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Lac-Megantic's 'train from hell'

It's been known to belch oil from its exhaust, it's caught fire at least once and it led the "train from hell" that smashed into Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

And pretty soon locomotive MMA 5017 can be all yours.

The lead engine on the runaway oil train that derailed and exploded last summer in Quebec is scheduled to go to auction Aug. 5., a month after disaster-scarred Lac-Megantic marked the first year of the catastrophe.

The opening bid for the locomotive that played a key role in one of Canada's worst-ever rail disasters has been set at $10,667 (or US$10,000).

The auctioneer says he has yet to receive any specific inquiries about MMA 5017, but he's expecting more spectators than usual when he belts out its name at the Derby Rail Yard in Milo, Maine.

"It is unique and obviously this locomotive's got some history to it," Adam Jokisch, president of a St. Louis-based auction house, told The Canadian Press.

"It's definitely not a good piece of history, that's for sure. . . I don't think I'd want to be reminded about that horrible accident."

MMA 5017 will also have company on the auction block.

In all, the auction will feature 25 locomotives from the fleet of the now-bankrupt Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, as well as seven units identified as the property of an affiliate of MMA's former parent company, Rail World Inc.

The black-and-green MMA 5017 appears to have avoided any serious damage in the incident. The night of the disaster, the diesel-electric machine continued rolling along the rails as 63 tank cars filled with volatile crude oil careened off the tracks behind it.

But like several of the MMA locomotives that will be sold off, the General Electric C-30-7 is not in running condition, according to the auction-house blurb that also mentions its connection to the disaster.

"The MMA 5017 unit was the lead locomotive in a derailment and fire incident in Canada," reads the ad on the website for Adam's Auction & Real Estate Services, Inc.

It notes that due to that crash, "the number 4, 5 & 6 power assemblies were removed." The ad also states that MMA 5017 has a "defective piston."

The Canadian Press

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