Tuesday, 28 February 2017
'I have no intentions to return to Chinese steam any time soon but it is certainly not beyond my imagination that I may end up out here again' - These were the words at the end of my report on the Sandaoling Mining Railway back in early 2014. Very close to the end of 2016 I still had no real intention to travel back to China, but somehow I found myself booking flights in January 2017 and in February after a quick visit to the visa office in London I was back in China. Only two steam locations were visited this time, the decline naturally having continued since my last visit. Full reports on the almost Siberian WiJiu and the worlds last steam mecca at Sandaoling will follow. In the mean time I leave you with a very typical Chinese train of old, Working train 4471 the 11:10 from Changping Bei to Chengde around 15 minutes into it's journey behind DF4 0017 (This is a DF4C and not the original DF4 0017!) at Guan Gau. I've always liked the DF4's and it was nice to be able to find an excuse for a ride behind one during our time in China. These locos are still very common though with the seemingly unstoppable electrification of non-High Speed routes many duties are being replaced by electric traction.
Thursday, 2 February 2017
|BNSF GE ES44DC 7426 leads a pair of Dash 9's and finally another ES44DC around the world famous Tehachapi Loop.|
|BNSF 7679 and 8517 role towards Mojave having crossed the Tehachapi pass|
early in the morning of the 5th October 2016.
|UP GE ES44AC 7500 leads an empty intermodal train through|
the Warren Curve as it heads south towards Mojave. 5/10/2016
Our next location was the Warren curve, which involved an interesting 'off road' drive up onto the hills. We'd probably have never found the location were it not for the map that Darryl has produced detailing exactly which tracks we should follow and what landmarks we should encounter on the way. We got the poor car almost the whole way to the spot we wanted when we decided we'd be better continuing on foot. Once out of the car we quickly changed our minds- the wind was unbelievable! No wonder the hills opposite us were adorned with a great number of wind turbines. James inched the car forward and we eventually had some shelter within which to wait for the trains amongst the Josuah trees.
|A trio of BNSF Dash 9's lead a loaded train around the Warren curve. Only the wind turbines give any suggestion of how windy this place really was!|
|BNSF 7426 leads a train out of the tunnel #9 on the loop.|
|A Union Pacific consist is headed by GE ES44AC 7676 as it|
approaches the Tehachapi loop. This slightly restricted view is
from the same viewpoint as used for the loop itself.
|Union Pacific's SD60 6037 leads a northbound train towards tunnel #2. The|
wagons in the far distance are from a southbound train which has just passed
in the loop. The railway in the Caliente area twists around the mountains.
|UP ES44AC 5521 leads 9031 (which I can't identify!) towards tunnel #2 with a southbound intermodal. 5/10/2016.|
For this train we climbed the bank where the Bealeville road passes under the railway just before the Caliente grade crossing. It wasn't a bad shot at all given its hurried nature and we were rewarded with UP SD40M-2 2667 leading three classmates over the bridge and up the grade. Finally the Tehachapi loop seemed to be getting busy and the longing to chase this train back to the loop was huge- but we had already used most of the contingency time in our drive and dinner or no dinner it was time to start the long drive south.
We came away with some good shots, but more time is definitely required to do this pass justice. Tehachapi is somewhere that photographers will come back to again and again and still find different angles and having got our bearings I'm sure a longer stay will be on the cards next time. Whenever next time may prove to be! Thanks again to Darryl for the useful guide- we probably wouldn't have got half the shots without it.
|The final shot on the Tehachapi pass, on the Bealeville Road with Union Pacific GE ET44 2667 leading a mixed southbound trains. It had just left the sidings at Caliente and is climbing as it heads south.|