The reason they are going to oil burning is to prevent forest fires.
Last year the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was closed for over 40 days because of a forest fire that may have been started from a hot coal cinders. This fire, which burned more than 54,000 acres. The forest managers & fire fighters are having issues with battling ever-longer droughts. This problem is well-recognized.
Al Harper, owner of the D&SNG, estimates using oil instead of coal to fuel locomotives will cut the risk of a locomotive-ignited fire by 95 percent. They will also safe on fuel because coal fired locomotives have to remain on during the night and a oil fired locomotive can be shut down during the night.
They have some crew members with experience on oil-burning locomotives and some who don’t, They now have a on going training program,
John Harper, left, and Randy Babcock, both with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, discuss the differences between oil-burning and coal-burning locomotives.