Ben Kletzer reports from Yunann in China:
I have just arrivged in Kaiyuan to photograph the remnants of the Yunnan meter gauge. I spent half of a day in Hekou before taking a bus here and found some disturbing sights there. First the tracks to the border were covered in rust. The railroad yard was completely empty and all tracks were very rusty as well. The control office was empty (with no power). Overall the yard looked like it hasn’t been used in a few weeks or maybe months.
Kaiyuan is a different story. I spent an hour talking to the station master (who was very helpful) and he reports the following. The only good news is that there is still a lot of traffic between Xiaolongtan and Kaiyuan. Now for the bad news: the branch to Shiping has not run in months and replaced by a standard gauge line (visible from the Hekou-Kaiyuan highway). The branch to Mengzi sees two trains a day but this service was cease on April 28th, replaced by trucks hauling freight to the standard gauge line near Shiping. I was shocked by this date but he was very sure of it! There is still one or two trains south on the mainline towards Hekou and Vietnam but he confirmed that there is no regular service to Hekou itself anymore.
I will know more tomorrow when I explore more around here, but everything seems like it is coming to a close. The station master could not give any predictions on the future of the meter gauge past the next month, but he said that next year does not look good.
Die Kohlemine Durdevik hat den eingeschränkten Betrieb wieder intensiviert. Ein Großauftrag aus Slowenien brachte sogar wieder Güterwagen – und somit die Dampflok 62 111 – auf die landschaftlich schöne Strecke zum Staatsbahnhof Zivinice zurück. Die Züge fahren nur sporadisch, etwa ein bis zwei pro Woche.
Mit dem Kraftwerk Tuzla laufen derzeit auch Gespräche. Vielleicht wird man auch wieder per Bahn an das Kraftwerk liefern. Es handelt sich nur um wenige Zugfahrten pro Monat, die geplant sind, aber immerhin …
62 636 ist nicht mehr betriebsfähig. Man hat zwischenzeitlich 62 020, die letzte original amerikanische 62 im Plandienst, von Kakanj angemietet. Aber deren tage sind gezählt. Im August oder September wird die bestellte tschechische Diesellok geliefert, und diese wird die Dampflok ersetzen. Damit müssen wir den Besuchspunkt Breza für die im Herbst 2014 geplante Fahrt streichen. Es wird einsam um die letzten planmäßig und kommerziell eingesetzten Dampflokomotiven Europas.
Coal mine Durdevik
Recently the coal mine in Durdevik re-activated the railway connection to the state railway station in Zivinice. An order from Slovenia made it possible, about one to two trains per week running over the line, hauled by 62 111.
Currently there are talks with the power plant in Tuzla to deliver coal by train. There are chances that they will transport coal by rail. Only a few trains per month, but that’s better than the last two years with no trains at all.
Coal mine Breza
62 636 is not serviceable any more. They rented the last original American-built class 62: 62 020. But the use of steam is coming to an end soon. The mine ordered a new diesel locomotive from the Czech Republik. It should be delivered between August and September 2013. Then steam will be history. I need to cancel the planned visit to Breza on the planned Bosnia tour in 2014 …
Der letzte Teil meines Reiseberichts aus Indien, plus eine Galerie mit über 700 hochauflösenden Bildern:
Indien 2012 – Galerie
The last part of my travelogue from India, plus a gallery containing over 700 high resolution photos:
To the gallery:
India 2012 – Gallery
Enjoy! / Viel Spaß!
Have added galleries featuring King Edward II in blue on the Great Central Railway in March and 1450 and auto-coach on the Severn Valley Railway in April 2013.
See the New Galleries section
Just got an information from Jun that they held a meeting in Sandaoling. New decision is:
Steam at the west end of the pit will be finished in 2015. Not sure yet whether beginning or end of 2015.
Eastern side will remain steam with two to three locomotives.
The planned line to the new mine will be built. It will take about two years to construct the new line. Initially it will be served by seven JS, later by diesel.
New prices for Baiyin: 500 Yuan per person and Fuxin: 600 Yuan per person and day (200 each for stabling point, depot and workshop). Less steam for more money …
Soeben erhalte ich von Jun diese Information über neue Beschlüsse aus Sandaoling:
Der Dampfeinsatz im westlichen Tagebau wird 2015 beendet. Noch ist nicht klar, ob Anfang oder Ende 2015.
Auf der östlichen Seite werden weiterhin zwei bis drei Dampflokomotiven eingesetzt werden.
Die geplante Strecke zur neuen Mine wird nun doch gebaut. Das dauert vsl. zwei Jahre. Anfangs sollen sieben JS dafür vorgehalten werden, später soll die Strecke verdieselt werden.
Neue Preise in Baiyin: 500 Yuan pro Person und Fuxin: 600 Yuan pro Person und Tag (je 200 für Personaleinsatzstelle, Aw und Bw). Weniger Dampf für mehr Geld …
March 30th Diaobingshan (formerly Tiefa) stopped the passenger service to Daqing. This was a steam service until then. Since April 1st they run the Donguangtun passengers (two pairs a day) by steam instead. This line is known as “Faku-line”. It’s the scenic line of the system.
Seit 30. März ist der Personenverkehr auf der Strecke Diaobingshan – Daqing eingestellt. Das war bis zum Schluss die Dampfstrecke von Diaobingshan (früher Tiefa). Siether werden aber die beiden Personenzugpaare auf der landschaftlich schöneren Strecke nach Dongguangtun mit SY gefahren, auch bekannt als “Faku-Strecke”.
by James Waite
The person in charge of the locos is Nigel Day, a talented British steam engineer whose previous appointments include the Snowdon Mountain Railway until about 18 months ago and before that the Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire. Initially he was on a temporary appointment to improve the standard of maintenance and the performance of the locos, something in which he has certainly succeeded. He is very much into radical methods of improving the locos’ efficiency in the Porta and Wardale fashion and has been given a free hand to experiment on no. 3 (Dubs 3730/1898), the black loco which was running on the first day I was there. The latest version of its blast pipe incorporates ideas which Porta had been working on up to the time of his death. This necessitates the wide stovepipe-type chimney in place of the old copper-capped one. Nigel’s current project is to try to replicate its improved performance with the other locos. They currently currently carry an older form of improved draughting of his design while keeping the outisde dimensions of their old chimneys. This design has previously been fitted to all the working locos on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway in Wales in addition to other locos elsewhere. There’s a long and detailed article by Martyn Bane about the work he is doing in the new issue of Locomotives International (no. 84, Spring 2013) available via http://www.locomotivesinternational.co.uk/, one of the most worthwhile and perceptive articles which the magazine has carried for a long time in my view.
The line is adhesion-only for about one third of the route starting at the coastal end and this stretch is usually worked by one of two diesels – narrow gauge versions of the British Railways Drewry/Vulcan Foundry class 04 diesel shunters. Quite a number of these were built for the Tasmanian Government Railway from the late 1940′s onwards and the Mount Lyell company also bought two of them direct from Drewry in the 1950′s. They are both now back on the line having been sold off after it closed in 1963 and work trains from Strahan, the port, as far as the start of the rack section. I started the trip by riding on the train from Strahan having told Nigel that I’d be doing this. I hadn’t expected to be greeted at Dubbil Barril, the changeover point, by Tristan McMahon, the driver, and told that I was invited to make the rest of the journey on the footplate! Quite a trip and it was most impressive that the boiler pressure never fell more than 10 psi below its 200psi max at any stage of the climb to the summit which is nearly 3 miles long. The loco was almost silent when pottering along the level stretches of the line and produced a monumentally sharp bark when climbing the rack. Altogether most impressive – testimony to the success which Nigel has had in improving the loco’s exhaust to enable much more efficient combustion.
The following day no. 1 (Dubs 3369/1896), the light green loco in these photos, was rostered to work the service train as Nigel had called in no. 3 to instal a system for pre-heating the fuel oil. The day started with heavy rain but I took a chance on the clouds clearing to drive up to the only spot on the rack section where there is road access and luckily the sun made a brief appearance to coincide with the train. I’d been told that no. 5 (NBL 24418/1938), the third loco, would probably be making a test run later on as work on servicing its rack mechanism was approaching completion and I might like to make sure I was around the depot at Queenstown to check this out. I duly headed back there to find the loco in steam and was treated to another footplate ride up to the summit of the line at Rinadeena as it made its test run. By now the rain earler in the day had cleared away and the train and the scenery looked magnificent in the late afternoon sunshine.
No. 2 (Dubs 3594/1898), the only other surviving loco, has lived in the Tasmanian Transport Museum at Glenorchy in the northern outskirts of Hobart since the 1970′s and where I called in on my way back to the airport. No. 4 (Dubs 4085/1901), the only other rack loco was used as a stationary boiler at a quarry in Queenstown after the 1963 closure. The quarry was later flooded leaving the loco’s remains submerged under many metres of water. The quarry lies behind what is now the town’s motel where I stayed. I resisted the temptation to dive in to try to find the loco!
Very recently the state government, which owns the railway, has bowed to local pressure and much lobbying from further afield and will fund the salaries of most of the staff staying on in their jobs from May onwards while attempts are made over the Australian winter to find a new operator. The line will still close over the winter, the first time this has happened since it reopened in 2003, but with luck it should see use again rather than closing permanently as seemed likely a few weeks ago. There has been much talk about the track needing major refurbishment. The state government now says it will carry out at least some of this at its own expense. The ride through the verdant rainforest is spectacularly beautiful and it would be a crying shame if this were ever to be lost.
Better than expected: two to three pairs of trains every day, good weather and hard contrasts between iPhone and rusty passenger coaches. They plan to re-open the closed branch line. So far a permit is still compulsory, but I think it will be a free area in a couple of months. The police came once to our group to check our permit.
Regards from Rongshan,
Besser als erwartet: zwei bis drei Zugpaare am Tag, gutes Wetter und harte Kontraste zwischen iPhone und rostigen Personenwagen. Man plant, die geschlossene Zweigstrecke wieder zu eröffnen. Momentan braucht man noch unbedingt eine Genehmigung, aber ich nehme an, dass das bald nicht mehr nötig sein wird. Die Polizei kam einmal zu unserer Gruppe und wollte unsere Genehmigung sehen.
Grüße aus Rongshan,
… and we are there (as expected).
Greetings from China, Olaf
From Hans Schaefer, 15.3.2013
They have two engines: Ol49-59 and 69. Pt 47-65 is in Chabowka for major boiler repair. It will be back this autumn. Both Ol49 used to be reliable, but 59 went to Lesno on Monday for repairs an inspector required to be done. Ol49-69 got a leak out of the right cylinder, a welding job, pluss a flat on the leading axle (they send it to Poznan today by lorry). Howard hopes it will be running again Monday afternoon or Tuesday. I had four trips to and from Poznan this week on the engine.
New is: They park the train in the depot as often as possible, because some youngsters have set one car on fire in the station (at night). And: If you sleep in the depot you are now required to lock the outside door of the house after you.
Wednesday afternoon this week the engine was in too bad a shape (leak), so an ST43 (100, Electroputere 1967) came from Wroclaw to pull and the Ol49 just hanging on heating the train. Same Thursday morning. Ol49-69 was helping to accelerate out of stations, that was it. Thursday afternoon came an SU46 from Wroclaw with electric heating, it pulled the train Thursday and today (Friday).
New today: The SU 46 stopped somewhere near Rakoniewice this morning, there was a minor explosion in the cab and a fire, nobody hurt, but there is no more SU46 pulling the train here. The wreckage was pushed into Rakoniewice by a railcar. Ol49-69 is now in the shed fo repair. It looks like they combine the repair with a washout.
Situation else: Driver Janusz is retired last year but in the depot every noon. He is a good person to hire with his car to drive to Poznan and to chase trains along the line. Four drivers retiring next year. Only two new firemen are under training. AFAIK only 3 drivers pluss the two new firemen are remaining after next year.
Rongshan is back to life. The passenger timetable (see http://www.farrail.com/pages/touren-engl/china-2013-03-Rongshan-prison-railway.php, you need to scroll down) is slightly changed … and at the moment it’s sunny there! The diesels are still in the depot, they’re running with steam.
Rongshan ist wieder zurück im aktiven Leben. Der Personenzugfahrplan hat sich leicht geändert … und derzeit scheint die Sonne dort. Die Dieselloks stehen weiter im Depot, man fährt wieder mit Dampf!
Deutsch weiter unten
Our tour to Rongshan
We’re facing a difficult situation and have no influence on the decisions. The railway was closed several weeks ago and it was said that they’ll re-open after Chinese new year (starts February 10th). The planned re-opening date is the 25th of February. During this period of non-operation the state owned company who operated the prison and the coal mine was to be handed over to a private company. But now the senior management said they’ll make a decision about the opening date after February 25th, indicating that the line will be re-opened later. How late is not clear. It was also said that they’ll not re-open until the process of handing-over the company is finished – and this would be May. In addition the new management didn’t say anything about their idea what they want to do with the two new diesels. Economically the steam locos are cheaper to operate, but a new company may have a different approach.
For the next two weeks there will not happen anything, this is the time of the Chinese New Year break.
As I’m getting cold feet now I developed an emergency plan (see http://www.farrail.com/pages/touren-engl/china-2013-03-Rongshan-prison-railway.php). This plan involves additional foreseeable costs of almost 12,000 Euros which need to be covered by me. After hefty discussions and negotiations the program is confirmed by Xinglongzhen. Xinglongzhen is in my plan for autumn/winter – but the headquarters of forestry administration in Haerbin didn’t decide yet, whether the line will survive after April 2013 – the last logging train will run in April 2013. Xinglongzhen just overhauled their C2 but it looks like they’ll loose their line after the 2012/13 winter logging season and I will need to alter the planned autumn narrow gauge tour.
So far we have no final confirmation from Shibanxi. They offer a freight charter, that’s not the point, but they want to run it without any photo stops. One picture for a pricy charter train is a bit beyond what I think being worth to spend. We’re still discussing this issue and it looks promising that they agree to our plan. From the last conversation it seems to be “only” a matter of price.
In the best case we don’t need the emergency plan, but I can’t promise things beyond my control. The participants will get updates via email.
Unsere Reise nach Rongshan
Wir stehen vor einer schwierigen Situation und haben keine Möglichkeit, die Entscheidungen zu beeinflussen.
Die Bahn von Rongshan ist schon seit einigen Wochen nicht in Betrieb und sollte nach dem Chinesischen Neujahr (Beginn: 10.2.) wieder eröffnet werden. Das geplante Wieder-Eröffnungsdatum ist der 25.2.2013. Während dieser Zeit sollte die Kohlemine samt Eisenbahn an eine private Firma übergeben werden. Aber jetzt teilt uns das Management mit, dass Sie frühestens am 25. Februar eine Entscheidung treffen, wann die Bahn wieder eröffnet werden soll was heißt, sie wird später wieder in Betrieb gehen. Wie spät ist unklar. Von anderer Seite hieß es, man will nicht wieder in Betrieb gehen, bevor die Verhandlungen zwischen Staat (Betreiber des Gefängnisses und der Kohlenmine dortselbst) – und das würde heißen im Mai! Zudem hat sich das neue Management noch nicht dazu geäußert, ob man nicht vielleicht die beiden neuen Dieselloks einsetzen will anstatt der bei Kohleminen eigentlich wirtschaftlicheren Dampflokomotiven.
Die nächsten zwei Wochen wird sich in Richtung Entscheidung überhaupt nichts tun, das chinesische Neujahrsfest hat das Land fest im Griff.
Da ich nun langsam kalte Füße bekomme, habe ich einen Notfallplan ausgearbeitet (siehe http://www.farrail.com/seiten/touren/china-2013-03-Rongshan-Gefaengnisbahn.php). Dieser Plan würde zusätzliche Kosten von fast 12.000 Euro verursachen, die ich aus eigener Tasche zahlen muss.
Nach schwierigen Verhandlungen mit Xinglongzhen hat man dort unseren Plänen zugestimmt. Xinglongzhen ist in meinem Plan für den Herbst/Winter, aber die Forst-Hauptverwaltung teilt uns gerade mit, dass Xinglongzhen die gerade laufende Saison wohl nicht überleben wird. Die Entscheidung wird erst im April, wenn der letzte Holzzug gefahren ist, gemacht. Xinglongzhen hat seine C2 gerade wieder überholt, aber es sieht ganz danach aus, als würden sie jetzt ihre Strecke dazu nach der Holzzugsaison 2012/13 verlieren.
Momentan haben wir noch keine endgültige Bestätigung aus Shibanxi. Dass man einen Charter-Güterzug fahren lassen kann, ist kein Problem, aber man möchte diesen ohne Halt über die Strecke schicken. Ein einziges Bild von einem teuren Charterzug zu machen ist aber etwas, was sich meines Erachtens nicht lohnt. Wir reden noch mit den Entscheidern, und es sieht eher gut aus, das man auf unsere Wünsche eingehen wird. Es hörte sich zum Schluss so an, als wäre es eine Frage des Preises.
Im besten Falle benötigen wir den Notfallplan nicht, aber ich kann nichts versprechen, was sich meiner Kontrolle entzieht.
Durch heftige Regenfälle sind Abschnitte des Gleises im Bereich Baresa – Massawa zerstört worden. Der Wiederaufbau wurde beschlossen, aber die Ausführung kann sich über viele Monate hinziehen.
Die Lage in Asmara ist ruhig, nachdem gestern einige Soldaten mit zwei Panzern das Informationsministerium mit dem Fernsehsender belagert hatten. Schüsse sind nicht gefallen. Wenn Sie dieses Ereignis verpasst haben, informieren Sie sich wahrscheinlich bei den deutschen Medien wie Tagesschau. Vergessen Sie’s, wenn Sie informiert sein wollen, sollten Sie bei Al Jazeera vorbei schauen. Ich bin allerdings nicht sicher, wie lange dieser Link (siehe unten) aktiv bleibt.
Severe rain falls caused rail destructions between Baresa and Massawa. They said they’ll repair it, but it’s unpredictable how many months it will take to recover the whole line.
The situation in Asmara is quiet. Yesterday some soldiers with the help of two tanks lay siege the information ministry and the national broadcast station Eri TV. There was no gunfire or riots. If you missed this development you probably rely on the news of your local broadcast stations. You should have a look at Al Jazeera to stay informed. I’M not sure for how long this link will work:
I got this from Thomas Tedros:
The railway line from Massawa up to Baresa is destroyed due to a heavy flood. There was a heavy rain around Massawa and destroyed many houses. 15 people died as a result and the Rail ways line is washed out. The ER checked the line and confirmed the line is fine up to Baresa but the are not sure down from there. They are planning to rebuild it again but they are not sure how long it is gonna take.
Regards from Chittagong,
Still Alive: Bangladesh’s oldies
The class MEG 11 (General Motors 1953 – 1956) is still in use. We saw three different locos so far. They run the daily container train from Dhaka to Chittagong and back. According to the timetable it should leave Dhaka at 11, but today they told us 13.00 hrs. And so it did: 13.20 MEG 11 2020 passed Dhaka city.
Immer noch am Leben: Die Methusalems von Bangladesch
Die Reihe MEG 11 (General Motors 1953 – 1956) ist immer noch im Einsatz. Bislang sahen wir 3 verschiedene Lokomotiven dieses Typs vor dem täglichen Containerzug Dhaka – Chittagong und zurück. Planabfahrt ist 11 Uhr, heute wurde uns aber gesagt erst 13.00 Uhr. Und so kam es: 13.20 Uhr rollte und typhonierte MEG 11 2020 durch die Stadt.
Jeremy Browne’s Eritrea report part 2
This is the second part of the Eritrea Trip ( Part 3 to come ). We joined ten others for a “Pre-trip” which was very interesting.
Keren is the second city of Eritrea, about 100km from Asmara and still in the high country. The railway originally went past Keren, but the Asmara to Keren and beyond was closed in 1975 and most of the material used to make bunkers during the 30 year War of Independence. There are still abandoned Russian tanks in the countryside.
We drove along the old railway to Keren, then the next morning went to the amazing Camel and Goat Markets, followed by a visit to the local “Dry River” market. It normally only rains in July – August.
The next day we tackled a hot 17km walk along the old railway further west through the stunning Keren Gorge, scene of a bitter battle between the British and Italians in 1941. One night the British hid in the railway tunnel, drinking tea and rum for a dawn attack. Despite a stern resistance the Italians eventually were defeated which led to the end of the Italian
Colonies in Africa.
Report by Jeremy Browne from the recent trip to the Eritrean Railways
Ever since I read “Far Wheels” back in 1962 I have wanted to visit Eritrea to see the amazing Italian Mountain Railway. Alas, Eritrea has been involved in more than 30 years of war since then and the railway was all but destroyed in 1975.
Amazingly it was rebuilt after Independence in 1992 and started up in 2004 for almost half it’s length ( 120km ) from the Red Sea coast to Asmara at 7500 feet high. There are no regular trains and the ancient Italian Mallet locos are only steamed for charters. A number of Australians have visited in the last few years and with Adelaide railfan Andrew Gramp, we joined the German FarRail group in December.
We also made a pre-tour which involved driving 100km of the old line to Keren and then walking a further 15km through the spectacular Keren Gorge – scene of one of the major battles of WW2.
The locos are in poor condition, coupled with poor coal, meant stops every few kilometres to raise steam, but over eight days we covered the whole line in both directions. If steam trains are to go on there needs to be some serious maintenance! It is even more spectacular than I expected and is a close rival with the Central Railway of Peru and Darjeeling. That it achieves the climb without zig-zags is astounding.
While the rolling stock is run-down, the 950mm gauge track with 70lb rail and steel sleepers dating back to 1908 was excellent. Curves were smooth and joints good.
Happy New Year 2013!
As always I have some presents for you, 13 calendars for download here:
Fröhliches Jahr 2013!
Wie immer gibt es ein paar Geschenke, diesmal 13 Kalender, zum Download hier:
Viel Spaß damit!
Wujiu: Discovered in Novbember 2011 (see http://www.farrail-blog.com/englishposts/probably-new-steam-discovery-in-china-wujiu-coal-mine/) it’s already over. Since December 7th, 2012 a diesel loco took over all duties. Sad!
Wujiu: Entdeckt im November 2011 (siehe http://www.farrail-blog.com/englishposts/probably-new-steam-discovery-in-china-wujiu-coal-mine/) ist es nun schon wieder vorbei: am 7.12.2012 ging die erste Diesellok in Betrieb und wickelt den Gesamtbetrieb ab. Schade!
After someone spread rumours that it is not possible to get a permit for the “prison railway” Rongshan twice within six weeks I let my contact talk to the local authorities again and got this answer:
“I’ve just talked to Rongshan for our visits again. Can confirm again that we will surely be allowed to go and should not be restricted by things like no two visits within two weeks.”
So nothing to fear, our permit(s) for March 2013 are granted.
Wish you a happy new year,
Nachdem Gerüchte gestreut wurden, zwei Besuche der “Gefängnisbahn” Rongshan innerhalb von sechs Wochen könnten nicht genehmigt werden, habe ich nachfragen lassen und erhielt diese Antwort:
“I’ve just talked to Rongshan for our visits again. Can confirm again that we will surely be allowed to go and should not be restricted by things like no two visits within two weeks.”
Also nichts zu fürchten, unsere Genemigung(en) für März 2013 sind bestätigt.
Ein gesundes neues Jahr wünscht