Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 58 (p42-p45)

Feature : World Railway Museums (part 2)
China Railway Museum

Yang Ling

China Railway Museum Overview

The China Railway Museum specializes in the collection and display of railway artifacts, education, and scientific research. As a public welfare institution, the museum aims to preserve railway cultural heritage, popularize railway knowledge, advocate the achievements and construction of China Railways, and promote railway culture. The museum consists of three halls with a collection of more than 6000 exhibits.

Three Exhibition Halls

The 5042-m2 Zhengyangmen Exhibition Hall is based on the architecture of Peking Mukden Railway Zhengyangmen East Station, a key protected cultural site in Beijing. It uses both advanced digital exhibition methods, such as 3D cinema, electronic sand table, and multi-point touch screens, but also fully reflects the history of railway development in China by exhibiting detailed materials, pictures and relics. Showcases focus on achievements accelerating the modernization of China Railways, emphasizing high-speed railways, locomotives and equipment, plateau railway, heavy freight haulage, and increasing speeds on existing lines.
The Eastern Suburb Exhibition Hall is planned to finally cover 157,500 m2, but now covers 61,942 m2 with a building floor area of 21,149 m2, including an open locomotive hall of 16,500 m2 exhibiting 100 types of locomotives and rolling stock from different periods in China’s railway development. It includes China’s oldest No. 0 steam locomotive, Mao Zedong, Zhu De, Guo Qin and other famous steam locomotives named after revolutionary leaders and important holidays. Meanwhile, the hall building holds the first locomotives of several types, such as Liberation, Victory, People, Qian Jin, Jian She and others, as well as some diesel and electric locomotives, like Dong Feng, Dong Fang Hong, Beijing, and Shao Shan, reflecting the development of China’s own manufacturing capacity. A variety of early foreign-built steam locomotives used in China is also on display. In addition, visitors can see all kinds of railway vehicles, government official cars, vintage railway carriages, sleeping cars, dining cars, and baggage cars, as well as many kinds of railway-related lorries and trucks.
The Zhan Tianyou Memorial Hall is located on the north side of the Great Wall at Badaling near Beijing. It was established in 1987 by the Ministry of Railways to commemorate the life of Zhan Tianyou (1861–1919), a national hero for his role in building China’s railway system.

China Railway Museum History

The beginnings of the China Railway Museum date back to the 1950s, when the Ministry of Railways (MOR) established a temporary exhibit for the Economic Achievements Exhibition in Beijing held by the National Economic Development Committee. After presenting the Economic Achievements Exhibition celebrating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the National Railway Shi Yi (National Day) Celebration, the MOR founded the Central Technical Library of MOR in 1958 to further publicize science and technological achievements and facilitate development of the Chinese railway industry.
In the following years, the Central Technical Library became successively the MOR Exhibition Group, the MOR Exhibition Department, and the MOR Science and Technology Museum. On 2 November 2002, the locomotive exhibition hall of the MOR Science and Technology Museum opened to the public, and was officially renamed the China Railway Museum on 1 September 2003. This was expanded in October 2009, when the separate Beijing Railway Museum was merged with the China Railway Museum.

Photo: Front of China Railway Museum (Zhengyangmen Exhibition Hall) (Author)
Models of high-speed train and high-power electric locomotive (Author)
Photo: Museum façade (Eastern Suburb Exhibition Hall) (Author)
Photo: Zhan Tianyou Memorial Hall (Shi Wenyi)
Photo: Locomotive Exhibition Hall (Author)
Photo: No. 0, China’s oldest preserved locomotive (Author)
Photo: SN-23 Narrow SL built by Baldwin in 1929 (Author)
Photo: KF1-006 SL built by Vulcan Foundry in 1936 (Author)

Collection Features

Although the Museum houses an extraordinary collection of historical data on the design, construction, and equipment of China’s railway industry, including rolling stock, signals and signalling equipment, stocks and bonds, commemorative badges and plates, instruments, rails and spikes, passenger and freight bills, etc., only a few of the more unusual items are introduced here.

No. 0 Steam Locomotive
This British-built (1881) 0-2-0 tank locomotive has a length of 4.75 meters, and a top speed of 20 mph. After purchase from a Scottish locomotive builder in 1882, it ran on China’s first domestically built Tangshan-Xugezhuang Railway. It is now China’s oldest preserved locomotive.

KF1 Steam Locomotive No. 006
KF1 was designed in 1933 by Chinese engineer Ying Shangcai and others for transporting passengers And hauling freight. The British builder Vulcan Foundry in Lancashire won the bid to build it in 1936. At 28.41-m long with a top speed of 100 mph and a 2-4-2 arrangement, it is both beautiful and high performance. All units were retired in 1968 and there are now just two units in the world. Number 007 was presented by the Chinese government to the British government in 1983 and it is now on display at the National Railway Museum in York.

Qian Jin Steam Locomotive No. 0001
Dalian Rolling Stock Plant designed and manufactured Qian Jin, China’s first self-developed, high-power, trunk freight locomotive in 1956. It is 26.1-m long with a 1-5-1 arrangement and a top speed of 80 mph. It launched a new era in China’s locomotive design and manufacture.

SN Steam Locomotive No. 23
This Baldwin-built SN 0-5-0 locomotive was built in 1929 for carrying passengers and hauling freight. It is a 600-mm, narrow-gauge locomotive and weighs about 50 tons with a speed of 45 mph. It ran in Jige and Gebishi, Yunnan Province and was retired by Kunming Railway Bureau in 1990, so it’s nicknamed the ‘Kun-rail-ten-wheeled’ locomotive.

Dong Fang Hong Diesel Locomotive No. 4290
This was the first generation of trunk line, hydraulic transmission, passenger, diesel B-B locomotives built by Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Works in 1971. It has a length of 17.255 meters, a speed of 120 mph and can run in both double and single header configurations. It proved to be reliable, easy-to-operate and had good performance. A total of 106 units had been built when production stopped in 1973.

Shao Shan Electric Locomotive No. 0008
This locomotive was China’s first generation of completely self-developed AC-DC electric locomotives. It was built by Tianxin Locomotive and Rolling Stock Works (predecessor of Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Works) in August 1968. It has a length of 20.64 meters, a speed of 90 mph, and a C0-C0 axle arrangement; it was the first trunk freight locomotive to use silicon rectifier technology in China. A total of 826 units had been built by the time production stopped in 1988.

Social Services

The Museum’s extensive collections of historical materials and cultural relics are presented imaginatively to the public to communicate the culture and achievement of railways so people know about them. It awakens memories of railway workers, increases their pride and confidence, and opens a door for the public to understand the history of China’s railways to appreciate its culture and latest developments. The Museum uses various methods to educate young visitors in railways and patriotism, increasing their interest in exploring science and igniting their love for motherland. It also serves as a guide for helping foreign tourists learn about China’s railways, and is a showpiece for the latest achievements in science and technology.

Photo: Shao Shan 1 Locomotive built by Tianxin Locomotive and Rolling Stock Works(Author)

Yang Ling
Ms Yang Ling is Director of the China Railway Museum Editorial and Research Department. She joined China Railways after graduating from college in 1985 and transferred to her present post in 2003.