Coal in the Hills • DVD • 60 mins

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Starring small steam locomotives worked to their limits!

Almost certainly Rob &?Yuehong Dickinson’s last China film, this was very largely shot on the narrow gauge Huanan Coal Railway in the north of China, just 150 kms from the Russian Border. Once a typical forestry railway, when the area was logged out the line was retained to transport coal from several small coalmines about 50km east of Huanan. While the lower half of the railway crossed open countryside, the top half had a stiff climb to a summit followed by a steep descent. Returning loaded trains were banked by the locomotive from the next outbound train, an operation both rare and spectacular. With two extended visits timed to coincide with the autumn colours and concentrating on the top section, the result is a special record of the railway at a time when it was still operating fully. Inevitably decline followed and final closure came in 2011.

The Dahuichang Limestone Railway was situated to the south-west of Beijing and carried limestone for use in Capital Iron and Steel’s plant not far away. Just over one kilometre long, it was double track and intensively worked, albeit usually only in the afternoons. As the ‘main feature’ is shorter than usual, we have added coverage of this line. It closed in 2005 and Locomotive No. 4, seen here, has since been exported to the United