of the spoil dump lines

In the hour that we spent here we saw spoil trains pushed/hauled back tender first by JS class locomotives 8076, 8077, 8078, 8167 and 8368. In addition to this, we saw JS 6224 coming back from a spoil dump with a crane and JS 8173 with a spreader on the separate line to the east (though a spoil train would have been a more impressive sight on this distinctive tip!).

Gallery from the spoil dumps

A morning at Xibolizhan

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 15, 2012

A morning exploring Xibolizhan gave me a good chance to see the area from a different perspective to my previous visits, with more time spent photographing the line from the pit entrance/exit to the gantry than I have managed before. A raised bank to one side of the line provided a great vantage point to see trains working against a backdrop of abandoned villages, industrial complexes and the mountains.

JS 8225 arrives at Xibolizhan shortly after sunrise

JS 8225 arrives at Xibolizhan shortly after sunrise

The arrival of JS 8225 with a train shortly after sunrise was particularly wonderful. There was something about the way the light caught the train as it passed a small patch of wild grasses in the barren landscape that worked perfectly.

JS 8167 with a spoil train in the pit

JS 8167 with a spoil train in the pit

Excavator 415 fills the wagons of the spoil train

Excavator 415 fills the wagons of the spoil train

After spending some time walking along the bank I returned to the track and followed it into the pit, where I watched one of the excavators at work on the upper levels – crunching rock from the side of the mine and filling wagons in a waiting train with spoil. It is always an impressive sight to see industrial steam in action like this – as far removed as it is possible to get from the polished image of steam that you get on any preserved line in the UK! I certainly couldn’t tire of the sight of a JS working hard with a spoil train.

JS 8081 pushes a spoil train out of the pit

JS 8081 pushes a spoil train out of the pit

JS 8638 pushes a spoil train out of the pit

JS 8638 pushes a spoil train out of the pit

It was always going to be a wrench to tear ourselves away from as incredible a scene as this, not least because there was always the promise of another spoil train round the corner (quite literally). On this occasion we stayed around this spot until midday, then headed over to the spoil dumps on the other side of Xibolizhan to see the end of the process.

Xibolizhan Gallery

Shift change at sunrise

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 15, 2012

After another early morning start, fuelled by a wonderful breakfast of dumplings cooked on a stove in the street, we headed out on the bumpy road to Xibolizhan. The twinkling of stars in the darkness suggested that the cloudy start from yesterday would not be repeated.

The morning shift change at Xibolizhan is a highlight of any visit to Sandaoling as it presents an opportunity to see around eight locomotives lined up, tenders facing towards the pit. It’s not often that I am tempted to photograph locomotives tender first but in Sandaoling it is a necessity – indeed, it has been the most authentic position to find a loco within the pit. I took a grab shot of the line up which gives the smallest impression of just how remarkable this is.

Xibolizhan tender show

Xibolizhan tender show

The photographic opportunities abound as the crews change over. The sunrise presented a great opportunity to get amongst the lines and get some interesting shots of the crew, but my favourite shot was the line up of passengers waiting on the platform with loco after loco in the background. Understandably the workers take this for granted but to anyone from an increasingly steamless world it is the most amazing sight to behold.

Shift change at Xibolizhan

Shift change at Xibolizhan

Amidst all of this, the morning passenger service from Dongbolizhan is scheduled to arrive. At this time of year the train’s arrival coincides with the sunrise, making for a wonderful start to the day. It was great to see thirty year old Datong loco JS 6224 arrive in good time, positively glowing as the sunrise enveloped the train.

The morning passenger train arrives at Xibolizhan

The morning passenger train arrives at Xibolizhan

After the passenger service departed the trains worked their way back into action one-by-one. As a spectacle it is hard to beat!

The workshop

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 14, 2012

The railway workshop is located amidst the demolished remains of old Sandaoling, a short walk away from the compound of stored locomotives and the line to the unloading point. It was reassuring to see locomotives were still undergoing overhauls and there was plenty of work going on around the place.

JS 8314 in the workshop

JS 8314 in the workshop

JS 8081 in the workshop

JS 8081 in the workshop

At the nearby compound of stored locomotives JS 8040 was in use with a rail mounted crane for the retrieval of several lengths of line which were being loaded onto the back of a lorry. It was a surprisingly interesting operation with the locomotive moving forward and back as required for each load.

Steam locomotive JS 8040, crane and lorry at the compound

Steam locomotive JS 8040, crane and lorry at the compound

JS 8040 moved the crane into and out of the compound

JS 8040 moved the crane into and out of the compound

Mid-lift

Mid-lift

The weather had improved a little by the time we came to leave the workshop but it still wasn’t worth going for a sunset shot. An early bath tonight!

The pit

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 14, 2012

Our day began at Xibolizhan where we watched the remarkable sight of nine trains lined up side by side at shift change before making our way along the track towards the pit entrance/exit.

The open cast mine at Sandaoling is an incredible sight, even in conditions as overcast as today, which surely cannot be rivalled in the steam world. The mixture of dust from the excavations, columns of steam and mist evoked a hellish vision with the sun only slowly breaking through the clouds. The eye of sauron wouldn’t have looked out of place here!

JS 8077 works some empties tender first from Xibolizhan towards the pit

JS 8077 works some empties tender first from Xibolizhan towards the pit

The poor light and the persistant wind left us with conditions that were not especially conducive to photography or video, but nevertheless we gave it a go. A particular highlight was the sight of JS 6209 struggling with a spoil train on one of the lower levels of the pit which resulted in JS 8190 being sent to assist – a spectacular double header.

JS 6209 and JS 8190 double head a spoil train from the lower levels of the pit

JS 6209 and JS 8190 double head a spoil train from the lower levels of the pit

In the afternoon we drove round to another clifftop viewpoint which gave a great vista across the fallen rocks to the lines up from the pit. The ledge we walked along contained some giant cracks and it didn’t take much imagination to realise that some caution was required. The unstable nature of the terrain had led to a series of landslides in the area and a nearby village had been abandoned. A beautiful but potentially deadly landscape.

The impressive scene from the clifftops at Sandaoling

The impressive scene from the clifftops at Sandaoling

Along the top of the cliffs a series of abandoned pairings of wooden stumps signalled that the the railway had once come this way in an earlier phase of the pit’s development but the track and much of the ground it was sited on had long gone.

The long abandoned track bed at the top of the cliffs

The long abandoned track bed at the top of the cliffs

As spectacular as the view was, the light really wasn’t with us today so it was agreed by all that we should head for the workshop and keep our fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow.

Gallery

Sunset at Kengkongzhan

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

We returned to the crumbling cliffs of Kengkongzhan for our sunset shot and hoped for that perfect combination of a coal train with the setting sun. The colours were rather incredible with the rails almost seeming to glow with a glint from the sun. I had a few attempts at the shot and didn’t really get it right, but it still captures the essence of a rather wonderful moment.

Sunset at Kengkongzhan

Sunset at Kengkongzhan

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

The morning passenger

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

The early morning passenger train runs from Dongbolizhan to Xibolizhan around 8.40am and then returns half an hour later. It’s not a luxurious commute by any standards, using two box cars, but it is an effective way to get between the two points quickly – especially as the roads in this area are particularly bumpy. The train can be chimney first or tender first, so what you see is down to luck on any visit!

Passengers leaving the train at Dongbolizhan

It was interesting to see just how many people could be squeezed into the two box cars and even more surprising to see a motorbike being driven out amongst the departing throng!

Gallery from Dongbolizhan

Sunset spoil

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 12, 2012

At the end of a long first day in Sandaoling we headed to Xibolizhan and the point at which the lines to the spoil dumps spread outwards. One of the lines here has been taken up, but you can still clearly trace the route of the vanished line and it’s associated trail of wooden stumps.

The wooden stumps were a little baffling at first sight. It was only later that we saw an exposed example with the stumps attached to rails underneath the track, perhaps indicating that these are a means of providing extra support in an otherwise unstable environment.

Sunset at the spoil dumps

The sunset today was a little muted but in any case there wasn’t much chance of a glint shot – these locos are far from the polished examples that we see in preservation in the UK. It is hardly surprising that they are in such a state given that the mine (and locomotives) are in operation 24 hours a day.

Gallery

Xuanmeichang

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 12, 2012

The coal trains that have climbed out of the eastern end of the pit, pass through Kengkongshan and along an embankment through the demolished remnants of old Sandaoling. The trains finish their journeys at the unloading point at Xuanmeichang where the coal is crushed and graded. Once the coal is processed it is transferred from the yard at Nanzhan to the state railway.

At one time this final transfer to the state railway was one of the main attractions at Sandaoling with impressively long trains hauled and banked by steam locomotives but this is now diesel territory! I was lucky enough to see this in December 2009, shortly before the end.

JS 808? departs from Xuanmeichang after unloading

JS 8225 waits at Xuanmeichang with a loaded coal train

After arriving at this exceptionally dusty spot we watched one coal train depart and another arrive. The bunkers were overflowing with coal and the train was clearly not going to be unloaded anytime soon, so we took this as our cue to move on.

The grand canyon of Sandaoling

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 12, 2012

The last time I was at Sandaoling, in December 2009, almost all trains out of the pit were pushed or ran tender first (as can be seen in my video of two coal trains passing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lggGgd9mQE4). It didn’t deter enthusiasts travelling out there to see the incredible spectacle, but there was no doubting that it limited the photographic opportunities.

Since then, there have been a few changes and the coal trains are no longer loaded directly at the coal face. Instead, the coal is transported by conveyor to a loading tower and only from here by train. The new loader necessitated a switch to loco first operation which has delighted railway photographers as it offered the prospect to photograph coal trains climbing out of the pit chimney first.

At the same time, diesels have replaced steam on the connecting line between the mine and the state railway interchange at Liushuquan so our focus on this trip is more tightly focused on the open cast mine and the line to the two nearby deep mines. For most of the photographers on our trip the priority was to get some good shots of the chimney first coal trains and the best place to see this was at Kengkongshan, which our tour leader appropriately described as the grand canyon of Sandaoling.

A train of empties works its way backwards through the grand canyon of Sandaoling

The curve at Kengkongshan provides a great panorama from almost every angle. The most obvious viewpoint, next to the road, is a wide ledge running the length of the pit edge. From this point you can easily access a lower ledge or head to track level. The sight is as spectacular wherever you stand and gawp!

You can get a small flavour of the Kengkongshan experience in a couple of videos that I took – available on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJLtnIUmXDU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-98_7TmXdg.

Gallery from Kengkongshan

Sleepless in Sandaoling

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on November 12, 2012

After two days of travelling it was a huge relief to step off the bus at Sandaoling this morning. The journey out here has taken three flights (London-Amsterdam, Amsterdam-Beijing and Beijing-Ürümqi), a sleeper train (Ürümqi-Hami Nan) and a charter-bus (Hami Nan-Sandaoling) with the prospect of an even more laborious trek to get us back to Beijing at the end of the week!

On this trip I booked my flights KLM with the advantage of a through ticket from London to Ürümqi (using a combination of Cityjet, KLM and China Southern flights). In theory this should have put me in a better position if I experienced any problems with the chain of flights. As it was, all the connections were made without difficulty – even with an hour’s delay at Amsterdam whilst a technical fault was fixed on our 747-400 combi.

After arriving at Ürümqi we took a charter-bus to the cavernous main railway station which is a grim place at the best of times – but especially unappealing in cold, dark and misty conditions! Our onward travel from Ürümqi was on sleeper-train K9782 which departed at 23:53 with arrival at the new out-of-town station at Hami Nan scheduled for 7:18. The trains on this line are unusual in having double deck soft-sleeper carriages (i.e. compartments of 4 berths on the top deck and compartments of 4 berths on the lower deck). These are fine but inevitably more cramped than standard sleepers (for example, there is no upper luggage storage shelf). The train kept pretty much to time today, arriving at Hami Nan around 7.30.

The entire train seemed to have disembarked at Hami Nan and in the best traditions of Chinese station design now had to slowly thread their way through an obstacle course of three narrow gates at the entrance. Once we completed this test and disentangled ourselves from the throng we were at last able to board our charter-bus for the final two and a half hour drive to Sandaoling.

In spite of all the hassle, any doubts about whether it was worth the effort were instantly dispelled when we clambered out of the bus at Kengkongzhan and – after a bit of a wait – got our first sight of a JS class steam locomotive working a coal train chimney first around the curve.

JS8195 hauls a coal train for Xuanmeichang out of the eastern end of the pit

There is no doubt that Sandaoling is currently the steamiest place in the world, having taken on this mantle after the demise of the open cast mine at Zhalai Nuoer in Inner Mongolia. At the moment up to 20 JS class steam locomotives work in and around the mine – an absolutely amazing concentration of steam power so far into the 21st century. As a bonus, this all takes place in the most incredible desert landscape with the Tian Shan (heavenly) mountains as a backdrop. It really leaves you breathless and banishes any sleeplessness, at least until the sun sets…

Dieselisation

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on February 3, 2010

The website SY-Country is reporting that diesels are now in trial use on the main line from Nanzhan to Liushuquan at Sandaoling. It is hard to believe that the banked steam we saw just a couple of months back might already be a part of history.

Sandaoling Stats

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on December 7, 2009

I’m not usually one for numbers, but I was curious to know how many locomotives I had seen in use during our time in Sandaoling. I looked back at my photographs and found that I had taken pictures of 20 JS class and 2 SY class locomotives – an impressive number of locomotives in industrial use at one place in the 21st century! (As a caveat, I would add that this number is likely to be incomplete as there may have been others that I didn’t photograph).

For the record the JS class locomotives were 6204, 6205, 6208, 6261, 6436, 8027, 8040, 8053, 8076, 8081, 8167, 8173, 8186, 8188, 8189, 8193, 8194, 8195, 8221, 8358 and the  SY class locomotives were 1593, 1729.

JS8053 and the Tianshan mountains

The wrong way to Sandaoling

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on December 7, 2009

After a night in Hami we had an interesting start to our drive back to Sandaoling.

The driver of our bus seemed to have got a little confused and now the arrows on the road ahead were pointing towards us, not towards Sandaoling… we were travelling the wrong way down the expressway (a dual carriageway) into the oncoming traffic! After a while dodging cars and lorries we finally took a turning that got us back on the right side of the carriageway… phew!

A beautiful sunrise in all shades of pink and purple awaited us – an incredible backdrop for a banked train from the state railway. Afterwards, we visited the locomotive at Nanzhan – still with a glint from the rising sun.

Sunrise on the seventh

Ate lunch in town at a local restaurant. Afterwards we wandered round the neighbouring streets, fascinated by the scene in front of us – whilst the locals seemed equally fascinated by the strange foreigners in front of them!

Lunch in Sandaoling

In the afternoon we headed to the compound of dumped locomotives and the workshops for the railway where we were welcomed with such warmth by the workers (and even the occasional word of english).

Stored loco at Sandaoling

Mural at the workshop

JS 8189 in the workshop at Sandaoling

A further selection of my photographs from the four days we spent at Sandaoling can be seen in the gallery:  Sandaoling Coal Mine

To the open cast mine once more…

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on December 6, 2009

Another day at the open cast mine, albeit on the opposite side – our bus parking up a short walk away from the lines that the locomotives use to climb their way out of the pit level by level. I took a short video clip that I hope gives some indication of the sight and sound this presents. It is hard to believe that only a year or two remain before this spectacle will be extinguished.

Onion bread

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on December 5, 2009

Discovered, to my great surprise, that there really is no better way to start the day than hot noodle soup with a real chilli kick.

Our day of photography began at Xibolizhan where we watched nine locos depart one by one after shift change. In the afternoon we made it into the open cast pit – an amazing place, with action in all directions (indeed, the mine is worked 24 hours a day so the action really never stops). We spent a few hours wandering around until sunset fell over the red sandstone cliffs.

After our evening meal a few of us went on a wander through town and came across a local man selling traditional onion bread that he was baking in a tandoor style oven in the street. Incredibly tasty.

Onion bread, baked in the street at Sandaoling.

Sandaoling sunrise

Posted in China, Sandaoling by folkestonejack on December 4, 2009

Arrived in Hami on time at 6.20am.

A further  one and a half hours  on the road brought us to Sandaoling at sunrise – perfect timing  to see a banked freight train from Liushuquan to Nanzhan using two JS class steam locomotives. 

JS 8053 hauls a train from Liushuquan to Nanzhan...

...banked by JS 6208.

As there was a good road here we were able to chase and overtake the banked train, ready to take another shot further down the line.  It was whilst standing here, watching the banked train working hard as it made its way through the barren landscape, that I really felt the power of this spectacle.

My camera gave up far too soon, probably shocked by the sudden introduction to the cold… so I just stood and watched. Sometimes it’s the only way to really savour something like this.