Shibanxi 2012

This page documents my visit 6 - 22 March 2012

Last updated 23 March

I will post details here of the expected DVD of Shibanxi as well as Sichuan & Chongqing industrial steam, diesels and electrics when it's ready.


March 6 - Sanjin

We arrived before the last up train of the day at 17:45. This was hauled by No. 9 still running with the tender from No. 10. It came off the train to coal under the coal hopper leading to a slightly late departure. It returned on time around 19:45. On our approach to Sanjin (around 16:45), we saw a steam-hauled coal train in the distance heading for Shibanxi.

March 7 - Sanjin - Shibanxi - Bagou

The day started with a coal train around 06:00 followed by the passenger running 15 minutes late (arriving 06:30). An electric followed it shortly after. We caught the first train down to Shibanxi. Walking along the back side of the line behind the wall, the entrance to the shed/works end of the yard can now be accessed without paying a fee. With luck on your side and a few cigarettes, access to the shed may also be granted. We saw a lot of activity here with a shunt move of 2 steam and 2 electrics by one of the steam locos as well as the very slick unloading of the coal from Huangcunjin. The second Pengzhou loco is making slow progress. All other locos were in use (7, 9, 10, 14) apart from No. 8 which was about to have its fire started.

We walked back to Sanjin seeing several electric trains and one coal and one passenger downhill. After lunch, we took the 3rd train up to Bagou. The loco was slipping badly and set back well into the runround track at Mifeng to take a run at the hill out. I hadn't seen that before. So far, no railway shots of major interest apart from some showing changes in the last year - see changes2012.html. Three coal trains ran today and one tourist train for a Japanese group. The tourists trains now start from Sanjin which could mean a light engine or double headed train to get the loco from Shibanxi to Sanjin. Some passenger stock for these trains is now parked at Sanjin reducing empty stock moves.

The road has reached Bagou as 3 minivans were parked at the top of the new road! This is but one of many changes in the last year which I will report on over the next few days.

March 8 (International Women's Day) - Bagou - Huangcun - Jiaoba

Raining today with a dry spell midday. No coal trains but 4 tourist trains ran. The mine at Huangcun is anti-photography at the moment as they would like a slice of the action from the Jiayang Power Company that charges Yuan 80 (50 last year) per person for the tourist mine visit. The power company won't play ball. However, the mine canteen is still open to visitors and a few shots can be taken in conjunction with a lunch visit. The steps up the hill to the north of the station also allow a good look down on the action from the mine to the coal bins.

March 9 - Bagou - Mifeng (by train) - Caiziba - Xianrenjiao - Jiaoba - Bagou (on foot)

No. 7 on a tourist train passing Caiziba

Today produced plenty of activity starting with a coal train running in the first passenger path, late running first passenger, works train, 2nd passenger, coal train, tourist train, coal train, third passenger, fourth passenger (9 return workings in all). No. 8 was on the coal trains, No. 14 on the passenger and No. 7 on the works train and tourist train.

No. 8 arriving at Xianrenjiao

No. 8 near Caiziba - the slogan on the tender has been loosely translated by Zebedee as ' Try your best to be number one!'

Weather was cold and wet but drying up late afternoon and possibly warming up. The oil-seed rape flowers are probably 5-10 days of warm weather off their peak.

No. 14 approaching Eagle's Beak Tunnel between Mifeng and Caiziba

Nos. 7, 9 & 10 are without a headboard but No. 8 and 14 both have one.

March 10 - Bagou - Mifeng (by train) - Caiziba - Xianrenjiao - Jiaoba - Bagou (on foot)

No. 14 on regular passenger trains with Nos. 7 & 8 on the tourist trains over the whole line. One other loco (number not known - 9 or 10?) on the tourist shuttles to Mifeng. In total, 10 trains were run, 4 passenger, 4 tourist trains (full line) and 2 shuttles. Trains loading well as the flower season is starting.

No. 14 runs round at Mifeng while working the first return passenger train. The 2 rotting diesels and a tender are for a future 'museum' here.

No. 14 on the 3rd passenger train at Caiziba

March 11 - Bagou - Huancunjin - Bagou - Jiaoba - Bagou (on foot)

The pattern was the same as yesterday - 4 passenger, 4 full-line tourist trains, (possibly 2 short tourist workings to Mifeng only). Loco No. 14 failed last night on the last return working and was replaced today by No. 9. In use (plus loco on short working = No. 10 by deduction), No. 7, 8 & 9.

No. 7 on a tourist train does a blow down for the tourists

A cross at Jiaoba - No. 9 on the 3rd passenger and No. 7 on the return tourist working

The next cross at Jiaoba, No. 9 on the return passenger working and No. 8 on the last tourist train

March 12 - Bagou - Huancunjin - Bagou - Jiaoba - Bagou (on foot)

Back to passenger and coal trains only (reportedly until end Thursday). The coal trains (4) ran ahead of the 4 passenger trains (30 minutes before the first, 1 hour before the second, 2 hours before the third and 2 and a half hours before the last). No. 7 was on the coal trains ands No. 9 on the passenger. Both shots below are of No. 9.

The second passenger ready to depart Huangcunjin

The third passenger approaching Jiaoba

March 13 - Bagou - Mifeng (train) - Sanjin - Shibanxi (walk) - Bagou (train)

A good, sunny day but time spent on video with no stand-out still pictures without grabbing video stills. A 4-coal, 4-passenger service operated. Loco No. 9 was steaming badly and losing time and was replaced by No. 8 on the last passenger train. No. 7 was on the coal trains.

March 14 - Bagou - Jiaoba - Bagou (on foot)

The early morning coal train ran but the second coal was replaced by a slow special for Japanese tourists which had multiple run pasts. The 3rd coal ran along with an afternoon tourist train. In all, 8 trains ran. No. 8 was taken off the passenger for the last train (late running again which suggest No. 9 again - not confirmed).

The rapeseed flowers are approaching full bloom at a few locations

The late-running last passenger train passes the Bagou station construction site

March 15 - Bagou - Shibanxi (train) - Sanjin (walk) - Bagou (train)

Today I saw the group and Zebedee off to Chengdu from Shibanxi at 10:30. At that point, there were 3 steam trains up the line (No. 8 on coal, No. 9 on the passenger and No. 10 on a service train of sand for Bagou and concrete blocks for Huangcunjin). I walked to Sanjin seeing all 3 return before I caught the 14:15 train back to Bagou. No. 10 returned with some tipper wagons (from the siding between the tunnels at Bagou). We crossed No. 8 on its 3rd coal run of the day at Mifeng. No. 9 was struggling below Mifeng and on the way up to Caiziba and finally stalled at the end of the Caiziba curve just below the halt. After a brew up, it made it to Caiziba and Xianrenjiao and it was OK on the downhill from there. It reached Bagou about 30 minutes late but was on time again on the last train of the day. Both of today's pictures are of No. 9.

Waiting in the sunshine with the 2nd passenger at Shibanxi

The return working under the wires between Sanjin and Shibanxi

March 16 - Bagou - Caiziba (train) - Bagou (walk)

An almost sunny day. Today saw slightly less rail activity - no coal traffic as the backlog of coal has been exhausted and the mine appears to be in a maintenance phase. It's not clear if the coal trains will resume on Monday. Instead we had 3 tourist trains and 1 supply train of sand for the Bagou station project. No. 9 is still losing around 30 minutes on the uphill sections and No. 10 is only used on short supply trains. No. 14 has not been seen since it failed in service last week. This suggests that the railway will be short of reliable motive power for the busy weekend ahead. Only Nos. 7 & 8 appear to be healthy.

Passengers waiting at Caiziba station for the 3rd passenger train which is struggling to make it

No. 7 on a short tourist train in the late morning

No. 10 returns from Bagou with the 2 hopper wagons (standard coal wagons) from the siding between the two tunnels. The side tipping wagons remain in the siding.

March 17 - Bagou - Huangcunjin - Bagou - Jiaoba - Bagou (walk)

A Japanese friend arrived today so, after meeting him, we did the local sights along the line. Today, being a Saturday in the flower season, Chinese tourists were everywhere as this selection of photos shows. The pattern today was 2 passenger interspersed by 2 tourist trains both morning and afternoon. The midday lull lasted from roughly 12 until 2.

Loco No. 7 on the first afternoon tourist train achieved a rainbow during its blowdown at the tourist curve and got a good round of applause.

The crowds waiting for the last train of the day at Bagou on Saturday

March 18 - Bagou - Mifeng (train) - Bagou (walk)

Today I went to Mifeng in order to walk back photographing trains. The trick is to see the remaining 3 chimney-first morning trains between Mifeng and Caiziba and the afternoon trains between Caiziba and Xianrenjiao before walking back to Bagou and seeing any tender first trains along the way and the last train at Bagou. Today, the pattern was such that, by the time the last chimney-first tourist train reached Xianrenjiao, all the other trains had passed on their way back to Shibanxi.

No. 8 on a tourist train passing the classic oil-seed rape flower location (not yet in use for tourist run pasts)

No. 9 on the 2nd passenger between Mifeng and Caiziba

No. 7 on the last tourist train passes No. 9 on the crowded 3rd passenger train at Xianrenjiao

March 19 - Bagou - Huangcunjin - Bagou - Jiaoba - Bagou (walk)

The coal trains resumed running before the 1st, 2nd and 3rd passenger. No. 7 on the coal trains and No. 9 on the passenger (still losing 30-40 minutes on almost every Shibanxi - Huangcunjin run).

March 20 - Bagou - Mamiao (bus) - Xianrenjiao (walk) - Bagou (train)

Following my off-railway excursion today, I've updated my 2011 report on the new road between Bagou and Mamiao at to bring this up to date.

No. 8 replaced No. 7 on the coal trains while No. 9 continues to run late on the passenger.

March 2 - Bagou - Sanjin (train)

We took the first train down in preparation for our transfer to Chengdu Airport tomorrow morning. After the relative predicability and sanity higher up the line, the business and chaos at Sanjin was a bit of a shock. As well as the regular electric coal trains, I saw passenger, tourist, coal and service trains head up the line. The 3rd passenger up was delayed as they argued on whether another coach should be added (for tickets already sold) or whether the train should proceed as it was as it already had the maximum load. The accountants won over the loco crew and an extra coach was added. However, No. 10 came up from Shibanxi and provided an extra 2-coach passenger train in the path behind.

In the first photo (taken from a poste outside the Sanjin hotel office), can you spot the Chinese photographer hiding in the picture. See below the picture for a clue.

Spot the Chinese Photographer

This is him in close up.

No. 9 (having taken coal) is pursuaded to take an extra coach up the hill. No. 8 (on a coal train) has also coaled.

No. 9 on the last down train of the day (in the rain) with the lights of Sanjin behind.

Apart from any post-trip tidying up, that's it for this blog. If you enjoyed it or have any questions, I'd be happy to hear from you. In case, you don't know, I sometimes run tours to China. If you are interested in seeing real steam before it's too late, contact me or see details of future trips elsewhere on this website.

John Raby
March 2012