CHINA

The Galleries cover transport in China over four trips.

The latter three trips of these Galleries would not have been possible without the help of Bill Alborough and Mel Haigh of TEFS Tours.
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China 1993. Gallery 1

My first visit, with my wife, was a holiday in 1993 and a hint of what was on offer was observed,
especially steam locomotives.
All kinds of transport was sampled, air, road, train and canal boat.
Whilst travelling by train QJ and JS locomotives were seen from a distance. There was one close encounter with a JS at Wuxi.
Due to the sighting of this locomotive, three further trips were made to China for steam, as follows:

                                              China June 1996. Gallery 2

My first transport trip to China was in June 1996 and our route out to Beijing, from London Heathrow, was via Pakistan. We arrived at Lahore, refuelled and went on to Karachi, where we spent part of a day and one night which gave us time to see some of the highlights of the city.                                               After doing the tourist sites we ended up in a local meat market near our hotel. As our tour leader pointed out, one million flies can't be wrong!  We travelled on to Beijing flying over the Himalayas, sighting K2 and Everest in the distance.
After arrival in Beijing we go to the Minzu Hotel and having time to spares some of us decide to look at the local rail scene. Four of us hire a taxi and after much sign language we head of for Fengtai Marshalling Yard. After several abortive attemps we finally arrive at our destonation. All goes well for a couple of hours then the local police turn up and promptly arrest us for unofficial photography.
For about half an hour our situation is somewhat desperate, but our taxi driver manages to convince the police we are just tourists and not spies.
We beat a hasty retreat to Capital Iron and Steel, a few miles away, and spend a good couple of hours here before we decide discretion is the better part of valour and travel to where the steel works branch meets the main line. After an hour or so, and due to fading light, we return to our hotel and tip our taxi driver.
From Beijing we journey by rail to Yinchuan via Shacheng, Datong, Jining Nan, Hohhot, Baotou and a lot of Inner Mongolia. We pass many JS and QJ locomotives on our way. As we head into our first night on the train we pass a steel works, which cast a red orange glow into the night sky. It makes me think Dante's Inferno must be like this. I shall never forget that sight of the glow on the horizon.                      On arrival in Yinchuan we go to the Green Island Hotel. An early start from the station on a local train to Shizhuishan depot, where we sample steam in the form of QJs and diesels in the form of DF4s. After this local linesiding is undertaken. We go to a small village for lunch and enter a brand new restaurant where we have excellent food. On our departure word has got round about our visit and we are met by a very large crowd of locals. We depart in our mini coach to the thunderous noise of fire crackers and much to the amusement of them all. I understand the restaurant now boasts in the title of 'International restaurant'.
We now visit a wayside station and photograph for an hour until the local police turn up and promptly arrest all of us for photographing the railway. Our local lady guide is hauled off to the police station for questioning and we are told to stay put and not move from the station. I take furtive pictures of passing QJs. We were told not to photograph despite having the necessary permits from Beijing. After about an hour we are allowed to go back to our hotel.
The next morning we understand our local guide had a bad time at the p[olice station and we are now  escorted by a policeman. The policeman now find the best seat on our mini bus and promptly goes to sleep! During the rest of the day he drinks our beer, eats our food and sleeps.
As we travel about linesiding we do not see our escort except when we return to the bus !!!!!
We now go on by bus to Zhongwei via the famous Temple of 108 Pagodas.
Zhongwei shed is now totally diesel and electric, but there are many dead and dumped QJs still on site. The BIG HILL is now fully electrified and double and triple headed freight is but a memory.
Our next shed visit is Baotou where QJs and DF4 work along side each other.
The
shed also boasts a museum with many old steam locos in various stages of decay.
It is interesting to note that the shed masters of mixed traction depots only want us to see their new diesels and cannot understand why we only want to see QJs and JSs.
We observe the Bayanobo
 QJ hauled passenger train at the local station.
Our next port of call is Baotou Steel Works which is served by a sizeable fleet of SYs. ET7 tanks were noted dumped at the works. Diesel traction was also in abundance, but the slag tip was still SY operated. Our next visit is to the Shiguai branch. The last rail group to visit here was arrested and their local guide ended up in prison. We have the same guide and he takes us to the branch for photography. After half and hour guess what? The police turn up, arrest our guide and put us on our mini bus with an armed police guard. I am not sure what happened, but an hour later we are told to leave the area and not return. We head a good way out of town and find a quiet elevated spot to photograph the passenger and freight on the branch. We return to our Baotou hotel in the evening, but we do not see our local guide again! The next day we visit a sub shed of Baotou where there are QJs and JSs locos on shed. We then photograph the Bayanobo banch passenger and freight.  We finish off with a spell of linesiding near
Baotou.
We return to Beijing and do the tourist things such as Tiananman Square, The Great Wall and the Beijing Aircraft Museum. Very interesting selection of aircrafr here including the one used by Chairman Mao Zedong.
We return to London via Islamabad, Pakistan, with an overnight stay here.
A very eventful tour.

Black and white photographs were also taken on this trip and they appear at the end of the colour section.  

                      China November 1997. Gallery 3     

We travel from London Heathrow to Beijing with Air China. On arrival in Beijing we transfer to the Dongfang Hotel.
As usual we make our way out to Capital Iron and Steel
 to see and photograph SY steam locomotives and diesel shunters, plus any road transport.
The group now travels, by train, to Chengde to see the famous steel works branch. Coal trains are usually worked by three locomotives, one at the head and two pusshing. On rare occasions the trains are double headed with one rear loco pushing. The servicing shed is at the top of the climb from Chengde and close to the steel works. At Chengde
 coal trains come off the main line, pass over the river and enter the banking station ready to pick up locomotives for the climb. The whole branch offers good photo locations which we all take advantage of.
We now journey to Yebaishou for linesiding, where we see single and double headed QJs on freight. DF4 diesels work the passenger train. A nearby location, Shinao, produces the now rare combination of a triple headed QJ freight.
The next day we visit Yebaishou shed to sample the QJ allocation, but also note brand new DF4s have arrived ready to replace the QJs. The afternoon is spent just outside Yebaishou station at a level crossing where we observe the marshalling yard being shunted by a JS.
Freight and passenger traffic is in abundance with QJs and DF4s. We observe the now usual triple headed QJ freight.
The group now returns to Chengde for more branch photography. Different locations are tried and this second visit provides a good crop of photos. We also manage to photograph the main line local hauled by a JS (with elephant ears smoke deflectors). This necessitated a early start of 0600 on a very cold morning.
We return to Beijing and fly Air China back to London Heathrow.
This was a short but very successful photo trip to China.

Black and white photographs were also taken on this trip and they appear at the end of the colour section.    

                       China October 1999. Gallery 4  

London Heathrow to Beijing direct with Air China. I have the pleasure of travelling Business Class.        We arrive in Beijing on time, but our connecting flight to Harbin is delayed by one and a half hours.
This will make our train connection in Harbin very tight. We eventually arrive, but miss our train by fifteen minutes. The group now has a night (a hotel is located) and a day in Harbin.
We make use of the following day by linesiding on a bridge just outside Harbin station. It is regrettable all steam has ceased in the area, but we make the most of the situation photographing modern diesel traction on a bitterly cold day. There is also plenty of road traffic to watch between trains.                     Twenty fours later we board our night sleeper for Jalainur. Arrival in Jalainur is very early in the morning, but we board our mini bus and head straight for the BIG PIT. We receive a rudimentary safety briefing and then we are turned loose on an amazing site; the BIG PIT is BIG and reminds me of a small version of the Grand Canyon. There are several levels, all connected by rail and everywhere you look there is a plume of steam which in most cases is an SY. Spoil and coal trains descend and ascend by  zig zag manoeuvres. Apart from lunch, I spend the day descending to the lowest level, then make my way back. Can you imagine what Health & Safety would say about that in G B!
The evening is spent at our hotel in Manzhouli a short distance from the open cast mine and an even shorter distance from the Russian border.
Due to our missed connection in Harbin we only have one and a half days at Jalainur, so we make the most of the next morning at the pit. I manage to get pictures of the mine workers train, an SY and one coach. One JF class loco potters about the site hauling a breakdown train.
After a visit to Jalainur mine loco works we head off by road to Hailar for our train connection to Tongliao. Tongliao depot has a good quantity of QJs and numerous diesels. After lunch we move on to Zhelimu stabling point, where we have a plentiful supply of QJs that service the local marshalling/transfer yard.
We travel overnight on to Deban where we have an early start at the depot. Deban shed is fully operational with a large fleet of QJs that serve the local area and the Jingpen line. As QJs become redundant in other areas of China, many find their way to this depot for further service on this famous line. We move on to Rashui and the Interpower Hotel for our three day visit. My bedroom window looks out to the beginning of the climb and a telephoto lens produces some good shots.
The next day we are out and about, with our mini bus, the whole length of the Jingpen line with with many good photo locations. My favourite location is the famous curved viaduct at Simingyi.
This structure is very impressive and I even manage to walk well out on to it.
Day two invloves a lot of climbing for shots of the line. One place in particular stands out above Rashui, and from this vantage point you can see trains coming over the plain and starting the climb, twisting and turning their way up the pass, past your location and up to the summit for well over an hour.
I move on to the Shang Dian passing station for more pictures, but one location I choose turns out to be a bit dangerous as approaching QJs use the area to blow down! After a very close shave I move my position out of the blown down line.                                                                                                           The last morning is spent at Rashui viaduct before we reluctantly travel off by train to Anshan.
We now visit the Anshan steel works where we are again given a rudimentary H&S briefing before being let loose in the works. (H&S in GB would again have a fit). We spend a day here at the steel works photographing, mostly SYs, on coal, slag and molten metal trains. We are allowed to go quite close to the blast furnaces for pictures. Various other types of industrial locomotives are at work here.
Later on in the day we are treated to a private visit, single deck, tram ride round the Anshan tram system, which is splendid, with trams of all ages.
We now move on to Lingfen loco depot which has a mixture of QJ, JS and diesel locos. A sad sight was seeing QJs being cut up for scrap.
Our next port of call is the Sujiatun loco museum which has a splendid collection, but sadly all in the open and rusting away. The site boasts a small repair works with QJ and SY locomotives under overhaul. The works is shunted by a well decorated USA class 0-6-0. The running depot is virtually all diesel. We move on to Shenyang station, and having time to kill, photograph the local bus scene. Our train takes us to Chengde for the steel works branch location. A good day spent here with the JS and SY fleet. The following morning is spent at the exchange sidings on a bright, but bitterly cold day. 
We return to Beijing and the obligatory visit to Capital Iron & Steel where we see the usual SY and diesel fleet. A visit to the scrap road produces some XK 0-6-0s.
Just outside Beijing is the Daihuichang narrow gauge railway that transports limestone. Services were limited at the time of our visit, but the staff fired up one of the small 0-8-0 tender engines so we could photograph it. This system really takes you back in time, but I understand it is sadly no more.
From Beijing we travel to Tangshan for the steel works and mine railways.
Tangshan Steel Works boasts its own workshops for loco repair of the SY fleet that work there.
No safety briefing here and we enjoy free access to the whole works site. I find a good photo location just outside the blast furnaces and works.
Tangshan Mine is a short distance from the steel works and operated by JS and SY locomotives.
We record the action and then have a surprise ride on the mine workers three coach train, SY power,  to the pit head. I have the pleasure of firing the SY on the return journey back to the exchange sidings and station.
All too soon we return from Tangshan to Beijing on a splendid double deck stock train.
Return to the UK is by Air China and I again sample Business Class travel.
This trip was certainly the most productive for photography and the sights and sounds of a splendid country to visit.

Black and white photographs were also taken on this trip and they appear at the end of the colour section.                        

           China Locomotive Plates. Gallery 5

This gallery is dedicated to my collection of China locomotive plates. Nearly all the plates have required restoration to a standard I consider acceptable.