Is our diesel in distress back on track?

The loco, its engine compartment doors wide open, undergoing trials

The loco, its engine compartment doors wide open, undergoing trials

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The trouble-plagued new diesel locomotive on the heritage steam railway is now ‘serviceable’, according to the director of public transport.

Driver training is under way and the controversial green machine will make its debut at the end of the month at the Manx Transport Heritage Festival.

The £400,000 diesel-electric was shipped to the island in December last year. But it was soon consigned to the shed after being beset with engine problems.

A new engine was fitted, at the manufacturer’s own cost, but there were still teething troubles involving the air intake temperature.

Now director of public transport Ian Longworth has told iomtoday: ‘The loco has been serviceable for some time, it is just a question of training staff to drive it while we are busy operating.’

He said: ‘The original engine had a manufacturing fault and was changed under warranty as it showed distress under load. The system does not allow it to overheat and neither engine has ever overheated.

‘The testing has been about fine tuning the operating system for our line’s gradient profile and weight to be towed by it.

‘The adjustment we also made with experience of our line was to adjust the air intake to reduce the temperature of the air into the engine inlet manifold. On a modern diesel with emission management the tolerance of inlet temperature range is less.

‘This all set us back and we had to restart the trials to get the setting correct with the new engine.’

Transport bosses claimed the machine, designed to be used to rescue broken down trains and to also be called on to deal with lineside fires and shunting duties, will pay for itself in 13 years and help make savings of almost £40,000 a year.

Making its debut at the Manx Heritage Transport Festival, diesel no.21 is scheduled to haul a flat wagon containing a number of Peel P50s and Trident cars to Port Erin on Friday, August 1, where they will be displayed at the station.

Later in the day it will double head with a steam locomotive on a passenger train as part of the 140th anniversary commemoration of the Port Erin line. Full programme details of the Manx Heritage Transport Festival, which runs from July 30 to August 3, are available from stations and on the railway’s website Bookings are now being taken.

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