Reddit Video Shows Mushroom Cloud of Fire and Steam From Chinese Train

This train needs a vacation.

Real life, or Red Dead Redemption 2? Some Reddit users weren’t sure when they first caught a glimpse of the fiery glow of this commute from hell.

A video gone viral on Reddit shows a Chinese locomotive belching out bright plumes of sparks and steam. Captioned, “The boiler is running a little hot,” the post captured more than 30,000 upvotes and about 1,000 comments as of Wednesday afternoon. Talk about the understatement of the year.

Letting Off Some Steam at Work

At first glance, one might assume something is drastically wrong with the raging choo-choo. Redditor u/matter_compressor explains that the train is simply working through a tough moment.

“In short, carbon builds up which causes pressure to build up. Pressure builds up until the carbon can’t stand up to the pressure. The result is a long, hot, sparky train bowel movement that clears out lots of glowing carbon.”

Another redditor, fernico, followed up with extra details:

“Usually the (aptly labeled) bowel movement occurs when straining the engine. In this case [if I recall correctly], the train is headed up a decent slope (appearing level from the camera angle), so it’s running hot, spitting out more exhaust than usual, with more pressure behind it than usual.”

China’s Sandaoling Coal Mine Is Finally Shutting Down

This fire-breathing train is a phenomena you can actually see in action every night at the Sandaoling coal mine. Located in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the mine has scaled down from 30 steam locomotives in the late 1990s to 2-3 locomotives in use today as China moves toward renewable energy, slowly closing its era of coal production. The JS-class locomotives work on a push-pull system, entering the open mines with empty boxcars and slogging 3 miles back to transport the coal elsewhere. Running at only 30 kilometers per hour (just under 20 mph), it takes a full hour for the train to make the trip one way.

From the daytime grime to the nighttime contrast of orange and yellow blossoms of light against a dark sky, the remote site has turned into a photographer’s playground, the last relic from a different time.

China is slowly weaning off its favorite source of energy, coal, as the government cracks down on pollution. Inner Mongolia, the top-producing region, aims to cut 11 million metric tons of coal from its typical production capacity in 2018.

US-China Today

“Driving a locomotive in the mine is very dirty work. Your face, everything except your eyes, turns black,” locomotive driver Cheng Zhongyun told Xinhuanet last March. The drivers, all in their 50s, are ready to retire along with their iron giants.

If you want to see the fire-belching trains for yourself, the clock is ticking — after a couple false starts, the coal mines are projected to shut down by 2020, bringing almost 55 years of service to a close.

Redditor u/D0esANyoneREadTHese sums it all up best: “Dangerous as hell, pollutes like crazy, but working as intended.”