Baiyin, Sandaoling, Yamansu & Fuxin

3 November 2011

The Double DVD of this trip entitled 'Outposts of Steam' is now available.

Click on the image to see a full-size version of the cover.

Read more about this DVD and my trip below.

You can buy this double DVD for 18 plus postage.

You can see more information about this and my many other DVDs here. Or, you can click here to send me an email order enquiry.

Details of the March 2012 trip to Shibanxi and an October-November trip to Sandaoling, Baiyin and Shibanxi are now available here. Please contact me if you are interested in either of these tours.

Three of the 8 or more locos and trains in Sandaoling opencast mine on 21 September 2011

Summary of Trip
Baiyin (15-18 September)

SY 1470, 1583, 2008 were in use with SY1047 being steamed up. The line currently uses 3 steam locos trip working around the main yard and towards Shenbutong daily although other locos may be hiding. No short-distance passenger trains ran on Saturday or Sunday but steam still works to the No, 3 Smelting Works to pick up lead or zinc ingots or to deliver empty wagons.
Sandaoling (19-24 September)
Working locos: JS 6224, 6261, 8027, 8040, 8076, 8077, 8078, 8080, 8167, 8188, 8190, 8194, 8195, 8225, 8314, 8358, 8368, SY 1304 (18 locos in steam)
The workers’ passenger train now runs from Dongbolizhan to Xibolizhan and return only. Departure is around 08:40 with the return shortly after 9 am.The loco for this train was seen both chimney and tender first.
Four spoil tipping lines were in use from Xibolizhan.
Some areas around the edge of the pit are unstable and liable to collapse. This is associated with faults in the rock and smoldering hot areas of rock. There are two of these areas between the view down into the pit just before the turn off to Xibolizhan and where the overburden trains exit the pit. Avoid these areas for your own safety.
Yamansu (25 September)
According to local guide Mrs Guli, will dieselize in March 2012 but 1-2 steam locos may be retained for shunting at Yamansu. Loco JS 8423 was the working loco but had injector problems. It had worked a trip of empty wagons back from Shankou around 8 am and was due to return around 2 pm but this was delayed.
Fuxin (28 September - 2 October)
Steam is still used to the mines in both directions along the mine railway as well as at Wulong mine and onto the spoil tip there (and the tip to the east?). The line to the east sees more steam movements than the one to the west. Wulong Mine was producing coal and spoil only on our first day due to national holidays. However, spoil was being tipped (from remote mines) on all but 1 October. Locos in use: SY 0941, 0989, 1195, 1319, 1320, 1378, 1396, 1397, 1460, 1818 (10 locos) with SY 1395 on standby at Taiping Stabling Point.
Despite being steam prior to 12 September (observed by one of the tour party on a pre-trip visit), the morning passenger train 02 from Xinqiu which arrives at Pingan station just after 7 am was diesel on the 3 days we saw it.

I would rate Shibanxi, Sandaoling, Baiyin and Fuxin as the main 4 steam attractions left in China today. Any suggestions for additions or alternatives to this list?

Tour itinerary
14 September – arrive at Beijing Airport by 11:30 am today, meet up and transfer to Beijing West Station, train Z55 (14:35) to Lanzhou
15 September – arrive Lanzhou 07:23 (Z55) and transfer to Baiyin
- Baiyin Wansheng Hotel
16 – 17 September – Baiyin

High winds in Europe delayed me for a day but luckily I had built in enough time pre-trip to still arrive for the Beijing Airport meet up. Transfer to Beijing West was by airport bus which dropped us on the south side of Beijing West. One of our party cut it very fine and he and Mike Ma made it to the train with 2 minutes to spare. After that, our journey to Lanzhou was uneventful but included a lot of new high-speed line and a 28 km tunnel.

Bus permit for Baiyin

We had a sunny half day followed by an overcast, rainy second day. The scenery is first rate and I hope these photos in sun, murk and rain will do it justice. The Baiyin passenger train timetable is still as shown at

SY2008 is currently the regular passenger loco. Seen here just below Dongchanggou halt.

SY1470 on the downhill afternoon short passenger working at Liugongli crossing.

Close up of SY1470 at the same location.

Last shot of Day 1. SY2008 towards Liugongli with the early evening short working. All passenger trains were steam hauled.

On Day 2, 3 SY were in use SY 1470, 1583, 2008 with SY1047 being steamed up. Here we see SY2008 hauling tank wagons with SY1470 behind and the dumped steam on the right at the depot.

SY 2008 in the rain approaching Dongchanggou halt with white smoke and considerable wheel slip. By the time of this afternoon passenger working the temperature had dropped from the high twenties of Day 1 to the low teens.

Day 3 was slightly better than Day 2 in that the rain held off longer but there were also more diesels in action. Four were seen including (possibly China Rail) DF5 1783 and a new-looking GKD1A0206 (Dalian 2009).

In the morning, I climbed a pinnacle opposite the line for the morning passenger. This is Rod B Smith's afternoon shot from the same location.

No short-distance passenger trains ran as it was the weekend but in the morning a diesel went to Shenbutong to collect minerals and in the afternoon SY1047 went to the No, 3 Smelting Works to pick up lead or zinc ingots.

18 September – morning at Baiyin, transfer Lanzhou train T291 at 16:01 to Hami,

Our final morning was wet throughout but we felt that Baiyin more than justified the visit.

Here is 2008 again on the morning passenger train.

SY2008 returns the passenger carriages to the compound seen through the windscreen of our bus.

19 September – arrive Hami 06:34, transfer to Sandaoling
- Sanhe Hotel (which has internet via ethernet cable in the room, ask reception for the room specific code)

The early morning cloud at Sandaoling cleared to give us a glorious day. Getting black or white smoke is a challenge we are working on. These pictures are from our first day.

Desert scene looking at the line from the Blue Loader.

Coal train from Yijing deep mine.

Ghostly loco JS 6224 attached to the Jordan Spreader

Jordan Spreader No. 2

20 – 23 September – Sandaoling

Today we found the view into the pit and we were suitably impressed!


Michael (seen right) had to leave us at the end of the day to return to Beijing.

Two empty and one full overburden trains

On the final ramp out of the mine

Tipping overburden on tipping line 1 is assisted by a bucket crane.

Jordan Spreader working on tipping line 3

Passenger train approaches Xibolizhan

Like a ship of the desert - Jordan Spreader propelled towards the tipping area.

The youngest and thinnest worker emerges from the smoke box at the workshop

Described as the bathhouse but looking more like the heating plant for the works complex

It has its own short 500mm push system for ash

Looking down into the pit showing bucket excavators loading overburden into 2 rakes on different levels

Locos seen so far:

Working: JS 6224, 6261, 8027, 8040, 8076, 8077, 8078, 8080, 8167, 8188, 8190, 8194, 8195, 8225, 8314, 8358, 8368, SY 1304

In Workshops for repair: JS 8081, 8089, 8173, 8366

Stored locos (in compound near the workshops): JS 5455 with tender off 8027, 6203, 6205, 6206, 6208, 6209, 6210, 6223, 6259, 6430, 6436, 8055, 8189, 8193, 8197, 8221, 8222, 8384, SY 0092, 1593, 1718, 1720

Diesels (working): DF8B 0247, 0248, 0250

Locos not seen: JS 8053, SY 1729, DF8B 0249

Morning 'passenger' departs Dongbolizhan for Xibolizhan around 08:45. This turn no longer goes into the pit but takes loco crews to/from Xibolizhan for shift change. It has a 2 box-car consist and signal wagon for push-pull operation. The cars are equipped with side seating and stoves for winter.

JS on coal empties prepares to back down to the blue loader

SY1304 at Dongbolizhang prior to taking loco coal to Xibolizhan

JS on coal load climbing out of the pit to Kengkongzhan.

Jordan Spreader heading off to work.

Late afternoon at Xibolizhan with JS propelling its load to the tipping point and Jordan Spreader at work on the skyline.

Passenger train loco being prepared for the working to Xibolizhan prior to 08:40 departure.

The best glint we could get.

On our last morning, sunrise from Dongbolizhan with a JS returning from the washery towards the pit. Five minutes earlier and this shot would have been a classic.

24 September - Sandaoling, overnight Hami
25 September (revised itinerary from here)* – charter bus to Yamansu, overnight train to Lanzhou

We arrived at Shankou around 10 am (2 hr drive from Hami) to find a train had worked in from Yamansu around 8 am and returned there with empties shortly afterwards. Driving to Yamansu on now good sealed roads (45 min), we found all 4 locos at the depot: JS 8423 (in steam), 6495, 8152, 8028 (in the back of the depot). JS 8423 was due to work fulls to China Rail tender first around 2 pm but had injector problems and hadn't left by 2:45 when we had to return to Hami for our train.

The line work is due to dieselize in March 2012 (after Chinese New Year?) but 1-2 steam locos will be retained for shunting at Yamansu (and in case there are any teething problems with the diesels, I presume).

Mrs Guli (our local guide) told a story about JS 8423 previously carrying the number JS 9999 (which at one time was the number of the Datong Loco Works pilot - same loco?). Someone wanted JS 9999 so Yamansu switched the number to a dumped loco which they handed over so they could retain (former) JS 9999 as JS 8423.

Loco crew were wearing overalls with Bao Steel in English on the left breast.

Looking towards Shankou with a set of 3 handworked semaphore signals and the loco shed in the background.

Left to right: JS 8423, 8152, 6495

Loco workshop with JS 8028 at the back

600mm push system for coaling the locos

Passive points (with hinged protecting blocks to control direction tub goes), coal tub and coal elevator. Only one tub was seen. This coaling system was still in use.

26 September – arrive Lanzhou, overnight train to Beijing
27 September – arrive Beijing, overnight Beijing

During our free morning in Beijing we visited the new China Railway Museum located in the former Beijing Railway Station (Qiamen subway station line 2, exit at the Beijing station end of the platform. This is a large exhibit of photos and small railway artifacts and gives a good overview of Chinese railway history with some English translations. On exiting, the Bachmann model shop is a special exit left before you reach the street.

28 September – overnight train to Fuxin
29 September – arrive Fuxin

Arriving off the overnight train, I think we all felt a bit jaded. However, we went out to see what Fuxin has to offer. It's not of the same caliber as Sandaoling and it lacks the passenger train into the hills that Baiyin has. However, it has potential. These were my results for the first day.

The busy crossing at Wulong mine

Returning down the spoil tip

Propelling spoil up the tip

View from Pingan crossing looking east towards the power station.

30 September – 1 October Fuxin

On the eve of a national holiday, the mine railway was completely different to yesterday which we have to take as a normal day. Less traffic but still some movements and the challenge was to predict what would happen where. At least 5 trains went up the spoil tip but Wulong Mine was not producing coal.

Part of the morning line up at Pingan crossing

The line up also extends to Wulong yard above the new road underbridge

You may wonder why I include this photo of a coal sludge pit (probably used to produce coal briquettes for winter heating from coal dust). Our youngest member, Boy Wonder, thought he could walk across this to get a better shot. Evidence of his floundering remains 3 hours later (centre right). He spent the time back at the hotel washing out his trousers, socks and shoes while the rest of the group walked up the spoil tip.

SY 0941 undergoing repairs to its right hand lubricator at the depot.

SY 0770 (left) is propelled dead into the works by SY 1319.

On 1 October, neither Wulong Mine nor the spoil tip line were in action. However, we found plenty of morning activity either end of Wulong Yard.

At the Pingan Crossing end of the yard, coal empties head west.

At the power station end, coal empties head east.

The following shots were taken as the sun set (17:15-17:35) at the power station end of Wulong Yard on 1 October.

Locos in use: SY 0941, 0989, 1195, 1319, 1320, 1378, 1395*, 1396, 1397, 1460, 1818

Towed to works (for repair?): SY 0770

* decorated loco, standby at Taiping

2 October - Fuxin, overnight train Beijing

Decorated stand-by loco SY 1395 running with portrait of General Zhu De on the front at the Taiping stabling point.

Spoil tipping resumed on the afternoon of 2 October from distant mines (but not from Wulong Mine).

3 October – arrive Beijing, transfer to Beijing or Beijing Airport hotel for the night

*The reported (final) closure of Xingyang as well as ticketing issues with the October holiday week approaching, means that the final days of the main tour have changed (ending 1 day early) and the post tour starts one day early as well.

You can read more about Sandaoling (including reports as recent as March 2011) at:

For reports on Yamansu see:

For Baiyin see:

For Fuxin see: