The International Steam Pages

Steam on the Jitong Line, October 2000

Preliminary Report on Trip to Ji-Tong Railway by Louis Cerny - September 30 - October 14, 2000

Two weeks were spent on the Ji-Tong with excellent arrangements made through Sun Xiaolan. The guide was Deng Feng. The Post Office Hotel at Reshui was used as a base of operations.

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

Summary of Train observations on Jingpeng Pass between Jingpeng and Galadesitai:

A total of 104 daylight hours were spent on the pass, during this time the following were noted. All trains were QJ-powered.

A total of 112 trains, 55 eastbound and 57 westbound, were seen in about 104 hours of daylight observation. 103 were freights of substantial length, 99 double-headed and 4 single-headed. 1 passenger train was observed (#711 running late on Sunday, October 8). 8 trains were either light engines or very short freights (1-5 cars).

#711 and #712 were ridden from Galadesitai to Tianshan and back on October 4.

QJ-powered throughout, 6517 to Daban, then 6921 to Tianshan. Engine number on #712 from Tianshan back to Daban not noted, 6517 again west of Daban. Both trains on time throughout day during trip. Consist of #711 was two sleepers in front, a dining car, and five coaches. Last coach provided rearward view down the track. Deflectorless 2645 noted in use at Daban, 6301 and 7184 noted as highly decorated with raised metal letters on deflector and numbers on engine and tender. Winding sidehill alignment with heavy cuts and fills east of Lindong was noted. During layover at Tianshan, engine terminal was visited and single-headed freight seen struggling slowly uphill on winding alignment west of Tianshan. All trains met were QJ-powered freights except for #209 diesel train met after darkness at Yuzhoude.

Construction of new Sanggendalai - Xilinhot line was visited on October 6.

Construction of this new line, planned for QJ traction, is far advanced, with earthworks nearly complete, bridges under construction, but track laying not started. The line was reached in 1 hour 40 minutes from Jingpeng via the cut-off on the outskirts of Xilinhot. The new line generally follows the Xilinhot - Sanggendalai highway, and kilometer posts on that highway are used as a reference. The line lies west of the highway south of Xilinhot until kp 15, where the railroad crosses under the highway. It crosses over the highway at kp 40 and again at kp 106. The junction with the Ji-Tong mainline is right at the road crossing at Sanggendalai. Visual contact between the highway and railroad was from about kp 9 - 47, then sporadically until kp 58, then continuously from 65 - 72, and 101-106. There is an interesting s-curve at kp 35.

Trip to see west end of Ji-Tong on October 10

The line was ridden in daylight fron Benhong to east of Sanggendalai on diesel train #209, the "Hanlu." The train was a 6-unit bi-directional non-articulated set styled somewhat like the TGV and consisting of a power car (half of the length of which was passenger space) at each end and four cars in between, consisting of two sleepers (hybrid soft and hard class - the beds were only two tier, but there were no rooms with doors), a 2-2 seating configuration soft class car, and a 3-2 seating configuration hard class car with a food service area. Hot meals were available from carts that came down the aisle. All toilets were Asian-style. At Benhong, which was left at 12:07pm, deflectorless 3076 was noted. In the following 5 hours, we met eight westbound freights and passed three eastbounds. This does not include any trains that were in the Baiqi yards when we passed. All were QJ-powered except for one of the new diesels on a westbound freight noted at 1:30pm near kp 87. An employee said there were now two diesels in service, but they only operated west of Baiqi. The line had much more curvature than would be suspected from the Quail map, and the Nelles map I had has the railroad badly mislocated. There are two major horseshoes west of Hoade, the westerly of which is easily accessed from the Shangdu - Baiqi highway. This highway generally follows the railroad from Shangdu to Baiqi sometimes paralleling it at 100 meters or less, and the view is generally unobstructed by trees. The circuitous eastbound climb both sides of Baiqi is also interesting, especially a sharp horseshoe approximately 10 km west of Baiqi.

General comments

This was my first visit to the Ji-Tong. Arrangements made with Sun Xiaolan via the internet provided for a guide, minibus, and driver. Traffic on the road over the pass was light and allowed the minibus to stop almost anywhere. Lack of fences made access to the track easy. The autumn colors, good weather, and harvest activities give a rich variety of hues to the scene. Voluminous exhausts were the norm, especially in the morning. While I certainly admire the determination of those who have been here in mid-winter conditions, perhaps the autumn months may make better photographs, yet I did not see any other photographers on the pass for the first 10 days of my visit. My 14 nights in the Post Office hotel in Reshui were hassle-free, and the view from the odd-numbered fourth floor rooms gave an excellent view of three levels of the line west of Galadesatai. The locals were very friendly, one pre-teen boy that I passed in a field on the way to take a photograph smiled and said to me in English, "Hello, welcome to China." The guard houses with gates across the road east of Reshui and west of Jingpeng are to detect contraband lumber movements, in connection with reforestation efforts. Most of the time we were waved through, but one time were asked to buy a 11-yuan forest fire-fighting decal for the minibus.

Rob Dickinson