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Durango & Silverton to buy two narrow gauge diesels from South Carolina NEWSWIRE

By Justin Franz | July 31, 2018

Owner cites climate change as partial reason for move

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A Durango & Silverton locomotive pauses at Silverton, Colo. Soon 2,000-hp diesel locomotives will replace certain 2-8-2 steam locomotives on the historic narrow gauge line.
TRAINS: David Lassen
DURANGO, Colo. — The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is purchasing two new three-foot gauge diesel locomotives for $3.2 million from Motive Power & Equipment Solutions in South Carolina.

The MP2000NG locomotives will feature 2,000 horsepower CAT engines with General Electric 764 traction motors capable of pulling a loaded, eight-car train along the 45-mile route between Durango and Silverton. Railroad officials expect both locomotives to arrive in Colorado in Spring 2019.

The announcement the D&SNG had inked a deal for two new diesel locomotives comes weeks after it was revealed the railroad was looking to supplement its current fleet of coal-powered 2-8-2s. Earlier this summer, the D&SNG was shut down for six weeks after a wildfire started near Hermosa, Colo. Although the cause of the fire remains under investigation, witnesses say they believe it started from a spark from one of the coal-fired steam locomotives.

Allen C. Harper, co-owner, chairman, and CEO of the railroad says the new diesels will come in handy during summers like this one when it’s too dry to run steam.

“Because of long-term drought conditions and changing climate patterns in Southwestern Colorado, the D&SNG must constantly evaluate and modify its business strategy and operations to ensure it can safely run all year round and in a variety of seasons and weather conditions,” Harper says. “As a result, the D&SNG will evaluate where to integrate these MPES engines into its operating schedule, and use them for various excursions and special events throughout the year.”

Along with the two diesels, the D&SNG is currently restoring former Denver & Rio Grande Western 2-8-2 K-37 No. 493 and converting it to burn oil.

The diesel locomotives will be painted forest green and will delivered as Nos. 416 and 550, a nod to the firefighters who battled the 416 Fire earlier this year and Highway 550 that connects Durango with Silverton.

David Wilkerson, president and CEO of MPES, says he is excited to start working with the railroad on the new locomotives.

“MPES has a long, proven track record of success in the design, fabrication, and delivery of high-quality specialty transportation products for a diverse collection of rail companies around the world, including heritage scenic lines like the D&SNG,” Wilkerson says.

The Motive Power & Equipment Solutions website lists several types of MPES locomotives available for sale, including 1,800-hp versions, but nothing in the 2,000-hp-range or in narrow gauge.

More information is available online.

13 thoughts on “Durango & Silverton to buy two narrow gauge diesels from South Carolina NEWSWIRE

  1. Sounds like a smart move, would not want to ride if it was not steam though. But I am just a foamer.

  2. Sad in a way but also predictable. Even if converted to oil those Mikes are pushing a hundred years old. Nobody makes them any more and even the best maintained machinery doesn’t last forever.

    But I remember when…

    The above comments are general in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. Go find your own damn lawyer.

  3. Guarantee they will notice a drop off in ridership when using diesels, whether you’re a railfan or not, even regular people ride the D&SNG because of the steam engines. Also, there’s no reason not to think that the steam engines can run for another 100 years, with proper maintenance and rebuilding as necessary.

  4. Readers here that question the effect of MP2000NG as power on the Silverton train to lower the patronage counts should look at the success of the White Pass & Yukon Ry with nearly all of its trains diesel powered. But they saw the value of having steam around and have rebuilt 2 steam locomotives and the steam powered rotary snow plow. The Mt. Washington Cog has added a second steam train this year because customer have been paying extra to ride the first train of the morning being the steam train. This summer they have a new switch at the summit and can run additional steam trains as requested. Their usual trains are bio-diesel hydraulics. The Pike Peak Cog returned their complex compound-steam locomotive back into service but lacking water supply could not climb to the peak. When the PP Cog is rebuilt in 2020, that steamer may be added as an attraction. The Grand Canyon RR returned steam to their mix of service.

    Steam is worth the expense to most tourist railroads, but the general public is generally very mellow and accept what is the power for the day. The Silverton train success was account of word of mouth from prior riders to friends and family and not by the advertisements attempts of the D&RGW which would have been happy if no one rode the train. Coal cinders and dirt did not discourage those favorable referrals. Remember, the D&RGW attempt to abandon the trains and was flatly refused by the ICC.

  5. I hope these diesels work better than the one supplied to the Isle of Man, which has spent more time out of service being modified or under repair than it has doing a useful job since it arrived 3-4 years ago.

  6. As I mentioned in my previous posts from the July13, 2018 NEWSWIRE regarding MPE as a potential vendor, HOW ABOUT, a brand new clean sheet diesel electric locomotive set with all the latest gizmo’s inside, but with a super retro looking carbody and paint scheme like this? A “diesel” does not have to be a box.

  7. While not a bad move, running trains without the iconic steam locos will just not satisfy many of the riders. One thing I don’t understand is the plan to convert a K-37 engine, No. 493, to oil burning. For years we’ve been told that series of loco is just too heavy for the Silverton line. In fact D&SNG swapped a newly-shopped K-37 to the Cumbers & Toltec Scenic in exchange for a near-derelict K-36 about 20 years ago. At that time the Durango & Silverton needed to expand its fleet, and took that extreme measure to get another engine that could operate on its line. What goes with that?

  8. I pray Mr. Harper checks into the unit sent to the Isle of Man. Every report I read and Isle of Man’s own web site says the loco is still out of service. Having worked on locomotives for many years I don’t know what could have gone so wrong. NRE and especially Brookville have records going back many years in building custom locomotives with good reputations.

  9. Donald, apparently the 497 issue turned out to be just that, a 497 issue, not totally rail related. Eventually it started occurring at Chama. Plus the D&S rail line is kept better and better. Mr Greenbaum, I have heard the same about the 3ft Isle of Man “lemon”.

  10. Droughts happen, and have happened, since time immemorial, tho’ we have an imperfect idea of what Colorado was like before the 18th century. A thousand years ago it was warmer in the world than it is now; we know that from what crops were being grown in Europe for people to pay their taxes in kind; Colorado may have been much drier then so going Diesel might not solve the problem. “Climate Change” always means man-made climate change so perhaps Durango-Silverton management anticipates suits claiming that steam operations have caused six polar bears to drown or something. What will their Diesels look like? Maybe they could make them look llke Alco PA’s or DL-109’s. The Rio Grande Southern had motor vehicles (galloping geese) so this may be authentic in a way–but they should remember that Diesels are prone to throw sparks too along with smoke–even if they’re not Alcos!

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