All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Technology

Technology & Engines

Technology Slideshow

Photograph of a train preparing to get underway.

The first locomotive engines used on the Newfoundland railway arrived in 1881 and were powered by steam. The Reid Newfoundland Company and the Newfoundland Railway were superb locomotive builders and did excellent work in overhauling and rebuilding locomotives. In 1911 they started building steam locomotives, and between 1911 and 1916 had built a total of 12 locomotives for their Newfoundland service.

In 1930, the Newfoundland Railway received their first Mikado type locomotive. Made with steel and weighing around 130 tons, they were built by the American Locomotive Company. From 1930 to 1949, 30 more of these very efficient Mikado locomotives were to follow.

With the entry of Newfoundland into Confederation in 1949, the Newfoundland Railway was transferred to CNR. One of the greatest changes Canadian National Railways initiated was a program to dieselize the Newfoundland Railway system. From 1953 to 1960, a total of 53 diesel electric locomotives built by General Motors Diesel made their way into the Newfoundland system.

The diesel-electric locomotives were considerably more efficient than their steam-powered counterparts. They were not as labour-intensive to maintain as steam engines and were faster, more powerful, and easier to fuel than a steam engine. Running on diesel, they were also cheaper and easier to operate. They were more expensive to build, but they were sturdier, lasted longer, and caused less harm to the tracks.

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