A FORMER Belgian Railways diesel railcar has been restored to working order condition at Stoomcentrum Maldegem .
The vehicle – number 553.12 – was built in 1941 during the Second World War by Germain of Monceau, and is equipped with an engine and mechanical transmission (crash gearbox/clutch) made by Belgian bus and truck manufacturer Brossel.
The railcar is nearly 80 years old and was initially delivered with a coal-fired gas producer to provide fuel because wartime fuel shortages meant Belgian Railways could not easily obtain diesel fuel. It was converted to diesel operation after the war.
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The vehicle was used to operate lightly used rural lines, including the Bruges-Maldegem-Eeklo route, part of which is now the Stoomcentrum Maldegem line.
It was withdrawn in 1970 and assigned to the national collection, but like a lot of historic rolling stock simply stored at Leuven for many years before being passed to Stoomcentrum Maldegem when the Leuven store was cleared for redevelopment.
The unit will be mainly used during special events at Maldegem.
Our thanks to Kevin Hoggett for information in this report
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