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WCR lands locomotive donated by CN

The Waterloo Central Railway has grown its fleet with the addition of a new locomotive, donated by CN after they learned of WCR’s commitment to restoration and preservation.

The Canadian National Railway’s donation brings the locomotive closer to where it began its journey, said WCR general manager Peter McGough.

“This locomotive was built in Canada in London, Ontario, and was the only model of its style – it is completely Canadian. It was only operated in Canada by a small railway in northern Alberta, which was since taken over by CN.”

Heritage diesel locomotive No. 1437 is now sitting outside the group’s St. Jacobs shop.

“The plant in London, it was General Motors Diesel, a subsidiary of Electro-Motive in the U.S., which was the biggest locomotive builder, diesel locomotive builder, in the world at the time. That plant’s now closed down, and we thought this was a great opportunity.”

Formally known as GMD-1 No. 1437, the locomotive was built by General Motors Diesel at their London plant and is one of just 101 ever built between August 1958 and April 1960 for Canadian National Railways and Northern Alberta Railway.

The crew sent a request to CN noting their philosophy and devotion to preserving and restoring engines such as this one in hopes that something could be arranged.

“We don’t have static space. We tend to restore anything we can operate so people can see it operating as it did in the past,” said McGough. “Many, many people have never been on a train – a lot of kids have never seen a train – so we thought this is a great opportunity.

“It was made just down the road from here – they used to operate in this area quite a bit back in the day. That model was also in passenger service – it provided a commuter train out of Guelph long before the GO train came,” he noted, adding the WCR request was well received and the transfer was granted and completed in less than a month.

“They were wonderful to deal with. They are so obliging,” he said of CN, noting the unit is fully operational.

“It’s in complete working order, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, it has been upgraded over the last two or three years with new wheels, new trucks, assemblies, electronics – it’s in exceptionally good condition.”

McGough is looking forward to when WCR can show the public the new addition, noting now is not the time to gather, referring to the pandemic and ongoing public health measures in place.

“At this point, we haven’t really decided what we’re going to do. Right now, we’re kind of leery to do anything like that, especially during the current lockdown.”

WCR continues to remain busy with other projects such as the restoration work, with more information available through the group’s monthly newsletter, accessible through the website.

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