THE world’s last bastion for standard gauge steam locomotives continues its 24-hour daily operation in the giant Sandaoling open cast coal mine near Hami in Xinjiang Province, China.
About a year ago, the coal mine’s management unexpectedly decided to retain and overhaul some its extensive steam fleet after assessing the cost and benefit of steam haulage against switching to road transport.
Steam traction has the cost advantage as the large fleet of locos are owned by the mine. This change in stance has resulted in a few ‘JS’ class 2-8-2 locos being pulled out of the storage yard for overhaul to add to a fleet of heavily work-stained engines.
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Heavily enforced anti-terrorist security is being imposed increasingly everywhere in Xinjiang Province, and has made visits to the mine area more difficult, but not out of the question.
While it was impossible to visit Nan Zhan (South Station marshalling yard) during a recent visit, it was still possible to visit and photograph in other locations, including the big pit itself.
Read more in the December issue of The RM – on sale now!