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Locomotive B190 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 1966. B190 was part of a class of 12 Bo-Bo locomotives designated ‘B’ class and numbered B181 – B192 inclusive.


The 181 (B) class locomotives were almost identical in appearance to the thirty-seven 141 (B) class locomotives that were built in 1962. There were some minor external differences, including a roof access ladder as opposed to individual steps, and vents on the cab front (an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to alleviate moisture build up between the inner and outer skin of the cab).


Internally, the 181 (B) class locomotives were fitted with the larger GM-B645E engine of 1100 hp rather than the 8-567CR engine of 950 hp that was fitted to the 141 (B) class locomotives. In addition, the 181 (B) class locomotives were also fitted with an electric cooling fan motor instead of the mechanically driven type fitted to the 141 (B) class locomotives. The 181 (B) class locomotives also had a different type of reverser and were fitted with type D77 traction motors, instead of the D57 traction motors that were fitted to the older 141 (B) class locomotives.


The 181 (B) class locomotives could be seen working all over the Irish Rail network, operating both local and express passenger, and also freight and engineering services, either singly, or in multiple with other 181 (B) class, 141 (B) class and even 121 (B) class locomotives.


B190 entered traffic with CIE on 3rd December 1966. The letter prefix ‘B’ was dropped from 1972 onwards, and the locomotive eventually became 190.


The first locomotive to be withdrawn was locomotive 191. Whilst in use as a pilot locomotive in North Wall on 17th August 1991, an unauthorised person got into the cab whilst the locomotive was unattended and applied full power before jumping off again, leaving locomotive 191 to run away in the direction of Sligo. The locomotive travelled for around 7 miles before it finally ran into a set of buffers in a headshunt at Clonsilla. Following recovery, locomotive 191 was taken back to Inchicore Works, where the bogie-less body was grounded and the locomotive gradually stripped for spares until it was eventually scrapped seven years later.


During the course of their operating lives, several of the 181 (B) class locomotives had their original engines exchanged with GM 8-B645E engines recovered from former 201 (C) class locomotives. Locomotive 190 was to eventually receive one of the former 201 (C) class engines during its period in service, which it still retains to this day.


The next locomotive to be withdrawn from service was locomotive 188, which was taken out of service in November 2003 in need of an overhaul. Over the following six years, the other remaining members of the 181 (B) class were gradually taken out of traffic, one at a time, and scrapped shortly thereafter. By February 2009 locomotive 190 was to be the only remaining example of its class left in existence.


Locomotive 190 spent around the last 12 months in service as pilot locomotive at Inchicore Works, Dublin. It was eventually taken out of traffic and withdrawn in November 2009 and sold to the Irish Traction Group for preservation.


Locomotive 190 was moved by low-loader from Inchicore Works to the West Clare Railway, Moyasta, Co. Clare, on 27th November 2009 for eventual display inside a new museum that is due to be constructed at the site.

190 stands at Claremorris with a service from Ballina to Limerick on 20th March 1976.

Photo - Jonathan Allen


 190 approaches Rush & Lusk with the 08:36 Arklow to Drogheda service on 8th May 1993.

Photo - Jonathan Allen


190 at Carrick-On-Suir on a ballast train on 3rd June 2006.

Photo - Aidan Kehoe