PLANS for a new diesel engine for the heritage railway are back on track - with an order placed with an American locomotive manufacturer.
Delivery of the machine is expected in the spring.
Community Culture and Leisure Minister Graham Cregeen MHK said the price of the new engine was within Tynwald funding approval.
Tynwald voted in July to approve funding of £350,000, on top of £50,000 already agreed, for a second hand diesel from Romania.
But a late bid was submitted by an American manufacturer that offered a better deal.
The original plan was to spend £750,000 on designing and building a new engine, a proposal which was heavily criticised and indeed overshadowed this year’s Budget.
The order has been placed with Motive Power and Equipment Solutions, based in Greenville, South Carolina.
Featuring a cab at both ends it will be capable of speeds of up to 40mph and will be powerful enough to recover rakes of stranded carriages in the event of a breakdown by one of the line’s historic steam locomotives.
Other duties will include shunting, maintenance and lineside firefighting operations. It will also be possible to use the new diesel for commuter services in future.
Its frames and electric traction motors will be reconditioned second hand but it will have a brand new power unit and bodywork.
Delivery of a new diesel will mean an extra steam locomotive does not have to kept on standby to recover broken down trains.
Heritage railway bosses say the new loco will pay for itself in 13 years and help make savings of almost £40,000 a year.
It is one of 25 similar machines being built by Motive Power and Equipment Solutions.
But Peter Maddocks, engineering manager for Isle of Man Railways, said: ‘It is being built to bespoke requirements to run on our unusual 3ft gauge track.
‘It will have a cab at each end providing good forward visibility and meaning it can be operated by one person. Delivery is due in April next year.
‘The frames and the electric traction motors are remanufactured and indeed re-engineered.
‘The power unit and generator are all new. The balance between new and remanufactured parts is about the same as was the case for the Romanian locomotive, but we believe that this option offers a fundamentally better technical solution.’
Mr Cregeen said: ‘Expressions of interest were sent out but this one came in after the motion had been put on the Tynwald order paper.
‘We get an extended warranty on this engine which give us a lot more comfort than the Romanian one.’
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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