MTA LIRR Asks Public To Help Name Two Retired Locomotives As Part Of Its 175th Anniversary Celebration

NEW YORK — The MTA Long Island Rail Road is launching a contest to name two retired LIRR locomotives – No. 397 and No. 398 – that are being loaned to the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum as part of the yearlong celebration of the LIRR’s 175th anniversary.

The two mini locomotives were used as “switching locomotives” in the LIRR’s Morris Park diesel servicing and repair yard in Richmond Hill, Queens.

These diminutive locomotives (150 horsepower) were used to “switch” or move passenger and freight locomotives throughout the diesel facility – especially when locomotives were unable to operate under their own power while in the shop for repair. The locomotives also push or pulled diesel coaches – passenger train cars – into or out of the diesel car repair shop and the wheel truing facility where flat spots were removed from train car wheels.

“We are grateful that the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the LIRR, which has served Long Island and New York for 175 years,” said LIRR President Helena Williams. “We are hoping the public will help us as well by coming up with some good suggestions to properly name these two workhorses – No. 397 & 398, reflecting our history and connection to Long Island.”

The locomotive naming contest is open to all. Suggested names for the dynamic duo can be submitted through April 15, 2009 by visiting the LIRR’s website at, or by using The contest winner will receive a family four-pack of tickets to Kooza by Cirque du Soleil, the new show at Randall’s Island this spring.

The two locomotives will have a formal naming ceremony, using the winning entry, as they are transferred to Oyster Bay Railroad Museum later this year.

“We are very excited to have the two switch locomotives come to the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and thank the LIRR for loaning them to us. They will be on display at our turntable yard and available for viewing by the public along with other rolling stock and artifacts,” said John Specce, President of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. “This is a dream come true as our vision for the yard included these historic engines. Their arrival is especially fitting at this time as a way to help celebrate the railroad’s 175th anniversary.”

The “switching locomotives,” each over 50 years old, dutifully performed their functions and were a mainstay of the LIRR’s diesel repair shop landscape from the 1960’s through 2006. Both locomotives were built by General Electric in 1958.

Locomotive No. 398 was purchased new by the LIRR in 1958. Locomotive No. 397 was acquired by the LIRR in 1987 from the Naporano Iron & Metals Company – a firm located in New Jersey.