|SY1225 propels it's train back towards Mine No.3 in perfect winter conditions on the WuJiu mining railway. 21/02/2017|
|A working TU154 at Beijing Nanyuan airport.|
We've not left much time to hang around at the terminal, but I do get a chance to snap another TU-154 taxing across the tarmac- would we be travelling on one of these? It's a nervously exciting prospect, especially as the Wikipedia page tells us that all the remaining aircraft in Russia were grounded in 2016 following a fatal crash.
|SY1225 heads back to the comparative warmth of the depot building, it is 11:30 and it's duties are finished for the day.|
|Stopping for dinner- it felt as cold as it looks. The temperature|
was around -20 degrees, ice in your nostrils sort of cold.
Half an hour out from the restaurant stop we encountered our next obstacle to reaching WuJiu, Police cars and a large lorry block the icy road in front of us. Fortunately it wasn't a security road block, the reason quickly becoming obvious when we saw a very large crane set up on the road lifting part of a lorry out of the roadside ditch! Clearly quite an operation and despite the further delay we are all quietly pleased that our bus driver despite taking us to the 'wrong WuJiu' was in fact quite good and did not show many of the traits of typical Chinese 'ambitious' driving on these icy roads.
|Recovery of a ditched lorry delays our|
journey, but does provide a toilet stop!
|SY1134 and SY1546 are also on shed. Both locos are not being|
used but appear to be in excellent condition.
|Our group stops for a photoshoot with the staff at breakfast.|
Thanks to Bernd for taking this one.
|DF4DD 0288 emerges from the shed and stands in the sun in|
the station area at WuJiu. It had no work on this day.
Finally some railway action- but it would be the railways DF4DD 0288 that was first to emerge from the shed. It was with much anticipation that we put on our gloves and finally walked through the door of the engine shed. Inside was what we had travelled so far for- three steam locomotives; SY1546, SY1134 and SY1225. The first two lay cold, but in excellent condition, while SY1225 was being prepared for the days use.
|The crew of SY1225 build up steam.|
Photography was challenging in the cramped shed but it was wonderful to just stand and watch as life, and steam, began to breath through SY1225. From the locos light warmth it took only a short time until steam was billowing into the extractor above the chimney. Before long the shed doors opened, bathing us in light and allowing the SY to back out of the shed into the sunlight, round the corner and onto the waiting wagons.
|Diesel meets steam at WuJiu. The diesel now handles all|
trains between WuJiu and the China Rail connection at
Metianzhen since the steam locomotives were banned
from CNR metals. Steam now works just to the mines.
|Our train steams between Mine No.3 and WuJiu town.|
|SY1225 starts away from Mine No.1 having been coaled.|
|Time for bed- SY1225 heads into the shed, it's duties finished by 11:30. Some days there is no steam at all and others maybe only one train during the night. The lines diesel could probably handle all the work but steam lives on as it is cheaper.|
|HXn50001, the first of it's class on the main line near Hailar.|
|Pot noodles at stupid o'clock at Halair|
Airport waiting for our delayed flight.
|Shoveling the ash left by SY1225- will this be the last smoke|
of real Chinese steam that I will ever witness?
It had been quite a quest for some of the last steam in China but despite all the setbacks we all felt we had enjoyed something rather special, perhaps for the last time.
|SY1225 sends plooms of smoke into the sky as it hauls it's train between Mine No.3 and the town of WuJiu. 21/02/2017|