A new diesel locomotive has begun its long Transatlantic journey to the Isle of Man.
The £400,000 diesel, commissioned from American manufacturer Motive Power and Equipment Solutions, is due to arrive in the island early next month.
Last Tuesday, the 42.5 ton machine was craned onto a lowloader at the firm’s base in Greenville, South Carolina, ready to be transported to the docks at Norfolk, Virginia.
From here, it will be shipped to Liverpool before the final leg of its journey across the Irish Sea.
The 550HP diesel will be used to recover broken down trains, bank heavy trains, shunt carriages and provide a speedier response to lineside fires.
With a top speed of 29mph (although it will be restricted to the line’s 25mph speed limit), the engine will also be used to pull commuter trains during TT week.
Public transport bosses argue the machine will pay for itself in 13 years and help make savings of almost £40,000 a year.
But the project has proved controversial from the outset.
Originally the plan had been to spend £750,000 on a replacement diesel engine. This proposal came under fire during the 2012 Budget Day with some MHKs came questioning how such spending could be justified at a time of cuts in front line services, benefits and tax reliefs. One backbencher – Howard Quayle (Middle) – quipped that he ‘didn’t see it as an engine for growth’.
The Department of Community, Culture and Leisure had a change of heart and announced that they could cut the cost by half by buying a fully-refurbished 30-year-old Romanian-built locomotive.
Tynwald approval was secured in July last year to spend £350,000 of capital funds in addition to the £50,000 that had previously been agreed for the design.
But a late bid was then submitted by Motive Power and Equipment Solutions that offered a better deal as it would mean a new machine being supplied for about half the price of a second hand one.
On its website the company posted that the Isle of Man Railway locomotive had been delivered.
Its blog for November 19 reads: ‘Signed, sealed, and delivered. This morning, at a cool 50 degrees and a gentle breeze, the team at MP&ES sealed the 42.25 ton diesel locomotive for delivery to the Isle of Man.’