A French Giant
The French 241 P class represents the largest normal-gauge steam locomotive in Europe. It was built in the years right after World War II in order to help replenish the depleted rolling stock of the SNCF with a powerful express-line engine. As such, the 241 P was directly based on the pre-war 241 C design of the PLM. The "P" represented the culmination of the French use and application of the 4-8-2 "Mountain" type wheel alignment, which at the same time, and due to French influence and collaboration, was also successfully being applied in new-build locomotives in Czechoslovakia and by the famed Skoda works in Pilsen. Of the originally 35 engines built by Schneider in Le Creusot, only 4 have survived to this day, the 241 P 30 being the only one outside of France. The 241 P 17, based in Le Creusot itself, is the only operational example of the class, and only just made it's grand comeback to service in 2006, after several decades of inactivity.
A Swiss Monument
In Switzerland the massive 241 P 30 is best known and still most remembered for having been a stationary monument engine at the border town of Vallorbe for more than 27 years. It arrived there with considerable fanfare and even with fake smoke coming out of the chimney in 1969 and remained in town until 1996. The more than two decades the engine spent in the town center of Vallorbe even dwarfed the mere 18 years that it was used in active service by the SNCF. Over the years and due to the obvious impact of weathering, the exterior condition of the 241 P 30 deteriorated considerably, and in 1996 the decision was made to move it back to the station and the shed in Vallorbe, rather than to continue keeping it on the monument pedestal in the town center. A year later and in 1997 the engine left Vallorbe altogether, when a private association took it over and moved it to Basel. The VVT was able to take over the engine and provide it with a safe home in the form of the St. Sulpice shed and a good future perspective as an integral part of the association's rolling stock collection in 2003.
The Crown Jewel
Today the 241 P 30 obviously is the crown jewel of the VVT's own collection of rolling stock. It is the largest engine based at St. Sulpice and it is also the association's most internationally famous show-piece. The engine can be viewed during all of the VVT's steam days and open shed days and often is also pulled outside of the depot by a shunting tractor. It remains the vision of the association to overhaul and bring back to life this dormant giant, but for that to succeed, substantial patronage is necessary.
Due to lack of space and the impossibility of ever making her steamable again, the association's general assembly decided in March 2012 to sell this engine. It is the French AJECTA which desires to purchase this locomotive => link