Locomotive B124 was built for Coras Iompair Éireann (CIE), the Irish State owned
transport company, by General Motors at their premises at La Grange, Illinois, USA
in 1960. B124 was part of a class of 15 single cab Bo-
B124 entered traffic with CIE on 29th March 1961. The letter prefix ‘B’ was dropped from 1972 onwards, and the locomotive eventually became 124.
The 121 (B) class locomotives could be seen operating all over the Irish Rail network, hauling both passenger and freight services. However, due to problems encountered with driver visibility when running bonnet first, their sphere of operation when running singly was restricted as they had to be turned on turntables at the end of most journeys so that the cab was leading each time. In the early days this was not too much of a problem, as most terminal stations still had operational turntables left over from steam days. However, as the number of operational turntables gradually reduced over a period of time, this restricted the number of routes that the class could operate over when running singly. As such, the locomotives were then regularly marshalled in pairs, operating in multiple with their cabs outermost, or coupled in multiple with 141 (B) or 181 (B) class locomotives, again with the 121 class’ cab outermost.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, pairs of 121 (B) class locomotives were the staple
form of motive power on the Dublin Connolly to Sligo line and also the Dublin Connolly
to Rosslare Harbour line. However, two notable duties did still remain for a single
121 (B) class locomotive. Firstly, there was the early morning Dublin Heuston to
Cork passenger/mail service, which returned from Cork to Dublin Heuston during the
late afternoon. In the later years, this train was usually formed of just one Travelling
Post Office, one Cravens passenger coach, and one Steam Generating Van. This service
continued until the transport of mail by rail was discontinued in January 1994. The
other passenger duty for a single locomotive was the Bray to Greystones push/pull
shuttle service, which was formed of former AEC railcar vehicles built between 1951
and 1954, which were converted to push/pull hauled stock in 1972/73. The 121 (B)
class locomotives took over operating this push/pull service in 1985/86, following
the withdrawal of the 201 (C) Class locomotives which had previously operated this
service. The use of 121 (B) class locomotives on this working eventually ended in
September 1987 when the AEC-
The first casualty was locomotive 125, which suffered a major electrical fire on 6th March 1986, and never ran again, spending the next 16 years stored at Inchicore Works, Dublin, before it was finally scrapped in 2002.
124 stands at Athlone Midland with an express from Galway to Dublin in May 1971.
124 at Dublin Connolly with a push/pull suburban working on 16th February 1992.
124 and 134 are stabled at Limerick station on 27th March 2007. Photo -
The next 121 (B) class locomotive to go was locomotive 132, which suffered an electrical fire on 19th May 1994. Locomotive 121 was the next of the class to be taken out of service, again after suffering fire damage on 29th June 1995. This was closely followed by locomotive 126 which suffered serious engine damage during July 1995.
During the course of their operating lives, several of the 121 (B) class locomotives
had their original engines exchanged with GM 8-
It then looked as if the 121 (B) class locomotives would get a new lease of life
in 2001/2002, when the decision was taken to refurbish the class. This work included
a body overhaul and the interior of the cabs being refurbished. In the end only four
locomotives were so treated, these being 123, 124, 131 and 134, as a policy change
resulted in a decision being taken to now phase out these locomotives. The remainder
of the class then continued in service until withdrawals commenced in mid-
One passenger duty did still remain for the few remaining 121 (B) class locomotives in their later years, this being the Limerick to Limerick Junction push/pull shuttle service that was formed of a Mark 3 push/pull set. Again, locomotive 124 was a regular performer on this duty until the shuttle service went over to railcar operation on 9th March 2004.
Locomotives 124 and 134 continued in service with Iarnród Éireann, usually running together as a pair on engineer’s trains, until both were taken out of service on 31st March 2008. During their extended period in service, these two locomotives were a popular choice for railtours. Following their eventual withdrawal, both locomotives were then stored at Inchicore Works awaiting preservation. Locomotive 124 was secured for preservation by the Irish Traction Group on 7th November 2009, and was sold to the Group for the nominal sum of €1 plus VAT.
Locomotive 124 was moved by low-
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