By Hugh Dougherty
COUNTY Donegal Railways’ railcars Nos. 19 and 20 could be leaving the Isle of Man to return to Donegal if an offer by Isle of Man Railways to lend the diesel duo to the Fintown Railway is accepted.
This move represents a U-turn by IOMR which has turned down previous requests for a return of the cars to Donegal. It has said several times in the past that the railcars represent part of Manx heritage, having been longer on the Island than they ran in Donegal, and refusing to let them go.
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The cars were built by Walker Bros of Wigan and the Great Northern Railway of Ireland and went into service in Donegal in 1950 and 1951, running up 371,096 and 348,951 miles respectively on the CDR until the line closed at the end of 1959.
They were bought at auction in 1961 by the Isle of Man Railways and sailed from Derry to Douglas in May of that year.
The IOMR overhauled and repainted the railcars which were run back-to-back, on the Peel and Ramsay lines, also reaching Port Erin on winter trains, but they were out of regular service by the 1970s and relegated to permanent way and fire train work.
By the 1990s, they were in very poor condition and were withdrawn from service in 1998 for full restoration. Their bodies were dismantled for rebuilding and their Gardner 6LW engines and power bogies were overhauled in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company workshops at Douglas.
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