Narrow-gauge diesel loco sends message

Posted by Chris Graham on 24th March 2021

We’re happy to report that a narrow-gauge diesel loco has been brought in to boost morale on the Connemara Railway, in Co Galway.

narrow-gauge diesel loco

Narrow-gauge diesel loco: The former Bord na Mona Deutz LM 194 and carriages from Jim Deegan’s own Crooked Valley Railway have arrived at Maam Cross. (Pic: Connemara Railway Project)

With the Covid crisis having temporarily curtailed Jim Deegan’s plan to run a steam train on the recently-laid, 3ft gauge track at Maam Cross Station, in Co Galway, the Connemara Railway chairman has drafted-in a diesel locomotive and two carriages from his own, same-gauge, Crooked Valley Railway, which runs around the grounds of his home. “Diesel do, in the meantime!” quipped Jim.

The former Bord na Mona Deutz loco, LM194, together with two, four-wheel carriages finished in CIE livery and complete with ‘flying snail’ logo, were brought to Maam Cross in late December, as a positive statement of operational intent.

narrow-gauge diesel loco

A drone shot of the train at the station, dwarfed by the wildness of its surroundings. (Pic: Connemara Railway Project)

“We brought the loco and coaches across and have run them, just as a private trial, over the trackwork,” said Jim. “That was highly successful, and it was the first passenger train at the station since the line closed in 1935.

“By having the loco and coaches here, we’re also saying to the local community, the tourism industry and the heritage railway world, that we really mean business, and will go ahead with steam as soon as we possibly can.”

Work has also started on the paperwork, method statements and risk assessments required by the Commission for Railway Regulation (CRR), to allow public services to start. Maam Cross has been visited by a CRR staff member, who met Jim to discuss the current plans, and to ensure that all requirements will be met by the Connemara Railway Project before the steam train can operate.

End of the line! The loco and coaches at the limit of working. This was the first passenger train on the line since 1935. (Pic: Connemara Railway Project)

The diesel and carriages will now stay at the site until the current Covid restrictions are lifted, while further work on the buildings and track carries on, as and when volunteers are able to attend the site under the current travel rules.

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