D6948 – 19th March return to service day postponed

Following another good day of progress on D6948’s power unit overhaul on Sunday 24th January, a detailed assessment of remaining work required vs available time and labour resources between now and the 19th March was carried out. The Power unit overhaul has ended up being much more extensive than could have been anticipated when this phase of the work commenced early in 2015 and although the rest of the extensive locomotive restoration has now been completed and barring any further issues the power unit may be fully reassembled within the next 6 weeks or so, we feel there will be insufficient time for proper testing and shakedown of a locomotive that has not not been in service for 5 years. We have also been made aware of issues in the availability of the railway’s insurance inspector to visit and complete the essential air receiver and steam generator inspections, with continuing uncertainty as to when this visit can take place.

In the light of this, and with a very heavy heart, the Growler Group feels it would be unprofessional to go ahead with the 19th March given the uncertainty surrounding the actual completion of the pu overhaul and outcome of testing, especially as we are aware of the interest being shown in its return to service, and the disappointment and disruption to visitor plans and those of the GWR if we cannot deliver on the day. Although not ideal, we think it is far better to advise everyone of postponement now before our visitors have made plans, than to take a chance and have to cancel late in the day.

No one feels more desperately disappointed than the four owners of the locomotive and the small band of Growler Group members who have all worked so hard over the last 5 years to get to this point. However, as a professional and responsible group we feel we have no option as the risk of failing to deliver is just too great for us to accept at this stage. We are very grateful to the GWR for the opportunity to run a ‘Return to Service Day’ on the 19th March and with the interest being shown, know that it would have been a success.

We are hoping that the loco will now make its debut with proper celebration at the July diesel gala from 29th to 31st July. The free celebratory cakes planned for the 19th March will of course be provided!! As something else to look forward to, the October diesel gala on the 8th/9th October will be the locomotive’s ‘steaming’ debut in service….

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