WDM-2 'Jumbo' Locos

by Apurva Bahadur (May 1998)

Disclaimer: The information presented here is neither complete nor accurate. Complete details on the topics here are available only from Indian Railways and other official organizations. The material here is not a substitute for the official documentation or official training procedures, which are provided to duly authorized personnel. Do not use the information here to design, build, operate, repair, or maintain any equipment.

Having gone through Bharat & Sidharth's excellent web site I see that the WDM-2 illustated there is one of the 'steamliners'. The railway nickname for these strange beasts is 'Jumbo'. Staff from all the divisions touching Pune : Mumbai, Hubli and Solapur, seem to agree on this name. All the staff agree that this is a pretty terrible loco to operate. (Note that a lot of railway men call the airbraked BCN and BCNA rake as 'Jumbo Rake'. No logical explanation for this, and it has no connection to the Jumbo WDM-2 locos.)

Some notes on the 'Jumbo' WDM-2 follow.

  • The normal WDM2 have a short hood and a long hood.
  • There is a door in the left hand side of the short hood and door set in the right hand towards the long hood.
  • As the driver sits on the right of the loco the door is always behind him. His assistant always looks out though the door glass.
  • The glass in front of the driver is larger, rectangular in shape. The glass set in the door is smaller, curved item not very unlike a trunnicated slice of orange.
  • In the 'Jumbo' an attempt has been made to 'Americanise' the loco, which apparently has a full width wind screen. A full width will certainly improve the cross vision of the drivers. This is true only when travelling short hood leading. But the American locos are rarely seen single, hence there is a short hood at either end of the locos coupled together.
  • In India there is no rule of multiple uniting, including two Jumbos running with both the long hoods leading. We never would dream to preserve the turn tables so that the short hood is available for all the journeys.
  • Looking closely at the 'American' model of loco, although there are windscreens in the front, the driver still looks out from the standard 'sight glass'. The DLW has used this arrangement in the WDS 6, which has a low nose on the account of the lack of the dynamic brakes. The newer American locos (that have a door in the nose) that have a full width windscreen, but I am sure crew must be in an ergonomically correct position.
  • The control stand in a Jumbo has been moved from the side to the front of the driver. This has only added to the driver's misery. The sense of operation of the various levers although same relative to each other has shifted from 'front - back' to 'left - right'.
  • The assistant driver's control stand is at the same location as a standard loco.
  • The seating position is LOW ! As it is the standard 'seat' in the WDM2 is a round wooden stool without any cushion or backrest. To add to this, the individual loco sheds stamp their ownership by drilling their code on the wooden stool. After a long haul the driver's posteriors must be having a 'PA' or 'GY' imprinted in relief ! So in the Jumbo the drivers peer through the lower corner of the huge windscreen. Seat height can be adjusted but usually the mechanism is jammed and the poor driver curses his fate and sits of his haunches for the haul ahead. In India the man is often more adjustable than the machine.
  • Normal WDM2s have accessible windsreen which the assistant driver goes around and cleans religiously before the run. The Jumbo has a huge windscreen which can be reached only by climbing on to the hood, very close to the overhead catenary. No right thinking human is going to do it, DLW !
  • What about the 'Spider's Web' grill on top of the huge wind screens ? How is the glass going to cleaned under that, even at the shed ? The wipers hinged from the top of the wind screen clear a swath way over the driver's line of sight. It would be a very funny sight if not so sad.
  • The seat centre is not in line with the long hood windscreen ! When running long hood leading, the seat axis is such that good vision is achieved only by leaning on one side.
  • The twin horns are right over the open doors on the asst. driver's side. The asst. driver, who often goes to out of the cab to show the green flag during a station start, will always worry about the horns accidentally sounding next to his ears.The 'front facing' horns are on top of the cab.
  • During exchanging of 'token' the the driver has to get up from his seat so that the asst. may lean out of his window.
  • I have seen, just once, a Jumbo at Pune with a half a windsceen. As the Pune shed must not be having a spare wind screen in stock, they welded the windscreen with sheet metal and grafted a normal WDM2 glass in the middle. A truly ugly looking loco.
  • Not all is bad with the Jumbo loco, it looks great and adds to the variety at the railway station. But it illustrates how unthinking people in decision making positions can mess up things.
  • I guess the loco will be with us for atleast 10-15 years more,before they are scrapped. DLW has made only a batch of these locos and reverted back to the standard model ever since.