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30  May

A new friendship made in Taiwan

09/05/2024 @ 04:42


The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) has officially launched the newest addition to its fleet, a powerful diesel on loan from the Alishan Forest Railway (AFR) of Taiwan.

The official launch ceremony saw a delegation who had travelled to the picturesque line specially from the Alishan Forest Railway and Cultural Heritage Office, hold a joint ceremony with the W&LLR Team and local dignitaries, after which DL-34 hauled its first passenger train since arriving in the UK.

As a symbol of friendship and co-operation between the two railways, the ceremony saw the joint symbolic fitting of a headboard to the locomotive by Lin Hwa-ching (Director-general of Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency) and Steve Clews (Chairman of the W&LLR).

The occasion also afforded the opportunity for an exchange of ideas between the two heritage railways, including further co-operation in promoting tourism in our regions, best practice in operation and maintenance, and engaging with new audiences both as visitors and volunteers.

The W&LLR and Alishan Forestry Railway have been affiliated since 2017 and we hope that this loan will help further our educational and cultural co-operation going forwards.

DL-34 arrived in the UK in 2023 after its near 10,000km journey from Taiwan. Over the past 12 months the W&LLR team have been working hard with specialist contractors to modify the locomotive’s brake system and couplings for use on the Welsh line, test the locomotive and train drivers in its usage. DL- 34 is due to operate more passenger trains during the summer period, operating days will be published on the railway’s website in the coming months. The engine is on loan to the Welsh line for an initial three years.

Mr Clews said: “This loan is the culmination of four years of discussions and hard work and is a great opportunity for our two railways to continue building their relationship.”

Mr Hwa-ching said: “Under the excellent care of the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway, we believe that DL-34 will traverse the beautiful hills and plains of Wales gracefully.”

DL-34 was built in 1972 by Mitsubishi of Japan. Designed to tackle the famous steep gradients and tight curves of the Alishan Forest line, its engine produces a formidable 523 HP. The AFR is famous for being the highest narrow-gauge line in Asia, with steep gradients and its distinctive Shay locomotives.

As well as strengthening the educational links between the two 762mm gauge lines, DL-34’s arrival will help bolster the Welsh railway’s home fleet of diesels which are in need of overhaul. The arrival of a third diesel capable of hauling passenger services and other duties will allow 1949 built Baguley-Drewry No.7 ‘Chattenden’ and former Taiwan Sugar Corporation Diema No.175 to be released in turn from traffic for major works.


TOP: Lin Hwa-ching (Director-general of Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency) presents the launch ceremony headboard to Steve Clews (Chairman of the W&LLR) (Photo Credit: William Bickers-Jones)

BOTTOM: The Taiwanese delegation from the Alishan Forest Railway alongside their W&LLR colleagues and local dignitaries, in front of DL-34 prior to its first passenger train. (Photo Credit: Albert Wu/ AFR).