MAIN line testing for the RPSI’s Great Northern Railway (Ireland) ‘Q’ No. 131 got underway on November 5 when the 1901-built 4-4-0 made a series of light engine and loaded runs over Northern Ireland Railways metals.
The inside-cylinder locomotive, displaying the legend ‘GREAT NORTHERN’ on the new ‘D1’ type tender, began with a light engine run from Whitehead to Carrickfergus and back, then retraced the route with five Mk2s on the drawbar.
The society’s engineers were happy with No. 131’s performance, and subsequently took advantage of permission to take the train out on a round-trip to Belfast Central.
The loaded runs were delayed as the result of signalling problems, but the loco was able to complete its runs in good light, albeit between heavy showers.
The tests were deemed a great success, and apart from one or two teething issues, No. 131 performed superbly. Its return to action will put the RPSI in the rare position of having four main line steam locos available for service, following the extension given to 2-6-0 No. 461 and the re-tube of ‘Jeep’ No. 4 in Dublin.
For the time being Nos. 131 and 461, together with No. 85 Merlin, are based at Whitehead, but in due course one may head south to join No. 4.
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