British Rail Class 55

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British Rail Class 55
55008 The Green Howards passes Peterborough in July 1974 with the London-Newcastle "The Tees-Tyne Pullman".
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderEnglish Electric at Vulcan Foundry
Build date1961–1962
Total produced22
ConfigurationCo-Co
UIC classificationCo'Co'
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter3 ft 9 in (1.143 m)
Wheelbase58 ft 6 in (17.83 m)
Length69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)
Width8 ft 9 12 in (2.68 m)
Height12 ft 10 in (3.91 m)
Locomotive weight99 long tons (101 t)
Fuel capacity900 imp gal (4,100 l; 1,100 US gal)
Prime moverNapier Deltic D18-25, × 2
GeneratorEnglish Electric DC generator
Traction motorsDC traction motors
Multiple workingNot fitted
Top speed100 mph (161 km/h)
Power outputEngines: 1,650 bhp (1,230 kW) × 2
Tractive effortMaximum: 50,000 lbf (222 kN)
Continuous: 30,500 lbf (136 kN)@ 32.5 mph (52.3 km/h)[1]
Train heatingSteam; later Electric Train Heating
Train brakesVacuum; later dual (air and vacuum)
CareerBritish Railways
NumberD9000–D9021; later 55001–55022
Nicknames‘Deltics’ ‘Boats’
Axle load classRoute availability 5
 
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British Rail Class 55
55008 The Green Howards passes Peterborough in July 1974 with the London-Newcastle "The Tees-Tyne Pullman".
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderEnglish Electric at Vulcan Foundry
Build date1961–1962
Total produced22
ConfigurationCo-Co
UIC classificationCo'Co'
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter3 ft 9 in (1.143 m)
Wheelbase58 ft 6 in (17.83 m)
Length69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)
Width8 ft 9 12 in (2.68 m)
Height12 ft 10 in (3.91 m)
Locomotive weight99 long tons (101 t)
Fuel capacity900 imp gal (4,100 l; 1,100 US gal)
Prime moverNapier Deltic D18-25, × 2
GeneratorEnglish Electric DC generator
Traction motorsDC traction motors
Multiple workingNot fitted
Top speed100 mph (161 km/h)
Power outputEngines: 1,650 bhp (1,230 kW) × 2
Tractive effortMaximum: 50,000 lbf (222 kN)
Continuous: 30,500 lbf (136 kN)@ 32.5 mph (52.3 km/h)[1]
Train heatingSteam; later Electric Train Heating
Train brakesVacuum; later dual (air and vacuum)
CareerBritish Railways
NumberD9000–D9021; later 55001–55022
Nicknames‘Deltics’ ‘Boats’
Axle load classRoute availability 5

The British Rail Class 55 is a class of diesel locomotive built in 1961 and 1962 by English Electric. They were designed for the high-speed express passenger services on the East Coast Main Line between London King's Cross and Edinburgh. They gained the name "Deltic" from the prototype locomotive, DP1 Deltic, which in turn was named after its Napier Deltic power units. Twenty-two locomotives were built: they dominated express passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) particularly London – Leeds and London – Edinburgh services until 1978 when InterCity 125 'High Speed Trains' were introduced. 1978–81 saw them gradually relegated to semi-fast or newspaper–parcel–sleeper services along the ECML (destinations including Cleethorpes, Harrogate, Hull, Scarborough and Aberdeen) plus occasional forays 'offline' – York - Liverpool Lime Street semi-fast and Edinburgh - Carlisle via Newcastle stoppers. Withdrawal came at the end of 1981. Six locomotives were preserved and are still running today.

Contents

Production

A sectioned Napier Deltic engine at the National Railway Museum

Following trials with the prototype DP1 Deltic locomotive, an order was placed with English Electric for a production fleet of 22 units (reduced from the originally-planned 23[2]), replacing more than twice that number (55) of Gresley Pacifics. A first, was that the locomotives were purchased under a service contract, English Electric agreeing to maintain them, including their engines and generators, for a fixed price. Additional Deltic engines were produced to enable engines to be swapped out regularly for overhaul while keeping the locomotives in service.

The locomotives were assigned to three locomotive depots: Finsbury Park in London, Gateshead over the Tyne from Newcastle, and Haymarket in Edinburgh. They arrived from the manufacturer painted in two-tone green, the dark BR green on top, with a narrower strip of a lighter, lime green along the bottom. This helped to disguise the bulk of the locomotive body. The cab window surrounds were picked out in cream-white. Although delivered without it, they all soon sported the bright yellow warning panel at each end common to all British diesel and electric locomotives, to make them more conspicuous. Very soon, all were named; the Gateshead and Edinburgh Haymarket locomotives after regiments of the British Army from the North-East of England and from Scotland, respectively, while London Finsbury Park followed the LNER tradition of naming locomotives after winning racehorses.

By 1966 they began to be painted in corporate Rail Blue with yellow ends, the change generally coinciding with a works repair and the fitting of air brake equipment, the locomotives originally having only vacuum braking (the first so treated was D9002; the last to be painted blue was D9014). In the early 1970s they were fitted with Electric Train Heating (ETH) equipment to power the new generation of air-conditioned coaches, while a couple of years later, with the introduction of BR's TOPS computer system, they were renumbered 55 001 to 55 022. In 1979 Finsbury Park restored the white cab window surrounds to their remaining (6) Deltics, making them distinctive although these were later painted over when the locomotives were transferred to York during the rundown of the depot at Finsbury Park.


Performance

The introduction of the Deltics was a step change in locomotive performance on the East Coast Main Line. The recently introduced class 40 diesels had an absolute maximum drawbar horsepower of 1450[3] and this could be exceeded by a Pacific steam locomotive if worked hard. On one of O. S. Nock's first Deltic runs (the down Heart of Midlothian loaded to 13 coaches 530 tons gross) he states "once the tail of the train was over the 60 mph restriction the throttle was opened to the full, and the surge forward could be felt in the cab. Never previously had I felt a positive thrust in my back when in the second man's seat!" Nock went on to estimate that at 80 mph the locomotive was producing about 2750 drawbar horsepower.[4] As early as 1963 Deltics were recorded exceeding 100 mph, Nock recording 100 mph for 16 miles south of Thirsk with a maximum of 104 mph, he went on to say that such speeds in 1963 were "terrific".

By the mid 1960s the Deltic hauled Flying Scotsman was achieving a 5 hour 55 minute time from King's Cross to Edinburgh with one stop at Newcastle[5] and this was the fastest ever timing, beating the pre war A4 hauled "Coronation" service's 6 hours, and without the priority over other traffic accorded to the earlier LNER train. As the East Coast Main Line was upgraded times dropped still further and by the mid 1970s the Flying Scotsman was reaching Edinburgh in 5 hours 30 minutes, still with one stop at Newcastle.[6]

The ultimate Deltic performance came on 2 February 1978 with a run on the 07:25 from Newcastle to King's Cross. In some respects the run was set up (the driver was about to retire) but the speeds were record breaking. The locomotive was 55 008 The Green Howards, it was hauling 10 coaches (343 tons gross) and on the leg from York to London it achieved a timing of 137 min 15 sec. This included various signal stops and other enforced speed reductions, the nett time is estimated at 115 min 45 sec, an average of 97 mph start to stop. The train achieved 113 mph on the flat between Darlington and York, 114 mph at Offord and 125 mph whilst descending Stoke bank.[7]

The Railway Performance Society estimate that on modern infrastructure (the Selby diversion etc.) a realistic Deltic hauled schedule from King's Cross to Edinburgh would be around 4 hours 57 minutes (a theoretical unchecked run being around 4 hours 40 minutes).[8] This would be for a train of 11 coaches and include a stop at Newcastle, the latter city being reached in a scheduled 3 hours 6 minutes.

Replacement

A line of seven withdrawn Deltics at Doncaster Works in August 1982

In the late 1970s the Deltics began to be supplanted by the next generation of express trains, the Class 43 High Speed Train (HST), branded as InterCity 125 and the Deltics began to take on secondary roles. British Rail at this time had a general policy of not maintaining small non-standard fleets of locomotives, thus the class had a limited future. When the Intercity 125 fleet took over on the main East coast services it was never likely to be economic to maintain a small non-standard class of locomotive for secondary services and the end of the decade saw the first withdrawals from service. Deltics were generally run with only limited maintenance until they became unable to continue running and required rescue by other locomotives after breaking down. Typically the cause would be engine failure although some Deltics were withdrawn for other reasons. They were then taken to Doncaster Works for scrapping. For a time the Deltic scrap line was a draw for railway enthusiasts. The final service run was the 16:30 Aberdeen-York service on 31 December 1981, hauled from Edinburgh by 55 019 Royal Highland Fusilier, arriving in York at just before midnight.[9] The last train was an enthusiast special, the "Deltic Scotsman Farewell" on 2 January 1982, from King's Cross to Edinburgh and back, hauled by 55015 Tulyar northbound and 55022 Royal Scots Grey on the return. Following the farewell, the surviving Deltics were put on display at Doncaster Works before their final journey to the scrap line.

Preservation

All six preserved Deltics at Barrow Hill

Six locomotives were saved after their withdrawal:

D9008 (55008) The Green Howards Simulator cab

Two Cabs were saved after their withdrawal:

Cabs from D9008 (55 008) The Green Howards and D9021 (55 021) Argyll and Sutherland Highlander are both owned by the DPS. Both are currently located at the DPS depot at Barrow Hill.

Operations after BR withdrawal

55022 Royal Scots Grey at the Barrow Hill Round House
55022 Royal Scots Grey at Linlithgow, after a railtour, on 7 December 2007

Despite the ban on privately owned diesel locomotives operating on BR tracks, railway enthusiasts did not have to wait that long after the final withdrawal of the class to see a Deltic back on the mainline. Following participation in the hastily arranged 'Farewell to the Deltics' open day at BREL Doncaster Works on 27 February 1982, 55 002 left Doncaster under its own power and ran back up the ECML to the National Railway Museum light engine; it was to be some years before a Deltic was officially allowed to run again on the mainline.

The next opportunity to see a Deltic back on the mainline and running under its own power was in April 1985 when D9000 was sent (at the request of ScotRail management) light engine from Haymarket Depot to Perth for an open day. Following newspaper comments by Chris Green of ScotRail around that time there was hope that D9000 might see regular work north of the border.[clarification needed] Chris Green's move to the management team at the newly created Network South East in 1986 put paid to that. However, that did not end his involvement with D9000 and when he moved on to head up Virgin Trains the Deltic was used on many Virgin service trains.

With the changes taking place on Britain's railways in the 1990s, the outlook changed for preserved diesel locomotives. In British Rail days, no privately owned diesel locomotives were allowed to operate on its tracks. With privatisation came open-access railways—the track and infrastructure were owned and operated by Railtrack, who for a fee would allow approved locomotives and trains to operate on their track. Suddenly, the owners of preserved locomotives were on an equal footing with everyone else. In fact, the characteristics of the Deltic locomotives, powerful and capable of cruising at 100 mph (160 km/h), enabled them to fit more easily onto the modern rail network than other, slower, preserved diesels.

In 1996, the Deltic 9000 Fund reformed itself as Deltic 9000 Locomotives Ltd (DNLL) in order to return its locomotives to main-line service and on 30 November 1996 D9000 Royal Scots Grey hauled the 'Deltic Deliverance' charter from Edinburgh to Berwick. Although this tour ended prematurely, D9000 went on to haul many charter and Virgin service trains until 2003. Subsequently DNLL's other Deltic, D9016 Gordon Highlander returned to main-line working (it was temporarily painted in the garish purple livery of Porterbrook Leasing, who helped finance the restoration and was called the 'Purple Peril' by enthusiasts), as did the Deltic Preservation Society's D9009 Alycidon and D9019 Royal Highland Fusilier. Between 1997 and 2003 all four main-line certified locomotives saw frequent charter and locomotive hire use, including on the Venice Simplon Orient Express.

In 2003, DNLL went into liquidation with the result that D9000 and D9016 were sold to private individuals. From July 2003 to March 2005 no Deltics hauled a train on the main line. After a brief return to the main line in 2005 the DPS withdrew their last Deltic (55 019) at the end of 2005, having run three tours during the year. The other two preserved Deltics, D9002 The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and D9015 Tulyar, are currently (September 2008) non-runners. D9015 Tulyar is undergoing a full bodyside restoration at Barrow Hill and D9002 The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry is currently painted in BR blue and is undergoing full restoration to running operations at NRM. 55 019 remains in full working order along with 55 009, whilst 55 016 is currently able to operate on one engine only.

55022 Royal Scots Grey Beaver Sports (Yorks) Limited’s former British Railways English Electric 2007

On 23 September 2006, 55 022 (D9000) Royal Scots Grey returned to the main line after a lengthy and extensive restoration at Barrow Hill by the DPS. It successfully hauled the SRPS 'Moray Mint' railtour from Edinburgh to Inverness, via Perth on the outward trip and back via Aberdeen. On its second working two weeks later, severe damage occurred to the number 2 end engine. The engine suffered from a leg out of bed, a term which means the engine con-rod breaks out of the engine. This left Royal Scots Grey still able to operate but on one engine only. By January 2007, the faulty power unit was removed from 55 022, put into storage and replaced by an ex-marine Napier Deltic engine modified for rail use; work was complete by Royal Scots Grey's dedicated team in August 2007. After extensive testing at the East Lancs Railway the locomotive hauled its first tour since the previous engine malfunction on RTC's 'Autumn Highlander' with 50 049 and 40 145 in October 2007. 55 022 successfully hauled a number of charter tour services during 2008 but the replacement marine sourced engine gave rise for concern following the discovery of oil in the coolant, and at the end of August the loco was then removed from future large railtour duties. The loco continued working mainline duty by visiting other preserved railway and dragged other non-mainline registered locos.

In mid January 2007, an agreement was reached between heritage railway Peak Rail and the owner of 55 016 (D9016) Gordon Highlander which entailed the move of the locomotive from Barrow Hill to the preserved line for a period of three years. It had been thought that D9016 would receive certain maintenance and restoration while on the railway. However, the sale of the locomotive to the Harry Needle Railroad Company and subsequent announcements indicated that the weekend runs of 27 and 28 September 2008[11] might be its last prior to component recovery and eventual scrapping. Despite previous indications to the contrary, HNRC put the locomotive up for sale during the last week of September 2008 and although the Gordon Highlander Preservation Group submitted a substantial bid it was not accepted and the immediate future (and owner) of the locomotive was clouded in some mystery.

On 18 September 2009, Class 55 no. 55022 ‘ROYAL SCOTS GREY’ is seen shortly after arrival from Pickering, during the NYMR’s annual Diesel Gala.

Subsequently, in October 2008 DRS announced in a press release[12] that it had acquired 55016 (D9016) Gordon Highlander from Harry Needle Railroad Company (HNRC). The company is working with HNRC to return the locomotive to operational condition, although at the time of writing (June 2009) the locomotive is still stored at Barrow Hill awaiting attention. While the locomotive is not been planned for an immediate return to service, DRS is confident that the locomotive will be returned to mainline service in the future. DRS intends to retain the locomotive's name. On 29 December 2009, it was announced that 55016 had been purchased by Martin Walker, and is currently without a working engine, its complete engine being placed into sister engine 55022 to enable it to return to mainline use. The plan is to return 55016 to one, and eventually two engines, and the possibility of a mainline return. The Royal Scots Grey team late 2010 focused work on D9016 and in January 2011 the locomotive returned to service and is planned to continue work on the ELR. 2011 will see the locomotive receive much needed body work attention.[13]

In April 2011, 55022 was chartered by GB Railfreight for bauxite freight working between North Blyth and the Lynemouth aluminium smelter. This charter was scheduled to last from April to July.[14][15]

55022 Arrives at North Blyth on 26 September 2011 with a train of aluminium oxide wagons.

Class list

Original
Number
TOPS
number
NameWithdrawnStatus
D900055 022Royal Scots Grey01982-01-022 January 1982Preserved - Mainline Registered
D900155 001St. Paddy01980-01-055 January 1980Scrapped
D900255 002The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry01982-01-022 January 1982Preserved - Mainline Registered
D900355 003Meld01980-12-3131 December 1980Scrapped
D900455 004Queen's Own Highlander01980-10-2828 October 1980Scrapped
D900555 005The Prince of Wales' Own Regiment of Yorkshire01981-02-088 February 1981Scrapped
D900655 006The Fife and Forfar Yeomanry01981-02-088 February 1981Scrapped
D900755 007Pinza01981-12-3131 December 1981Scrapped
D900855 008The Green Howards01981-12-3131 December 1981one cab preserved
D900955 009Alycidon01982-01-022 January 1982Preserved - Mainline Registered
D901055 010The King's Own Scottish Borderer01981-12-2424 December 1981Scrapped
D901155 011The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers01981-11-088 November 1981Scrapped
D901255 012Crepello01981-05-1818 May 1981Scrapped
D901355 013The Black Watch01981-12-2020 December 1981Scrapped
D901455 014The Duke of Wellington's Regiment01981-11-2222 November 1981Scrapped
D901555 015Tulyar01982-01-022 January 1982Preserved
D901655 016Gordon Highlander01981-12-3030 December 1981Preserved
D901755 017The Durham Light Infantry01981-12-3131 December 1981Scrapped
D901855 018Ballymoss01981-10-1212 October 1981Scrapped
D901955 019Royal Highland Fusilier01981-12-3131 December 1981Preserved
D902055 020Nimbus01980-01-055 January 1980Scrapped[16]
D902155 021Argyll and Sutherland Highlander01981-12-3131 December 1981one cab preserved

In film/TV

Proposed Deltic locomotives

A 72 ton Bo-Bo locomotive, using a single 18 cylinder Deltic engine, was proposed as an alternative to what became the British Rail Class 37 Type 3 locomotive introduced from 1960.[17]

A Co-Co "Super Deltic" was proposed but not built.[18] There were three potential designs between 4000 hp and 4600 hp weighing between 114 and 119 tons with a maximum axle load of 19 long tons (19 t).[19] The locomotives would have looked very similar to the eventual Class 50s, though slightly longer.[20] All three designs would have had two 18-cylinder turbocharged engines, based on the 9-cylinder turbocharged engine used in the British Rail Class 23 "Baby Deltic" and the locomotive would have been designated Class 51. The Class 55's engines were not turbocharged, although they did have centrifugal scavenging blowers.

References and sources

References

  1. ^ "BR Class 55 "Deltic"". Trainz Locomotive Database. Auran. http://www.auran.com/trainz/database/class55t.html.
  2. ^ Deltic's at Work by Allan Baker & Gavin Morrison, page 18, 1985, ISBN 0-7110-1536-8
  3. ^ Nock, O.S. (1985). British Locomotives of the 20th Century Vol 3. p. 31.
  4. ^ Nock 1985, p. 74
  5. ^ BR Eastern Region timetable June 1965
  6. ^ BR passenger timetable May 1975
  7. ^ Railway Performance Society : Deltic Fastest Times, J Heaton
  8. ^ Railway Performance Society : Milepost 22 1/4 July 2001
  9. ^ www.napier-chronicles.co.uk
  10. ^ "Class 55 Deltics: 55022 Royal Scots Grey and D9016 Gordon Highlander". http://www.royalscotsgrey.com/.
  11. ^ http://www.peakrail.co.uk/delticwe.htm
  12. ^ http://www.gordonhighlander.co.uk/News1.html
  13. ^ http://royalscotsgrey.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/d9016-gordon-highlander/
  14. ^ Walker, Martin (2011-04-10). "GB Railfreight hires 55022". [1]. http://royalscotsgrey.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/gb-railfreight-hires-55022/.
  15. ^ "Deltic locomotive back in service due to freight demand". BBC News online. 2011-05-30. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13592652. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  16. ^ Rumours persist that Nimbus was not scrapped and was sighted intact afterwards. However there are also photographs of it already dismantled, as officially claimed."Photographs of 55 020 Nimbus being scrapped". http://neil-gibson.fotopic.net/p54079839.html.
  17. ^ Haresnape, Brian (February 1983). 4: Production Diesel-Electrics Types 1-3. British Rail Fleet Survey. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 9. ISBN 0-7110-1275-X. GE/0283.
  18. ^ Haresnape, Brian (June 1984) [1982]. 3: Production Diesel-Electrics Types 4 and 5. British Rail Fleet Survey (2nd ed.). Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 6. ISBN 0-7110-1450-7. CX/0684.
  19. ^ Nock, O.S. (1985). British Locomotives of the 20th Century: Volume 3 1960-the present day. London: Guild Publishing/Book Club Associates. p. 75. CN9613.
  20. ^ Webb, Brian. Deltic Locomotives of British Rail. pp. 91, 93.

Sources

Further reading

External links