The KCR diesel locomotive fleet

The former Kowloon-Canton Railway owned a number of diesel locomotives for use on their railway between Kowloon and the border with China at Lo Wu. The two first diesels (numbers 51 and 52) entered service in 1955, being EMD G12s ordered from Clyde Engineering in Australia. Three more locomotives (numbered 53-55) soon followed, enabling the end of the regular steam locomotives use on passenger trains in 1957.

With electrification of the KCR line being commissioned in 1983 the diesel fleet no longer hauled passenger trains, instead being used to move freight to and from the border with China, as well as hauling maintenance trains on the line. The main freight traffic seemed to have been container traffic to the wharf at Hung Hom, and parcels traffic to the Hong Kong International Mail Centre (also at Hung Hom). There was also livestock to the yard at Ho Man Tin (near the Hung Hom passenger terminus), but it appears this ended with the opening of the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse in the New Territories.

By the late 1990s the EMD G12 fleet had been retired: in 2004 locomotive KCR 51 was restored and placed into the Hong Kong Railway Museum, the other four classmates being purchased by Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia (CFCLA), then sent to Australia to be refurbished, re-entering service as the TL class (TL152 through TL155). Here is locomotive 51 at the railway museum:

Crowds at at Hong Kong Railway Museum

And TL154 stabled at the Creek Siding in Melbourne, Australia:

TL154 stabled at the Creek Siding

The second type of diesel locomotive was the larger EMD G16 model with 1800hp, the first three units (numbered 56-58) entered service in 1961 after being built in GM in Illinois, USA. The delivery of these locomotives enabled the retirement of steam locomotives on the KCR in 1962. A fourth EMD G16 (number 59) entered service in 1966, this time built by Clyde Engineering. The final order of EMD locomotives was for the 2000hp EMD G26CU. The first unit (number 60) entered service in 1974, with two more (numbers 61 and 62) following in 1976.

In 2003 the KCR purchased their final diesels: five Siemens “Eurorunner” model ER20, numbered 8001 to 8005. As with the remaining EMD G16 and G26CU fleet, they were intended for freight services. With the merger of the MTR and KCR in 2007 all locomotives passed to the MTR. All three types remain in Hong Kong, but see little use since the end of freight services in June 2010. They are usually seen lurking around the Fo Tan track maintenance depot or at the Hung Hom locomotive depot.

Number 59 at Fo Tan Depot:

Loco 59 at Fo Tan Depot

Number 62 at Fo Tan Depot:

Loco 62 at Fo Tan Depot

A light engine move departs the servicing depot at Hung Hom for the Fo Tan works depot between 3pm and 3.30pm most days, here Eurorunner 8002 leads EMD G16 number 59 at Mong Kok East station:

Light engine move at Mong Kok East station

'Stand clear' at Mong Kok East

I have read that the EMD G16 fleet is up for retirement in the next year or two: given the current lack of freight, the current diesel locomotive fleet seems excessive.

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16 Responses to The KCR diesel locomotive fleet

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  4. Alan says:

    They are actually used for towing trains in emergencies n other stuffs. I’ve actually seen a picture where a ER20 tows a Chinese cross boarder train in HK (probably for emergencies as they always do). Also, I’ve heard that the KTT is towed from its depot to Hung Hom everyday seperately (the carriages n the loco) which, I’ve no idea y couldn’t they simply drive the KTT there, but thz wt they said. BTW, the ER20s are not allowed to cross the border into Chinese territories as these locos were made with top-of the line muffling technologies which makes them subject to the EU order banning all military export to China. (well, I suppose you could kill someone with a train like wt no.51 did back in 1959)

    • Marcus says:

      Looking on YouTube there are a number of videos showing the KTT being towed behind an ER20 loco:

      Perhaps MTR just want to keep the diesels in good running order in case of emergencies, so they need to ‘blow the cobwebs’ out of the diesels on a regular basis since they don’t get used on freight service any more.

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  9. CHAN Hong Ling Jacky says:

    A very concise, detailed and beautiful web-page to bring back my childhood life: at that time the only traffic to Shatin is by Diesel Locomotive, and dad always hugging me to look at the driver cabin and kick-off my curiosity in engineering. Since from 1983 no more diesel train then I decided to build a 1/16, G-12 model train from zero: I’m not a employee in KCR, no drawing and no plan—just starts from childhood memories, preparing 100+ drawing then sent to machine factory then at December-1998 completed this model, not 100% alike but closed to original G-12.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, and your model sounds impressive – at 1/16 scale that’s almost a metre long!

      • CHAN Hong Ling Jacky says:

        Yes, this model is about 1 Meter long and made from brass, stainless steel 304, Aluminium 6060-T6 and General Machinable Steel S45C. The 4-axles has a reduction gearing with model 540 DC Motors. Inside originally has a 10c.c. Nitr0 Engine Genset used to power the 4 nos. traction motor, but now the unit is for display purpose therefore I removed this Genset for another purpose.

  10. CHAN Hong Ling Jacky says:

    Yes fully agreed, I have a smaller one G-scale with gauge 45mm Live Steam “Shay Loco” from Japanese Firm-Aster but still needs quite a large space to run. Finally I have tried the UK Hornby Mallard 4-6-0 scale 1/87 (gauge 16.5mm) Electric Live Steam seems to be the only possible running Live Steam Loco in Hong Kong.

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