British Rail Class 97
British Rail reserved the TOPS Class 97 designation for departmental locomotives, which were used for special or engineering duties. They were therefore of several different classes, lumped together for numbering purposes. Some locomotives were converted from redundant engines, whilst others were purpose built. In 2008, Network Rail once again used Class 97 for signalling test locomotives (Class 97/3).
- 1 Allocation of numbers
- 2 Locomotive descriptions
- 3 Accidents and incidents
- 4 Preservation
- 5 Locomotive details
- 6 References
Allocation of numbers
Class 97 numbers were allocated in one of three ways:
- Application of 97 prefix to pre-TOPS number - e.g. Western Region shunters PWM 650–654 became 97650–97654.
- TOPS class number replaced by 97 prefix - e.g. Former Class 47 locomotive 47472 became 97472.
- Allocation of number in a series commencing from 97x01, where x represented the engine power Type (1 to 5), '7' for ex-multiple unit conversions and '8' for diesel shunters.
Built by Ruston & Hornsby in January 1957 with the serial number 408493, this 0-4-0 shunter was ordered specifically for departmental use by the Signalling & Telecommunications department of the Western region in Readings Signal Works. The transmission was diesel mechanical, although the wheels were chain driven from the gearbox and the loco was rated at 88 bhp (66 kW) for a weight of only 17 tons. Tractive effort was a maximum of 9,500 lbf (42,000 N). Delivered to the WR with the number 20 it was renumbered to 97020 in May 1980. However withdrawal came in April 1981 and it was scrapped on site in August 1982 by Cartwrights of Tipton. For refuelling, it had to go via the main line to the depot at Reading.
This locomotive was a former Class 24 locomotive, which was taken over by the Railway Technical Centre, based at Derby, in 1975. It was initially numbered RDB 968007, and was given its Class 97 number in 1979. It was employed hauling various test-trains until retirement in 1988. It was painted in RTC's distinctive red/blue livery, and named "Experiment". After withdrawal it was preserved on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
These locomotives were converted from Class 31 locomotives. The first, no. 97203, was operated by the Railway Technical Centre, based at Derby. It was used to haul various test-trains operated by the centre. However, in 1987, the locomotive was written-off after having sustained fire damage. Therefore, a replacement in the form of 97204 was converted. This later returned to normal traffic, as no. 31970. Both locomotives were painted in RTC's red/cream livery with a black bodyside band.
Three former Class 25 locomotives were converted for use as mobile generators to provide electric heating on trains where the hauling locomotive could not supply this. They were referred to as ETHEL units (Electric Train Heating Ex-Locomotives), and unofficially named Ethel 1, Ethel 2 and Ethel 3. They were painted in a blue/grey livery in an effort to match the coaching stock livery of the day, but this was not too successful. All three have since been scrapped.
These locomotives have been refurbished from Class 37 locomotives at Barrow Hill Roundhouse by Network Rail, who intend to use them to test the new ERTMS signalling system on the Cambrian lines from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. The locomotives were formerly 37100, 37170, 37178 and 37217 respectively. A new inspection shed was built in 2008 at Coleham (Sutton Bridge Junction) in Shrewsbury for these locos. 
As of October 2008, ex-37100/97301, ex-37178/97303 and ex-37217/97304 are in use on the network, with ex-37170/97302 still in the process of being refurbished.
97401 was a Class 46 'Peak' locomotive, bought by the Derby based Railway Technical Centre straight from British Rail service in 1984. This locomotive did not receive its allocated departmental number and retained its original number of 46009. It was used in a high-publicity test, to prove the safety of rail transported nuclear flasks. The locomotive was deliberately crashed into a container at 100 mph (160 km/h). Whilst the locomotive was written-off, the flask was undamaged.
A second locomotive, no. 46023, was allocated the departmental number 97402. It was cannibalised for spare parts, to allow no. 46009 to reach the required 100 mph (160 km/h), since Class 46 locomotives are usually restricted to 90 mph (140 km/h).
These two locomotives were converted from Class 46 locomotives. They were operated by the Railway Technical Centre at Derby. 97403 was named "Ixion", and was used to evaluate wheelslip. It was painted in RTC's red/blue livery. 97404 was used as a source of spare parts. Both locomotives have been preserved.
These four locomotives were renumbered from Class 40 locomotives, which had all recently been withdrawn from normal traffic. In 1985, they were returned to use and employed on engineering trains around Crewe. A major scheme was in progress to remodel the railways around the station. After these duties finished, the locomotives were withdrawn in 1986/87. However, three of the four were later preserved.
These five locomotives were renumbered from Class 45 'Peak' locomotives. They were used on infrastructure trains in association with major engineering works. All five locomotives were withdrawn by 1988, and have all since been scrapped.
97472, 97480, 97545 and 97561
These four locomotives were converted from Class 47 locomotives in 1989, and were used to haul test-trains throughout the country. Number 97561 was repainted in maroon livery and named "Midland Counties Railway" to commemorate the railway's 150th anniversary.
Three of the four locomotives were later renumbered into the range 47971-973, but continued to be employed hauling test-trains. They were later joined by 47974-976 and 47981. The fourth locomotive, no. 97472, was renumbered back to number 47472, and shortly after was withdrawn from traffic due to fire damage.
These battery locomotives were converted from the driving motor cars from former Class 501 electric multiple units. They were powered by large batteries, and were based at Birkenhead North TMD and were employed around Birkenhead on the Merseyrail system (97701-702) or around North London (rest).
This number range was reserved for shunting locomotives converted from capital stock. Individual locomotives are described below.
- 97800 - This locomotive was converted from a Class 08 locomotive in 1979 for use as a shunter at Slade Green Depot. It was named Ivor, and was later painted in Network SouthEast livery. In 1990, this locomotive was returned to capital stock with its original number.
- 97801 - This locomotive was converted from a Class 08 locomotive in 1978 for use by the Research Department at Derby. It was originally numbered RDB 968020, but was given a Class 97 number in 1979. It was named 'Pluto', and withdrawn in 1981.
- 97802 - This locomotive was converted from a Class 08 locomotive in 1979 for use at Polmadie depot. It was used for only a year in this role before withdrawal.
- 97803 - This locomotive was converted from British Rail's last remaining Class 05 locomotive, no. 05001. It was used on the Isle of Wight railway system, based at Ryde, and was rebuilt with a lower cab to allow it to be used through the restricted-height Ryde Tunnel. It was withdrawn as non-standard, and was replaced by no. 97805.
- 97804 - This locomotive was used at Reading Signal Works following the withdrawal of 97020, and was converted from a Class 06 locomotive, no. 06003. It was made redundant when the works closed in 1984, and was later preserved. It is now the sole-surviving Class 06 locomotive.
- 97805 - This locomotive was converted from a Class 03 locomotive to replace the non-standard 97803. It was later renumbered back to its original number of 03079, and remained in use on the Isle of Wight until 1996.
- 97806 - This locomotive was a former Class 09 locomotive, which was allocated to Sudbrook for exclusive use on the Severn Tunnel emergency train. The train has been replaced by former Class 121 diesel units, and 97806 returned to capital stock with its original number, 09017.
- 97807 - This locomotive was converted from a Class 03 to assist 97805 on the Isle of Wight. It was later renumbered back to its original number of 03179, and remained in use on the Isle of Wight until 1996.
This number range was reserved for Battery-Electric shunter on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.
Accidents and incidents
- On 2 November 1991, Sandite unit 97 747 caught fire inside Standedge Tunnel. After extraction from the tunnel, it was placed alongside the line and subsequently scrapped in situ.
Several Class 97 locomotives have been preserved on heritage railways.
- 97201 / 24061 - North Yorkshire Moors Railway
- 97406 / 40135 - East Lancashire Railway
- 97407 / 40012 - Midland Railway - Butterley
- 97408 / 40118 - Tyseley Locomotive Works
- 97803 / 05001 - Isle of Wight Steam Railway
- 97804 / 06003 - Barrow Hill Engine Shed
- 97805 / 03079 - Derwent Valley Light Railway
|Key:||In service||Withdrawn||Preserved||Returned to normal traffic||Scrapped|
|Number||Name||Previous Number(s)||Previous Class||Converted||Use||Withdrawn||Disposal|
|97020||-||20||-||New (1957)||S&T Shunter||1981||Scrapped (1982)|
|97201||Experiment||D5061 / 24061 / RDB 968007||24||1979||Test trains||1988||Preserved on North Yorkshire Moors Railway|
|97202||-||D5281 / 25131||25||1983||Training loco||1984||Scrapped (1987)|
|97203||-||D5831 / 31298||31||1986||Test trains||1987||Scrapped (1990)|
|97204||-||D5861 / 31326||31||1987||Test-trains||1989||Returned to capital stock - 31970. Scrapped (1997)|
|97250||Ethel 1||D7660 / 25310||25||1983||Electric Heat Generator||1987||Scrapped (1994)|
|97251||Ethel 2||D7655 / 25305||25||1983||Electric Heat Generator||1990||Scrapped (1994)|
|97252||Ethel 3||D7664 / 25314||25||1983||Electric Heat Generator||1990||Scrapped (1994)|
|97301||-||D6800 / 37100||37||2008||ERTMS Signalling Test Loco||-||-|
|97302||-||37170||37||2008||ERTMS Signalling Test Loco||-||-|
|97303||-||37178||37||2008||ERTMS Signalling Test Loco||-||-|
|97304||-||37217||37||2008||ERTMS Signalling Test Loco||-||-|
|97401||-||D146 / 46009||46||1983||Nuclear flask safety test||1984||Destroyed in test (1984)|
|97402||-||D160 / 46023||46||1983||Spares for 97401||1984||Scrapped (1993)|
|97403||Ixion||D172 / 46035||46||1984||Test trains||1991||Preserved at Crewe Depot|
|97404||-||D182 / 46045||46||1984||Test trains||1991||Preserved at Midland Railway - Butterley|
|97405||Ancient Mariner||D260 / 40060||40||1985||Infrastructure trains||1987||Scrapped (1988)|
|97406||-||D335 / 40135||40||1985||Infrastructure trains||1986||Preserved on East Lancashire Railway|
|97407||Aureol||D212 / 40012||40||1985||Infrastructure trains||1986||Preserved at Midland Railway - Butterley|
|97408||-||D318 / 40118||40||1985||Infrastructure trains||1986||Preserved at Tyseley Locomotive Works|
|97409||Lytham St Anne's||D60 / 45022||45||1987||Infrastructure trains||1988||Scrapped (1991)|
|97410||-||D30 / 45029||45||1987||Infrastructure trains||1988||Scrapped (1991)|
|97411||-||D42 / 45034||45||1987||Infrastructure trains||1988||Scrapped (1992)|
|97412||-||D50 / 45040||45||1987||Infrastructure trains||1988||Scrapped (1991)|
|97413||-||D114 / 45066||45||1987||Infrastructure trains||1988||Scrapped (1991)|
|97472||-||D1600 / 47472||47||1989||Test-trains||1991||Returned to capital stock - 47472. Scrapped (1997)|
|97480||Robin Hood||D1616 / 47480||47||1989||Test-trains||1991||Returned to capital stock - 47971. Scrapped (2001)|
|97545||-||D1646 / 47545||47||1989||Test-trains||1991||Returned to capital stock - 47972. Scrapped (2010)|
|97561||Midland Counties Railway||D1614 / 47034 / 47561||47||1989||Test-trains||1991||Returned to capital stock - 47973. Scrapped (1997)|
|97650||-||PWM650||-||New (1953)||Shunting duties||1987||Preserved on Lincolnshire Wolds Railway|
|97651||-||PWM651||-||New (1959)||Shunting duties||1996||Preserved on Strathspey Railway|
|97652||-||PWM652||-||New (1959)||Shunting duties||1987||Scrapped (1990)|
|97653||-||PWM653||-||New (1959)||Shunting duties||1993||Withdrawn|
|97654||-||PWM654||-||New (1959)||Shunting duties||2005||Preserved on Peak Rail|
|97701||-||61136 / 975178||501||1974||Battery locomotive at Birkenhead||1993||Scrapped (1994)|
|97702||-||61139 / 975179||501||1974||Battery locomotive at Birkenhead||1993||Scrapped (1994)|
|97703||-||61182||501||1980||Battery locomotive at Cricklewood / Hornsey||April-1995||Scrapped (1995)|
|97704||-||61185||501||1980||Battery locomotive at Cricklewood / Hornsey||April - 1995||Scrapped (1995)|
|97705||-||61184||501||1980||Battery locomotive at Cricklewood / Hornsey||April 1995||Scrapped (1995)|
|97706||-||61189||501||1980||Battery locomotive at Cricklewood / Hornsey||April 1995||Scrapped (1995)|
|97707||-||61166 / 975407||501||1975||Battery locomotive at Hornsey||April 1995||Scrapped (1995)|
|97708||-||61173 / 975408||501||1975||Battery locomotive at Hornsey||April 1995||Scrapped (1995)|
|97709||-||61172 / 975409||501||1975||Battery locomotive at Hornsey||April 1995||Scrapped (1995)|
|97710||-||61175 / 975410||501||1975||Battery locomotive at Hornsey||April 1995||Scrapped (1995)|
|97750||-||L50||London Underground battery-electric locomotives||-||Shunting duties||-||-|
|97751||-||L51||London Underground battery-electric locomotives||-||Shunting duties||-||-|
|97800||Ivor||D3767 / 08600||08||1979||Shunting duties||1990||Returned to capital stock - 08600|
|97801||Pluto||13337 / D3337 / 08267 / RDB 968020||08||1978||Shunting duties||1981||Scrapped (1985)|
|97802||-||13085 / D3085 / 08070||08||1979||Shunting duties||1980||Scrapped (1980)|
|97803||-||11140 / D2554 / 05001||05||1981||Shunting duties||1983||Preserved on Isle of Wight Steam Railway|
|97804||-||D2420 / 06003||06||1981||Shunting duties||1984||Preserved at Barrow Hill Engine Shed|
|97805||-||D2079 / 03079||03||1984||Shunting duties||1996||Returned to capital stock - 03079 - now preserved Derwent Valley Light Railway|
|97806||-||D4105 / 09017||09||1987||Severn Tunnel Emergency Train||1997||Returned to capital stock - 09017|
|97807||-||D2179 / 03179||03||1989||Shunting duties||1996||Returned to capital stock - 03179 - owned by First Capital Connect|
- Class 97 Status wnxx.com, retrieved on 2008-09-13
- "Woman dies after train hits car". BBC. September 2, 2009. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
- "RAIB bulletin published regarding a fatal accident at a user worked crossing on 2 September 2009.". RAIB. June 15, 2010. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
- Earnshaw, Alan (1993). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 8. Penryn: Atlantic Books. pp. 41, rear cover. ISBN 0-906899-52-4.