This was the last steam operated mainline railway in the world
Jining to Tongliao in Northern China.


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Updated January 2012

This railway line is 945 kilometers long. It was opened on Dec 1, 1995 and was, until July 2000, 100% steam operated by QJ class engines. Steam was gradually replaced by DF4 diesels. Replacement was finished by December 2005, to the railways tenth anniversary.

Replacement of steam followed this procedure: First from Baiqi to Benhong, then Zhelimu to Chabuga, in summer 2004 the first diesels appeared on the sections Chabuga to Daban and Baiqi to Haoluku. On Sept 30, 2004, four diesels were put to Daban - Haoluku section for crew training. Daban - Chabuga was then again 100% steam. In November 2004, ten more DF4B went into service at Daban, making the section Daban-Haoluku at least 50% diesel. As train weights were increased now, steam locomotives on the remaining sections worked mostly in double traction. In spring 2005, Daban got more diesel engines and on March 27, the last steam train ran between Daban and Haoluku. Baiqi also got more diesel and finished using steam at the same time.

In April 2005, there was only steam between Daban and Chabuga, 155 km. Every two hours or more often, there was a heavy freight train in every direction, hauled by a mighty QJ or two! Steam ran all trains short of the DMU train between Chabuga and Daban until end of September 2005. Then, 3 (after 10th October 4) DF4 started running there, replacing the remaining Daban based steam locomotives.

The last steam passenger train was 6052 on December 7th, 2005, daparture 20.04 hrs from Chabuga. Locomotive was QJ 7081. The locomotive handeled another freight on December 8th together with 7012 and returned together with 7012 light engine from Chabuga to Daban December 8th, departure Chabuga 13.50 hrs. On December 8th, train 6051, departure Daban 04.24 hrs was hauled by DF4D 4250.

The last revenue steam train was train 33521 December 8th, 2005, hauled by QJ 7030 and 6988 with a load of 3,367 tons, departure Daban 09.30 am. Locos returned back to
Daban as light engines, train number 51070, departure Chabuga 3 pm. Next day they run an special with QJ 7119 and 7038, train number Y502, departure Daban 10.00, return from Jingpeng 13.12. December 10th these two locos hauled 44166 with only 1,968 tons of load from Daban to Jingpeng, departure 8.00. They returned from Jingpeng at 14.10 as 51041 light engine. The latter two engines are preserved and scheduled to haul some trains in November 2006.

They used to have about 100 working steam locomotives, still about 60 in December 2004, about 50 serviceable ones in April 2005, 23 and falling in October 2005. They also own three diesel motor units and otherwise DF4B, DF4D, DF4 DK and DF8. Their all station stopping passenger service was still, in winter 2004, steam hauled from Chabuga to Baiqi and in middle of October 2005 Chabuga- Daban.

The most interesting part of the line is between Daban and Haoluku, the so-called Jingpeng pass, Chinese: Dabaliang. On this part of the line, most trains were double headed with QJ. Two QJs handled up to 2300 tons, two diesels up to 3200 tons, three diesels up to 5000 tons, four diesels 7000 tons. However, this part was dieselized in spring 2005. They are planning to build a new line through a 26 km long tunel below the pass after 2010. They have been arranging "steam festivals" every end of the year with QJ 7038 and QJ 7119 between Daban and Haoluku. However, these engines haul light trains (10 empty cars or passenger cars).

General information


Steam festivals December 2007-2011


Searchable passenger schedule Historic steam freight schedule Historic passenger schedule
Old timetable (Okt 2003 to 20 Oct 2004) Old timetable (Okt 2002 to 9 Sept 2003) Old timetable (Oct 2001 to Oct 2002) Old timetable (Oct 2000 to Oct 2001)

Old timetable (1997 to 98)

Line description

  its characteristics, photo possibilities, bridges, gradients, landscape.
Station list with distances and altitudes. GPS position data and maps along the whole line. New railway lines around the Jitong line

Tourist info

Hotels, internet cafes and taxis
How to travel to the most interesting parts of the line. And what to do if you get lost. The weather in Northeastern China The weather conditions at the Jingpeng pass

The Jingpeng pass


The first map is originally based on the map drawn by Julien Blanc in 1996. I have later updated it when walking along the line.

My map of the pass A new and nice drawing by Hinrich Bruemmer (you may need a yahoo password for this) GPS position data and maps along the whole line.

The best photo positions The photo permission MAFIA: How they operate. How to avoid them. Request for information. A page about the Jingpeng pass, probably written on April 1, 1998 opens in a new window.

The current weather at Linxi (30 km east of Jingpeng pass) opens in a new window. Discussion of the general weather conditions at the Jingpeng pass

More maps and local links

Altitude diagram of the whole line Map of line Yuzhoudi towards Reshui

Map of Linxi (by Louis Cerny) Map of Daban(by Louis Cerny) How to visit Daban depot

Map of Daban to the top point after Gulumanhan Map of area near Gulumanhan Map of the whole line Daban to Chabuga

Map of Lindong - Yamenmiao area Some pictures of Lindong area

Map of area near Chabuga

Map of area near Kailu. Map of area near Sharinai. Map of area near Zhelimu.

Map of line from Chabuga to Zhelimu.

The locomotives and their crews

The roster of locomotives of the whole railway and details about the engines The life and working of the crew members of the QJs How to operate a QJ

Technical data and history of class QJ The meaning of the railway signals

The side line Sanggendalai to Xilinhot

Map of Xilinhot.
This line was opened on August 1, 2002, but is run with diesel locomotives.

Photos and videos

From all over the Jitong line, even on board of locomotives. Photos in higher quality scans are available from this page (a bit slow to download) The locomotive work environment.
Photos from autumn 2002 Report from Duncan Cotterill's goodbye visit in Dec 2004 Photos from autumn 2004 are posted at John Diefenbach home page and video clips
Photos by "Eisenbahnromantischer Rat"

Photos by Ian Lawrence

Postal addresses

Jitong line: Jitong Tielu Gongsi, 56 Bei Yuan Jie, Huhehaote, 010010, China. Daban depot: China, Neimenggu, Balinyouqi Daban, Jitong Tielu Jiwuduan, 025150.

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