#Sakhalin Locomotives Breathe new Life into a Former Japanese Enterprise

Sakhalin locomotives breathe new life into a former Japanese enterprise |  Infrastructure

photo: Sergey Dashchinsky

April 1 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the operational locomotive depot Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk of the Far Eastern Traction Directorate. Over the years, it has gone a long way from a dilapidated enterprise during the Second World War to the main locomotive depot of Sakhalin.

When, in August 1945, Soviet troops liberated the south of Sakhalin from the Japanese, the railway network of the southern part of the island with a total length of more than 700 km was transferred to the Directorate of Military Communications of the Far Eastern Military District. Less than a year later, this infrastructure was transferred to the system of the Ministry of Railways. Since that time, the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk depot has been counting its history.

Before World War II, the Japanese steam locomotive fleet in the south of Sakhalin consisted of about 100 locomotives of eighteen series. In the first years after the war, Soviet railway workers had to thoroughly deal with the organizational restructuring of the former Japanese locomotive depot and the reconstruction of facilities. More than half of the steam locomotives, like the machine tools, were dismantled. From several faulty locomotives, one serviceable one was assembled.

The depot workers modernized the equipment, rebuilt the foundry, equipped the copper smelting furnace, and started the production of tools. A few years later, the locomotive fleet was slightly updated: Sakhalin received 30 new Japanese-built D51 steam locomotives. These machines were much more powerful than the previous ones and served regularly for more than a quarter of a century. In addition, in 1956, at the Ulan-Ude plant, 60 steam locomotives of the Sh series were converted from a general-network gauge to a narrow island 1067 mm wide.

The first diesel-powered locomotive entered the island in 1967. A year later, 30 diesel locomotives were operating on the island highway, which accounted for 45% of traffic. Each new TG16 diesel locomotive with a capacity of 3280 hp, in fact, replaced two or three steam locomotives.

“When the locomotive was still operating, on the Kholmsk-Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk section, where there were many tunnels, according to safety rules, driving on one traction unit was allowed,” recalls the veteran of the Sakhalin Railway Yuri Proselkov. – After all, if the composition had a second steam locomotive on pushing, due to the strong smoke of the tunnels, his brigade had nothing to breathe. Hence the small weight norms. Therefore, when at the end of the 1960s they switched to diesel traction, the first diesel locomotives were sent to this section. The weight and length of trains have doubled and more. “

For locomotive crews, the Kholmsk – Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk section was a serious school: there are many crooked track sections, slopes up to 26 thousandths, and in some places – up to 32 thousandths. It was especially difficult in winter. “Snow is packed under the brake pads, once I slowed down, two times – the snow turned into ice. You do the release of the brakes again, you have to slow down, but it carries you. Imagine how you need to press the pads so that the ice melts and they begin to brake as expected. This happened more than once on the pass. In a blizzard, I had to drive almost blindly. Signals must not be given – it could have provoked an avalanche, ”says Yury Proselkov.

Mainline diesel locomotives TG16, operating in both freight and passenger traffic, have served for more than 40 years. The locomotive fleet required renovation. In 2014, the registration fleet of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk locomotive depot was replenished with five vehicles of the new TG16M series. The main feature of this machine is the universal design of wheeled bogies, which made it possible to operate the locomotive both on a 1067 mm track and on a 1520 mm track. However, the operation of these locomotives revealed numerous shortcomings.

Meanwhile, the alteration of the island highway to the general network standard was being completed. In 2019–2020, the track and artificial structures were completely reconstructed. The completion of the work was also a landmark for the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk depot. The TG16 was replaced by the 2M62U diesel locomotives, produced in the 1980s – 1990s. Before being sent to the island, these machines underwent a major overhaul at the Michurinsky Locomotive Repair Plant. Shunting locomotives of the TGM7 and TGM11 series were replaced by more modern TEM18 and TEM18DM. In addition, five TG16M freight and passenger diesel locomotives were moved to wide bogies, the reliability of which was improved. Now 43 locomotives are assigned to the depot.

The renewal of the locomotive fleet helped to reduce the number of failures and losses of train hours. Since the 2M62 diesel locomotive is more powerful than the TG16, the mass of freight trains has increased: if in 2018 the average train weight was 1.3 thousand tons, now it is 1.7 thousand tons. The average daily productivity of the locomotive also increased – in the first quarter of 2021, for example, by 3.5% against the plan. “The planned indicators are being met both due to the new diesel locomotives and due to the efficient work of the entire team,” said the head of the depot, Vitaly Povisok.

Now the company employs 370 people, including 129 assistants and 163 machinists. The depot introduces modern work technologies, in particular, the transition to one-person work at shunting stations and in the export movement is being implemented.(Gudok.ru)

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