Yesterday, for the first time in weeks, I got to checking the email address for the SIG.
Amongst the various correspondence was an email making, VERY brief, reference to plans to ship a MRR diesel locomotive overseas for preservation. The locomotive itself was not identified, though I suspect this is for secrecy reasons, neither was the country.
The choices nowdays are really limited to only five existing models, of only three distinct designs.
Of these, the biggest concern would have to be #114 currently semi-preserved at Lapaz (Panay). Given she is the last surviver of her class and the only surviving Panay Railway locomotive left in the country, her being retained in the country should be considered vital for a preservation group there.
The other remaining classes still retain a number of examples and the loss of one will not be a huge blow, unless it was the one in the best condition. However 902 remains the only large radiator grilled version of the original Philippine U15C still in service and the oldest operational loco in the PNR fleet.
While I am more supportive of railway preservation of Philippine items in the Philippines (obviously), if the only way to get something saved is to send it overseas, then even I would have to admit that it would be better than nothing.
I am seeking more details at the current time, most especially in regards to their set up and if they are accepting financial donations should anyone wish to help them with their endeavour.
MRR/PNR diesel preservation over the years has been pathetic at best. So many wonderful examples of locomotive types, carriages, safeworking and structures have been lost or beyond much chance of repair.
The previously mentioned Panay #114 sits outside rusting alongside the former Lapaz station, although its windows and doors have been covered to prevent entrance. Little work appears to ever be done to prevent its deteriorating even more.
Apart from this locomotive and a few token examples of the steam era in various states of disrepair, the history of the railways there have been sold to scrappers.
So do we accept overseas purchases of Philippine railway history? Do we allow it to be removed from its home?
Sugar cane steamers have faired a bit better, especially when it comes to overseas preservation. It is quite possible more will end up going offshore as well.
Indeed their fate on Negros is either scrap or to rot in some display, where overseas they will likely steam again on one tourist or another.
I have said it in the past, however time is fast running out at the moment and there has been little reported by the newly formed IRHS other than a wish to use Paco station as a base. Rollingstock enquiries sadly go unanswered, although the earlier featured observation car is expected to be visited this month.
Another preservation group up north in San Fernando who are preserving the station have ignored enquiries regarding possibly preserving a locomotive and carriages there.
A few enquiries to PNR regarding preservation of a diesel in the spot vacated by a steam loco (Tutuban) some years ago have also been made, these, yep you guessed it, have gone ignored.
There are many people out in this wide world who would like to donate of time and money to help save some important parts of Philippine railway history before the opportunity is missed.
If some of this is done overseas, while disappointing, I hope people will still give it their full support. I will!
I'll pass on any details recieved on the proposed project, including that of the group (assuming it ain't a private venture) and where any donations of help can be directed.
For more up to date news, on any aspect of the Philippine railways, check out the SIG!
** Supporter Of Philippine Preservation In The Philippines **