Thursday, December 10, 2009
JNR C61 Steam Locomotive To Be Restored
For the country which developed the Shinkansen, Japan took a remarkably long time to retire its steam locomotives, with the last ones being taken out of service in the mid-1970s. Quite a few have survived as park ornaments, such as C61 class (C61形) No. 20 (C61 20) pictured above (via Wikipedia, see below for link), which JR East has announced will be restored to running order by spring 2011.
Restoration will cost around 300,000,000 yen (think 2 million Euro or 3 million US$ for a rough equivalent) and will be used to haul special trains within Gunma Prefecture. The C61 is currently exhibited in Kezoji Amusement Park (華蔵寺公園遊園地) in Isezaki (伊勢崎市).
Since 2011 this locomotive has been running on excursion services in Gunma, see the official JR page for details.
The C61 class was designed as a passenger locomotive and has a 4-6-4 wheel arrangement. It was one of the first new classes of steam locomotives to be built following World War II. Under the terms of the Allied occuption Japan was not permitted to build new locomotives without special permission, so the C61 class was constructed using parts including the boilers of surplus freight locomotive classes D51 and D52. 33 were built between 1948 and 1949 and remained in service until 1973 (although the last surviving member of the class, Nr. 18, was not officially withdrawn until 1975).