The Downpatrick & County Down Railway has welcomed a rather large ‘visitor’ to the local heritage line.
A large diesel locomotive that used to run on the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise service in between the late 1950s and 1980s, touched down onto Downpatrick rails for a two year visit.
Railway Chairman Michael Collins explains, “The locomotive is owned by a preservation trust called the Irish Traction Group, which specialises in diesel locomotive preservation on both sides of the border.”
“The ITG are currently relocating their main base away from Irish Rail’s main workshops, and asked us if we were interested in hosting the locomotive for two years.”
He continues, “We agreed as we thought this might be something different for our regular visitors to travel behind, and at no cost to the DCDR with the ITG covering the cost of the transport and any heavy maintenance.”
“Of course this won’t replace our steam trains,” Mr. Collins adds, “but with more and more people interested in diesel trains we’re pleased to offer something different.”
“In a textbook operation the locomotive was moved from Dublin to Downpatrick in the early morning last Sunday, and has already traversed our system to test clearances,” Mr. Collins said.
This locomotive, A39 was one of 60 built in Manchester in 1955 by Metropolitan Vickers, and were the backbone of mainline passenger and freight train services on the Irish Rail network for forty years, until 1995 when A39 was retired and sold to the ITG.