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I've always been curious as to why CIE decided to order locos from GM. When the cost of transport from North America is factored in, surely they would have ended up being far more expensive than buying from a manufacturer in Britain? Perhaps the unreliable nature of the original A class engines cast a shadow over British-built locos, but by the time the GMs were ordered in the 60's and then again in the 70's, there were a number of comparable (in terms of power) tried and tested diesels running in Britain. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm very glad they did go with the GMs as they're such iconic locos; I'm just curious as to the thinking/finances behind the decision to order from GM rather than a manufacturer closer to Ireland. 

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7 minutes ago, ganderino said:

Emd locomotives are more reliable

Perhaps, but I'm guessing they would also have been more expensive once delivery costs were factored in. And, this being Ireland we're talking about, finances would surely have been limited. A number of small and large diesels that BR introduced in the 60's went on to live long, productive lives on their network, so it's not as if they were incapable of producing reliable locos. Or, perhaps I'm wrong about the costs - maybe the GM locos worked out less expensive, even with the delivery costs?

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17 minutes ago, Fiacra said:

Perhaps, but I'm guessing they would also have been more expensive once delivery costs were factored in. And, this being Ireland we're talking about, finances would surely have been limited. A number of small and large diesels that BR introduced in the 60's went on to live long, productive lives on their network, so it's not as if they were incapable of producing reliable locos. Or, perhaps I'm wrong about the costs - maybe the GM locos worked out less expensive, even with the delivery costs?

I dont think it came down to purely up front costs.

I dont claim to have any special knowledge here about CIE - JHB and some of the other serious Ferroequinologist fraternity here will be able to give you the definite answer to your question - but I have been involved in the manufacture of capital equipment - which rolling stock and locos are.

You don't buy capital equipment off the shelf - you get into a relationship that can span decades as locomotives are meant to have a lifespan of 20 years plus with all the supports, upgrades and spares that is required to keep the locos doing what they are meant to be doing.

I think the relationship between CIE and the British consortium that built the A and C Classes must have soured early on.........especially over engine reliability................maybe CIE , with all the problems with the A Class reliability....looked around at an alternative - took a punt on the 121 and it worked out............thus the 141 ,181s, the re-engining of the A Class and the 071's etc etc..............obviously there was a very good relationship between CIE and EMD from the start..............just one of those things ...............relationships are very important in what are multi-generational purchases................something went south in the relationship between CIE and the British from quite early on.........

Just my two cents.

 

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You don't need to be an expert on all things CIE. If something continues to let you down, you look elsewhere. GM had a reputation for reliability, so they took a chance and it worked. The relationship went on from there, the rest is history. Reliability will always save you money long term.   

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33 minutes ago, Edo said:

I dont think it came down to purely up front costs.

I dont claim to have any special knowledge here about CIE - JHB and some of the other serious Ferroequinologist fraternity here will be able to give you the definite answer to your question - but I have been involved in the manufacture of capital equipment - which rolling stock and locos are.

You don't buy capital equipment off the shelf - you get into a relationship that can span decades as locomotives are meant to have a lifespan of 20 years plus with all the supports, upgrades and spares that is required to keep the locos doing what they are meant to be doing.

I think the relationship between CIE and the British consortium that built the A and C Classes must have soured early on.........especially over engine reliability................maybe CIE , with all the problems with the A Class reliability....looked around at an alternative - took a punt on the 121 and it worked out............thus the 141 ,181s, the re-engining of the A Class and the 071's etc etc..............obviously there was a very good relationship between CIE and EMD from the start..............just one of those things ...............relationships are very important in what are multi-generational purchases................something went south in the relationship between CIE and the British from quite early on.........

Just my two cents.

 

Exactly that!

When I had a proper job, we were supplying capital equipment of a similar sort of nature. It was extremely difficult to get into the Irish market if you had any history of supplying less-than-perfect goods. The 'money people' in the state enterprises were much less short-sighted than British industry was used to dealing with.

With fleets of hundreds, you can get away with problems that you can't with fleets of tens. Simplicity, reliability and, crucially, a reliable supply of spares and maintenance items will have had a much higher place in the thinking of the decision-makers than the British would have been used to dealing with.

Irish procurers also had the very useful luxury of an "intelligence network" amongst most of the suppliers they were considering purchasing from.

There was often more than just the initial failures that might sour the relationship, often the lackadaisical (and even deliberately bloody awkward) response to these failures was a more important cause.

 

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GM/EMD also had a very slick marketing operation. They came from nowhere to dominate the US market for locos using every marketing trick in the book - mainly learnt through selling automobiles. Once demand for locos in the USA started to flatten out they looked more seriously at overseas markets. They had previously not been very interested in manufacturing for foreign markets, as the 'home' market in the USA, Mexico and Canada kept them very busy. They had allowed foreign manufacturers to build adapted designs under licence, like in Germany and Australia but these only had limited success. Ironically Alco, despite being ultimately something of a failure in the US market, did quite well by comparison overseas - so well that their designs were perpetuated and improved and built in Canada for many years after the parent company's demise.

Port costs and transhipping from manufacturing plant to dock/dock to customer are a significant part of the transport costs. Once on a ship sailing on the high seas, costs are relatively small. In the early 1960s there was an abundance of suitable shipping. The difference between shipping across the Irish Sea and across the Atlantic would not be huge in relation to the overall deal. Britain, Germany the USA and other countries had been sending locos half way around the world regularly since the very earliest days of loco construction.

By the early 1960s there were really only 2 serious manufacturers of main line diesel electric locos left in the UK - English Electric and Brush. All the others had either gone out of business, abandoned loco construction or were in their final death throes. Even the mighty Beyer Peacock hadn't the funds to develop new locos by this time. Both Brush and EE were pretty busy, so maybe not too interested in Irish orders at the time.

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1 minute ago, murphaph said:

I was thinking the same about the shipping costs. Can't have actually been much in it as you have those fixed port costs in either case. 

Did they ship the locos via the Great lakes or by land to an East coast port or how was it handled?

Sometimes with a bit of pomp and circumstance...

Transporting a locomotive by jumbo jet (Glen Fisher photo)… | Flickr

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42 minutes ago, Broithe said:

Sometimes with a bit of pomp and circumstance...

Transporting a locomotive by jumbo jet (Glen Fisher photo)… | Flickr

Yes that was iconic. There's a good youtube of it too. You have to wonder if politics ever had any influence in semi-state purchasing decisions. Swinging between favour to old colonial business relationships to favouring competition from opposition (eg like the early 1920s when German Electric companies were favoured for supply of our early national grid infrastructure, Siemens Suckhert, etc). You can imagine the Lemass era building economic trading bridges with the UK hence MV got an opportunity to bid. There may have been a return favour with agri-exports to GB or something (quid pro quo). Ireland moved away from steam 15 years before GB did, so diesel-electric was new tech in that part of the world, whereas USA had decades of experience with their vast distances and heavy trains where reliability would have been essential. Interesting the first batch of locos were mere switchers that were capable enough to operate mainline services to the west of ireland. One of my earliest travel memories was travelling behind a grey 121 to Galway from Westland row.

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2 hours ago, Fiacra said:

I've always been curious as to why CIE decided to order locos from GM. When the cost of transport from North America is factored in, surely they would have ended up being far more expensive than buying from a manufacturer in Britain? Perhaps the unreliable nature of the original A class engines cast a shadow over British-built locos, but by the time the GMs were ordered in the 60's and then again in the 70's, there were a number of comparable (in terms of power) tried and tested diesels running in Britain. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm very glad they did go with the GMs as they're such iconic locos; I'm just curious as to the thinking/finances behind the decision to order from GM rather than a manufacturer closer to Ireland. 

The other replies above regarding reliability are exactly right.

Basically they got a very good deal, as EMD already had an unrivalled reputation, and the financial pigeons were already coming home to roost in terms of the shockingly bad reliability of the Crossleys. They considered German stuff too.

Clearly, they made the right decision, and therefore stick with them. Had Dick Fearn's railcars not come along, I daresay we'd now be seeing the "251 class" in traffic, whatever they might be.

British Railways were hamstrung, as they were tied to buying British products, long after it was clear that the American stuff was better quality and more reliable. The Americans had way way more experience, having largely dieselised over a decade before anywhere in Europe.

A former friend of our family was a senior engineer with the GNR in Dundalk, and he knew my grandfather in Inchicore. Through this connection I am aware that CIE's senior figures in the fifties were talking to BR, Dundalk and various others about the pros and cons of American versus British technology. As others have commented above, when you buy a widget from Tesco and it won't widge properly, you go to Supervalu next time.

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20 minutes ago, Noel said:

You have to wonder if politics ever had any influence in semi-state purchasing decisions. Swinging between favour to old colonial business relationships to favouring competition from opposition.......

.........You can imagine the Lemass era building economic trading bridges with the UK hence MV got an opportunity to bid. There may have been a return favour with agri-exports to GB or something (quid pro quo). Ireland moved away from steam 15 years before GB did, so diesel-electric was new tech in that part of the world, whereas USA had decades of experience with their vast distances and heavy trains.......

Indeed; Lemass, quite rightly, didn't want us to end up depending on ANY one other country,  colonial power or not.

CIE did, of course, continue to use British firms if they could step up to the mark; a certain Cravens of Sheffield being a prime contender! British firms continued to be used for new rail and for much signalling equipment.

2 minutes ago, NIR said:

GMs were late 40s tech so were tried and tested by the 60s.

Exactly.

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It would be wrong to suggest that GM/EMD was always the perfect choice though. They had a very conservative outlook in relation to engine output. This worked fine in the early 1950s when railroads were happy to put any number of units in front of a train. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the turbocharged, big power era by big customers like Santa Fe who bought EMD but substantially rebuilt them to get what they really wanted. Once the railroad proved that it would work reliably for GM then GM brought out its own designs.

There were also issues with EMD two-stroke engines in the early years, which had different operating characteristics to the 4-stroke products of Alco and (later) GE. The 2-strokes tended to be sluggish at acceleration and best at slogging along for long distances at relatively constant speeds so not entirely suitable for the constant stop-start of commuter lines, or very undulating terrain. Over time, developments considerably reduced these differences.

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8 minutes ago, Noel said:

Yes that was iconic. There's a good youtube of it too. You have to wonder if politics ever had any influence in semi-state purchasing decisions. Swinging between favour to old colonial business relationships to favouring competition from opposition (eg like the early 1920s when German Electric companies were favoured for supply of our early national grid infrastructure, Siemens Suckhert, etc). You can imagine the Lemass era building economic trading bridges with the UK hence MV got an opportunity to bid. There may have been a return favour with agri-exports to GB or something (quid pro quo). Ireland moved away from steam 15 years before GB did, so diesel-electric was new tech in that part of the world, whereas USA had decades of experience with their vast distances and heavy trains where reliability would have been essential. Interesting the first batch of locos were mere switchers that were capable enough to operate mainline services to the west of ireland. One of my earliest travel memories was travelling behind a grey 121 to Galway from Westland row.

It always struck me as slightly 'odd' that they used a 'Soviet' aircraft, although it was a good PR stunt to get some positivity back from the delays.

Being late was (is?) standard for British industry in my day. Both in terms of the initial product and in the responses to the subsequent failures.

For many years, the British still had large 'captive' markets in the ex-empire, as well as at home, with organisations run by British managements. They could virtually rely on them to carry on putting up with the same sort of stuff, and there were often pseudo-commercial strings to the funding arrangements that made it very difficult to find the cash to go to other suppliers.

Where I worked, we made some truly dreadful things, but we also made things that were almost perfect, but they were hugely expensive to buy and were really unsaleable in most of the market after 1970-ish, although they are still sitting out there now, working well, sixty years on - you would have spent a lot more money over that period buying, replacing and fixing the stuff we made later.

People in Irish procurement were much more likely to look at the past, and a plausible projection into the future, and base decisions on that. You can still see it today in things like the Air Corps fleet and, dare I say it, Ryanair...

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43 minutes ago, Broithe said:

It always struck me as slightly 'odd' that they used a 'Soviet' aircraft, although it was a good PR stunt to get some positivity back from the delays.

Being late was (is?) standard for British industry in my day. Both in terms of the initial product and in the responses to the subsequent failures.

For many years, the British still had large 'captive' markets in the ex-empire, as well as at home, with organisations run by British managements. They could virtually rely on them to carry on putting up with the same sort of stuff, and there were often pseudo-commercial strings to the funding arrangements that made it very difficult to find the cash to go to other suppliers.

Where I worked, we made some truly dreadful things, but we also made things that were almost perfect, but they were hugely expensive to buy and were really unsaleable in most of the market after 1970-ish, although they are still sitting out there now, working well, sixty years on - you would have spent a lot more money over that period buying, replacing and fixing the stuff we made later.

People in Irish procurement were much more likely to look at the past, and a plausible projection into the future, and base decisions on that. You can still see it today in things like the Air Corps fleet and, dare I say it, Ryanair...

Yes it caused an earth quake when in the early 19902 Air Lingus witched from Boeing 4 engined 747s to twin engined Air Bus A330 for the Atlantic route, one of the first carriers to switch to ETOPS. Before that carriers did not operate twin engine aircraft trans oceanic, Boeing fought hard to retain the account knowing other carriers might fall like dominos to ETOPS if it proved successful for Aer Lingus which it did, and ETOPS turned the tide away from 4 engined aircraft. At the time some Pilot unions were opposed to ETOPS citing safety concerns, but in truth their real concern was the effect ETOPS might have on company revenue if business travellers got fed up of diversions when an engine had any abnormal readings (ie vibrations, etc), whereas on the 747 if an engine went tech mid way across the Atlantic the flight continued onto the original destination on 3 engines, often flying the return leg home to their maintenance base on three engines using four just for TO out of KJFK then shutting it down. None of that allowable on a twin. But the modern generation of high byass turbofan engines proved so reliable that statistically modern wide body aircraft needed less diversions that their former 4 engined counterparts and cost a lot less to operate and maintain. Hence 777, 787, A330 fly all the longest trans oceanic routes safely on two engines. As a pal of mine in Aer Lingus once commented with 4 engines there are twice as many things that can go wrong compared to a modern twin wide body. Now the 747 is finished as  has already happened to the A340 and even now the A380s are being retired and cut up. 787 and A350 have stolen the show.

The decision by Aer Lingus to switch from Boeing to Airbus sent shock waves through the industry, and was a very brave decision at the time considering ETOPS had not been proven statistically economic at the time, and the big issues was Aer Lingus were a major boing repair and maintenance outfit for smaller air lines in EMEA, and Aer Lingus earned substantial revenue from same which subsidised their open Ops. Airbus is now bigger than Boeing despite the A380 failure, or more correctly predictions that hub2hub would grow due to crowded skies and lack of slot times, Boeing guessed correctly that more pax wanted to fly direct point2point without changing flights at intermediate hubs. Ryan Air saved Boeing after 9/11 with the biggest 737 order in history. 737 Max has cause serious financial problems since MCAS. That's the great thing about a loco going tech, it just stops on the rails, whereas an aircraft is going a little quicker.

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A major cost advantage of buying GM was that your small order could be piggybacked onto a much larger build of the same basic locomotive, GM then covered the basics with whatever bodyshell/face you wanted.

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59 minutes ago, ganderino said:

The class 59 and class 201 are pretty much completely different locomotives!!!

Yeah ok but the 66, has a similar engine to the 201 got a body style very similar to the 59. That was really my point, if made in an unclear manner. I always wondered why the 201 received the different front rather than just using what they already had.

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34 minutes ago, murphaph said:

Yeah ok but the 66, has a similar engine to the 201 got a body style very similar to the 59. That was really my point, if made in an unclear manner. I always wondered why the 201 received the different front rather than just using what they already had.

Aerodynamics? The top part of the 201 cab being angled back whereas 59s are somewhat more slab-fronted.

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3 hours ago, Broithe said:

It always struck me as slightly 'odd' that they used a 'Soviet' aircraft...

I read a comment from an EMD employee involved that it wouldn’t fit in a Hercules so they had to hire the 124 through the British firm that were the freight agents for these.

46 minutes ago, murphaph said:

Yeah ok but the 66, has a similar engine to the 201 got a body style very similar to the 59. That was really my point, if made in an unclear manner. I always wondered why the 201 received the different front rather than just using what they already had.

I believe this was a request from IE regarding styling. The 59 styling was loosely based on Class 52 westerns apparently!

Regarding British diesel locos of the period being reliable, this is not strictly true. A Classes of course, but even in the UK there were the spectacular failures of classes 15, 16, 17, 21, 23, 28, 29, all the 263 Class 31s had to be re-engined within 10 years, all 512 Class 47s had their engines derated to improve their reliability. The Classes 40, 44, 45, 46 were too heavy and underpowered, the Class 50 was too complex and had a high failure rate. The Class 56 had availability rates so bad when new that Foster Yeoman bought GM Class 59s in the early 80s. A few years later BR wanted to buy a fleet of 59s but government pressure forced them to buy the British built Class 60, a loco with an availability rating of around 75% in early privatisation days, so a fleet of 100 locos had 25 out of use at any one time, whereas the 59s were posting 99%. 
 

Of course there were successes too, like the 20 and 37. The 37 is the only diesel loco from the era still truly working hard today, with test trains. There are some 20s and 47s still working stock transfers but that’s not the most gruelling of work. Most 60s sit rotting in Toton, most 56s are gone (with some currently getting GM engines) all the 58s are gone. I love my British diesels but they really weren’t tried and tested and a real mixed bag when it came to success when CIE was ordering its various generations of GM locos.
 

GMs were working in the harshest of conditions and were well proven by the 60s. Competitively priced too I’m sure with lots of spares availability to this day. No brainer.

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28 minutes ago, murphaph said:

I wouldn't think it plays a significant role at the fairly sedate pace most Irish trains run at but maybe it was more a cosmetic decision.

59s are 60 or 75mph; 201s have a design speed of 165km/h (102.5mph). You'd be surprised how much difference aerodynamics make once you go above 70/80mph as Nigel Gresley was able to demonstrate with his design for the LNER A4 Pacifics in the 1930s. I believe that at over 80mph the saving was about 8.6lbs coal per mile.

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It's just a pity so much of the network had/has TSRs that mean hardly has a train accelerated to 100 it is braking again for the next restriction. Nowhere on the network has a line speed over 100.

I honestly think the amount of money the 201 shape saved in fuel economy could be counted on one hand but that's a gut feeling and I absolutely stand to be corrected!

Perhaps the intention was there however. Unfortunately Irish Rail made a number of senseless decisions along the way, the needless scrapping of the mkIIIs a few years after buying all those locos being the most obvious. 

Still plenty of push pull and loco hauled trains here in Germany, despite the advent of the multiple unit.

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Another question would be why didn't CIE continue development of the tried and trusted B101 class, which performed pretty well and was built by one of the better British diesel manufacturers. Even 1100/1101 could have been a basis for development (apart from their brakes).

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1 hour ago, murphaph said:

It's just a pity so much of the network had/has TSRs that mean hardly has a train accelerated to 100 it is braking again for the next restriction. Nowhere on the network has a line speed over 100.

I honestly think the amount of money the 201 shape saved in fuel economy could be counted on one hand but that's a gut feeling and I absolutely stand to be corrected!

Perhaps the intention was there however. Unfortunately Irish Rail made a number of senseless decisions along the way, the needless scrapping of the mkIIIs a few years after buying all those locos being the most obvious. 

Still plenty of push pull and loco hauled trains here in Germany, despite the advent of the multiple unit.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I thought that past Inchicore linespeed had been upgraded to 100mph for 50 miles continously as well as many other lower restrictions past Portlaoise having also been raised, such as the crossing at Emly going from 60 to 80 iirc.

Though it's not done a huge amount for journey times. From 1987 the fastest weekday Dublin-Cork were 2h30 with two stops and linespeed was only 90 as far as Limerick Jcn., it was 75 to Mallow and only 65 beyond Mallow then. 

I believe the timing is mostly 2h30 with 4 stops now but that's with 100mph maximum and higher speeds permitted throughout the route now, so it's not really impressive.

The morning ex-Cork non-stop is 2h45, but in 1999 the Sundays non-stop were 2h17 in the up and 2h18 in the down and there were only 3 short 100mph sections then, the longest 13.5 miles.

 

14 minutes ago, RichL said:

Another question would be why didn't CIE continue development of the tried and trusted B101 class, which performed pretty well and was built by one of the better British diesel manufacturers. Even 1100/1101 could have been a basis for development (apart from their brakes).

I've often wondered that myself; then CIÉ might have ended up with something more akin to a Class 47 instead of the 071s.

 

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5 hours ago, Warbonnet said:

I read a comment from an EMD employee involved that it wouldn’t fit in a Hercules so they had to hire the 124 through the British firm that were the freight agents for these.

A Hercules is going to lift nowhere near that weight, even if you could shut the door. I was thinking along C5 lines, but it seems there were no civilian operators of the Galaxy.

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2 hours ago, hexagon789 said:

 

I've often wondered that myself; then CIÉ might have ended up with something more akin to a Class 47 instead of the 071s.

 

BRCW had built the B101 class. In the early 1960s they were building the BR Class 27 and 33. These were generally good machines, apart from long term body rot issues. Sulzer engines too, which would have maintained some degree of continuity. BRCW were really struggling to build the BR orders on time though - and effectively went bust in the process.

An Irish equivalent of the Class 33 might have been a good bet for CIE - a class 47 equivalent would probably have been too big and in any case was developed by a different company, Brush.

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23 minutes ago, RichL said:

BRCW had built the B101 class. In the early 1960s they were building the BR Class 27 and 33. These were generally good machines, apart from long term body rot issues. Sulzer engines too, which would have maintained some degree of continuity. BRCW were really struggling to build the BR orders on time though - and effectively went bust in the process.

An Irish equivalent of the Class 33 might have been a good bet for CIE - a class 47 equivalent would probably have been too big and in any case was developed by a different company, Brush.

I was more thinking in terms of engine power rather than bodyshell in the sense of having a Sulzer loco of over 2,000hp rather than a GM one.

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4 hours ago, Broithe said:

A Hercules is going to lift nowhere near that weight, even if you could shut the door. I was thinking along C5 lines, but it seems there were no civilian operators of the Galaxy.

I stand corrected, it was a Galaxy. Planes never did it for me so my knowledge on them is weak to say the least!

I might be mistaken, but didn’t CIE consider rebuilding the B101s similar to the As before ordering 071s instead? I guess CIE didn’t think a whole lot about the Sulzer powerplants to order more. EMD always offered great standardisation of components, quick delivery of parts and they worked out of the box so makes sense that 071s were ordered. Sulzers of that era were famed for leaking too and can confirm having been in the engine room of a sulzer Powered loco engine room it is the case. Would be interesting to compare the availability or mileage per failure rate of say a Class 24 and a 141. 

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Yes.

There was a serious body of opinion in Inchicore in favour of putting GM engines in B101s. At this stage I can’t remember the persons involved, but it’s irrelevant niw.

The 071s appeared as a result of varying opinions in the early 70s.

Had history been only slightly different, noisy (beautiful!) GM noises would be coming out of plain grey 101s today, hauling Ballina containers, Wood-sticks, and oddball sundry yellow things full of gravel about a handful of lines, away from the graffiti, concrete, litter, cider parties and steel fencing scenic beauties of Dublin.....

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Story goes that when the 071 class were introduced here British Rail were very impressed with the reliabilty and day to day performance of the class. So much so that they wanted to purchase them for UK operations. Seems politics intervened and they were not allowed to purchase them.

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