Class M1 Specifications:
Locomotive Class: M1
Manufactured Country: Great Britain
Manufactured Company: Brush Bagnall (England)
Imported Year: 1953
Type of Locomotive: Diesel Electric
Prime Mover: Mirrlees V12 JS12VT (4 Stroke)
Maximum Power: 880hp (1000bhp)
Maximum Speed: 88 kmph
Axel Arrangement: A1A-A1A
Weight: 88 Tons
No. of Locomotives Imported: 25
Locomotive Numbers: 539-563
From the early days of Sri Lankan Railways, steam powered locomotives did a great job by supporting the transport sector of the country. These giants was in service for about hundred years from 1858 to 1935.
However Mr.B.D.Rampala, the chief mechanical engineer of Sri Lanka railways (became the general manager afterwards) took a decision to introduce diesel locomotives to Sri Lanka around 1953. There were several reasons for this decision. Diesel locomotives were very much popular & successful while Steam locomotives had difficulties in using & maintaining. This was the time period which the S1 Diesel Power Set was introduced to the local railroads & it was successful.
Accordingly in 1953 the first diesel locomotive was imported to Sri Lanka. This locomotive was categorized as the Class M1. And she had a stunning dark red livery.
The first locomotive was numbered 539. Because this locomotive showed good results SLR ordered 24 more locomotives of this class. These 25 sisters hauled many trains of main lines. Also these locomotives had the ability to be used Double-Headed (two locomotives) when hauling up country trains & these had the power to haul many coaches. Another plus point was these could be run without turning sides because of the Dual Cabin facility.
When talking about the prime mover of this locomotive, there is a story. The Mirrlees V12 JS12VT engine was originally manufactured for combat submarines to use at the World War II . But when they finished manufacturing these engines, the war was over & they formed this company & manufactured these locomotives from those submarine engines.
These locomotives was in service for about 30 years continuously & was praised as the best locomotive class at that time. However the sri Lankan railway department decided to remove these giants from the sevice because SLR took the maximum service out of these giants & due to lack of spare parts. Running these locomotives further was not profitable for SLR & they removed these from service entirely.
Out of these 25 locomotives only few locomotives are available now. Other locomotives were scrapped in different occasions. The M1 560 locomotive is now being re-constructed to display at the proposed railway museum at Kadugannawa.
Credits to Gehan Chandika & Nipuna Dodanthenna.