Durango & Silverton buys White Pass & Yukon diesels

First two MLW locomotives are en route to Colorado; two more will arrive in 2021
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The Durango & Silverton is purchasing four of these MLW DL535E locomotives from the White Pass & Yukon. The first two are now en route to Colorado.
Bob Johnston

DURANGO, Colo. — The Durango & Silverton is expanding its locomotive roster, adding four diesels with the potential to be tourist attractions in their own right.

The D&S has announced it is acquiring four of the White Pass & Yukon Railway’s distinctive Montreal Locomotive Works DL535C diesels, 1,200-hp C-C locomotives built in 1969 and 1971. The railroad said work on the acquisition began last September and was finalized in January; terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The first two locomotives, Nos. 101 and 107, began their trip on Saturday, when they were loaded on a barge in Skagway, Alaska, to begin a multi-week trip to Colorado. The other two units will be selected later this year and moved to Colorado in the second quarter of 2021.

While steam locomotives will remain the Durango & Silverton’s primary power, the railroad will now have 10 diesels on its roster. Initial plans for the new diesels are for maintenance-of-way use and on the short-trip Cascade Canyon Express summer excursions.

“Reliable narrow gauge diesels of this size, design, and efficiency are few and far between, so the D&SNGRR jumped at the chance to acquire them when we were first approached by the WP&YR,” Durango & Silverton General Manager Jeff Johnson said in a press release. “The addition of these locomotives … gives us more operational depth for greater engine scheduling and maintenance flexibility, and the ability to develop and implement new excursions and special events specifically using these engines.”

The railroad will also be receiving two new MP2000NG locomotives from Motive Power & Equipment Solutions of Greenville, S.C., later this year. The Durango & Silverton agreed to the purchase of those 74-ton, A1A-A1A locomotives last year for $3.2 million.

The Durango & Silverton plans to build a new 45-by-100-foot shop adjacent to its Durango roundhouse to maintain its diesel and maintenance equipment, and is currently obtaining the necessary construction permits.

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