Class M7 Specifications:
Locomotive Class: M7
Manufactured Country: Great Britain
Manufactured Company: Brush Traction UK
Imported Year: 1981
Type of Locomotive: Diesel Electric
Prime Mover: EMD V8 8-645E 2 Stroke
Maximum Power: 994hp
Maximum Speed: 80kmph
Axel Arrangement: Bo-Bo
Weight: 66 Tons
Colour: Red & Green with Yellow strip
No. of Locomotives Imported: 16
Locomotive Numbers: 799-814
Sixteen locomotives of this type were produced by Brush Company in 1981 & sent to Sri Lanka. This is the locomotive which has the lowest power, lowest weight & lowest length among the Diesel Electrics in Sri Lanka. Brush Traction UK has classified these locomotives as Shunting Locomotives. (In Sri Lanka Shunting activities are done in a small area. So our shunting engines usually don’t need to run a long distance. Therefore we most often use Hunslet type locomotives with a horse power of 570. But in most of the other countries shunting locomotives should travel a considerable distance). However M7 locomotives are used for some passenger trains & freight trains. These locomotives were also used for long distance trains & for shunting occasionally.
Even though these locomotives are designed to run on every line in Sri Lanka, they usually don’t run on the up country line because of the low power & a problem in Dynamic Brakes which is an essential feature a locomotive should have when running on up country line. These locos had pre-installed Dynamic brakes. But after some years later the resister grids of dynamic brake system started to malfunction. Therefore M7s usually don’t run beyond Rambukkana alone. But these are frequently used in Matale line.
Another important fact is that these locomotives were imported to Sri Lanka coincide with the Queens visit. Some says that a M7 was used for the train she travelled, but not confirmed. Some years back 3 locomotives of these were painted in ICE (Inter City Express) colour scheme & now all the locomotives are in their original colours.
Fifteen locomotives out of the sixteen are in service now. No.803 is not in service due to an accident happened between Kadigamuwa & Rambukkana. That incident happened on 5th December 1999. When Badulla night mail train was traveling towards Colombo, a train with No.803 came behind the night mail. It had a problem with the brake system & it came accelerating down the incline. Therefore it hit the last wagon of the mail train. After this incident M7s were taken out from the service on up country line. Recently SLR attempted a trial run to Maho junction using M7 799 & it got derailed at Maradana minutes before the journey.
Credits to Gehan Chandika & Nipuna Dodanthenna.