Manchukuo National Railway

The Manchukuo National Railway (滿洲國有鐵道, Chinese: Mǎnzhōu Guóyǒu Tiědào; Japanese: Manshū Kokuyū Tetsudō) was the state-owned national railway company of Manchukuo. Generally called the "國線" ("National Line", Chinese Guóxiàn, Japanese Kokusen), it was controlled by the Manchukuo Ministry of Transportation and had its lines primarily in the central and northern parts of the country. In local newspapers it was simply referred to it as "國鉄" (Japanese: Kokutetsu, "National Rail")

Manchukuo National Railway
Dates of operation19331945
PredecessorFengshan Railway,
Huhai Railway,
Jichang Jidun Railway,
Jihai Railway,
Qike Railway,
Shenhai Railway,
Sitao Railway,
Taoang Railway,
Taosuo Railway
SuccessorChina Changchun Railway (1949–1952)
China Railway (since 1952)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Previous gauge1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in) Russian gauge ex CER
HeadquartersMukden, Manchukuo (1933–1943);
Xinjing, Manchukuo (1943–1945)

Although officially it was a state-owned railway, in reality it was built, operated and managed by the South Manchuria Railway, and the Kwantung Army frequently intervened in its affairs. As a result, the Ministry of Transportation only nominally supervised the National Railway and issued publications regarding its affairs; essentially, it was a "puppet railway" that was not a puppet of the puppet government.


Sino-Japanese competition in railway construction

In Manchuria, the division of rights in Mainland China manifested itself in the form of competition in railway construction. As a result, following the end of the Russo-Japanese War, railway rights in Manchuria were split between Russia, which operated the Chinese Eastern Railway, and Japan, which operated the South Manchuria Railway (Mantetsu). Meanwhile, in the western part of Manchuria there operated a Chinese-owned railway on the BeijingShanhaiguanFengtian route, the Jingfeng Railway, which had been built with a loan given by the British Hongkong Shanghai Bank. In 1913 and 1918, China and Japan concluded two railway agreements which strengthened Japanese rights in Manchuria, further increasing the dominance of the great powers in China. After the 1922 establishment of the Republic of China, political and military activities were undertaken to reclaim Chinese rights. In Manchuria this movement also reached the railways, in the form of attacks against Mantetsu and Japanese interests.

The Fengtian warlords were in effect governing Manchuria at the time, and its leader, Zhang Zuolin, was cooperative with Japan. Nevertheless, he exhibited an independent attitude regarding railways, and in 1924 he established the "3 Eastern Provinces Transportiation Committee" (東三省交通委員會), and began laying railway with Chinese capital. To counter this, Japanese interests opened five more rail lines. Zhang Zuolin accepted the Japanese right to build new lines, but the Fengtian clique continued to build railways as well. The Kwantung Army had for some time wanted to somehow divide the Fengtian warlords, and on 4 June 1928 they assassinated Zhang Zuolin. He was succeeded as leader of the Fengtian clique by his son, Zhang Xueliang, who in December of that year declared his allegiance to the Kuomintang, becoming fervently anti-Japanese.

After Zhang Xueliang's succession, he reorganised the 3 Provinces Transportation Committee into the "Northeastern Transportation Committee" (東北交通委員會), and undertook a strategy intended to surround and attack Mantetsu. The first step was the construction of a branch from the midpoint of the Jingfeng Railway to Huludao, where he built a new port. From then on, the Jingfeng Railway's network was planned with the goal of encircling and undermining the Japanese-owned railway. This was a severe blow to Mantetsu. The Jingfeng Railways new lines all ran parallel to the Mantetsu lines, several kilometres away, but shippers who previously had no choice but to use Mantetsu's service moved their business to the Chinese-owned company, even if its line was further away. The Japanese protested strongly on the basis of the Sino-Japanese Treaty concerning the Three Provinces (Chinese: 中日會議東三省事宜條約), in which it had been agreed that no railways running parallel to Mantetsu lines would be built. The Fengtian clique ignored this, and the conflict between the two railways intensified.

Establishment of Manchukuo and succession of rights

In order to break the stalemate in the conflict between Japan and the Fengtian warlords, including the conflict over railways, the Kwantung Army took action, staging the Mukden Incident, in which a Japanese soldier detonated a small quantity of dynamite near a Mantetsu line on 18 September 1931; although no damage was inflicted, it was blamed on Chinese terrorists, and was used as a pretext for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. The Fengtian clique, which effectively had been the government of Manchuria until that time, collapsed in October. As the Northeastern Transportation Committee was dissolved with the collapse of the Fengtian junta, the Kwantung Army established the "New Northeastern Transportation Committee" (新東北交通委員會) on 23 October, which temporarily took over management of the railways. By February 1932, the Kwantung Army had occupied all of Manchuria. To avoid international criticism, the Kwantung Army established the puppet state of Manchukuo on 1 March 1932. Consequently, the management of the railways was transferred from the Transportation Committee to the new Manchukuo Ministry of Transportation. Each railway company remained independent - no "state-owned" railway company was established at this time.

Creation of the Manchukuo National Railway

Less than a year later, the "Railway Act" was passed on 9 February 1933, which nationalised all railways, and went into effect on the same day, establishing the Manchukuo National Railway. However, on the very same day as they were nationalised, all railway companies received a directive from the Ministry of Transportation instructing them to hand over their operations to the South Manchuria Railway. In effect, the Manchukuo Ministry of Transportation never managed "its" railway on its own, instead immediately outsourcing it to the Japanese-owned Mantetsu and removing itself entirely from the sector of business.

The Manchukuo National Railway was created out of nine companies.

  • Fengshan Railway (奉山鉄路): ShanhaiguanFengtian, Huanggutun–Fengtian General Station, DahushanTongliao, GoubangziYingkou, JinxianKoubeiyingzi, JinlingsiBeipiao, LianshanHuludao. This was the oldest railway in Manchuria, established in 1899 as an extension of the Jingfeng Railway. The full network, including branch lines, was completed in 1927. Initially part of the Jingfeng Railway, it became an independent entity on 9 January 1932. This Yingkou Station was not the same as the Yingkou Station as Mantetsu's station of the same name.
  • Huhai Railway (呼海鉄路): MachuankouHailun. This railway in Heilongjiang Province was originally planned during the Qing Dynasty, but the Xinhai Revolution prevented it from being built. An agreement was subsequently made with Russia to build the line, but due to the October Revolution these plans also fell through. Construction finally began in 1925 as a joint venture between the government and private interests, and the line was completed in December 1928. The line ran north from Machuankou, which was on the opposite bank of the river from Harbin. As Harbin was a central point of the Chinese Eastern Railway, conflict arose with the CER, and the line remained isolated from the rest of Manchuria's rail network at the time of the nationalisation.
  • Jichang Jidun Railway (吉長吉敦鉄路): Xinjing–Jilin, Jilin–Dunhua, JiaoheNaizishan. This was originally two companies, the Jichang Railway (吉長鉄路) and the Jidun Railway (吉敦鉄路), which were both joint ventures between Japan and the Republic of China. The Jichang Railway was completed in October 1912, and the Jidun Railway was completed in October 1928. Management of both railways was entrusted to Mantetsu. As the expenses for the short railways were too high, the two companies were merged in November 1931, as a cost-management measure.
  • Jihai Railway (吉海鉄路): Chaoyangzhen–Jilin. Opened in August 1929, it operated in conjunction with the Shenhai Railway to connect Fengtian with Jilin City. It was one of the routes built parallel to Mantetsu as part of Zhang Xueliang's anti-Mantetsu efforts.
  • Qike Railway (斉克鉄路): Qiqihar–Ang'angxi, Yushuntun–East Ang'angxi, Qiqihar–Taian, NingnianLaha. Initially, the Qike Railway had planned only to build north from Qiqihar; the line south from there was originally planned by the Taoang Railway. The Taoang Railway was unable to realise that plan due to problems getting permission to cross the Chinese Eastern Railway, but after an intervention by the Northeast Transportation Committee, the line was built - by the Qike Railway - in 1928. The first section to be built was the Qiqihar–Keshan section. At the North Manchuria Railway (Chinese Eastern Railway) Qiqihar Station this line connected with the narrow-gauge Qi'ang Light Railway.
  • Shenhai Railway (瀋海鉄路): Fengtian–HailongChaoyangzhen, ShaheXi'an. This was originally one of the routes that Japan received the right to build under the terms of the Sino-Japanese railway agreements of 1913 and 1918. As the construction never took place, the rights were given to Chinese interests in 1924. Construction was undertaken by the Fengtian clique's "Three Provinces Transportation Commission", and the line was completed in August 1928. Although it was originally a semi-private railway, in practical terms it was government-run at all times. It was originally called "Fenghai Railway" (奉海鉄路). It was one of the routes built parallel to Mantetsu as part of Zhang Xueliang's anti-Mantetsu efforts.
  • Sitao Railway (四洮鉄路): SipingjieZhengjiatunTaonan, Zhengjiatun–Tongliao. This was originally one of the routes that Japan received the right to build under the terms of the Sino-Japanese railway agreements of 1913 and 1918. The entire network was completed in November 1923. An agreement to entrust management to Mantetsu was signed in 1931, but was not implemented until after nationalisation.
  • Taoang Railway (洮昂鉄路): TaonanAng'angxi. This railway was established in 1924 as a joint venture between Mantetsu and the Fengtian clique, with construction of the line being completed in July 1926. It was originally planned to continue the line to Qiqihar, but permission to cross the Chinese Eastern Railway could not be secured. See the Qike Railway below for further information.
  • Taosuo Railway (洮索鉄路): BaichengziHuaiyuanzhen. This is one of the five railways whose construction was ordered by the Fengtian clique in 1927. Planning and construction was undertaken by the Northeastern Transportation Committee, as part of the network intended to surround Mantetsu. By February 1931 it was not yet completed.

After the nationalisation and the creation of the Manchukuo National Railway, each former company was reformed as a "Railway Bureau", e.g. the Fengshan Railway became the "Fengshan Railway Bureau" (奉山鉄路局), and each former railway's lines were named as a group, e.g., the entire network of the Fengshan Railway was called the "Fengshan Line" (奉山線). Due to the fact that the various railways had been independent, in several cities it was the case that there were several separate railway stations, which left the National Railway with a complicated organisational structure.

Establishment of the General Railway Administration

On 1 March 1933, just under a month after the operation and management of the National Railway was entrusted to Mantetsu, the "General Railway Administration" was established at Mukden and the "Railway Construction Bureau" at Dalian. As a result of this, lines owned by Mantetsu were called "Company Lines" (社線, Ch. shèxiàn, Ja. shasen), while those of the National Railway were called "National Lines" (國線, Ch. guóxiàn, Ja. kokusen). Although the General Railway Administration was officially a department of Mantetsu, in reality the Kwantung Army, which was secretly the power behind the Manchukuo government and wanting to take advantage of the railways of Manchuria, was deeply involved in its operation. When the General Railway Administration was set up, an "Agreement on the Management of Railways, Ports and Rivers" was signed. This gave the Kwantung Army extensive management rights over Mantetsu, and treated the Administration as if it were a department of the Kwantung Army.

However, this discomfited the Mantetsu side deeply, as according to another agreement, much of Mantetsu's profits were to be diverted to the Kwantung Army. In addition, many of the routes the Kwantung Army sought to build were planned with military interests in mind, which, from the point of view of the railway as a business, were regarded as having very little potential profit. Further, the General Administration intervened in route planning on several occasions, changing or rejecting planned lines as "not militarily important". Although Mantetsu were reluctant to accept these, there was little choice but to obey the Kwantung Army's directives. As a result of conflicts such as these, the relationship between Mantetsu and the Kwantung Army, which had initially been positive and cooperative, deteriorated rapidly, and each side grew more distrustful of the other.

Meanwhile, the General Administration and the Construction Bureau proceeded with the construction of new lines as planned. As lines were consolidated and redundancies eliminated, the "group naming" of railway lines ceased and lines received new names, but the stations remained as they had previously been. On 1 April 1934, the railway stations in Mukden, Xinjing, Harbin and Taonan were consolidated.

Acquisition of the North Manchuria Railway and the General Directorate of Railways

The biggest single event of the Railway General Administration period was the acquisition of the North Manchuria Railway - the former Chinese Eastern Railway. Although the Chinese share of the CER was nationalised when the National Railway was formed, the Russian share remained in Russian hands. However, due to the construction of new lines by the National Railway, the importance of the CER line was significantly reduced. Consequently, the Soviet government, which had become the owner after the establishment of the RSFSR and had found ownership of the railway an unnecessary burden, decided to accept the acquisition proposal, and on 23 March 1935 the Railway General Administration formally acquired the North Manchuria Railway and merged it into the Manchukuo National Railway.

As the NMR had been built to Russian 5 ft (1,524 mm) gauge, over the next two years the former NMR network was converted to standard gauge. Of particular note is the line between Xinjing and Harbin which a team of 2,500 workers regauged in its entirety in three hours on 31 August 1935.[1] Following the acquisition of the North Manchuria Railway, all railways in Manchuria, with the exception of those with very small local-interest routes, were either National Lines or Company Lines.

Subsequently, the Railway General Administration, the Railway Construction Bureau and Mantetsu's Railways Department were merged, creating the "General Directorate of Railways" on 1 October 1936, leaving the Manchukuo National Railway even less "National" than before. This move to integrate Mantetsu and the National Railway served to frustrate the Kwantung Army, which had wanted free rein over the National Railway.

Meanwhile, construction of new lines continued, reaching a total of 10,000 km (6,200 mi) in 1939. Commemorative stamps were issued, and Mantetsu itself held a celebration and made a commemorative film. After reaching that milestone, expansion slowed, with new construction being limited to short branchlines.

It was at this peak state that the Pacific War began. After the outbreak of war, in order to improve wartime efficiency, organisational reforms were conducted to streamline operations. On 1 May 1943 the headquarters were moved to Xinjing, the General Directorate of Railways was abolished, and operations were entrusted to the headquarters. Through this reform, the National Railway and Mantetsu were completely merged in all but name, and remained so until the end of the war.


On 9 August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria. On 15 August, Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration; this news reached Manchukuo two days later, on 17 August. As a result, the Emperor of Manchukuo, Puyi, abdicated on the 18th, and Manchukuo ceased to exist. Additionally, the Kwantung Army withdrew entirely, leaving Mantetsu virtually the governing body of the region. Because the owner disappeared literally overnight, the National Railway was no longer "national". Its management collapsed entirely, leaving Mantetsu to administer it as its own route.

On 20 August, Soviet troops occupied Mantetsu's head office, and on 22 September, with the establishment of the China Changchun Railway (中国長春鉄路), Mantetsu itself, along with the Manchukuo National Railway, ceased to exist.


Line name
ChineseJapaneseEndpointsLength (km)OriginRemarks
Baidu Line (zh)Hakuto LineBaichengzi–Duluer376.5ex Taosuo Railway (Baichengzi–Ningjiafan)A'ershan–Duluer section closed.
Beihei LineHokkoku LineBei'an–Heihe302.9
Beipiao LineHokuhyō LineJinlingsi–Beipiao17.9ex Fengshan Railway
Binbei LineHinboku LineSankeshu–Bei'an326.1ex Huhai Railway (Xinsongpu–Hailun)
ex Haike Railway (Hailun–Bei'an)
Binjiang LineHinkō LineHarbin–Sankeshu8.8ex North Manchuria Railway (Harbin–Binjiang)Now part of the Sankeshu Railway (zh)
Binzhou LineHinshū LineHarbin–Manzhouli934.8ex North Manchuria Railway
Binsui LineHinsui LineHarbin–Suifenhe546.4ex North Manchuria Railway
Chaokai LineChōkai LineChaoyangchuan–Sangsambong, Korea60.6ex Tiantu Railway
Chengji Line (zh)Jōkei LineXiachengzi–Xijijia103.4ex Muling Railway (Xiachengzi–Lishuzhen)
Dalizi Line (zh)Dairisshi LineYayuan–Dalizi112.3
Dazheng Line (zh)Daitei LineDahushan–Zhengjiatun (zh)366.2ex Fengshan Railway (Dahushan–Tongliao),
ex Sitao Railway (Tongliao–Zhengjiatun)
Dongmen Connecting LineTōmon Connecting LineDongmen signal station–Xinxiangfang6.2Goods only. Now part of the Sankeshu Railway (zh)
Fengji Line (zh)Hōkitsu LineFengtian–Jilin447.4ex Shenhai Railway (Fengtian–Chaoyangzhen),
Jihai Railway (Chaoyangzhen–Jilin)
Fengshan LineHōzan LineFengtian–Shanhaiguan419.6ex Fengshan RailwayNow part of the Jingha Railway
Fengyu Connecting LineHōyū Connecting LineFengtian–Yuguo (zh)17.5Goods only. Now part of the Huanggutun Railway.
Fushuncheng Connecting LineBushunjō Connecting LineFushun–Fushun City4.5goods only
Gaoxin Line (zh)Kōshin LineGaotaishan–Xinlitun60.6
Hailin Line (zh)Kairin Line41.4Aotou–ChangtingzhenNow Huolonggou Railway.
Harbin Quay LineHarubinfutō LineHarbin–Harbin Quay2.9ex North Manchuria Railway (Harbin–Baqu)
Hebei LineKahoku LineGoubangzi–Hebei91.1ex Fengshan RailwayClosed.
Hegang Line (zh)Kakkō LineLianjiangkou–Hegang54.3
Heihe Quay LineKokkafutō LineHeihe–Heihe Quay4.2goods only
Helong Line (zh)Waryū LineLongjing–Helong61.6
Hengshan Line (zh)Kōzan LineJining–Hengshan12.4
Heshui Connecting LineGōsui Connecting LineXiansui signal station–Heshui signal stationgoods only
Huanggutun Connecting LineŌkuton Connecting LineHuanggutun–North Fengtian2.8Goods only. Now part of the Huanggutun Railway.
Hulin LineKorin LineLinkou–Hutou355.7
Huludao LineKorodō LineJinxi (zh)–Huludao Quay12.1ex Fengshan Railway
Jiamusi Quay LineKamushifutō LineJiamusi–Jiamusi Quay3.6goods only
Jiangjunbao Connecting LineShōgunhō Connecting LineFushun–Jiangjunbao signal station3.6goods only
Jiangnan Connecting LineKōnan Connecting LineTaipingqiao–Jiangnan signal station2.2Goods only
Jingbai Line (zh)Kyōhaku LineXinjing–Baichengzi332.6
Jingbin LineKyōhin LineXinjing–Harbin242.0ex North Manchuria RailwayNow part of the Jingha Railway
Jingtu Line (zh)Kyōto LineXinjing–Tumen528.0ex Jichang Jidun Railway (Xinjing–Dunhua),
ex Duntu Railway (Dunhua–Haerbaling)
Jin'gu LineKinko LineJinxian–Gubeikou542.3ex Fengshan Railway (Jinxian–Koubeiyingzi)Now part of the Jincheng Railway (zh). Chengde–Gubeikou section dismantled in 1945.
Jinzhu LineKinshu LineJiangbei–Jinzhu18.8ex Jilin Railway (Xinjilin–Jinzhu)Made part of the Longshu Line in 1941
Kaidaohui LineKaidaokai LineYabuluoni–Hengdaohezi59.2Now part of the Binsui Railway and the Yalin Railway (zh)
Labin LineRōhin LineSankeshu–Lafa265.5
Lianjiangkou Quay LineRenkakō Connecting LineLianjiangkou–Lianjiangkou Quay3.5Goods only
Liaogong Line (zh)Ryōkei LineLiaoyang–Benxi69.0
Longli Line (zh)Ryōrei LineLongtanshan–Daliman22.4Now called Longfeng Railway
Longshu Line (zh)Ryūjo Branch LineLongtanshan–Shulan86.0
Meiji Line (zh)Baishū LineMeihekou–Manpo, Korea255.5
Meiyao LineShulan–Meiyao30.4ex Jilin RailwayMade part of the Longshu Line in 1941
Ninghuo LineNeikaku LineNingnian–Huolongmen284.0ex Qike Railway (Ningnian–Laha)
Pingqi Line (zh)Heisei LineSiping–Qiqihar571.4Sitao Railway (Siping–Taonan)
Taoang Railway (Taonan–Sanjianfang)
Qike Railway (Sanjianfang–Qiqihar)
Qibei Line (zh)Seihoku LineQiqihar–Bei'an231.5ex Qike Railway (Qiqihar–Tai'an)
ex Taike Railway (Tai'an–Keshan)
ex Haike Railway (Keshan–Bei'an)
Sankeshu Quay LineSankajufutō LineBinjiang–Sankeshu4.0goods only. Now part of the Sankeshu Railway (zh)
Shenyang Connecting LineShin'yō Connecting LineFengtian–Shenyang10.7Goods only. Now part of the Shenda Railway (zh)
Simei Line (zh)Shibai LineSiping–Meihekou149.2ex Shenhai Railway (Xi'an–Lianhe)
Suijia Line (zh)Suika LineSuihua–Jiamusi381.8
Suining Line (zh)Suinei LineHexi–Dongning91.1
Taoyu LineTōyu LineTaolaizhao–Yushu56.0Now part of the Taoshu Railway.
Tujia Line (zh)Toka LineTumen–Jiamusi580.2
Wangqing Connecting LineŌsei Connecting LineWangqing–Xiaowangqing9.0goods only
Xiangfang Connecting LineKōbō Connecting LineXiangfang–Dongmen signal station5.1goods only
Xiaoxin Connecting LineShōshin Connecting LineXiaogujia–Xinzhan9.1goods only
Xijian Line (zh)Keikan LineGongyuan–Tianshifu86.0ex Xijian Railway (ja)
Xingning LineShinnei LineXinxing–Chengzigou216.1Parts now part of the Binsui Railway
Xintonghua LineShintsūka LineTonghua–Xintonghua4.2
Xinyi Line (zh)Shingi LineXinlitun–Yixian131.5
Yefeng Line (zh)Yōhō LineYebaishou–Chifeng146.9
Yuhong Connecting LineUkō Connecting LineYuhong signal station–Dacheng signal station4.6goods only
Yushu LineYuju LineYushutun–Ang'angxi6.4ex Qike RailwayNow part of Pingqi Railway (zh)

Differences between the National Railway and Mantetsu

The Manchukuo National Railway, called the "National Lines", freely operated over Mantetsu lines (called "Company Lines"), and vice versa, without distinguishing it by who owned the line. Most passenger services were completely integrated with Mantetsu. However, in certain aspects there was a strict distinction.

Rolling stock types

The same types of rolling stock were used by both the National Railway and Mantetsu. However, the MNR also had equipment that had been inherited from the formerly private railways, which was different from the standard types. Although some locomotive types differed, in general they were similar, and those built by Mantetsu's factories were the same. As a result, from October 1933 the National Railway's locomotives were classified according to the Mantetsu classification system.

Conversely, passenger carriages differed significantly from those of Mantetsu, and there were many designs of which there were only a very few examples, or even only a single example. As a result, these miscellaneous types ended up being assigned class designations with "9" (e.g. Ha9, ハ9), or were classified with the old railway company's name plus the type designation, e.g. 瀋海ロネ1, Shenhai RoNe1; gradually, these types were scrapped.

With the acquisition of the North Manchuria Railway in 1935, equipment differences became much more marked. This was because the NMR was built to Russian broad gauge, and the equipment conformed to that standard; these were referred to as "broad vehicles" (広軌車輛) by the National Railway. This equipment all had old-style couplers and buffers, independent heaters in each passenger car, and were very different and much less modern than Mantetsu equipment. As a result, this equipment could not be used together with other equipment. Locomotives were classified with letters of the alphabet instead of numbers (e.g. テホA), and passenger equipment classifications were composed of the standard type designation plus オ ("o"), e.g. ハオ "HaO". Due to the fact that so much of the North Manchuria Railway's equipment was outdated, after the regauging of the NMR lines it was decided not to convert the rolling stock to standard gauge. Exceptions included some of the newest locomotives; 44 locomotives of the DekaA (デカA) class and six of the DabuA (ダブA) class were converted to standard gauge, becoming National Railway classes Dekani (デカニ) and Daburo (ダブロ, later Satai (サタイ)) respectively. A small number of passenger carriages were also converted and remained in use. However, only converted locomotives lasted until the end of the war; the last of the passenger cars were scrapped by 1943.

Not all of the unmodified locomotives were scrapped; after being withdrawn from service, nearly 100 locomotives were stored at the Harbin railway works; around 70 of these have been identified. Although the reason for storing locomotives that could not be used on Manchuria's standard gauge lines is unknown, Yoshizumi Ishihara speculated in his 1972 book, "南満洲鉄道 鉄道の発展と機関車" (The Development of the South Manchuria Railway and its Locomotives) that they were kept for use on Soviet lines, in case Japan ever invaded the Soviet Far East.

In addition to the rolling stock inherited from the nationalised private railways, the National Railway operated locomotives transferred from Mantetsu. A strict distinction was made between rolling stock belonging to the National Railway and that belonging to Mantetsu.

National Railway locomotives, even if they were of the same class as Mantetsu locomotives, were given a different class designation and numbered in the 5000 or 6000 series or higher, to distinguish them from those belonging to Mantetsu. Locomotives that were transferred from Mantetsu to the National Railway were reclassified and renumbered. However, as the number of locomotives increased, and the North China Transportation Company was established as a subsidiary, this method became too complex, so in April 1938 the classification and numbering system was overhauled. A uniform classification system was introduced for all three railways, with locomotives of the same type receiving the same class designation. Only the numbering indicated ownership, with locomotives of the National Railway being numbered in the 501-1000 range.

Passenger carriages, which had not been previously distinguished, were likewise renumbered. In the classification system of April 1938, 3rd class carriages were numbered in the 2001-4000 range. When powered railcars were introduced, a new classification system was introduced, with National Railway railcar classes - otherwise identical to the Mantetsu classes - having the class designation preceded by "國" (koku, "country"). Diesel railcars of the National Railway were numbered in the 2000 series. The April 1938 system changed this, introducing a new, unified classification system, and numbering petrol and diesel railcars belonging to the National Railway in the 200 series.

Freight equipment was distinctively American in appearance.

Fares and goods rates

On the passenger system, most regulations were identical to those of Mantetsu, so there was no major difference between Mantetsu and the National Railway. However, due to the use of different currencies, passenger fares and goods rates varied. The method of calculating and collecting fares and goods charges when moving between company and national lines changed on several a number of occasions according to the needs of the time.

Immediately after the creation of the National Railway, in cases where connection was being made between the two railways, an "interchange ticket" was issued and the fare was collected. This was carried over from the time before the establishment of Manchukuo, when such interchange agreements had been made with the privately owned railways that were later nationalised. Mantetsu's official currency was the Korean yen, while the National Railway the used Haikwan tael. After calculating the fares for the sections on the company and national lines separately, they were converted to the currency used by the railway owning the station where the ticket was being bought, based on a standardised conversion rate, and the two fares were then added together to determine the final ticket price. For example, if a ticket was bought for a trip from Dalian to Jilin, the price was payable in Korean yen, as Dalian was on Mantetsu; if the ticket was for a trip from Jilin to Dalian, it was payable in taels, as Jilin was on the National Railway. The interchange agreement also limited where such interchange tickets could be bought, and so they were available for purchase only at major stations.

This system was continued after the establishment of the General Railway Administration, and for lines with which there had been no interchange agreement, new agreements were concluded. After the establishment of Manchukuo, the National Railway's official currency was changed to the new Manchukuo yuan, and aside from a necessary adjustment to the conversion rate, the system of calculating interchange fares remained unchanged.

From 1 April 1934 this system was abolished, and a unified system of fare calculation was introduced. Mantetsu continued to calculate fares in Korean yen and sen (1 yen = 100 sen), and the National Railway continued to use Manchukuo yuan/chiao/fen (1 yuan = 10 chiao = 100 fen). The fare for the entire ticket was calculated in the appropriate currency, and the ticket was marked in those units as well. Ticket purchasing was also made more convenient, by allowing sales of interchange tickets at all stations except for halts and certain special stations. However, as the Manchukuo yuan was silver-based, and the Korean yen was gold-based, the ticket fare was converted to the currency used by the railway owning the point of sale, based on conversion rates issued regularly by Mantetsu. Many complaints were received about the complexity and inconvenience of this system.

On 3 October 1935, the Manchukuo yuan was taken off the silver standard and was pegged to the Japanese yen, and from 5 October the Manchukuo yuan was treated as equivalent to the Korean yen for the purchase of tickets. As a result, one Manchukuo yuan at a National Railway station became equivalent to one Korean yen at a Mantetsu station, so tickets had the same face value regardless of which railway issued the ticket. Fares continued to be calculated separately according to the distance-based fare of the railway on which a given portion of the trip was to be made, then added up. From 1 January 1938 it was further simplified, with tickets for trips originating at a station of the National Railway being calculated for the entire trip according to the fare-kilometer distance of the National Railway and sold in yuan, and tickets for trips starting at a Mantetsu station being calculated according to Mantetsu fare schedules and sold in Korean yen.

The National Railway's fare rates were separate from those of Mantetsu, and initially were divided by railway district. When the Railway General Administration defined transport regulations on 1 April 1934 there were four districts. A unitary system was introduced on 1 February 1936, with fare rates fixed slightly higher than those of Mantetsu. On 1 December 1940 Mantetsu and National Railway fare rates were equalised. On 1 October 1941 a toll tax was introduced, which was calculated according to the distance to be travelled.

Express fares were based on a different system than on Mantetsu; initially, there was no surcharge for limited express tickets. When the surcharge was introduced, there were no express trains that travelled directly between national and company lines, so the surcharge applied only to the National Railway. Surcharges were also converted to the currency used at the point of sale.

As sleeping car fares were determined not by fare-kilometer but on a per-night basis, even in the case of a direct train between the two railways, the specified fare was simply collected in Korean yen at Mantetsu stations, and in Manchukuo yuan at National Railway stations. However, if a sleeper ticket was bought at a station of the railway other than the one from which the sleeping car was to depart from, the sleeper fare had to be paid in the currency used at the departure station.

Rolling Stock

Steam Locomotives

Express Passenger Locomotives

in class
パシ Pashi (to 9/33)
パシク Pashiku
800–818 (to 9/33)
501–5194-6-2Kawasaki, Kisha Seizō, Hitachi19"National Large Pashi" (國小パシ). New to MNR in 1933
507−5104-6-2Shahekou4Nationalised from Sitao Railway
501–5104-6-2Hitachi10"National Small Pashi" (國小パシ). New to MNR in 1934
511–5304-6-2Hitachi, Kisha Seizō20"New National Small Pashi" (新國小パシ). New to MNR in 1936
501–5064-6-2ALCo6From Mantetsu 1933
501–5064-6-2Baldwin6From Mantetsu 1934
520–6324-6-2Kawasaki, Kisha Seizō, Hitachi, Nippon Sharyō113"New National Large Pashi" (新國小パシ). New to MNR 1937–1944
5014-6-2Shahekou1Boxpok wheels. New to MNR 1940.

Ordinary Passenger Locomotives

in class
501−5xx4-6-0Bryansk, Kharkov?Nationalised from North Manchuria Ry, classes Г, Гч, as MNR デカA;
Гч converted to standard gauge => テホイ
501–5024-6-0ALCo2Nationalised from Jichang Jidun Railway in 1933
501–5024-6-0ALCo2From Mantetsu 1933
501–5054-6-0Beyer, Peacock5Nationalised from Fengshan Railway in 1933

Freight Locomotives

in class
501–5152-10-0ALCo, Shahekou15From Mantetsu 1935
501–5442-10-0ALCo, Baldwin44Nationalised from North Manchuria Ry, classes Еф, Ес, Ел, as MNR デカA;
converted to standard gauge => デカニ
501−5192-8-2Škoda19Nationalised from the Qike, Huhai, and Sitao Railways
517−5222-8-2ALCo6Nationalised from the Jihai Railway
?(to NCTC)-2-8-2Kawasaki?Nationalised from Jichang Railway; to NCTC as Mikako in 1938
501–5482-8-2Kawasaki, Kisha Seizō,
Hitachi, Nippon Sharyō
91501–526: "National Small Mika" (国小ミカ), 1934
527–548: "New National Small Mika" (新国小ミカ), 1935
2-8-2Kawasaki, Kisha Seizō,
Hitachi, Shahekou,
Nippon Sharyō, Dalian
171"New National Small Mika" (新国小ミカ)
New to MNR 1936–1944
640–644 to NCTC
ミカ Mika (1st)
ミカナ Mikana (2nd)
1500–1533 (1st)
6700–6773 (2nd)
501–5742-8-2ALCo, Shahekou, Kisha Seizō,
Kawasaki, Hitachi, Nippon Sharyō
74"National Big Mika" (国大ミカ)
New to MNR 1935–1945
575–12832-8-2Shahekou, Kisha Seizō,
Kawasaki, Hitachi
709"New National Big Mika" (新国大ミカ)
New to MNR 1935–1945
501−5162-8-2Kawasaki, Kisha Seizō16Nationalised from Jichang Ry 500 class
5012-8-2Dalian Machine or
1Experimental water-recycler for long-distance operation. In testing ran
1,600 km (990 mi) without taking on water
2-6-0Tangshan Arsenal, Baldwin11520 from Shenhai Ry 51 in 1933 (built Tangshan 1921)
521–524 from Shenhai Ry 52–55 in 1933 (built Baldwin 1927)
528–533 from Jichang Jidun Ry 101–106 in 1933 (built Tangshan 1911)
505–5062-8-0ALCo2Nationalised from Jichang Jidun Ry in 1933
501–5152-8-0ALCo15From Mantetsu 1933
? (total 33)ソリサ
501–5332-8-0Beyer, Peacock3313 from Mantetsu 1933,
20 from Mantetsu 1935
534–5462-8-0Shahekou13From Mantetsu 1935
Altoona Works
15From PRR in 1938

Shunting Locomotives

in class
506−5xx2-6-4TKitson & Co.Nationalised from ?
501−5052-6-4TBaldwin5Nationalised from Jihai Ry 801−805;
leased to East Manchuria Ry
? (total 49)ダブイ
501–5492-6-4TALCo49From Mantetsu 1933
? (total 7)(to NCTC)-2-10-2TŠkoda (6x)
Kawasaki (1x)
7Nationalised from North Manchuria Ry, class Ь, as MNR ダブA;
converted to standard gauge => ダブロ;
transferred to NCTC as Satai
? (total 13)エトニ
501−5130-8-0Bryansk, Kharkov13Nationalised from North Manchuria Ry, class Oд, as MNR エトA;
13 converted to standard gauge => エトイ
? (total 1)
Tangshan/North British
4501 from Jinghan Ry in 1933 (built Baldwin 1919)
505–507 from Beining Ry in 1933 (built by North British, assembled by Tangshan)
? (total 3)プレイ
501–5032-6-2ALCo3From Mantetsu 1933
501−5xx0-6-0TBaldwin, Kolomna?Nationalised from North Manchuria Ry, class Ьа and Ьк, as MNR シカA;
some converted to standard gauge => シカイ

Broad Gauge (ex Chinese Eastern Railway)

in class
?Ь4001−40072-10-2TŠkoda (6x)
Kawasaki (1x)
7Converted to standard gauge => ダブロ (Daburo)
transferred to NCTC as Satai
251−350, 401−406
501−925, 1126−1175
ALCo, Baldwin
(total to CER)
Converted to standard gauge => デカニ (Dekani)
?Oд701−7330-8-0Bryansk, Kharkov3313 converted to standard gauge => エトイ (Etoi)
Some converted to standard gauge => シカイ (Shikai)
?Х151−2712-8-0Baldwin121Originally CER class Б, class Х after 1912. Retired by 1945.
?Ш301−3502-8-0Bryansk50Bryansk Type 20. Retired by 1945.
2-8-0Bryansk50Bryansk Type 20. Retired by 1945.
Bryansk, Kharkov
Some class Г rebuilt with superheaters => class Гч;
Some class Гч converted to standard gauge => テホイ (Tehoi)

Passenger Railcars

ClassNumbersClassNumbersBuilderIn serviceTotal
in class
201–205Nippon Sharyō193055015.32tWaukesha 6SRL
mechFrom Mantetsu in 1935–36.
202–205Nippon Sharyō1936484 (summer)
78 (winter)
?3rd class railcar.
Body similar to KiHa-3 100-series.
201–206Nippon Sharyō1936692 (summer)
86 (winter)
26.3tMitsubishi or
Niigata Tekkō
?3rd class railcar.
201–202?1938292 (summer)
86 (winter)
34.5t150 hp Mitsubishi
Streamlined 2-car 3rd class DMU.
200–228Nippon Sharyō19332984 (summer)
78 (winter)
21.5tKawasaki KW127
mech3rd class railcars. Assignments:
Jingtu Line: 8
Labin Line: 6
Taike Line: 13
Chaokai Line: 2
201Nippon Sharyō1933173 (summer)
68 (winter)
22.5tWaukesha 6RB
mech3rd class railcars with 7-person VIP room.
201–202Nippon Sharyō1933284 (summer)
78 (winter)
22.5tpetrolmech3rd class railcars with baggage compartment.
201–203Nippon Sharyō?1935392 (summer)
86 (winter)
26.5tKawasaki KP170
mech3rd class railcars.

Other businesses

The General Railway Administration, later the General Directorate of Railways, had several other transportation-related businesses in addition to the railway. Although Mantetsu undertook non-transport-related infrastructure projects such as electricity and urban planning, as well as management of coal mines, most were transportation-related businesses.

Bus transport

When the National Railway was formed, there were no long-distance intercity bus services like the JNR Bus operations in Japan, only local city bus operations. However, both the Manchukuo government and the General Railway Administration felt it undesirable for private business to freely undertake transport services that might compete with the National Railway. As the railway had many economically unsound routes, it was felt that independently managed bus services could undermine the National Railway's promotional power and development capabilities, and this was considered detrimental to the country's interests. Therefore, when the Manchukuo government decided on its national highway plan in 1933, it determined which possible bus routes could potentially compete with the railway. It was decided that those routes, and those important to national security, would be managed by the National Railway, leaving the other, non-threatening, routes available for private undertakings. Consequently, each railway bureau launched intercity bus services on the national highways.

On 1 March of that year the General Railway Administration established its Bus Department, and on 20 March the Fengshan Railway Bureau launched the first National Railway intercity bus service between Beipiao and Chaoyang. The route network was gradually expanded, and by the end of September there were bus services all over Rehe Province. Following this expansion, on 19 September the Bus Department became an independent entity. As national road construction progressed, a nationwide network of intercity bus services was planned, which was to include the Kwantung Leased Territory.

However, expansion proved difficult. The first problem was that of poor roads. Although they were called "national highways", many of these roads were unpaved, becoming muddy and unpassable in times of heavy rain and during the spring thaw, while in dry periods they were very dusty and hard on tires. Also, due to the nature of Manchuria, the population was primarily clustered in cities, with the intervening areas being very sparsely populated, which made it difficult to increase earnings. Furthermore, for routes travelling through remote areas, security guards were needed on the busses and at stations, which incurred extra personnel expenses. However, by 1936 most railway stations also served as bus stations, and by 1939 there were over 20,000 km (12,000 mi) of bus routes.

Water transport and port operations

An unusual side business of the National Railway was water transport consisting of riverine ferries up and down the Songhua, Amur and Ussuri rivers. Trips could last anywhere from 3 to 11 days in duration. Following the Mukden Incident riverine transport was almost completely stopped, but in 1933 the General Railway Administration started a river ferry service between Harbin and Mohe, and others were subsequently added. The National Railway also operated a number of riverine ports related to its water transport operations, as well as sea ports at Huludao and Hebei.


  1. Ichihara, Yoshizumi, 写真集南満洲鉄道 (South Manchuria Railway Photo Collection) p. 112, 1998 Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing Co. Ltd. (in Japanese)
  • Ichihara, Yoshizumi, "おもいでの南満洲鉄道" (Memories of the South Manchuria Railway), Seikondo Shinkansha, 1970
  • Ichihara, Yoshizumi, "南満洲鉄道 「あじあ」と客・貨車のすべて" (The South Manchuria Railway's "Asia [Express]" and its Passenger and Freight Cars", Seikondo Shinkansha, 1971
  • Ichihara, Yoshizumi, "南満洲鉄道 鉄道の発展と機関車" (The Development of the South Manchuria Railway and its Locomotives), Seikondo Shinkansha, 1972
  • Harada, Katsumasa, "『満州国』成立後の戦略体制と鉄道建設" (Strategic Structure and Railway Development after the Establishment of Manchukuo), Wakō University Institute for Cultural Studies, March 1999
  • "鉄路総局事業概要" (Railway General Administration Business Overview), Manchukuo Railway General Administration (鉄路総局), 1932
  • "鉄路総局事業概要" (Railway General Administration Business Overview), Manchukuo Railway General Administration (鉄路総局), 1936
  • "鉄路総局概要" (Outline of the Railway General Administration), Manchukuo Railway General Administration (鉄路総局), 1934
  • "『満州国政府公報日訳』大同100号" (Manchukuo Government Gazette, Datong No. 100), Administrative Agency of the State Council of the Government of Manchukuo, February 1933
  • Mantetsu Association, "Four Decades of History of the South Manchuria Railway", Ryukeishosha, 1986
  • "復刻版昭和戦前時刻表" (Showa Era Prewar Timetables, Reprint Edition), Shinjinbutsuoraisha, 1999
  • Imoe, Keisuke; Hara, Takeshi, "日本鉄道旅行地図帳 歴史編成 満洲樺太" (Historical Japan Rail Travel Atlas, Manchuria and Sakhalin), Shinchosha, 2009
  • eds. of Japan Rail Travel Atlas, "満洲朝鮮復刻時刻表" (Manchuria & Korea Reprint Timetable), Shinchosha, 2009
  • "南満洲鉄道株式会社社報" (South Manchuria Railway Co. Ltd. Report), South Manchuria Railway
  • "満蒙未成鉄道と価値", 満洲日日新聞 (Manchuria Daily News), 3–7 April 1920
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