The International Steam Pages

The Jitong Railway October 2001

Report by Louis Cerny

Owing to space limitations on my server, the images from this report have been removed (15th June 2004). 

New Line to Xilinhot from Sanggendalai

Progress on Track Construction

The final (northern) 50 km into Xilinhot was inspected in detail Friday October 5. (Xilinhot was reached by road from Jingpeng in 1 hour 40 minutes - good road, little traffic, few villages) Most sections on the new line had crossties (sleepers) distributed and a few isolated sections had rail installed. Some sections had only roadbed complete with no track components at all, and in one place 20 meters of embankment were missing. All bridges appeared to be complete.

While it would be theoretically possible to complete the line into Xilinhot by the end of the year, a realistic opening date would be mid-2002 based on the progress made since my October 2000 visit.

Heading south from Xilinhot, the line goes across the flat plains of the Xilin River valley for about 5 km, where it starts to climb out of the valley in a series of cuts and fills. The climb generally continues for over 50 km, gaining over 300 meters in elevation on grades as steep as 1.2%, equalling the steepest on Jingpeng Pass. The line is almost constantly visible from the Xilinhot-Saggendalai highway from about highway kilometer post 7 to beyond kilometer 50. The highway is presently under construction, making travel slow and difficult. 

At the northern end of the line in Xilinhot, an impressive new station is being constructed a few miles west of the city. The station is reached by a new four lane divided highway which ends at the station. This highway is an extension of a main east-west street in the northern part of Xilinhot.

North of the station a new elaborate engine terminal for steam locomotives is under construction, about the size and arrangement of the engine terminal at Chabuga. North of the engine terminal a "Y" track for turning engines is being built.

Changes on Jingpeng Pass

New Stations and Passing Points

Two new passing points, both with two sidings (one each side of the main track) are nearly complete. Sandi, on the eastern side of the pass, is located on the second level between Galadesitai and Liudigou. Hatashan is located on the western side upgrade from the curved viaduct between Xiakengzi and Shangdian. It is planned to put the stations in service early in November. Both of the new station passing points have new station buildings. These single-story structures are a departure from normal Chinese station architecture in that they employ some curved walls, and even a section with a sloped tiled roof. The station at Hatashan was being painted during my visit in an attractive scheme involving two shades of reddish color, white, and gray, separated by black stripes. From a hill just upgrade from the Hatashan station, a view looking downgrade includes, in addition to the Hatashan station, the curved viaduct and the station at Xiakengzi. This was the scene on October 7th (note curved viaduct to right of train).

The new passing points should reduce congestion caused by slow upgrade trains, and will also provide the potential for "Tianzhu-type" photographs with 4 or 5 trains in view at one time.

New Attended Crossings

The Ji-Tong railway is in the process of adding watchmen at many dozens of crossings not presently so protected, and small brick buildings are now being constructed at each of these crossings. Amazingly, this includes crossing watchman protection at the first and second level crossings on the trail up to the third level from Reshui.

Other Jingpeng Pass Items

No instance of engines dropping back from Shangdian to Jingpeng to help following trains was observed, as has been noted by others.

Iron ore loadings at Yuzhoude make for some very heavy westbound trains over the pass. 13 cars of ore nearly stalled a single QJ heading west over the pass on October 2.

70 hours of daylight observation on Jingpeng Pass resulted in seeing 66 QJ-powered trains, maintaining the approximately one train per hour level noted in my October 2000 visit. Weather was generally warmer than the same period last year, although this year the first snow was earlier, occurring October 2. Fall color peak was about October 10. Excellent photo opportunities, including voluminous exhausts, make the lack of photographers at this colorful season puzzling. About half the days were sunny and cloudless. Sunrise is about 6:30 and sunset 17:30 at this time of year.

New Iron Ore Line Northwest of Jingpeng and Changes at Shangshuitou (3rd station west of Jingpeng - approximately km 435)

New tracks are being constructed at Shangshuitou, so that this station will have two sidings, in addition to a junction with a new 40km line to be built heading northeast to an iron ore mine in the mountains north of Jingpeng. A new station building is under construction. A fill and road overpass has already been constructed for the new iron ore line as it leaves from the east end at Shangshuitou. Perhaps the QJ's will have yet one more new mountain to climb. No completion date for the new line was mentioned.

Changes at Linxi

A new 4-lane road underpass under construction about kilometer west of the Linxi station was visited October 13. This has already involved removal of the west leg of the unused "Y" track and the demolition of the western part of the derelict engine terminal.

Observations at Haoluku

Haoluku was visited on a cold, windy, and overcast October 9. The hill on the south side of the tracks between the yard and the engine terminal makes an excellent viewpoint for observing all activities. Upgrades of 0.6% in both directions out of the yard make for spirited departures. All engines seen were QJ. The big disadvantage of this location is the 2 to 3 hours needed to drive the 60 kilometers of poor road from the junction with the Jingpeng-Xilinhot highway. The road generally follows the railroad and accesses all intermediate stations from Shangshuitou to Haoluku.

Jining - Tongliao Trains 711 - 712

These trains were ridden from Galadesitai (Reshui) to Doade (east of Chabuga) and back on October 3. Power was 100% QJ. The eastbound trip permits a track view from the rear coach. Heating in the new white, red, and blue coaches is coal-fired. In the dining car, the level of service, as well as the quality and variety of food, had greatly improved since my visit last year, and made for a quite pleasant dining experience. The eastbound train, followed by highway on October 11 and 12, provides many opportunities east of Linxi for photography in the early morning light and crisp temperatures with spectacular exhaust effects at each station departure. Km 947 on the Daban-Lindong highway (about 6 kilometers east of Daban) is also an excellent photo position as the train tackles an eastbound grade. The eastbound train was on time at Reshui every day it was observed except October 12, when it departed Galadesitai 26 minutes late. Arrival in Daban that day was only five minutes late, with a nearly on-time departure from that city.

Rob Dickinson