Class Y1 Specifications:
Locomotive Class: Y1
Manufactured Country: Sri Lanka
Manufactured Company: Sri Lanka Railway Department
Manufactured Year: 1972
Type of Locomotive: Diesel Hydraulic
Prime Mover: PAXMAN V12 YJXL
Maximum Power: 1080hp – 1600RPM
Maximum Speed: 48kmph
Axel Arrangement: 0-8-0
Weight: 52 Tons
Length: 31feets & 5inches
Colour: Dark blue
No. of Locomotives Manufactured: 7
Locomotive Numbers: 722-728
First locally built locomotive was Class M3 locomotive & it was built in 1956. But it was withdrawn after few years of service due to some technical problems & using that shunting locomotive for passenger services was the major problem of all.
However 16 years later local engineers took steps to build few locomotives locally. According to Mr. Nalin Abeysinghe who is searching for hidden historical facts of SLR this process was done as follows.
Class M3 was born as a result of withdrawing Class S1. Like the M3, the idea to build Y1 came as a result of withdrawing Class G2 shunting locomotives. Therefore SLR selected 8 prime movers of Class G2 locomotives which were in good condition. But officials stated that using these old prime movers might lead to major problems. Then SLR imported 7 new prime movers to build Y1.
Although these locomotives were designed as shunting locomotives they were used to haul some trains. Many people believe that there were 7 locomotives of Class Y1 numbered 721 to 727. It’s stated in Diesel Locomotive Database of Sri Lanka Railway Museum website & Railways of Sri Lanka book written by Dr. David Hyatt. According to them the number of locomotive which wasn’t built is 728. That means Class Y1 728 locomotive was not built. No.729, which is the next locomotive is a W2 locomotive. Numbers from 717 to 720 are Class S5 locomotives. Accordingly there is no locomotive numbered 728 & it’s the opinion of almost all rail fans.
But they’ll be surprised if we say that a locomotive numbered 728 was in service & it belong to Class Y1. But it’s the truth. There are considerable proofs that this loco existed. First one is a photograph took by a foreigner called Bill Scales in 1980. It shows a Class Y1 locomotive pulling some passenger carriages towards Colombo. Its number plate is not very clear but it can be identified as 728 when observe carefully. It is a very valuable photo & it’s is a proof that these locomotives were used for passenger services as well. Following is the photograph.
Second proof is a photograph took by Mr. Nalin Abeysinghe in 2011. It shows the Class Y1 728 locomotive at the scrap yard in Ratmalana Railway Workshop. Following photo is the 2nd proof.
The mystery of 728 is now solved & another mystery has raised. If there were only 7 locomotives of this class were manufactured & their numbers are in between 721 to 728 what is the number which doesn’t belong to any locomotive. Mr. Nalins’ idea on this is that it’s No.721 & a locomotive named Class Y1 728 never existed.
No.721 might kept to assign for the W2 locomotive which was imported after the first batch of W2s & it might have assigned No.729 by a mistake or due to something else. Therefore there is no locomotive numbered 721. However according to Mr. Nilupul Wickramage, who is in charge of the Puttlan running shed, W2 locomotive arrived Sri Lanka as N0.717 & it was changed to 729. However the mystery of Class Y1 is still not completely solved.
However 7 or 8 Y1 locomotives were successfully built by local engineers. These locomotives have many special features. Main feature is the difference in hood of the drivers’ cabin. It had been in 3 different designs like W1, W2 & M2. Almost all these manufacturing was done in Ratmalana workshops.
These locomotives had run up to Anuradhapura in trial runs. Y1 has run its maiden run on 28th February 1971 & that train ran with Y1 722 locomotive. According to an unconfirmed fact a locomotive of this kind has run up to Kandy as a test run & it has failed due to the high wheel base length.
Y1 locomotives were designed to use for heavy shunting purposes because there was a good demand for freight trains in 1970s. These locomotives didn’t had a bogie & they had 0-8-0 axel arrangement. It means there are four axles fixed to the locomotive. Therefore Y1 loco was slightly longer than the Class Y locomotive. Due to this reason it faced frequent derailments when manipulating curves. Apart from this no errors were reported & it’s said that the electric system of Class Y1 was a simple & long-lasting design.
In the decade of 1980 transporting goods by Lorries became popular than transporting by Train. Therefore the number of freight trains were reduced. Class Y & Class G2 locomotives were enough for daily shunting purposes. At that time SLR mainly focused on passenger trains & therefore Class Y1 locomotives which cannot run in upcountry line were neglected. Prime movers of Y1 locomotives were fixed to W1 locomotives & Class Y1 locomotives were withdrawn from service. All locomotives except Class Y1 727 were scrapped & No.727 is preserved at the railway museum.
Credits to Gehan Chandika