Trains that first operated on Alishan (阿里山) more than 100 years ago are to be restored and steam along the mountain line again, the Forestry Bureau’s Alishan Forest Railway and Cultural Heritage Office said on Thursday last week.
Three engines — SL-21, SL-17 and SL-32 — have been transported from exhibition sites to the Alishan Forest Railway Garage Park for renovation, office Deputy Director-General Chou Heng-kai (周恆凱) said.
The locomotives, which operated on the Alishan Forest Railway, were manufactured by the Ohio-based Lima Locomotive Works between 1911 and 1915 to haul timber, Chou said.
Photo: CNA / Alishan Forest Railway and Cultural Heritage Office
They were designed with vertical cylinders, making them ideal for the sinuous, mountain track and the stop-and-go nature of the route, so the model was hailed by the local logging industry, he said.
Steam locomotives were phased out as diesel and electric took over in the 1970s, with the last one taken from the tracks on Alishan in 1984, he said.
SL-21, SL-17 and SL-32 were moved to Chiayi Park (嘉義公園), the Alishan Railway Station and Chiayi’s Jhuci Riverside Park (竹崎親水公園) respectively, he said.
To help preserve the valuable cultural items, the office last year transported the locomotives “home” to the garage park, awaiting work to allow them to run once again, Chou said.
A public tender slated for March with a budget of NT$22 million (US$726,624) would cover repair of parts such as the boiler, the driver’s compartment, the body, the bogies, the engine, the transmission and the water supply system for SL-21, which was produced in 1912 and taken from service in 1975, he said.
The engine is to pull passenger cars once it is repaired, he said.
A budget of NT$16 million has been allocated for repair to SL-17, which would take place from next year to 2023, he said.
SL-32, made in 1915, is to undergo a partial repair for exhibition, or possibly to run, depending on performance evaluations, he said, adding that NT$2 million has been allocated for the work.
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