Class S8 Specifications:
Locomotive Class: S8
Manufactured Country: Japan + Korea
Manufactured Company: Hitachi + Hyundai
Imported Year: 1989
Type of Locomotive: Diesel Hydraulic
Prime Mover: MTU V12 396TC13
Maximum Power: 1413hp – 1800RPM
Maximum Speed: 88kmph
Axel Arrangement: B-B
Weight: 70 Tons (Power car only)
Length: 65 Feet (Power car)
Colour: Orange, Gray & White
No. of Units Imported: 20
Locomotive Numbers: 821-840
This is another successful DMU in Sri Lanka. Class S8 sets were imported to Sri Lanka 12 year after the S7 was introduced. 20 sets of this kind were imported & these sets are significant in different facts. These sets consist of 5 units including a power car, 3 passenger coaches & a dummy car. These are the first sets which were fully manufactured abroad after Class S5. This was made under Japanese technology by HITACHI-Japan with the help of HYUNDAI-Korea. These DMUs have a massive acceleration power because of the MTU V12 396TC13 German prime mover.
Class S8 has the ability to connect 2 sets & the driver can control these both sets from one power car. This type Double Sets can be seen often in office time. These sets are normally used for office trains & Colombo commuters & often used for special trains to Anuradhapura on pilgrimage seasons. And it’s said that these DMUs went up to Kandy in special occasions. Accordingly these sets haven’t run only on Matale track, beyond Anuradhapura on northern line & beyond Kandy on main line.
Class S8 can be known as the King of the Kelani Valley line because about 90% of the trains which run on KV line are Class S8 DMUs. Though there are problems when locomotive of other classes run on this line, S8s ran on this without any difficulty. The special reason for that is the ability for coaches to rotate a greater angle across the coupler due to the absence of vestibules. It’s very advantageous for a line like KV which has sharp curves. The seats of S8 is fixed parallel to the train to allow more passengers to travel.
Almost all sets of Class S8 are still in service. The face of this DMU was subjected to changes from time to time. Destination boards which was above the drivers’ cab were removed after few years. And some DMUs have an extra head light on that place. In the original structure headlights were fixed to the lower part of the face. This extra headlight was fixed for the driver to get a clear view of the track during night time.
A Romanian coach with Air Brakes was included in long distance trains to provide sanitary facilities for passengers as there were no toilets in S8 coaches & it also was painted in S8 colours. These DMUs have faced many disasters in their service period.
- In 1998 a S8 came behind a service train which was stopped due to an accident & collided with it near Veyangoda. The dummy cab of the S8 was destroyed in this accident.
- In 1998 a train derailed near Mirigama & some coaches rolled to the other line when a S8 was passing. Dummy cab of this S8 too was destroyed.
- Another S8 met an accident at Ratmalana
- There was a bomb blast inside a S8 coach at Dehiwala.
Due to these accidents some coaches & dummy cabs were withdrawn from running. When considering all of these facts there’s no doubt that Class S8 is the most successful DMU in Sri Lanka.
Credits to Gehan Chandika & Nipuna Dodanthenna.