At a glance:
Builder: Plasser & Theurer (Austria)
Build date: 1971
Original company: Northern Ireland Railways
Withdrawal date: 2005
Final company: Northern Ireland Railways
Arrived at DCDR: 2006
Current status: Scrapped
Current owner: DCDR

HC1 was built in 1971 by Plasser and Theurer as a tamper, though it was later converted by NIR into a hedgecutter to combat lineside vegetation. In its tamping days, HC1 was numbered AL323 and was involved in the laying of the ‘third line’ from Lisburn to Knockmore in 1974, and the reconstruction of the Belfast Central Railway in 1976. It became HC1 some years later, when its tamping equipment was removed and replaced with a large flail on a movable arm, enabling it to beat even the toughest of lineside foliage into submission.

The vehicle was withdrawn in the early 2000s and acquired by us in Spring 2006. HC1 was used in its hedgecutting capacity for several years at Downpatrick, and briefly as a makeshift weedspraying machine. It was eventually stopped permanently in 2016, and in view of its poor overall condition, bad wheelsets, rigid wheelbase with an inability to negotiate certain track, unreliable cutting arm and general mechanical condition, the decision was taken in 2020 to recover components from it and scrap the vehicle.

Hedge cutting is now carried out by a cutting attachment on one of the DCDR road-rail excavators, with a much more modern setup – it is industry standard and easier to maintain and find parts for.