China By Rail By William Middleton Soft Cover 1986

China By Rail By William Middleton Soft Cover 1986

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China By Rail By William Middleton Soft Cover 1986
China By Rail By William Middleton Soft Cover 1986  120 Pages
FROM AT LEAST THE time of Marco Polo, China has held a special attraction for Westerners. From the 19th century onward this has been particularly so for Americans, and successive generations of Yankee traders, missionaries, and fortune seekers have sailed across the Pacific to the great Celestial Empire of eastern Asia. Interrupted for close to three decades in the wake of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, that American involvement with China has resumed at full force, and once again Americans are discovering, or rediscovering, the fascinations of the world's most populous nation.
For the American railway enthusiast, China can be a place of particular interest. In America and Europe the era of railway growth and expansion was largely ended by the early 20th century, but in China the railway age is now. While largely isolated from the West over the 30 years that followed the end of the revolution, the Chinese have built a fragmented and incomplete system of pre-1949 railways into a great national system that has more than doubled in route mileage, and increased its passenger and freight traffic by 10 and 20 times. The building continues, and by the year 2000 China's railway planners expect to expand the system to half again as many route-miles, and to double the current level of freight and passenger traffic.
Aside from their vitality, China's railways hold a special appeal simply because of their extraordinarily American character. China encompasses a land area almost equal to that of the United States, and Chinese railways must similarly span great distances across an often rugged geography. The operating needs inherent in these conditions are reflected in an essential sturdiness of character that Chinese railways share with their American counterparts.
In their physical details, too, China's railways have an air of familiarity that is owed in large part to a long and exceptional American heritage. American builders and suppliers were prominent in the construction and equipping of China's early railways. The standard bearer in Chinese rail technology through World War II was the South Manchuria Railway which, despite its Japanese ownership, was almost wholly American in its equipment and operations. Out of this American background the Chinese have derived such common standards as rails laid to 4 feet 81/2-inch standard gauge, AAR pattern automatic couplers, Westinghouse air brakes, and the three-piece cast steel freight car truck. Even the ubiquitous Chinese-built standard steam locomotives of the post-I949 era have a thoroughly American look about them that is no accident, for many of them are built to designs derived from American exports to Chinese railroads of the 1920s and 1930s.

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