This is a small essay about the ND5 diesel. It is an export version of the C36-7 diesel built by GE that was sold in the mid to late 1980s to China Railway, the state-owned railway in China, and designated by them as the ND5 diesel. When I went searching for more information on this locomotive both on the web and in publications I was surprised at how little I found. This work hopes in some small way to rectify that situation. There was so little that I could find about the ND5 that the first good information came from an HO model train. We begin with the insert found in the ND5-II HO scale locomotive produced by Bachmann China for the Chinese market. The insert gives background information for the ND5 in both English and Chinese. However, they do not say quite the same thing, with the Chinese version being a bit more complete but then again not having some of the information found in the English version.

We begin with the Chinese text reproduced below followed by a translation into English. My Chinese language skills are not very good. There will be places where I get it wrong. Please let me know of my mistakes. I hope in the near future to purchase a Chinese-English dictionary of technical terms and then revisit this work.

The Chinese characters are written as Unicode/Unihan hexadecimal expressions instead of Big5 or any other multi-byte system. Thus the character for Han, the name of one of the first great Chinese empires shows up in the html for this page as 漢 which is the traditional form, while the simplified form of the character is 汉. Your browser should take this html and display them as 漢 and 汉 with no modification to the browser settings. I tried it on both IE 8 and Opera 10 with no problems.

Chinese Text and Translation

ND5 型 (C36-7) 內燃机车

出美国通用电器公司 (GE) 运输系统商业分公制 造的 ND5 型机车属于 交一直流电力传动干 线客 , 货运內燃机车 . 柴油机装车功率为 2942 kW, 机车整备重量为 138 t, 构 造速度为 118 km/h , 通过最 小曲线半径为 85 m , 能夠 多机重联牵引 . 于 1984-86 年间制造 , 中国共进 口 420 台 , 第一批 0001 号 至 0221 号(缺 0111 号)的 220 台 在 1984 年进口 , 第二批 0222 号至 0422 号的 201 台在 1986 年进口 . 第二批机 车在外观上比第一批 机车司机室宽敞 , 加 大了前窗玻璃 ; 安挂 了外凸式排障器 , 两 个总风缸都放在油箱 之后 .

ND5 series (C36-7) Diesel Locomotive

Built by the Transportation Systems business unit of (GE) the General Electric Corp. of America, the ND5 series locomotive is an AC/DC-powered main line passenger and freight diesel locomotive. The diesel engine has an output of 2,942 kW, the locomotive has a service weight of 138 tons, a designed speed of 118 km/h, a minimum turn radius of 85 m, and capable of multi-unit operation. Built in the years 1984-86, China imported 420 units, the first group of 220 units numbered 0001 to 0221 (0111 omitted) were imported in 1984, while the second group of 201 units numbered 0222 to 0422 were imported in 1986. The outward appearance of the control cab of the second batch of locomotives is more spacious than that of the first batch, and the front window glass was increased in size; a convex-style pilot was mounted and the two air tank cylinders were placed together behind the fuel tank.

该车转向架为整体铸 钢结构 . 牵引电动机 为抱轴式悬挂 , 单边 齿轮传动 . 空气制动 采用 26-L 型制动机 , 紧 急制动时能自动撒砂 和切除功率 . 该车没 有恒功率励磁调 节系统和粘着控制系 统 , 牵引电动机为全 并联 , 全磁场方式 , 机车结构间单 , 通风 机 . 发气涡轮增压器 , 冷却水泵 , 冷却风 扇都只有一台 .

The bogies are entirely cast steel. The electric traction motors are mounted on the axles, with the transmission gear on one side. The air brakes use a 26-L style air break, during emergency braking can automatically apply sand and cut off power. The engine does not have the constant power excitation system and the adhesion control system, the traction motors are completely parallel, full magnetic field mode, the vehicle has a simple structure and a ventilator. There is only one turbocharger, water cooling pump and cooling fan. (TRANS: These last two sentences are where I need the services of a technical dictionary.)

曾用名: C36-7 持续速度 (km/h): 22.2 机车运传整备重量 (t): 138
制造年代: 1984-1986 机车标称功率 (kW): 2550 柴油装载量 (L): 9900
轨距: 1435 轮周起动牵引力 (kN): 534 机油装载量(kg): 1250
车轴排列: Co-Co 轮周持续牵引力 (kN); 360 水装载量(kg): 1360
传动方式: 交一直流电传动 通过最小曲线半径 (m): 85 砂装载量(kg): 1460
最大速度 (km/h): 118 轴重 (t): 23

English Text

GE ND5 (C36-7) Diesel Locomotive

The ND5 class locomotives were manufactured by the US General Electric (GE) transportation in the USA to a standard design (C36-7 on American railroads).

A total of 422 locomotives were built and exported to China. The first 221 were delivered in 1984 and the remainder in 1986. The second batch was provided with a much improved cab by enlarging the driver's observation window. Other improvements over the initial batch involved elevating the cowcatcher and placing the two air cylinders behind the fuel tank.

The Class are used mainly in freight workings with the majority of the Class being allocated to Jinan Xi and Nanjing Dong depots. They have appeared on some passenger workings particularly around Dalian.

Class: ND5 C36-7 Continuous Speed (km/h): 22.2 Service weight (t): 138
Manufactured: 1984-1986 Nominal power (kW): 2550 Diesel oil loading (L): 9900
Gauge: 1435 mm Starting traction effort (kN): 534 Engine oil loading (kg): 1250
Wheel arrangement: Co-Co Continuous traction effort (kN): 360 Water loading (kg): 1360
Traction mode: AC/DC Minimum radius of curve negotiable (m): 85 Gravel load (kg): 1460
Max. Speed (km/h): 118 Axle load (t): 23


There appears to be no little confusion about the number of ND5 diesels built for and operated by China Rail. The numbering of units from 0001 to 0422 would make the quantity of 422 seem reasonable and this is the number found in the Bachmann English text. However, the Bachmann Chinese text notes that at least one number, 0111, was missing from the first batch of diesels. Their claim of 420 built does not match the quantities they give for the first and second batches of the diesels: a first batch of 220 units followed by a second batch of 201. That adds up to a total of 421 units. GE promotional material dated Nov. 25, 2008 (pdf) states that GE sold China 420 ND5 diesel engine units. What is the correct number, 420 or 421 or 422?

Further Google searches finally brought me to Chinese Wikipedia and a page about the ND5 diesel. You can use your favorite translation program from Yahoo's Babelfish, Google Translate or Bing on the page but they can be pretty rough translations that sometimes border on the incoherent. Just looking at the Chinese it quickly becomes apparent that Bachmann and the ND5 page got much their information from the same sources. There is also an explanation about ND5 0111 near the bottom of the page and the story goes as follows. When unit 0111 was delivered to the port of Shanghai there was apparently some sort of accident when it was being unloaded and it fell into the water. It was later recovered and then scrapped. GE replaced this unit by adding unit 0421 to the next production run of locomotives. How then to explain the existence of unit 0422? Maybe there was some other accident that could account for it just as in the case of unit 0111 and 0421. Maybe I will get lucky with a search and uncover the story. I have attempted to contact GE Transportation Systems through their web site but have yet to get a reponse to my requests for more information.

Many of the Class I railways in the US publish a locomotive roster. Does China Rail publish a locomotive roster?

The English text notes that the majority of the ND5 diesels operate in Jinan Xi (West) and Nanjing Dong (East) Depots but this is not part of the Chinese text. Jinan and Nanjing refer to Bureaus which appear to be the major geographical operating units in the China Railways system. There are lists of all the Bureaus to be found both in the English Wikipedia and the Chinese Ministry of Railways. There is a list of depots organized by bureau as well as locomotives assigned also found on Robin Gibbons site.

Robin J. Gibbons website Railways Of China was helpful here and had a copy of a data sheet from GE and the China Ministry of Railways for the ND5-II (it has the high-visibility cab, the low nose and the two air tanks mounted at the rear of the fuel tank). Another website that has information about the ND5 is TrainFanz and they are working on providing English-language pages but have not done the ND5 page as of 5 March 2010. There are also numerous sites with pictures and videos of ND5 diesels.
Swedish Video site
Flickr Photos
Railroad Picture Archive - a photo of a C36-7 for comparison. Notice the cable attached to one of the axles on the front bogie. It is part of the anti-wheelslip system that was not part of the units sent to China. This unit is comparable to the ND5-I.