At a glance:
Builder: Deutz (Cologne, West Germany)
Build date: 1962
Original company: Córas Iompair Éireann
Withdrawal date: 1985
Final company: Cómhlucht Siúicre Eireann, Teoranta
Arrived at DCDR: 1989
Current status: Under restoration
Current owner: Privately owned

G613 is a G611 class diesel-hydraulic locomotive built by Deutz of Cologne, West Germany, in 1962 for Córas Iompair Éireann. The G611s were an upgraded verion of their G601 predecessors – slightly more powerful, heavier, and fitted with a pair of vacuum exhausters, they were intended for light branch line work and shunting. With that in mind it isn’t hard to work out why three of them ended up at DCDR! All seven of these engines were delivered to Inchicore Works in CIÉ green, but were quickly repainted into the modern ‘black and tan’ livery before entering service.

Back in the early 1960s, the amount of freight traffic across the CIÉ network provided a perfect environment for the G611s to work. G613 was originally allocated as the Wagon Shop pilot at Inchicore, moving wagons and vans around the yard as they were being built and repaired – it even occassionally ventured out as far as Kingsbridge station. However, several shunting mishaps involving poor brakeforce and a set of shed doors being destroyed (more than once!) meant that it was to be put to use elsewhere. The G was moved to Clara, Co. Offaly, and after a transmission failure there, to the humble Loughrea branch in Co. Galway: there it could usually be seen hauling a single carriage and a few goods wagons from the town to the mainline at Attymon Junction. The practice of using mixed-traffic trains was outlawed in 1972, so G613 usually worked the passenger services on the line while its now-preserved sister G616 operated the goods.

Due to the closure of the Loughrea branch in 1975 and a lack of other available work, G613 usually only saw use at Tuam, during the beet season – shunting wagons of sugarbeet brought in from the mainline into the factory during the harvest period – until it was officially withdrawn by CIÉ in 1977. It then passed into the hands of Cómhlucht Siúicre Eireann Teoranta, the state-owned Irish Sugar Company; the engine continued in its shunting role there until the factory’s rail yard closed in 1985. It was then purchased by the General Manager of the West of Ireland Steam Railway Association, Frank Dawson, for use in the ‘Westrail’ preservation scheme. The engine was restored to operational condition and worked as a shunter at their base at Tuam station, complete with red and cream Westrail livery. Its vacuum brakes meant that it could prepare excursion trains while E428 and our very own GSWR No. 90 were being made ready for service. G613 stayed with Westrail until May 1989, when we agreed to lease it – this was after realising we needed a diesel locomotive that didn’t require any pre-heating like our two E Class locos did!

In 1991 one of our late Directors, Jim McGorrian, generously purchased the locomotive outright from Westrail to ensure its future at Downpatrick, and it remains in the ownership of Jim’s family today. A real branch-line engine, G613 has been put to good use at Downpatrick – it’s spent its time on everything from permanent way trains to ITG excursions, and even tandem workings with 3BG ‘Guinness’ and O&K No. 3. It underwent an overhaul in 2004 but was withdrawn in 2010 due to an engine defect and several other issues. A spare engine has been sourced (from ebay!) and work on the locomotive started in 2016, though due to other priorities within the railway this overhaul has been very piecemeal so far.

In spite of its diminutive size, this locomotive and its chequered history represent an area of Ireland’s railway operations that, sadly, no longer exists.