IT is a fortunate circumstance for the Chinese in their contention for the full supervision of the expenditures of all railway loans from foreign syndicates, that the Imperial Peking-Kalgan Railway, which up to this time stands as the most difficult venture of its kind yet attempted in China, should have been financed, engineered and built solely by Chinese. Of even greater importance in support of this contention ds the fact that this road has set a record for low cost of construction which, all things considered, has seldom been equalled. The Peking-Kalgan Railway runs from the capital of . the Empire to the chief city on the caravan route to Russia. It is now 130 miles long and is being extended,. It was built from the surplus earnings of the government-owned Imperial railways of North China, and from the first rough isurvey to the driving of the last spike no foreigner had anything to do with its construction. To-day its operation is entirely in the hands of the Chinese. That it was built in spite of natural obstacles to construction which foreign experts declared were absolutely prohibitive to any Chinese engineer and possibly , even to themselves, is a , personal triumph of no mean magnitude for the chief engineer, Jeme Tien Yow. That it was built at a cost almost without parallel for similar construction—at a lower figure per mile even than some of the foreign-built roads on the level floor of the Yangtse Valley—is a striking object lesson for Europe and America, and will be a powerful weapon for the Chinese in their contention for fairer terms in borrowing foreign money. The line is now operating at a profit, so the directors of the Imperial Railways of North China have succeeded, not only in: providing their government with a line that is strategically valuable, but with one that earns a return on the money invested. From first to last, the Peking-Kalgan line is a great triumph for the Chinese. The name of Jeme Tien Yow stands out above all others in the record of the Peking-Kalgan Railway, and his achievements in connection with that enterprise alone are sufficient to have won him the undisputed title of China's leading engineer. He was one of a number of Chinese students who were sent to America about 1880 to receive university educations. Jeme Tien Yow was the only one who undertook a course in engineering. He graduated from Yale in 1883, and then went to a technical school in England for several years. On his return home he went into the employment of the Imperial Railways of North China, where, working under the British manager of that line, Mr. C. W. Kinder, he rose, post by post, outstripping many foreigners who were senior to him in point of service. Later he was appointed chief engineer of the Peking-Kalgan line. Preliminary surveys were made for this line in the summer of 1905 and construction work was begun in October of the same year. At the end of nine months the first section of the line, 32 miles long and reaching to the mouth of the Nankow Pass, was completed. Chinese were employed in every department, from the lowest coolie or camel-driver up to the chief himself. The saving of the salaries of high-priced foreign officials, interpreters and various middle men became apparent at once. An even greater saving was found in procuring earthwork and similar constructive materials directly from petty contractors along the line, instead of giving the contract to big contractors and then paying all the commissions necessary in their system of subletting and re-subletting contracts. This practice is not confined to China, but is carried to greater lengths there than anywhere else, and its abuse has been responsible for the great expense of so much work done by foreign syndicates in that country. For earthwork on this first division of the Kalgan line the average cost was about two cents per cubic yard; while after the Nankow Pass was reached and the embankments had to be made out of broken boulders, the cost rose to three cents a cubic yard. Broken stone for concrete was purchased for from 13 to 33 cents a cubic yard, delivered ready for use, and sand for the same purpose averaged about three cents. Most of this section of the line runs over a flat .plain, gradually sloping to the mountains. The Peking station is at Liutsin, a short distance outside the great wall of the capital, as very few Chinese railways penetrate the walls of any of the old cities, both on account of the lack of space inside and because of the violent prejudices of the conservative element of the people against such desecration. For some distance the line runs through a. fertile farming country dotted with small villages. The most striking feature of this part of the journey is Waushoushan, the £10,000,000 summer palace of the old Empress Dowager, with its roofs of Imperial yellow tiles standing out strikingly against the green hillside upon which it stands. Shortly the country commences to show traces of erosive wash from the mountains, and before long the crossing of numerous cuts and “arroyos” of gravel and boulders begin. The bridges are all solidly built of steel and concrete, and the largest of them is nearly 300 feet long, having five 30-foot spans and one of 110 feet. The steel superstructure of this bridge— with the exception of the long span which was supplied from England—as well as of all the other bridges on the line, was built in the shops of a Chinese company at Shanhaikuan. The Liutsin section of the line has a total of 21 bridges and 17 drains, aggregating 1,352 linear feet of openings. At Nankow are quarters for employees, machine shops, locomotive sheds and numerous other railway buildings of excellent construction. There is an up-to-date foundry in connection with the machine shop, where castings of any size required in locomotive and car repairing can be made. A well-equipped hotel, built and managed by the railway, fills a long-felt want of tourists. The Nankow Pass section, the most difficult piece of railway engineering in China, was the next portion of the line to be built. This pass must have presented a very discouraging aspect to the Chinese engineer when, with the honor of his country at stake and with the “inevitable” failure, prophesied by all the foreign engineers in the East staring him in the face, he started over it for his tentative study. There is a rise of 1,800 feet in the 10 miles from the mouth of the pass to the summit at Pataling, and the gorge is so narrow that it seemed almost impossible in places to keep the necessary curvature without tearing down the mountain. Five distinct surveys were run, and on the earlier ones some of the curves were sharp enough to “break the back of a snake,” as Mr. Jeme Tien Yow stated it. Slowly, and with infinite pains, a practicable route was determined upon, and along this the present line has been built. Even the most exhaustive surveying, however, could not solve all the problems, and at a point not far from the. summit tunnel, where it was necessary to have a station and sidings, a zig-zag was introduced. However, a station being necessary, the inconvenience of the zig-zag was minimized. The general direction of the railway up the. pass is about parallel to that of' the old stone-paved highway which leads down to Peking from the plains of Mongolia, the road over which all the Tartar invasions of the Chinese Empire have come since the time of Ghengis Khan. The general aspect of the . country, in its rockiness and lack of heavy vegetation, is strongly suggestive of some of the lower reaches of the more northerly passes of the Chilean Andes in South America. The railway up the pass is one continuous succession of cuttings, embankments, and tunnels. The embankments, regardless of their height, are for miles faced with cut and fitted granite blocks. All the overhanging boulders have been removed, or securely cemented into place even for hundreds of yards up the mountain sides, while the solid rock of the cuttings is trimmed as smoothly and evenly as if lined with plaster. The 19 bridges and the 36 culverts are all steel, concrete or cut stone, and in many instances where swift mountain torrents are crossed, cemented beds for the water prevent undermining. The tunnels af this division are four in number, their respective lengths, in order as approached from below, being 1,200 feet, 150 feet, 450 feet and 3,570 feet. The first tunnel which was driven through limestone, was completed in about six months. The other three tunnels, all of which are in granite, were completed in good time. The one at the summit, the longest in China, took over a year. The summit tunnel, which runs under the Great Wall, was driven according to thoroughly up-to-date practice. A shaft was sunk near the half-way point, and with the aid of fans, drilling machines and modern hoisting apparatus, work was carried on in both directions from the center, as well as from the ends of the tunnel. This shaft, with another, which was sunk to admit air near the northern portal of the tunnel, have since been lined with stone and retained as permanent ventilators. ' AH the tunnels are lined throughout with concrete, which Is also used for the portals. The open cutting in the pass, half of which is Id solid rock, amounted to 640,000 cubic yards, while the embankments required an aggregate of 1,275,000 cubic yards of material. The ilatter, except suoh as was provided from the cuttings, was obtained cheaply by blasting it out of the mountains close by. This earthwork labor cost only £44,000. The third or Chatao-Kimingyh division, 38 miles long, was of comparatively easy construction. There are 17 'bridges and 32 drains—in all 2,662- feet of linear openings. The principal engineering feature is a 1,000 foot bridge having ten 100-foot spans at Huilahsun. The fourth or Kimingyh-Kalgan division is also 38 miles long, and in engineering difficulties rivals that of Nankow Pass. At Hsiangshupo 16,500 feet of granite and sandstone have been cut through to make a way for the line along the steep bank of the Yangho, the cutting varying from 10 feet to 85 feet deep. There are 2,075 linear feet of openings, 21 bridges and 130 drains. The coal in use is from a mine worked by the railway company near Hsiahua, and the present output of 400 tons per day is ample for the railway requirements. There is a branch line 16 miles in length leading from Hsichihmen to the Mentoukou coal-fields, which gives the product of these mines an outlet to the Peking market. Of the character of the roadbed of this thoroughly-built line the photographs give a very good idea. (See pages 401, 410, and 411.) The sleepers are mainly of Japanese hard wood of a class which would cost in the vicinity of a dollar in the United States, but which are laid down in China for less than half that figure. On the mountain divisions, creosoted sleepers are used, with safeguards to prevent rail creeping. For the main line, which is of standard gage, 85-pound rails are used; for sidings and branches, 60-pound rails. The locomotives for the mountain divisions . of the line are mostly “Mallet” articulated compound, as shown in two of the photographs, and they were built by the North British Locomotive Company (Limited) of Glasgow. Such of the passenger cars as have not come from the shops of the Imperial Railways of North China at Tongshan are of American manufacture, but the company will doubtless build all its own cars in future. The China-made cars are of a modified British type, a sort af a compromise between a side-door compartment car and one of the center aisle-type. The freight cars are of 30-ton capacity, and were mostly built by the Leeds Forge Co. (Limited). The Chinese Students' Journal makes this 'strong plea for Chinese control of expenditures in railway construction: “A railway line is not a clubhouse or a private mansion upon which the owner or owners may expend millions merely for the gratification of their sense of beauty or for an exhibition of their wealth, but it is a commercial investment. The amount of capital invested in it must be commensurate with its power of paying dividends, and in the case of Chinese railways the redemption of the bonds must not be for a moment forgotten. Economy' on the Peking-Kalgan railway has been reduced almost to a science. There is no temptation to spend money recklessly, as no five per cent commission on every tael spent can enrich, the coffers of any corporation. There are no engineers who must have foreign style residences, cement tennis courts, ice-making machines, palatial house-boats and princely salaries before beginning work. There are no interpreters to browbeat the contractors, to make trouble with the local officials, and to make a fortune in little or no time. All contractors deal with the engineers directly, and no graft exists. The figures for the price of materials explain *1n a large part why a railway built under our own supervision and by our own engineers is so very much more economical. Another very important advantage gained Is the peaceful condition of the coolies during construction, due to the absence of misunderstanding between engineers, the coolies and the country people. No disturbance of any kind, still less of any rioting, has ever happened, and the work has proceeded so smoothly and quietly that the local officials are never called on to suppress disorders or punish offenders. There can be no unpleasantness arising through the interfering of foreign consuls and the referring of insignificant incidents to the ministers in Peking. One and all understand that the railway is a Chinese railway, that our own money is being spent, that the coolies are our' own people, though they are coolko, that the officials are officials appointed by the Emperor, and the result is that the work proceeds wtth-out a hitch of any kind." 410 SCIENTIFIC ^ An example of heavy cut-and-fill work. A typical bridge over one of the smaller streams. A short tunnel. Note the peculiar railroad signal posts. Kalgan Station, the northern Engineers who built the railroad; Jeme Tien A typical oriental scene at one of th THE PEKING-KALGAN RAILWAY—THE FIRST RAILWAY FIN. MERICAN 4] 1 :rminus of the railroad. The hand-car lucks incongruous under the shadow of the great wall. ?ow, the chief engineer, in the center. , One of the longer bridges. The piers are built of concrete. streams along the line. fCED, ENGINEERED AND BUILT SOLELY BY CHINESE Curious mixture of old and new: tunnel, culvert and great wall.
This article was originally published with the title "The Peking-Kalgan Railway" in Scientific American 105, 19, 409-411 (November 1911)