Welsh narrow gauge steam locomotive off to Taiwan

Dougal from the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway
Credit: Andrew Charman

The Welshpool and Llanfair Railway has announced that steam locomotive ‘Dougal’ will be visiting the far east thanks to a new agreement between the WLLR and the Taiwan Sugar Corporation (Taisugar).

Dougal was built in 1946 for the gasworks in Glasgow. It was acquired the then general manager at the W&LLR in 1969. The locomotive will be spending around six months in Taiwan, during which it will be the star guest at a major festival in December.

The initiative is thanks to a twinning arrangement that has been agreed by the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway and Taisugar. This is similar to the agreement signed in 2017 by the narrow gauge railway and the Alishan Railway (another railway in Taiwan). The twinning promotes a long-term mutual cooperation and exchange between the two railways.

The Taiwan Sugar Corporation once owned more than 40 mills around the country. However, after production has declined, Taisugar now operates five short heritage railways at former mills that it owns.

Part of the agreement will see the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway providing the benefits of experience thanks to more than 50 years of tourist railway operation to Taisugar. In return, the benefits will include technical assistance, particularly in the maintenance of 1979-built Diema diesel loco no 17. This locomotive was purchased by the narrow gauge railway in 2004 from Taisugar.

The W&LLR board has also agreed to Taisugar’s request to send Dougal to Taiwan on a six-month loan, in order for the loco to appear at the annual Sugar Festival in December. The  theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Taiwan and British Railway Culture Exchange.’

While basically in working order, Dougal has not run on the W&LLR since 2013, when significant and expensive boiler work was deemed necessary.

A member of the W&LLR’s engineering team will travel to Taiwan to oversee the locomotive’s unloading and a technical inspection by Taisugar. The sugar company has said that depending on the results of the inspection they may offer to carry out work on Dougal to bring it up to operating condition.

All costs of Dougal’s visit to Taiwan paid for by Taisugar.

Dougal will depart for Taiwan later this month.

What did the officials say?

W&LLR chairman Steve Clews has welcomed the agreement with Taisugar, and the bold move to send Dougal to Taiwan and said:

“We are already seeing benefits from our twinning agreement with the Alishan line and we would expect similar benefits to both sides from an agreement with Taisugar, particularly in the areas of promoting tourism

“As Dougal is currently unable to work on our railway, the visit to Taiwan will enable the loco to make a major contribution to both cementing our growing relations with Taiwan and in promoting the W&LLR to the increasingly important Far East tourism market.”

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Michael Holden avatar
I have had an interest in Railways for as long as I can remember. I am a member of a number of heritage railways and actively volunteer at 2 of them. I enjoy all types of railways, real life, model and simulations. I started RailAdvent in 2014 and am the main editor of the site.
  • […] The initiative is thanks to a twinning arrangement that has been agreed by the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway and Taisugar. This is similar to the agreement signed in 2017 by the narrow gauge railway and the Alishan Railway (another railway in Taiwan). The twinning promotes a long-term mutual cooperation and exchange between the two railways. Welsh narrow gauge steam locomotive off to Taiwan […]