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The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic plans to convert a second 2-8-2 locomotive to burn oil instead of coal. The decision was discussed at a recent meeting of the duel-state commission that oversees the railroad that operates in Colorado and New Mexico.
The decision to convert another former Denver & Rio Grande Western K-36 2-8-2 from coal to oil comes more than a year after the first conversion, 489, hit the main line. That conversion has been a success and the railroad decided that a second one would allow them to continue to safely operate during times of high fire danger. The C&TS was forced to delay its opening day by three weeks this summer due to drought conditions across the southwest.
When C&TS announced the plan to convert one or more locomotives to oil back in 2020, they also vowed to continue using coal when possible and when safe. “We have not forgotten, nor will we ever forget, the importance of our historical DNA and the critical role the C&TS plays in preserving the most authentic steam railroading experience available anywhere, now, and for future generations,” Interim CEO Eric Mason said in 2020. “We will strive to always have the best examples of operating coal-fired steam locomotives in service when conditions permit.”
C&TS is not alone in converting some of its steam locomotives to burn oil. Nearby Durango & Silverton has converted the vast majority of its fleet of ex-D&RGW 2-8-2 to burn oil following a 2018 wildfire that was believed to have been sparked by a coal-burning steam locomotive.
This article first appeared on railfan.com
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