British Rail Class 97

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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).

Allocation of numbers[edit]

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.

Locomotive descriptions[edit]

97020[edit]

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.

97201[edit]

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.

97202[edit]

This was a former Class 25 locomotive used for training purposes at Toton depot. Subsequently, other training locomotives were numbered in the ADB 968xxx series.

97203–97204[edit]

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.

97250–97252[edit]

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.

97301–97304[edit]

97303 speeds north through Talsarnau on the Cambrian Coast Line.

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.[1] A new inspection shed was built in 2008 at Coleham (Sutton Bridge Junction) in Shrewsbury for these locos. [2]

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.

On 2 September 2009, one of the locomotives (97303) hit an elderly woman's car on an unmanned level crossing near Penrhyndeudraeth, killing the driver.[3][4]

97401–97402[edit]

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).

97403–97404[edit]

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.

97405–97408[edit]

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.

97409–97413[edit]

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[edit]

No.97545, formerly Class 47 No.47545, at Birmingham International station in 1989

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.

97650–97654[edit]

These shunting locomotives were purpose-built by Ruston & Hornsby at Lincoln in 1953 (97650) or 1959 (rest). For more details see the main Class 97/6 article.

97701–97710[edit]

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).

97800–97807[edit]

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.

97901–97903[edit]

This number range was reserved for Battery-Electric shunter on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Preservation[edit]

Locomotive 97651 at Northampton & Lamport Railway

Several Class 97 locomotives have been preserved on heritage railways.

Locomotive details[edit]

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
97901 - BEL1 - - Shunting duties - -
97902 - BEL2 - - Shunting duties - -
97903 - BEL3 - - Shunting duties - -

References[edit]

  1. ^ Class 97 Status wnxx.com, retrieved on 2008-09-13
  2. ^ http://daviddawson.fotopic.net/p53717815.html
  3. ^ "Woman dies after train hits car". BBC. September 2, 2009. Retrieved April 27, 2010. 
  4. ^ "RAIB bulletin published regarding a fatal accident at a user worked crossing on 2 September 2009.". RAIB. June 15, 2010. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  5. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1993). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 8. Penryn: Atlantic Books. pp. 41, rear cover. ISBN 0-906899-52-4.