The Dahuichang Limestone Railway was one of a number of steam operated sites in and around Beijing that were owned and
operated by the Capital Iron and Steel Company.  Dahuichang was a 762mm double track railway located about 20km to the
south-west of Beijing city centre and ran for approximately 2km from a quarry to a crushing plant which was part of a
cement factory.  According to some sources the name Dahuichang means 'Big Cement Factory'.  There was also a standard
gauge operation here which operated between the limeworks and China Rail, originally worked by a YJ class and in later days
by SY0251.

The narrow gauge line was operated by four C2 class 0-8-0 locomotives of which two appeared to be working at any one
time.  The limestone was conveyed in unbraked small carts with wheels of about 20cm in diameter - the carts being dwarfed
by the diminuitive locomotives!  Empty wagons were hauled uphill from the crushing plant to the quarry with loaded trains
freewheeling downhill tender first.  Most of the activity occured in the afternoon which made Dahuichang an ideal starting
point for visiting enthusiasts.  Arriving on an overnight flight from Europe it was possible to visit the limestone railway before
returning to Beijing to catch an overnight sleeper train to the next steam action.   Photographic conditions were often
difficult as the notorious Beijing smog could play havoc with light levels and cast a gloom over proceedings.

I visited Dahuichang on two occasions - as part of a small group in 1998 and again as a solo traveller in late 2003.
Class C2 0-8-0 No.2 approaches the
level crossing towards the top end of
the line.  The contrast between the
size of the wagons and the locomotive
is particularly striking.
                       (27 December 1998)
The second operational locomotive
during my 1998 visit was Class C2
0-8-0 No.4 - seen here running uphill
light engine.  Since the closure of the
line this locomotive has been bought
and moved to the Ffestiniog Railway
in Wales where it is undergoing
C2 0-8-0 No.2 standing in the quarry
at the top end of the line.  The
locomotives were in a generally
run-down condition even though it
was still several years before the
closure of the line.
Dahuchang No.4 makes light work of
hauling a train of empty wagons uphill
towards the quarry on 27 December
Dahuichang No.2 rattles downhill
with a train of loaded limestone
wagons.  The fact that the wagons
were unbraked must have made this
task more difficult than it appeared as
the wagons tended to ride up if the
loco brake was applied too vigorously
and derailments were not uncommon.
My second visit in 2003 co-incided with some particularly bright and clear weather at Dahuichang making photography much
easier.  However the trains were, with one exception, not running to the quarry but rather to a huge pile of rock which had
presumably been brought to the lineside by lorry and which was then loaded into the wagons using a excavator.  Presumably
this somewhat awkward arrangement was due to the crusher being railway fed rather than allowing for direct access by road
The first locomotive I saw on my
return to Dahuichang was C2 0-8-0
No.2 which I initially thought was out
of steam.  However a wisp or two
from the injector proved me wrong
and I was able to enjoy seeing the
two working engines being prepared
for the afternoon's work.
Also in use was C2 0-8-0 No.3 which
was busy taking coal from the overhead
gantry.  Unlike the other engines at
Dahuichang, the cabside numeral
made sure there was doubt about the
identity of this engine!
With a fine disregard for the Chinese
equivalent of the 'Clean Air Act' No.3 is
made ready for work as No.2 moves
down to take its turn at the coaling
Narrow gauge steam at its best as
No.2 brings a train of empty wagons
past the engine shed at Dahuichang
Limestone Railway on 20 December
Rather than proceeding up the line to
the quarry as i had expected, No.2
came to a standstill a short distance up
the line and then slowly reversed its
train back to a large pile of limestone
besides the track.  This was then loaded
into the wagons by a large yellow
The safety valves on No.2 lift as it
patiently shunts its wagons backwards,
as they are filled one at a time by the
excavator.  As so often with railway
photography all that one could do was
patiently watch and wait in the hope of
further action.
It was only much later in the day, with
the light beginning to soften, that
anything like normal service began to
resume as No.2 sets off up the hill with
a long train of empty wagons
The afternoon was punctuated by a
number of false starts as trains
appeared to be heading up the hill only
to stop short and then set back down
the hill again towards the crushing
The final shot of the day as No.2 heads
towards the level crossing and beyond to
the quarry.  Time for me to head back to
Beijing and catch my late afternoon train
to Tangshan.  
The line at Dahuichang is believed to have closed in July 2005 with the final trains repeating the operations seen during my
second visit - namely collecting limestone from a large pile near to the crusher.  During my 2003 visit I was able to get a
glimpse inside the shed to see Nos. 1 and 4 receiving some attention but little did I expect to catch up with any of the
locomotives again.   However in 2006 a group of British enthusiasts visited Dahuichang and were able to 'test-drive' No.4  
The result was that they purchased the locomotive and returned it to the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales.  It is currently
under restoration and regauging as the Ffestiniog Railway operates on the 600mm gauge.  For further information about this
exciting project go to the
C2 Project webpage
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