Kaiping Railway











[Part I: Introduction] [Part II: Rolling Stock] [Part III: Accident] 




It is of interest to note that China’s first recorded serious train accident happened on 25th March 1889. A head-on collision of two trains occurred at Chung Liang Cheng (Junliangcheng) when a down-train driver, named Jarvis, ignored rules and proceeded after a long wait on the passing loop to enter the next section of single track without waiting for the arrival of an up-train driven by a Mr. Dawson. Following the collision four carriages caught fire and several people were burned. Driver Dawson survived but the offending driver Jarvis, a fireman & 7 passengers died in the crash with more passengers dieing later from burns and injuries.



Shortly after the completion of the Tientsin section pressure was exerted for extensions westwards to Peking (Beijing) and eastwards towards the Great Wall. Imperial Court opposition prevented the western extension but the line east reached Kuyeh (Guye) {古冶} in 1890, Lanchou (Luanxian) {灤州}  in 1892 and Shan Hai Kuan (Shanhaiguan) {山海關} in 1893, during which period the line was transferred to the control of a newly formed Imperial Chinese Railway Administration { 鐵路總公司}. It was during this period of expansion that JEME Tien Yow {詹天佑} (who was later to become China’s most famous railway engineer) joined the railway company in 1888 as a cadet engineer under Kinder’s supervision. Kinder highly appreciated the talents of this Yale-graduated engineer and JEME Tien Yow was soon promoted to Resident and then District Engineer. In all JEME spent 12 years working on various sections of the Peking-Mukden line. JEME later achieved international recognition as the Engineer-in-Chief who built the Imperial Peking-Kalgan Railway without any foreign assistance.



Plans to continue the I.R.N.C. eastwards beyond Shan Hai Kuan to Chinchou (Jinchou){錦州}, Mukden (Shenyang) {沈陽} and Kirin (Jilin) {吉林} were set back by the lack of funds and because of war between Japan and China in late 1894 to 1895. By 1896 the rails had only reached Chung Ho So, 40 miles beyond Shan Hai Kuan. China’s loss of the war with Japan brought about LI Hung Chang’s removal from office and with this came a new management line-up for the now named “Imperial Railways of North China” (I.R.N.C.) After a short power struggle between rival factions SHENG Hsuan Huai { 盛宣懷 } succeeded in gaining control of this new company and appointed his own supporters to the I.R.N.C. directorate under HU Yu-Fen {胡燏棻}.

In 1898/9 a loan was arranged by the issue of bonds in London for the pupose of extending the line to Hsin Min Tung (Xinmin) {新民} and a branch line from Koupangtzu (Goubangzi) {子幫溝} to Newchwang (Yingkou) {營口}. In spite of objections from Russia (who were busy grabbing territory in the nearby north) the line to Chinchou was eventually completed in 1899. Back at the western end of the railway the line had reached first Fengtai {豐台} and later Ma Chiu Pu (Majiabao) {馬家堡} terminus outside Peking in 1897 from where an electric tramway was laid to the city’s South Gate.



The “Boxer” rebellion seriously interfered with further progress with the railway being badly damaged during Boxer attacks including the murder of the Chinese Managing Director. For a while the Chinese government lost control of what remained of the badly damaged railway during a period of allied foreign occupation. British military units repaired the line between Tientsin and Peking (1900-1902) and the railway was extended from the Ma Chiu Pu terminus to a new station near the front gate ( Cheng Yang Mun ) {正陽門} of Peking’s walled city as well as the addition of a branch line eastwards to Tungchou (Tongxian) {通縣}. Also during the period of foreign military control a small port was built at Chinwangtao (Qinhuangdao) {秦皇島} with a six mile branch line joining the main Peking-Shan Hai Kuan line near Tangho{湯河}. This port, which had been used for landing allied military personnel and supplies, was later turned over to and further developed by the Chinese Engineering & Mining Co. which by then controlled the Kaiping mines.



During the aftermath of the Boxer uprising the British and Russian military wrestled for control of the line north of Shan Hai Kuan. The British military, having pushed the Russians back to their Chinese Eastern Railway at Newchwang (Yingkou) , restored control of the railway to the Chinese government in October 1902 and once again the planned extension eastwards was resurrected with the line finally reaching Hsin Min Tun in late 1903.




In 1904-5 further disruption was caused by the war between Russia and Japan in an argument over Chinese territory. The Japanese laid a military narrow gauge line from Hsin Min Tung to Mukden in their bid to oust the Russians. Later in 1907 this extension was nominally handed over to Imperial Railways of North China and the line up-graded to standard gauge with Japanese assistance










It is interesting to note that Claude William Kinder gets little or no mention in Chinese historic sources, perhaps because of China’s intense sensitivity to the part played by foreigners in China during this period. He, however, played a crucial role in the early development of China’s railways, not so much involved in the political squabbles that were the order of the day, but from the point of view of being the reliable and steady man at the helm on the ground who got on with the job of building and operating the railways whilst his nominal superiors, the Chinese directors, jostled for power and played musical chairs. Kinder worked for the Chinese for 31years as Engineer-in-Chief and General Manager of the developing I.R.N.C. before resigning in May 1909 following a difference of opinion with the then Director-General TANG Shao Yi  { 唐紹儀 } over the terms of the loan contract for building the railway and in particular about the employment and dismissal of foreign engineers. TANG was a protege of YUAN Shi Kai { 袁世凱} (who himself briefly held the title of Director-General of Railways along with many other titles during 1902),  SHENG having been ousted from his position of dominance over China’s railways following the death of LI Hung Chang.



Kinder was appointed C.M.G. by the British in 1900 and a “Mandarin of the Red Button” of the second class by the Imperial Chinese Government in 1905 and also held the “Order of the Double Dragon” {雙龍寶星}. He was succeeded as Engineer-in-Chief, not by his deputy Alex Cox, but by A. Harvey Bellingham who had previously been municipal engineer for Tientsin city. There was much foreign public criticism about Kinder’s supposedly shabby treatment by TANG, and Kinder retired to England as a bitter man having been given no customary “golden handshake” and also denied payment for some 18 months in unpaid leave pay accumulated over his many years of service. He was eventually offered a compensatory position of engineering adviser, resident in England but declined the offer. Kinder died in Churt, England on August 9th 1935.



In February 1911 SHENG Hsuan Huai was reinstated (but not for long!) as the controller of the Imperial railways by virtue of his position as Minister of Posts and Communications. The revengeful SHENG lost no time in dismissing TANG’s cronies before once more being swept from power only a few months later when the republican revolution erupted.







In the meantime other Chinese government lines, including the Peking-Hankow Railway {京漢鐵路 } and the Peking-Kalgan Railway {京張鐵路} in addition to foreign controlled railways had come into being or had been started thus putting China’s railway development onto a much larger scale. From this time on and following the revolution the original I.R.N.C. line was referred to as the Peking-Mukden (“Ching-Feng” and later “Pei-Ning”) Railway.