The International Steam Pages

China is clearly running out of Steam

Florian Schmidt reports (November 22nd 1998):

Unfortunately, the above headline is an appropriate interpretation of the latest statistics revealed on China's locomotives and rolling stock. The newly released "China Statistical Yearbook 1998" suggests that the elimination of steam continued to accelerate in 1997 with the number of locos in service reduced by a record 850 units. On January 1st, 1998, a mere 19% of the National Railways' locomotives were steam powered. Assuming that another 800 plus engines were converted into scrap metal in 1998 the assumption that the P.R.C. is left with not more than 2,000 steam engines is probably fair. Such estimates, of course, exclude a substantial number industrial railways.

Dec 31st, 96 Dec 31st, 97
Number of Locomotives 15,403 15,335
Steam Locomotives 3,781 2,931


2,537 1,893


21 7


1,220 1,031
Diesel Locomotives 8,944 9,583


4,790 5,211


366 361


404 402
Electric Locomotives 2,678 2,821


815 817
Local Railways 389 412


260 282


129 130

It is furthermore noteworthy that the total number of locomotives in use on the National Railways declined for the first time in their history. The production of 639 new diesels and 143 new electrics couldn't compensate for the substantial cut in steam power. Only the local railways see an increased use of steam. The acquisition of another 22 units from the National Railways brought the total number to 282.

Rob Dickinson