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First diesel electric locomotive on show at Railway Museum

Hong Kong's first diesel electric locomotive - "Sir Alexander" was added to the collection of the Hong Kong Railway Museum today (May 18).

The locomotive was donated to the Railway Museum by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC). It will be put on display starting tomorrow.

The locomotive, officially in service from 1955 to 1997, is the first diesel electric locomotive ever to run on Hong Kong's rails.

Christened "Sir Alexander" after the then governor, Sir Alexander Grantham, it is the first locomotive in Hong Kong named after a person.

Officiating at the "Donation Ceremony of Sir Alexander Diesel Electric Locomotive" today were the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Anissa Wong Sean-yee; Acting Chief Executive Officer of KCRC, Mr Samuel Lai; Chairman of Tai Po District Council, Mr Cheng Chun-ping; and Senior Director, Transport of KCRC, Mr Y T Li.

Speaking at the donation ceremony, Ms Wong expressed her gratitude to the KCRC for donating valuable artefacts and providing expert advice on maintenance and conservation of the artefacts on display over the years.

Ms Wong also thanked the KCRC for the efforts involved in the refurbishment and the comprehensive planning in bringing "Sir Alexander" to the Railway Museum.

"'Sir Alexander' witnessed the lift-off of Hong Kong's economy and the increase in interconnectivity between Hong Kong and the Mainland during its service for more than 40 years. It is particularly meaningful to see 'Sir Alexander' at the Railway Museum as it has become part of the collective memories of Hong Kong people," said Ms Wong.

The Kowloon-Canton Railway (British Section) was officially in service on October 1, 1910, with steam locomotives being used. A new era of railway transportation started in 1955 when the first diesel electric locomotive made its debut.

In 1983, railway passenger service switched to full electrification, making an end to the passenger service of diesel electric locomotive. "Sir Alexander" was then repositioned to shunt maintenance coaches and haul freight trains between the Mainland and Hong Kong until 1997, when it was phased out of service.

During its years of steadfast service, a number of accessories were added to the locomotive, including body railings as well as space for a diesel generator to power the air-conditioning system. All of these have been kept in the refurbished locomotive to illustrate the ways it accommodated to the changes that the railways underwent.

The Railway Museum is situated in Tai Po Market town centre. It occupies some 6,500 square metres and includes the distinctive station building, a narrow-gauge steam locomotive, six historical coaches and a red-brick office building.

Erected in 1913, the station building was declared a monument in 1984. It was converted to the Railway Museum and opened to the public in 1985 after conservation and restoration work were completed.

Located at 13 Shung Tak Street, Tai Po Market, Tai Po, the Railway Museum is open from 9am to 5pm daily. It is closed on Tuesdays. Admission is free.

For enquiries, call 2653 3455.

Ends/Tuesday, May 18, 2004
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