INTREPID TRAVELLER: DOUGAL STEAMS IN TAIWAN
The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Andrew Barclay 0-4-0T Dougal has steamed under its own power for the first time in five years in Taiwan – but is “likely to remain out of service for the foreseeable future” when it returns home.
The former Glasgow Provan Gas Works locomotive arrived on Taiwanese shores on November 8 as part of a co-operation agreement between the railway and the Taiwan Sugar Corporation (Taisugar), which operates five tourist lines in the country, in order to promote shared knowledge, experience and tourism between the two organisations.
Although the locomotive hadn’t worked since 2013, Dougal is still in ‘ticket’, but boiler work identified at its last inspection means that it must be run at a reduced boiler pressure, thus precluding it from hauling regular WLLR services.
WLLR Press Officer Andrew Charman says: “On arrival in Taiwan, Dougal was fully inspected and again sanctioned for running; the line in Taiwan is completely flat and the locomotive is not hauling any significant weight during its stay. WLLR engineer John Bancroft set the safety valves at 100lb/sq. in during the acceptance test and instructed operation at around 80lb/sq. in.”
This meant Dougal could be in steam for the signing ceremony in Chiayi at the launch of Taisugar’s annual sugar festival on December 8, but despite initial hopes that TSC would undertake the necessary repairs to bring it up to long-term operating condition (SR485), Mr Charman believes this will now not happen. “It’s running fine at their event so they have no reason to start taking it apart. The overhaul was always a faint hope, a potential offer made if any problems were found, which they haven’t been.
“Unfortunately, on its return to the UK, the locomotive is likely to remain out of service for the foreseeable future as both the cost of the boiler work and volunteer resource cannot currently be expended on an engine that is not a passenger-hauler.”
1946-built Barclay Dougal is surrounded by curious onlookers during the signing ceremony at Chiayi on December 8.