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The Legendary Jitong Railway (the Last Mainline Steam Rail Line In The World)

Discussion in 'Route Suggestions & Proposals' started by MidwesternRailroader, Dec 8, 2018.

  1. MidwesternRailroader

    MidwesternRailroader New Member

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    INTRODUCTION
    Up until the Mid 20th Century, steam locomotives were the sovereigns of the rails. They handled all of the great passenger and freight trains of many rail lines across the globe for over a century. In the 1940s and 1950s however, these elegant iron giants would be threatened out of service by the more cost-effective, less labor-intensive diesel electric locomotive. At the same time, the communist country of China had formed China Railways (more commonly referred to as "CR"). After the 1960s, the other railroads of the world had long since moved on from ordering and/or building steam locomotives. However, China Railways continued to mass produce tremendous amounts of steam locomotives from several different manufacturers until the 1980s. In the next decade, the majority of rail lines in China experienced electrification and dieselization and lots of steam locomotives were phased out throughout the system. With the construction of a new rail line in Inner Mongolia underway and a large surplus of steam locomotives, the Jining-Tonglaio Railway would live to become one of the most famous lines of the 21st century.


    HISTORY
    In December of 1988, plans for a 587 mile mainline in Inner Mongolia were completed. This stretch of track would run from Jining to Zhelimu-Tonglaio (Hence the name "Jitong" Railway) to serve an area that had an abundance of minerals such as coal among other materials. Two years after the construction plans were completed, a ceremony was held to commence the construction of the rail line. On top of this, more than 100 QJ Type steam locomotives were purchased for service on this line. Because of an abundance of coal and low labor costs in China at the time, this gave the line the ability to run large amounts of these locomotives for about a decade. The first of these locomotives were purchased from the Jining - Erlian line and later some more engines were acquired. In 1995, with the completion of the railway, trial runs were performed throughout the line, and on December 1st of the same year, the Jitong Railway officially opened.
    What made this line special to many railfans was all of the steam apparatus being used such as steam-powered cranes, full servicing facilities and shops, and of course, the QJ Locomotives. Things such as Sempahor's, crossing Shanties, and scenic passes were also very appealing. On top of this, the railway did incredibly well. It's profiting more than doubled by the year 2000 and they continued to rise at a substantial rate. In 2003, the railway brought in almost 750 million yuan (more than 100 million in US Dollars). For the next decade, railfans would flock from all across the world to see mainline steam's last stand. In 2000, the first diesel locomotives began to appear on the Jitong line. However, the heavy work continued to be pulled by steam. By 2005, however, the railroad had almost completely abolished steam power except for the portion of the line from Daban to Chabuga. Many steam locomotive servicing facilities were torn down and replaced with diesel fueling and servicing stands. By December of 2005, the Jitong Railroad officially ended steam operations, only 7 days after the official opening date of the line a decade before. Today, the Jitong line is still operating under a full diesel roster and several stations along the line have been shut down. However, occasionally the line would bring out some of their preserved QJ engines for a "railfan weekend". Even though most of the QJ engines on the Jitong railway were scrapped, a few were kept on hand for special events. They are still there to this day.

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    (photo not mine)

    ROUTING OPTIONS AND SERVICES
    This line could be routed two possible ways: From Daban to Chabuga (about 95-100 miles) or from Daban to Jingpeng (about 80-85).
    Daban was a significant point on the Jitong Railway. It is the home of a massive railyard, train station, locomotive servicing facility, and the huge shops that repaired and sometimes overhauled the QJs. In the servicing facility, steam-powered cranes (which could possibly be operated by a player) would fill the QJs with fresh loads of coal and waterspouts would be used to top off the tender with water. There was also a wye near the servicing facility to turn around locomotives if needed.
    On the way to Jingpeng, the route would pass through 16 station stops (Including Daban) and come to several remote villages such Linxi. This was one of several water stops as well as a passenger stop with a 4-track siding. In 2004, a coal loading track was constructed at Linxi. The route would then continue on through several more station stops and villages until it eventually comes to the village of Galadesitai. This is the eastern end of the famous Jingpeng Pass, a thirty mile scenic wonder of spiral bridges, winding tracks, tunnels, semaphore signals, and over one percent grades. This stretch of the railway was one of the toughest for the often 4000 ton, double-headed freight trains that would run on this line. After your run through the pass, you come to Jingpeng. A 3-track siding is here with two water columns for both directions. Then trains would continue on to Eastbound or Westbound.
    On the route to Chabuga, the route is somewhat similar. This route includes 13 stations (Including Daban) for passenger trains, as well as a few water stops and industries. The stops of Sha Qin Ta La, DaoLaoMaoDu, and WuLiJiEr were considered railway homes for the workers until 2003. This section of the line is also littered with Semaphore signals. When you arrive into Chabuga, a 6 track yard, as well as industrial side tracks, are present in the area. Often times, locomotives on passenger services were swapped at Chabuga. This was the site of a locomotive swap on the "last steam-powered express train" in 2003.
    While this line is primarily a freight route, six passenger services ran across the route. Four of which ran the entire length of the route (trains K503, 6051, K504, and 6052), The other two were shorter services that ran from Daban to Tonglaio or Vise-Versa (trains 6057 and 6058) until the services were canceled in 2004. According to historic timetables, some 20 scheduled freight trains, including trains running from Daban to Tonglaio, are set to be put on the line every day. However, the number of trains can be increased or decreased to fit the needs of the game. Many of these trains required doubleheading QJ's because of the tonnage. However, most only needed one locomotive. Sometimes, a diesel would be put on a train to help it tackle tough grades or if the steamer broke down.


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    (photos not mine)

    THE QJ 2-10-2 STEAM LOCOMOTIVE
    The QJ Locomotive is a 2-10-2 type of steam locomotive that has symbolism in its class name. QJ is short for "Qián Jìn" which, in English, stands for "move forward" or "advance".
    These engines were some of the most successful and most versatile steam locomotives on the CR system. Though they could only go 50mph, they could exert 3000 Horsepower with small 59-inch driving wheels. These engines have 217 pounds of Boiler Pressure and have a grate area of 73 square feet. These engines are equipped with a Chinese 5 Chime and an airhorn. These were generally used as warning symbols or as forms of communication on doubleheaders. The design of the QJ is said to be based on the LV Class 2-10-2 in Russia.

    The first version of a Chinese 2-10-2 came in the form of an "HP" class locomotive (HP meaning "Heping" or "Peace"). A few more of these engines were constructed and were tested extensively. At first, the design of the engine wasn't too reliable. The boilers were weak and they were overall not great engines. Later on, the Datong Locomotive Works redesigned the HP class. Their first version was built in 1959, and the production of these engines began to increase as years went on as their reliability was recognized. For 32 years, production of the QJs continued with the 70s and 80s being the peak years of production for these engines. In 1988, the final 20 locomotives were rolled off the factory floor. By the 1990s, the first 1000 engines were pulled from service as they proved less reliable, but the rest still remained in service until diesels took over a majority of QJ assignments in the 2000s. Today, 10 QJ locomotives remain in China on static display. However, three QJ engines ended up in the United States. In 2006, the Railroad Development Corporation (headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA) purchased two Jitong Railway QJ locomotives for service on the Iowa Interstate Railroad: engines 6988 and 7081. The locomotives made it to America the same year and excursions with the two brutes began with a memorable tripleheader run across the Midwest with Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 locomotive #261. Today, the QJs are owned by the Central States Steam Preservation Association of Newton, IA. As of 2018, the group has operated locomotive 6988 on the Iowa Interstate for the first time since 2012 on fire department benefit trips for the towns of Mitchellville, Iowa and Brooklyn, Iowa. Locomotive 7081 has not run since 2013. While 7081 still retains its Chinese appearance, 6988 was "Americanized" in 2010, being given a centered, single headlight, a smokebox mounted bell, a new whistle, as well as other changes (See pictures above).
    The other QJ engine in America is engine 2008 (former Jitong locomotive 7040). The engine was shipped to America in 2008 for the RJ Corman railroad and runs with the engine began on May 24th of that year In Kentucky. It ran a few more times until 2013 when it made its last run. The engine has not turned a wheel since and the RJ Corman is in search of a site to display the engine.
    What makes these locomotives so unique is the variety in terms of its cosmetic appearance. Sometimes, the engine's headlights are put up high or on the middle of the smokebox, sometimes the engine's front number plate was painted or arranged in a different manner, sometimes the engine may only have one headlight. Other locomotives like engine 6911 of the Jitong line (image above) have been fully decorated in Chinese lettering (I am not sure what any of it says).

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    THE DF4 DIESEL LOCOMOTIVE
    The DF4 class of locomotives are some of the most common locomotives to see on China's rails today. The first DF4 locomotive rolled out of Dalian Locomotive Works in 1969, and since then, these engines of several different classes under the DF4 name (such as DF4A, DF4B, etc) are still under construction by local companies. These engines are equipped with a V16 diesel engine and can reach 75mph.
    Similar to the QJs, the first engines of its type were not too successful due to early unstable production. A lot of engines spent time in repair shops and they were eventually fixed. Today, engine 0001 is on permanent display at the Beijing Railway Museum. However, some of the original DF4's are still in operation to this day.
    In the early days of the diesel operations in the 2000s along the Jitong Railway, they were often used as helper engines for climbing the steep grades throughout the line. But obviously, the DF4's eventually won out in 2005 and took over all operations on the line.

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    ROLLING STOCK
    The Jitong line has seen many different types of rolling stock. The passenger trains on this line use YZ22 Coaches, however, the paint job seen above isn't accurate to the early 2000s period. Instead of the green livery, these coaches used a White, Blue, and red livery with black roofs (see QJ 6911 pic above for reference). Often times, a dining car would be put on passenger trains.
    In terms of freight equipment, the railroad very commonly sees C64K Hopper cars for hauling everything from coal and wood, from containers to pipes (see pic above).
    G60 tank cars were sometimes seen to carry all types of liquids.
    P62 and P70 Boxcars were seen all the time on many different freight trains carrying all sorts of cargo.
    Sometimes, NX17bk flat cars are seen on a freight train carrying containerized freight.
    Quite frequently, you would see B6 reefer cars on trains carrying fresh produce.
    Finally, small S11 or S12 cabooses were often seen on the ends of freight trains giving a place for the train crew to stay onboard the train (see pic above).

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    WHY THE JITONG LINE?
    I am fully aware that the technology for steam locomotives in Train Sim World is not available yet. However, this could make an impressive DLC once steam is implemented. It brings you back to another time and would simulate the authenticity of something that railroads of the 1990s and early 2000s didn't offer. The sights and sounds of ten-coupled Iron horses lugging heavy trains up grades, semaphore signaling, quaint railroad stations, massive and busy locomotive repair shops, and much more. All set in a very remote location of the world with some spectacular scenery, ranging from rural farmland and rolling hills to steep, mountainous terrain. This line also has some challenges for a driver to overcome, such as the legendary Jingpeng Pass, or even simpler challenges such as taking care of a QJ for its run out on the line. This route could also pave the way for other DLC's and expansion packs to add to the game.
    I have only been on this forum for a relatively short time, and I can say one thing is clear: the developers listen to us. Just recently they gave us a survey via email asking if they could improve or what they should consider adding to the game. That kind of power is fantastic. So let's try and get this marvelous route into this game.

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    For more information on the Jitong Line and its history, go to these sources:
    http://www.markusworldwide.ch/Railways/Steam/China/JiTong/JiTongMain.htm
    http://www.softwaretesting.no/chinarail.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jining–Tongliao_railway
    You can also visit youtube.com and watch videos on the Jitong Railway there. It is extremely well documented here and I have learned a lot about this line just by watching youtube videos on it.
    You can also google the Jitong Railway or Jingpeng Pass for other great sources.



     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  2. JJTimothy

    JJTimothy Well-Known Member

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    I put in a word for the Jitong line in the Train Simulator pages in Steam a few years ago. I like a kettle, though am more of a modern traction enthusiast, but who wouldn't take the opportunity to drive a QJ or two* on this spectacular line?

    Not sure you have your QJ spec's exactly right- a 73 square inch grate? Peppercorn A1 60163 Tornado has a 49 square foot grate IIRC to run on second rate coal and the pre-war Pacifics grates were well over 30 square feet. Someone at Locomotion told me they had eleven people standing in a Princess Coronation firebox on one occasion for a lark and they ran out of people rather than room.

    *or three. There were triple-headers as evinced (at the risk of being accused of advertising and I should mention this is about 3MB) on the back page of this:
    http://www.friendsofdrcm.org/downloads/Newsletter-2016-3.pdf
     
  3. MidwesternRailroader

    MidwesternRailroader New Member

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    I am pretty sure the QJs just have a big Firebox. From what I have gathered, most large American and Chinese steam engines compared to some of the largest British steam locomotives will have pretty big fireboxes.
     
  4. JJTimothy

    JJTimothy Well-Known Member

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    Well that was my point. Just found mention that the QJ's grate was 6.8 square metres which, without getting a calculator out, sounds like 73 square feet to me.
     
  5. MidwesternRailroader

    MidwesternRailroader New Member

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    Whoops! I just now realized the typo. Oh well, it's fixable...
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018
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  6. raildan

    raildan Well-Known Member

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    This would be a cool and unique TSW route once they figure out steam power. If you're going to break the US-UK-DE cycle, why not break it with style?
     
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  7. Aljaž Skarlovnik

    Aljaž Skarlovnik Active Member

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    This would be lovely - either for TS2020 or or for TSW2020. I would prefer it for TS2020.

    The Jitong line is my favorite main line in the world. So picturesque, and as one of the last stands of main line revenue steam traction in the 1st worlds, it's a combination unlike any other.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019

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