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We visited Daban shed and then on to meet up with Messrs Arnot and Roberts who had already spent a week between Daban and Chabuga soaking up the last of mainline steam. I shall not repeat the numbers of operational locos etc as others have kindly provided this information in more detail than I have recorded. I hope a couple of pictures will suffice to capture the last days. I have also included a 24 hour log of trains with the locos booked to haul them - we were looking at 10 steam to 3 diesel workings on average.
The crews were having fun during my brief visit - they were thrashing the locos as never before and on several occasions crews kept the regulator open even once they had cleared the summit at Chaganhada - one train set off over a dozen lineside fires as it thrashed towards Daban - a glorious site indeed.
Diagram 9/10th October 2005
|0430||6051||7081 (ran 3 hours late)|
Please note these are the timings and locos as allocated by control - observation of some of these trains suggested that the locos were allocated differently - for instance 33505, the 1110 departure from Daban was hauled by 7049 rather than 7163. Anyway I hope this gives a good idea of 24 hours in the life of Daba Chabuga towards the end.
The 1840 Chifeng to Shenyang sleeper was taken and then on 11th October T2509, 0735 Shenyang to Harbin. We then overnighted in the Kulun Hotel adjacent to Harbin main station before meeting up with the IRS/LCGB tour as we had arranged to join the narrow gauge charters to Xilongzhen and Suiling.
The line owns diesels 41-49 built in Mundajiang and 51-56 built in Changsha. Up until a couple of years ago the system carried 500,000 cubic metres of timber each season, but last year it was just 120,000 cubic meters. The viability of the extensive narrow gauge railway is borderline with this little timber and sources suggest that if the timber cut falls below 100,000 cubic meters the line will have to close. Needless to say the story here is the same as elsewhere on logging lines - the forests are logged out and there has been no orderly replanting. In this setting the idea of a "tourist train" was mooted to try and increase revenue and the narrow gauge coaches with swivelling directors chairs are very comfortable. The line also has a regular railbus service (illustrated below) and is a real railway gem - even if we didn't get steam haulage.
At the end of the day we drove the 2 hours to Suiling and stayed at the Jindu Hotel
Today was mainly a lengthy journey up the line to Yaojin, 111km up into the hills. Much beer was consumed and very few pictures were taken as it was very dull.
The accommodation at Yaojin is basic - 9 IRS guys had the privilege of lying like the "nine dwarfs" all in a row on a wooden bench with no padding. Tim and I were fortunate in that our "thousand dollars per head" seem to have bought us a double room with beds!!!!
At the end of the day we caught the 1703 Suiling to Harbin, dinner on the train and then to bed at the Kulun Hotel Harbin.
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East of Yameniao, the distant signal drops just as the sun peeps over the horizon. This late running Chabuga to Daban freight storms through Yameniao 10 minutes after sunrise
Again just 15 minutes after sunrise, on a still morning, the pagoda at Lindong looms over a solitary QJ departing for Daban
A tiny cloud nearly spoilt this shot of the approach to the summit at Chaganhada - nearly but not quite!
Charter on the Suiling forestry railway
Diesel railcar passes our diesel charter on the Xilongzhen forestry line
2400 tonnes of coal leaves Meiheikou for CNR
© 2005, Michael Rhodes: email@example.com