Photos will appear below to illustrate the reports or on separate pages with links below.
Tour started 4 April and ends 25 April - daily reports are now being added when possible. Now only 2 days of the tour remaining.
A photo that most people will be happy to see - a Shibanxi C2 - probably No. 17 on a one coach tourist train returning to Shibanxi from Sanjin to stable overnight.
One that won't go down well! The new diesel pretender on the last 4-coach passenger train of the day. We will need to see what turns it does! It had only been reported on tourist trains until now!
To see more Shibanxi photos, click here.
Comments on Shibanxi and the advent of the diesel pretender

I'll be honest. The new diesel pretender does have a negative impact on Shibanxi from a steam fan's point of view and it gives one further reason not to return.

In the main tourist season, the diesel goes up with the first tourist train, pilots it to Xianrenjiao, then comes off and drops back to Mifeng. The flower curve has lost all of its flowers so no runpast is held there. Our tourist train had a longish stop at Mifeng. The pattern of whistling observed at Caiziba suggests that some tourist trains may be doing a runpast at Eagle Beak Tunnel. The diesel goes on the second tourist train at Mifeng and pilots it to Xianrenjiao. If the cross with the first tourist train returning is here, it goes on the front to pilot it back to Mifeng. If the first passenger is crossed at Caiziba, the diesel comes off at Xianrenjiao and goes back to Mifeng light engine. The cycle continues all day with the diesel on the front of all tourist trains on the uphill chimney first section. The diesel returns with the last tourist train all the way to Sanjin.

This means that the chimney-first uphill section from Mifeng to Xianrenjiao is steam only without diesel only for the early morning and late afternoon passenger trains and leaves the steam enthusiast looking for 'good' chimney-first downhill and tender-first workings. In addition, the number 1 attraction of Shibanxi may be the steam hauled local passenger trains. The mid-day working of these was cancelled from 26 February until further notice and may resume in May. At the same time, it was stated that the late afternoon passenger working may be altered by the late afternoon tourist trains as required. So a minimal steam local passenger service being pushed to the margins of daylight and the loss of uphill chimney-first tourist trains without a diesel pilot has a significant impact.

Looking for any positives, there are still sections where steam runs without a diesel pilot and there is a bonus of uphill tender first double-headed steam from Sanjin to Mifeng and chimney-first downhill doubled-headed steam returns and the local passenger trains don't have a diesel pilot. Having said that on our first evening the late afternoon passenger was hauled by the diesel and this rather suggests that out of the tourist seasons, the diesel might do most of the turns on the 2-3 daily passenger trains leaving steam to haul the short tourist trains.

Bagou and Sanjin and the places in between still have a rural, traditional Chinese charm. Long may that last in the face of expanding roads and the increasing numbers of Chinese tourists from the big cities.

Is it too soon to close the book on Shibanxi? For some people 'yes', some have already done that. For others 'maybe not quite yet'. I won't rule out further visits but will be guided by whether potential tour participants also feel they would like to visit as part of a China rail tour. You can now fly 3-times-a-week Chengdu - Hami - Chengdu making a Shibanxi and Sandaoling combination more practical. I haven't yet worked out whether a future Shibanxi visit should be in or out of the tourist season. I don't yet know which of these the diesel will have a more disastrous effect on. My guess is probably out-of-season but I could be wrong there.

Along with the diesel, we have seen 5 steam in use 8, 16, 17, 18 & 19. That leaves 7, 9, 10 & 14 so far unaccounted but see report of shed visit left.
A Diesel-Free Day at Mifeng, click here.
Photos of the Jincheng Paper Factory Railway
Nanpiao narrow & standard gauge coal railway photos
Photos of the Dongguozhen Reed Railway
25 April 2018
Tour Completed.
Linesiding with John
China Narrow Gauge Tour
April 2018
Photos of the Fuzhouwan Salt Railway
Photos of the Wudao Salt Railway
Shibanxi - one diesel is in use and is used to pilot tourist trains of 4-5 coaches. With less the steam loco is allowed to handle the train unaided. That suggests that low season the diesel will be used on the local passenger trains and in the high season as tourist train pilot Mifeng - Xianrenjiao.
Nanpiao - the ng coal line at Zaojiatun is still in use as well as an internal mine system at Linghe.
Jincheng - the paper factory is still using reeds and transfers these from the reed yard to the factory yard several times a day. They have a workable 1930s Kato loco left over from the Japanese colonial era. Security - at least 2 of the guards - remains as offensive as ever.
Dongguozhen - the paper factory and reed railway has entered a shutdown period. We found one works train on the south line. The G1 expressway is crossed by two lines north of the factory.
Fuzhouwan - it appeared to be low season with just one salt train and one pw train out. They were loading salt relatively close to the start of the salt fields which allowed us to see the process of vacuuming up the salt from the pans. We are allowed to visit the depot and workshops.
Wudao - the salt fields to the west and north were both being worked but we found access to the west fields impossible while we were able to drive a long way out into the fields to the north. Again a depot visit was possible but this time with a ban on phography. A works train was working in the area of No. 4 work station in the north salt field and we caught this leaving the works around 08:00 shift change and returning around 16:00 shift change.
Mengxi Limestone Railway - on the day we arrived, the cement factory furnance had a problem and all production stopped. So far only works trains are running.
Wujiu - after a 15 day holiday, SY 1134 was in steam and should have worked next day to the new mine but China Rail didn't supply the empties for that to happen...
Nigel's Coal Mine Mystery Tour, click here.
With one quick visit to see standard gauge steam at Wujiu
Photos of the Wujiu Coal Railway SY
Photos of the Wujiu Coal Railway SY
Photos of the Mengxi Limestone Railway and additional Shibanxi photos to follow shortly
China NG 2018
Planned Itinerary
& Actual Activity

Part 1 Shibanxi Narrow Gauge - Steam Passenger & Tourist Trains

Wednesday 4 April

Around lunchtime - arrive Chengdu Airport - meet up - transfer to Sanjin on the Jiayang Coal Railway

All smoothly accomplished and we were in Sanjin before 17:00. The Chengdu temperature of 33 degrees shocked even the locals and Sanjin is almost as hot. See photos and captions right for the news of the two trains seen so far.

Thursday 5 April
Tourist Train or lunchtime passenger train to Bagou, Bagou walking tour, walk to Jiaoba to see late afternoon trains.

Woke up to rain and adjusted our plans slightly for an 11:00 tourist train rather than the 9:00 as the rain is due to ease later. The first passenger was steam and prior to 9:00 the pretender plus C2 No. 16 came from Shibanxi without any stock.

Nigel comments: Just investigated - diesel engine is definitely the "tender!" The 09.00 was 2 coaches with No. 16, diesel left here.

I wonder what we will have on the 11:00? I have now started a separate photo page - see opposite - for Shibanxi.

Friday 6 April
Morning passenger to Mifeng reversal station, walk back to Bagou
Plan B if diesel is active: walk to Caiziba, lunch, lunchtime passenger photo at Caiziba, walk or ride back to Bagou

Along with the diesel, we have seen 5 steam in use 8, 16, 17, 18 & 19. That leaves 7, 9, 10 & 14 so far unaccounted for although they may be in bits or non-runners in the shed. No. 9 is probably the loco at Mifeng. The group hope to get a visit to the shed to find out. See overall comments about the effect of the diesel pretender opposite.

Saturday 7 April
Morning passenger to Sanjin, visit to Sanjin coal mine railway stores area, mine canteen lunch, private transport by road to coal mine back entrance, spoil tipping area (battery electric operation), then Mifeng, Caiziba or Shanrenjiao for afternoon trains on the Jiayang Coal Railway prior to return to Sanjin by car, train or walking.

Shixi shed visit

First road - right, short road - loco reported to be No. 14 but no ID no tender

Second road - No. 10 loco and tender, buried at the back tender off 7, loco with no ID very  derelict

Outside towards power station, loco No. 7 and tender No. ID assorted wagons and the 3 electrics

Total 4 locos, 2 tenders. Was No. 7 tender an 8 wheel or 6 wheel tender? I'm not sure.

The missing locos along with the working locos are 7, 9, 10 and 14 but finding 4 locos (only 2 numbered) doesn't mean that we have seen these. There is a No. 9 loco and a spare boiler at Mifeng.

In service, No. 8 on the morning pax, 16 - 19 on tourist trains, joined by No. 8 until it returned to shed around 14:00.

The supervisor says 2 more diesels on order! That will be the final nail in the coffin.

Sunday 8 April
Morning transfer to Mifeng station in the Doctor's car ahead of the first passenger train, breakfast at Mifeng, linesiding either side of Mifeng, car, train or walk back to Sanjin

A diesel free day, see separate report - click link to the right. I spent the whole day either side of Mifeng mainly above Mifeng for the now rare uphill, chimney-first trains without a diesel pilot. The rest of the group did a tour around the isolated coal mines from Sanjing to Huangdan and Mamiao. You can read the report called 'Nigel's Coal Mine Mystery Tour' by clicking the link in the right column.

Monday 9 April
Morning walk, passenger train or public bus to Shibanxi terminus to look at the yard and depot and workshop (if available). Return to Sanjin (walk or bus) to checkout, have lunch and early afternoon transfer to Chengdu.

Diesel on the morning passenger but then steam on the tourist trains with 8, 16 & 19 in use. Compared with 2011, No.8 is now a conventional Jiayang loco. In 2011, it sported sloping steps at the front and an extended pilot beam just like No. 18 today. What does that mean about the 'real' identity of No. 8 (and the other locos)?

Diesel observations

Wed 4
Diesel seen on the afternoon passenger train. No other trains seen due to 17:00 arrival.

Thu 5
Diesel on tourist train pilot duties Mifeng - Xianrenjiao all day (observed or assumed)

Fri 6
Diesel on tourist train pilot duties Mifeng - Xianrenjiao all day (observed or assumed)

Sat 7
Diesel on tourist train pilot duties Mifeng - Xianrenjiao all day (observed or assumed) except that the short 16:00 did not require a pilot and the diesel did not work the passenger either

Sun 8
No diesel in use and only 4 steam. Two tourist train workings cancelled (12:00 and 16:00). A quiet day for tourists.

Mon 9
Diesel on the morning passenger but steam used on all tourist trains seen.

It may be premature to assume that mega-tourist days with all 5 coach trains sees the diesel in use all day but light tourist days see the diesel parked. However, this is what was observed. More observations required outside the main tourist seasons. And why did the diesel go on the evening passenger train on Wednesday? Future visitors should watch out for the arrival of 2 more diesels!

Here's another thought. When no 5 coach trains are due, the diesel works the local passenger and the steam locos haul the 1-4 coach trains. Tourists pay a lot for their ride and expect a steam loco. When used as a pilot, the diesel is almost snuck onto and off the train and there is always a steam loco as the train loco throughout. The railway can explain the diesel pilot as a safety and a timekeeping necessity for longer trains. The local passengers don't care what they are hauled by as long as the train runs on time. They pay peanuts so can't be choosy.

Part 2 Liaoning Narrow Gauge - Coal, Reed, Salt

Tuesday 10 April
Fly Chengdu - Shenyang to start Part 2. Transfer to Nanpiao.

Our flight to Shenyang diverted to Chanchung due to a thuderstorm. About 4 hours later the plane was allowed to fly to Shenyang. A long day.

Wednesday 11 April
Day at Nanpiao primarily to view the one ng coal line which serve the north branch of this sg coal line. Overnight in the Nanpiao area.

Our local guides were from the Nanpiao Railway which meant they were good at getting us around the depot at Xiamiaozi and a ride on the passenger from Linghe back there on the northern branch but less useful for the narrow guage at Zaojiatun and Linghe. Locos nos. 2 and 3 were in use at Zaojiatun. Coal trains on the narrow gauge didn't start until 10 and finished around 11:15. It restarted around 14:00 and continued for a longer period but the lighting was better in the morning. Prior to 10 am, we found another loco in use for track repair. Health and safety kept us clear of that loco - they were welding the rail using power from the overhead wire so we couldn't get the number. However, I believe it is an additional loco - not 2 or 3.

We had a sneeky peek at the narrow gauge at Linghe mine before being invited to leave. The group found one loco - an overhead electric. I should have a photo to show later.

The workers' passenger train left Linghe at 17:05 3 coaches behind DF5 1357. It was a slow trundle back to Xiamiaozi. The Railway still has 2 BJ diesels stored in the depot. They hope to sell these to museums. The SY have all been cut up for scrap. The line has 7 DF5 locos for all work and have bought 3 DF5 engines to recondition and use to keep these running.

Photos now available to the right. Click on the text to view.

Thursday 12 April
Transfer to Linghai and afternoon exploration of the reed railway (if time).

We visited the Jincheng Paper Factory before lunch and security was as strict and offensive as ever. We retired for lunch and paid a visit to the former Japanese-built station on the narrow gauge reed railway (now lifted) at Beizhangcun. By this time our guide was able to arrange access to see the shed and the locos on shed. Access to the rest of the site was not allowed. From the level crossing near the factory, we saw 2 train movement prior to 15:00 and then it was all over for the day. The railway has kept 7 locos out of a fleet of 24 (23 line locos + one small shunter). One of these locos is a Japanese Kato (No. 3, reportedly from 1932 when the factory was built by the Japanese). It's in working order and needed only a battery to be used. It was dragged out by No. 8. We also saw 15, 16 & 23. Apart from No. 3, all the locos we saw are the 0-8-0 jackshaft drive type with rods connecting the wheels of type JM80. On my previous visits when the line extended to the reed beds, two types of loco were in use. The railway now serves just the reed stockpile and the nearby mill and they now appear to have standardized on just one.

Photos now available to the right. Click on the text to view.

Friday 13 April
Explore the reed railway, overnight Linghai

We were out early to visit Dongguozhen - the location for the surviving reed railway. Our guide had already been told that the paper mill had shutdown for maintenance but we were hoping for something on the line and we got lucky with loco No. 9 with a track repair gang that headed south east towards the end of the line. We gave chase over a really bed dirt road and had to give up when we got to a bridge being reconstructed. Back at Dongguozhen, we went to see security at the mill but we were not allowed to visit the depot 'because it was closed with no workers present'. We tried a regular road to get round to find the train and were sucessful. The workers were working on track joint repair with a wagon and a gas torch and the diesel catching them up from time to time as they moved forward. The driver would switch off the engine between the short moves and eventually it wouldn't start. The track crew continued and were getting further ahead before they headed off to some building for lunch. With a dead diesel, we headed for lunch ourselves and decided to go to Jincheng in the afternoon. There we saw a propelling move of reeds into the mill yard in light rain before the diesel No. 8 retired to the depot. We gave up and had a second early finish in a row.

Photos of No. 9 at Dongguozhen to follow.

Saturday 14 April
Explore the reed railway, overnight Linghai or more likely Transfer to Pulandian

It took just over 4 hours to drive from Linghai to our hotel in Xietun which is next to Wudao and close to Fuzhouwan. As we can't meet up with our local guide until Sunday afternoon, we conducted an intial exploration based on my knowledge and maps by Ichiro Junpu. We started off at Fuzhouwan as I know that better but found that work had stopped on Friday due to rain and wasn't due to resume until Sunday. There is a boarded up control tower near the depot area and the steps to the second floor give a great view over the depot compound wall with most locos inside the shed, one loco outside and lots of dumped stock from both Fuzhouwan and Wudao opposite the tower. After an initial explore for the group and a chat to the depot gate guard who said that crews would turn up at 07:00 on Sunday to work the line to the south west, we drove to Wudao. Although access was not possible to the salt yard, a low wall on the east side allows you to see quite a lot. We then drove north to explore the No. 8 salt field just missing a loaded salt train arriving from there. We reached the limit of the paved roads overlooking a photogenic low bridge with no superstructure with water and little land beyond. Getting any closer to the salt field will mean driving a dirt track across a causeway - something we may do when we have chatted to the local guide. After scanning the horizon with telephotos and just as we were giving up with the sun setting, our driver spotted an empty train coming from Wudao and we got our first moving salt train on the bridge. We considered our initial exploration a success and will be off to try to find the train leaving Fuzhowan in the morning.

Sunday 15 April
Transfer to Pulandian if we have not done so already. If time, initial exploration of the 2 salt railways west of Pulandian.
Day at Fuzhouwan with a brief end of day visit to Wudao.

We had a successful day but the sunshine throughout was tempered by a strong wind. We saw two loaded salt trains move at Fuzhouwan and one empty train leave to No. 8 Salt Field at Wudao. We also managed to arrange a depot and works visit at Fuzhouwan. There was also a works train out near the depot and on the siding to the salt factory. Overall the action was a bit slow with only one salt loading point in action. Loco No. 6 was in charge of the salt trains and took them to the salt store beyond the depot to unload.

The railway at Fuzhouwan has around 12 working locos but the yard holds a variety of locos not in use in other paint schemes:
Fuzhouwan loco fleet
reported to be 12 locos, colour scheme cream over red
247 - 01, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10
No. 6 is flat ended while No. 10 has curved ends.
One loco seen in salt works unnumbered but with a yellow over red paint scheme

09 along with loco yellow roof, white body, twin red stripe, red bottom x 1 seem stored outside in depot yard
07 in workshop

stored line - yellow over red x 2, white, single red stripe, blue lower strip x 1, , white roof, white, twin red stripe, blue bottom x 1

Fuzhouwan has two steam outline diesels which are used on a tourist operation to Sea Salt World which reportedly has a beach but opens only from July when the sea temperature warms up. The first steam outline diesel without a tender is probably in reserve while the second has a tender similar to the loco at Shibanxi. They have the maker's names Brother Fun Trains China and Tiajin Brother Tourist Train Co. Ltd. which I would take to be the same company.

You can find photos to the right - click on Fuzhouwan Salt Railway.

Monday 16 April
Explore the 2 salt railways

We started off at the depot for the Wudao system. We were allowed to look around but not to take photos. However, someone has provided some photos which I plan to add to the photo pages. The explanation for the photo ban was that 2 Japanese had been caught and arrested for trying to get round without permission. That and a worry that someone might be trying some industrial espionage to get at the salt production secrets. The manager said that 4 locos out of a working fleet of 12 were out today and we eventually found 3 of them. A Kato frame which has had the builder's detailed chiseled off (because of bad memories of the Japanese colonial era, I'm told) was outside the shed. We then explored the west salt field but found all of the access routes I was aware of either block or not suitable for our bus. At the end of the system, the company has given up its railway and after a new sg line on an embankment without an underpass for the ng, there was no more track. We gave up on this but went back to the junction at the north end of the works where the north and the west lines split hoping for loaded salt trains returning. By 12:30, we had seen loco No. 1 from the north line arrive with salt, collect some empties, propel the loaded train to the unloader and depart with the empties. No sign of anything from the west.

When we arrive back after lunch, it was clear that trains had recently arrived from both directions. We saw No. 1 leave to the north and No. 2 leave to the west. Next we headed out on the north causeway and drove past all 7 crew stations on the reclaimed land in the bay before the road got worse at a long bridge. On the way at crew station 4, No. 9 was parked with a work crew extending a siding. From beyond crew station 7, we spotted No. 1 and its train leaving the loading point and photted it on the bridge. There was no chance of chasing as the loco can run much faster than our bus on the reclaimed land. On the way back just before 16:00 (crew change), we passed No. 9 making up its train to return to Wudao. We continued ahead and got it on the causeway. A longish wait until around 17:00, saw No. 1 bring out a train of empties across the causeway after shift change. That was the end of a pretty successful the day.

Tuesday 17 April
Explore the 2 salt railways.

For our last day, we had visits to both railways but concentrated on Wudao. We started off at the north end of the yard for the 08:00 shift change and caught a salt train coming in from the north and the engineers' train leaving for No. 4 crew station followed by an empty salt train to the north. We tried to access the northern salt field over a different causeway via the expressway and the Xietun interchange and managed to beat the salt empties to the water column and long bridge after No. 7 crew station. It then headed off into the distance where our bus couldn't go and as it was sitting around waiting for the salt loading to complete, we drove back to Xietun to look at an amazing, huge, unfinished development called Sweetland which will be able to house thousands of Chinese tourists if they can be persuaded to come. As part of the development, they are building a 600mm(?) railway which just links 2 points at the moment but is apparently due to make a 2 km circuit. There was no sign of the loco and coaches they plan to use. It can be found to the north east of the complex near the expressway. Sweetland really is the most surreal development and must have cost vast sums of money to get it to this half-finished stage. Will the tourist ever come? Will the half-built development ever be complete? Will the empty shops be occupied? I'd be interested to hear about this from any future visitors. Having struggled to get out of this walled complex c. 16 square km, we went to Fuzhouwan for lunch and then spend about an hour near the depot where we saw two movements including the works train which we later saw at the salt loading point in the salt field. We returned to the north end of Wudao yard around 15:30 to catch an incoming salt train from the west and the returning engineers' train. To complete our stay in Xietun, we celebrated John K's birthday a couple of days early as two of the group, Nigel and Cliff leave us tomorrow morning.

Wednesday 18 April
Day train to Hailar including overnight on the train arriving next day

2623 08:53 Pulandian 07:14+1 Hailaer

Part 3 Inner Mongolia Narrow Gauge - Hailar Mengxi Cement Railway

Thursday 19 April
Arrive Hailar
Initial exploration of the Mengxi Cement Railway

We waited at the level crossing near the quarry late morning but with no action we drove up to the quarry to find that the furnance at the cement factory was out of action and no production possible until it was repaired. This had led to a cessation of limestone trains after one working earlier in the morning. The only train in action was the works trains which we found out was at Shiyi, the passing station, and would return to the factory at 14:00. We drove round to catch this.

The system dates from the 1980s and the first locos were four JMY80 type of which one still works the works train. There is a turntable at the quarry designed for these but now isolated and replaced by a Y (triangle) to accommodate the longer locos used on limestone trains now. The quarry, line and factory have a planned life of around 2 more years.

The JMY80 on the works train is running as a 2-4-0 jackshaft drive arrangement with its con rods and wheel balances removed from the front axle. The train consisted on the loco, a home-made bogey well wagon and a crew car based on a de-engined rail bus which once operated a workers' passenger train to the quarry. It still takes 30 minutes to drive from the factory to the quarry by road but the quarry workers now have cars or motorcycles.

Friday 20 April
Explore the Mengxi Cement Railway
& transfer to Wujiu

With only the works train running at Mengxi, we had decided yesterday to see the 08:00 works train departure (normally around 06:30 when ordinary trains are running) and then move to Wujiu. Having decided that, we were then told that all 3 SY at Wujiu were dead on shed. So we amended the plan to also walk to see the works train (beyond Shiyi and over the bridge)  and then walk through to the crossing near the quarry and move on to Wujiu after lunch. We arrived at Wujiu at 16:30 (a smooth 1 hour and a 2 hour boneshaker) to find that a 15 day holiday had just ended and SY 1134 had been steamed and was just about to leave the ash disposal area and go back to the shed for end of shift. It's due to work empties to the 'New Victory' mine in the morning (as long as China Rail delivers some empties). We were able to see all 3 SY on shed SY 1134, 1225 and 1546. SY 1546 looks the most likely second loco if they need to rotate the working loco. SY 1225 has some bits missing. We also checked out the narrow gauge overhead electric that used to connect No. 3 mine with the standard gauge at No. 2 mine. This was lifted around 2 years ago and the coal now goes out by conveyor - most likely to the new mine. We are staying overnight at Wu'erqihan in the cleanest hotel of the trip. No reason not to stay here or to stay at Yakeshi or day trip from Hailar. The road from Yakeshi to Wujiu is bad, at least with out totally inappropriate 25 seater bus for 8 people. We believe that the steaming of SY 1134 today for work tomorrow is totally 'real'. At least we haven't been asked to pay for it yet!

Photos will follow when we see the Wujiu SY work tomorrow and normal limestone trains running at Mengxi.

Saturday 21 April
Morning at Wujiu and then Explore the Mengxi Cement Railway

Much like many visitors' experience at Wujiu, we turned up at the depot for 08:00 to find no empty wagons and that not only was there no work for the SY, there was no work for the diesel either. They moved the diesel out of the shed for us but wouldn't tow out the SY which was receiving some minor servicing. With some regret we left after hearing that the Mengxi Limestone Railway had resumed operation with 6 trains due today. We had seen the SY outside the shed, seen the loco move and got some very atmospheric shots of it on shed last night and this morning. Wujiu and its logging sister town of Wu'erqhihan will be really nice as spring comes on and I can imagine enjoying a stay in future. However, when steam ends here, the chance of that happening will be remote. We drove back to Hailar and to the crossing at the quarry end of the Mengxi line and saw 3 empty/full movements before 16:00 in perfect light although the sun angles will be better in the morning.

Sunday 22 April
Explore the Mengxi Cement Railway.

Today was a proper 'Linesiding with John' day in beautiful sunny weather with 6 trains running. We started at the crossing below the quarry and walked down past the pumping station to the cutting and back to the crossing for lunch. We saw 3 pairs of trains. After a decent lunch in a nearby village, we set off again past the pumping station and the cutting to the big bridge over the Hailar River and walked out past Shiyi to our bus on the overbridge. The rail distance was 12 km or so but the step count on someone's mobile phone app put the day's walking distance into the low 20 kms! On the afternoon walk we saw 2 pairs of trains so we had missed one return working by going to lunch.

Monday 23 April
An extra day in this area to look in on the sg Wujiu coal mine system with one working SY
Explore the Mengxi Cement Railway.

We started at the high road overbridge at the south end of the scenic section of the line and drove/walked to the big river bridge to see two trains in convoy head for the quarry around 08:45 followed by the works train which waited at Shiyi until both had returned around 11:00. The first train was headed by 008, a new loco for us. The second train was hauled by 007. The works train then took possession of the Shiyi - Quarry section and we headed for lunch after driving part way round to the north end of the line. We were aware from our local guide Mr Bai that there would be 6 pairs of trains today. After lunch, 007 was just arriving at the quarry and 008 was almost loaded and ready to go. Until this point the weather had been perfect but a strong, warm wind got up and spoiled the final video shots on the open grassland from the quarry down to the crossing village. We called it a day around 16:00 when the last train of the day headed up to the quarry. We all must have been too tired to wait for the last loaded train even though the line was getting to be nice but with the wind still strong. So ended our last full day with trains of the tour.

Photos will follow soon now that I have time to sort out a good selection.

Tuesday 24 April
Early morning visit rail exit from cement factory for shots of first trains departing for the quarry. Fly back to Beijing

We were at the rail entrance to the cement factory around 08:00 and around 08:30 things began to happen with both locos 006 and 007 attaching to empties and heading off followed closely by the works train. With all trains out on the line, we headed back to the hotel to check out and fly to Beijing. As I write this, I am at Amsterdam Airport waiting for my flight back to the UK. Tour over. I'll add more photos when I get home and write a considered summary of the tour highlights and lowlights. After chatting to Jun in Beijing, I also expect to offer a December tour to Sandaoling and a further China narrow gauge tour in April or May visiting primarily lines not visited on this trip. Email me if you are interested in either tour and want to be involved in the initial planning and make sure that the tours give you what you want.

Wednesday 25 April
Fly home or extra time in Beijing

Tour Over!

John Raby
22 March 2018