British Rail Class 55

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British Rail Class 55
55019 Edinburgh on 26-08-78.jpg
55 019 Royal Highland Fusilier at Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh on 26/08/78.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderEnglish Electric at Vulcan Foundry
Build date1961–1962
Total produced22
 • UICCo′Co′
 • CommonwealthCo-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)
Loco weight99 long tons (101 t; 111 short tons)
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
TransmissionDiesel electric
MU workingNot fitted
Train heatingSteam; later Electric Train Heating
Train brakesVacuum; later Dual (Air and Vacuum)
Performance figures
Maximum speed100 mph (161 km/h)
Power outputEngines: 1,650 bhp (1,230 kW) × 2 (Total: 3,300 bhp (2,460 kW))
Tractive effortMaximum: 50,000 lbf (222 kN)
Continuous: 30,500 lbf (136 kN)@ 32.5 mph (52.3 km/h) [1][2]
OperatorsBritish Railways
NumbersD9000–D9021; later 55 022, 55 001–55 021
Axle load classRoute availability 5
Preserved55 022 (D9000), 55 002 (D9002), 55 009 (D9009), 55 015 (D9015), 55 016 (D9016) and 55 019 (D9019). Cabs from 55 008 (D9008) and 55 021 (D9021) also preserved.
DispositionSix preserved, remainder scrapped

The British Rail Class 55 is a class of diesel locomotive built in 1961 and 1962 by English Electric for British Railways. They were designed for the high-speed express passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) between Edinburgh and London King's Cross. They gained the name "Deltic" from the prototype locomotive, DP1 Deltic (the running number DP1 was never carried), which in turn was named after its Napier Deltic power units.

Twenty-two locomotives were built, which were used for express passenger services on the ECML, particularly from London to Leeds and Edinburgh, until 1978 when Class 43 High Speed Trains (HSTs) were introduced. They were subsequently relegated to semi-fast services on the Kings Cross to York, Edinburgh and Hull routes and continued on sleeper services along the ECML. Other occasional destinations, although with no officially diagrammed work, included Cleethorpes, Stockport, Liverpool Lime Street and Aberdeen. They rarely worked to Skegness and Scarborough. Other very unusual destinations included Bridlington, Leicester and a BR "Merrymaker" trip to Fort William. They could be found on diversionary routes such as Newcastle to Edinburgh via Carlisle and Doncaster to Peterborough via Lincoln and Spalding, rarely Cambridge although arriving at Kings Cross via Hertford was not unusual. During the latter years, organised Railtours took them further afield to Worcester, Cardiff, Bognor Regis, Dover, Norwich and Exeter. All were withdrawn from service between January 1980 and December 1981.

Three were retained for a few days, until 2 January 1982, to work the farewell special, all being withdrawn immediately on arrival back at York. Six locomotives entered preservation during 1982 and 1983: one by the National Railway Museum, three by the Deltic Preservation Society and two by the Deltic 9000 Fund. Two cabs were also privately purchased.


A sectioned Napier Deltic engine at the National Railway Museum
D9013 The Black Watch at Kings Cross with the Flying Scotsman train, in BR green with small yellow warning panels

Following trials with the prototype DP1 Deltic locomotive, which was built at the Dick, Kerr & Co works in Preston, an order was placed with English Electric for a production fleet of 22 units (reduced from the originally-planned 23[3]), replacing more than twice that number (55) of Nigel Gresley Pacifics; as steam locomotives require substantial time to clean, fuel, and fire, such a reduction in the number of units could be undertaken without a corresponding reduction in working availability. The locomotives were purchased under a service contract, English Electric agreeing to maintain them, including their engines and generators, for a fixed price; this was British Rail's first such contract. Additional Deltic engines were produced to enable engines to be exchanged regularly for overhaul while keeping the locomotives in service.

The locomotives were assigned to three locomotive depots: Finsbury Park in London, Gateshead near 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 Finsbury Park followed the London & North Eastern Railway (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 Mark 2 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 six 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.


Distribution of locomotives,
March 1974[4]
British Rail Class 55 is located in England
Code Name Quantity
FP Finsbury Park 8
GD Gateshead 6
HA Haymarket 8
Total: 22

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 1,450[5] 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 2,750 drawbar horsepower.[6]

55 012 Crepello approaching London Kings Cross in 1976

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[7] 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 27 minutes, still with one stop at Newcastle for a driver change.[8]

55 018 Ballymoss at London Kings Cross in 1976

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 net 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.[9]

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).[10] 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.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 15 December 1961, locomotive D9012 Crepello was hauling an empty stock train when it ran into the rear of a freight train at Conington, Huntingdonshire during permissive block working. Another freight train then ran into the wreckage, followed a few minutes later by a third freight train.[11][12]
  • On 5 March 1967, locomotive No. 9004 Queen's Own Highlander was hauling a passenger train that overran a signal and was derailed at Conington. Five people were killed and eighteen were injured. The signalman had moved a set of points under the train. He was convicted of endangering persons travelling on the railway but was acquitted of manslaughter. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment.[13]
  • On 7 May 1969, locomotive No. 9011 The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was hauling the "Aberdonian" which derailed at Morpeth, Northumberland due to excessive speed on a curve, although 9011 itself remained on the rails. Six people were killed and 46 were injured.[14]
  • On 16 February 1977, an express passenger train hauled by 55 008 collided with a Class 101 diesel multiple unit operating an empty stock train after failing to stop at Darlington. The guard of the express was slightly injured. The cause of the accident was that the brakes on the carriages had become isolated whilst the train was moving in a freak event. The train had struck an object on the track, which had caused a traction motor cover to come loose. This struck the handle of the brake isolating cock, closing it and thus separating the brakes between the locomotive and train. Following the collision, the train was diverted onto the Tees Valley line, where it was brought to a halt by the operation of the communication cord in one of the carriages.[15]


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 High Speed Train (HST), 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, and thus the class had a limited future. When the HST 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. Thought was given to redeploying all or some of the fleet on the Midland Main Line, the Trans-Pennine route between Newcastle and Liverpool, or the North East – South West cross-country route, but this was ultimately abandoned as uneconomic, due to maintenance and crew training costs, and the end of the decade saw the first withdrawals from service. 55 001 St. Paddy, 55 004 Queen's Own Highlander and 55 020 Nimbus had all been out of traffic for the best part of two years and cannibalised for spares at Doncaster Works. It was decided that 55 001 and 55 020 were too heavily cannibalised to justify resurrection and they were condemned in January 1980. 55 004 was returned to service.

At that time 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. Exchange of operational power units between withdrawn locomotives and running examples was regularly carried out at both Doncaster Works and at Stratford Works. Withdrawn locomotives were then taken to Doncaster Works for stripping and eventual scrapping. For a time the Deltic scrap line was a major draw for railway enthusiasts.

The National Railway Museum selected 55 002 The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry for preservation as part of the National Collection. The Friends of the National Railway Museum sponsored the repaint of 55 002 into original green livery for its last eighteen months in traffic, although it carried its TOPS number rather than D9002. As insurance, in case 55 002 should meet with a mishap during its last months, the withdrawn 55 005 The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire was set aside from breaking up at Doncaster Works until Deltic operation on the main line had concluded.

The final service train 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.[16] The last train was an enthusiast special, the "Deltic Scotsman Farewell", on 2 January 1982, hauled from King's Cross to Edinburgh by 55 015 Tulyar and 55 022 Royal Scots Grey on the return. 55 009 Alycidon shadowed the train in both directions between Peterborough and Newcastle, in case of a failure of the train locomotive. Following the farewell, the surviving Deltics were moved to Doncaster Works, where they were displayed en masse in February 1982, before disposal commenced.

Table of withdrawals
Year Quantity in
service at
start of year
Locomotive numbers Notes
1980 22 3 55 001/003/020
1981 19 16 55 002/004-8/010-014/016-019/021 55 008 & 021 cabs saved, 55 002/016 & 019 preserved
1982 3 3 55 009/015/022 All three preserved


All six preserved Deltics at Barrow Hill Engine Shed
55 022 Royal Scots Grey passes Carlton-on-Trent in 2010 with an Oxford-Preston charter
D9009 Alycidon (later 55 009) in BR green livery on display at Barrow Hill Roundhouse

Six locomotives were saved after withdrawal; two cabs also survive. All operationally preserved Deltics have run in preservation but only five of the six locomotives have run on the mainline; the only engine that has not yet is 55 015 Tulyar. The preserved Deltics that have run on the mainline are as follows: 55 022, 55 002, 55 009, 55 016 and 55 019.

Loco numbers in bold mean their current number.

Number (pre-tops) Number (post-tops) Name Built Withdrawn Livery Home Base Status Notes
D9000 55 022 Royal Scots Grey 28 Feb 1961 2 Jan 1982 BR Blue Crewe Diesel TMD Under Repair Recently acquired from former owners alongside 55 016 for use on mainline railtours.[17]
D9002 55 002 The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 19 Mar 1961 2 Jan 1982 BR Green National Railway Museum Static Display
D9008 55 008 The Green Howards 7 Jul 1961 31 Dec 1981 Green Undercoat Barrow Hill Roundhouse Cab Only Owned by the Deltic Preservation Society.[18]
D9009 55 009 Alycidon 21 Jul 1961 2 Jan 1982 BR Blue Barrow Hill Roundhouse Under Repair, Mainline Certified, Currently Awaiting Repairs Owned by the Deltic Preservation Society.[18]
D9015 55 015 Tulyar 13 Oct 1961 2 Jan 1982 BR Green Barrow Hill Roundhouse Under Restoration Owned by the Deltic Preservation Society.[18]
D9016 55 016 Gordon Highlander 27 Oct 1961 31 Dec 1981 BR Green Margate Static Display Recently acquired from former owners alongside 55 022 for use on mainline railtours. Shares its name with LNER Class D40 No. 49 "Gordon Highlander".

Undergone a cosmetic makeover and selected parts removed for use on 55 022. Now on display at LSL's future museum in Margate awaiting an overhaul, with ex-marine engines and new traction motors.

D9019 55 019 Royal Highland Fusilier 11 Dec 1961 31 Dec 1981 BR Blue Barrow Hill Roundhouse Operational Owned by the Deltic Preservation Society.[18]
D9021 55 021 Argyll & Sutherland Highlander 16 Mar 1962 31 Dec 1981 BR Blue N/A Cab only Owned by The South Wales Loco Cab Preservation Group

Loco details[edit]

  • D9000 (55 022) Royal Scots Grey was purchased by the Deltic 9000 Fund and, on 7 September 1983, was handed over in fully running condition after work and a repaint by BR.[19] Its first base was the Nene Valley Railway.[19] It was later accommodated by Network SouthEast at Selhurst and Old Oak Common depots, from where it regularly travelled to open days around the country. In 1996 it was overhauled by Railcare at St. Rollox railway works, Glasgow and received main-line certification. The Deltic 9000 Fund became a limited company (Deltic 9000 Locomotives Limited) and both D9000 and D9016 passed into its care. Its initial return to service, on the "Deltic Deliverance" charter, on 30 November 1996, was cut short by an exhaust stack fire (a regular Deltic problem in service days). Following rectification work at Springburn it ran to King's Cross on an empty stock train before resuming its second main-line career on 2 January 1997 on the "Deltic Reunion" charter to Hull and Harrogate, during which it visited the turntable within the National Railway Museum, where it stood alongside the prototype. It continued to work main line charter trains between 1997 and 2002 and was hired by both Anglia Railways and Virgin CrossCountry to operate service trains on their behalf, as cover for their locomotives. Following the demise of Deltic 9000 Locomotives Limited in 2004 the locomotive was sold to Beaver Sports (Yorks) Ltd. It completed an 18-month overhaul and was re-certified for running on the main line in August 2006.[20] Royal Scots Grey has been repainted into blue livery, carrying the markings of York (YK depot) and York City coat of arms crests above the numbers, as done in 1981. It is the first Class 55 to carry the York coat of arms crest since 1982. The locomotive continues to work charters and to be available for spot hire to national operators. In 2015 the locomotive was repainted with 'Finsbury Park-style' white cab window surrounds and at various times has carried the identities of scrapped sister locomotives 55 003 Meld, 55 007 Pinza and 55 018 Ballymoss[21] 55 022 alongside classmate 55 016 were later purchased by Locomotive Services and since arriving at Crewe 55 022 has been undergoing an overhaul to return to the mainline hauling railtours for Locomotive Services and their new charter train operator "Saphos Trains". Parts from 55 016 are being used in the engines overhaul while the latter engine is on static display in Margate.
  • D9002 (55 002) The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was donated to the National Railway Museum, York and was the first preserved Deltic to return to the main line when it worked light engine to York after participating in the Doncaster Works Open Day on 27 February 1982. 55 002 is one of three Deltics to hold mainline certification (along with D9000 Royal Scots Grey and D9009 Alycidon). 55 002 is rarely used on mainline charters and is mostly used to haul locomotives belonging to the National Railway Museum either between their two sites at York and Shildon or to other destinations such as Barrow Hill Engine Shed.
  • D9009 (55 009) Alycidon was purchased by the Deltic Preservation Society (DPS). It was initially based at the North York Moors Railway before undergoing an extensive overhaul and restoration and recertification for main-line use. Following the DPS withdrawal from main-line operations it was mostly based at the DPS depot at Barrow Hill. It was recertified for mainline use in July 2012 after a long absence stretching back to 2003. On 3 March 2019, 55 009 was hauling the 'Auld Reekie' from Edinburgh - Doncaster where all 6 traction motors flashed over. 55 009 has not worked since and was hauled back to Burton by British Rail Class 67 67004. 55 009 is now back at Barrow Hill Roundhouse for repairs.
  • D9015 (55 015) Tulyar was purchased by a private buyer, Peter Sansom; in 1986 it was sold on to the Deltic Preservation Society. It has led a nomadic existence on many preserved railways and was the favoured DPS locomotive for open days during the 1990s (where it was sometimes presented in the guise of a scrapped sister locomotive, for example during 1994 when it appeared at various events numbered and named as 55 001 St Paddy[22]). It is currently under major overhaul at the Deltic Preservation Society depot at Barrow Hill.
  • D9016 (55 016) Gordon Highlander was purchased by the Deltic 9000 Fund, with the intention that it would be restored to running condition, whilst acting as a 'twelve wheeled mobile source of spares'. It was moved to Wansford, on the Nene Valley Railway to join D9000, where the temptation to restore it to operational condition became too great to resist. Eventually, like D9000, the locomotive left the railway for the Network SouthEast depots at Selhurst and Old Oak Common. After D9000 had been operating on the main line for three years the decision was made to overhaul and recertify D9016, to provide cover for Royal Scots Grey, and the locomotive was moved to Brush Traction at Loughborough. Following overhaul it spent a short period on the main line, on charter work, its operation sponsored by Porterbrook, in recognition of which it was painted in their purple and grey house colours, based upon the original two-tone green style. It lasted in this livery until 2002, when the original two-tone green livery was reapplied. Following the demise of Deltic 9000 Locomotives Limited the locomotive was purchased and based at the Peak Rail (Heritage Railway), near Bakewell, Derbyshire. In July 2008, this locomotive was sold by the private owner to Harry Needle Railroad Company (HNRC). In spite of previous announcements to the contrary, HNRC put the locomotive up for sale at the end of September 2008. Bids from the Gordon Highlander Preservation Group and Beaver Sports (Yorks) Ltd. (the owners of 55 022) were rejected by HNRC in favour of a higher offer from Direct Rail Services who kept D9016 at Barrow Hill for a year with the intention of a full overhaul but these plans never surfaced.[23] The locomotive was sold one year later to Beaver Sports (Yorks) Ltd. and it was based at East Lancashire Railway with 55 022. The aim was to return D9016 to mainline condition once again. D9016 donated one of its two engines to 55 022 in April 2010 to replace one of 55 022's engines, a former marine example that had been temporarily fitted to 55 022 following an earlier engine failure. During 2014 D9016 left the East Lancashire Railway for the Great Central Railway. In January 2015 the locomotive moved to the Washwood Heath site of Boden Rail, for bodywork repairs. D9016, along with classmate 55 022, were later purchased by Locomotive Services. D9016 required a cosmetic overhaul, owing to damaged areas. With the main intention being to return 55 022 to service first parts were taken off D9016 for use on 55 022 and after being given a cosmetic facelift. 16 was returned to its original BR Green with its pre-TOPS number, D9016. The engine would later be moved to Margate for static display at LSL's new museum at the Hornby factory.
  • D9019 (55 019) Royal Highland Fusilier was purchased by the Deltic Preservation Society. Initially based at the North York Moors Railway, along with 55 009, the locomotive subsequently moved and spent several years at both the Great Central Railway and the East Lancashire Railway. It is now based at the Deltic Preservation Society depot at Barrow Hill. In April 2005 it became the first Deltic to be fitted with TPWS equipment.
D9008 (55 008) The Green Howards Simulator cab

Two cabs were saved after withdrawal:

  • One cab from D9008 (55 008) The Green Howards was acquired when the locomotive was being scrapped at Doncaster Works in August 1982. 55 008 is mounted on a road trailer and has been fitted out with computer simulation equipment which allows anybody to take the controls. In October 2003, the cab was painted to masquerade as British Rail DP2.[24]
  • One cab from D9021 (55 021) Argyll & Sutherland Highlander was acquired when the locomotive was scrapped at Doncaster Works in September 1982. It was privately purchased and positioned within sight of the Great Western Main Line at South Stoke, west of Reading. It was later sold to another private owner before being purchased by the Deltic Preservation Society. It has subsequently been sold on to the South Wales Loco Cab Preservation Group.

Operations after BR withdrawal[edit]

55 022 Royal Scots Grey at the Barrow Hill Engine Shed
55 022 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 British Rail Engineering Limited's 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 ScotRail's manager Chris Green 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 SouthEast in 1986 put paid to that. However, that did not end his involvement with D9000. He arranged for Network South East depots to provide accommodation for both D9000 and D9016 and when he moved on to head up Virgin Rail Group D9000 was used on summer Saturday Virgin CrossCountry services in the late 1990s.[25][26]

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 was incorporated as Deltic 9000 Locomotives Ltd (DNLL) with the objective of returning its locomotives to main-line service and on 30 November 1996 D9000 Royal Scots Grey hauled the 'Deltic Deliverance' charter from Edinburgh to King's Cross. This tour however ended prematurely at Berwick-upon-Tweed after a fire broke out in the loco's engine room.[27] D9000 went on to haul many charter trains and service trains for both Anglia Railways and Virgin CrossCountry until 2003. Subsequently, DNLL's other Deltic, D9016 Gordon Highlander returned to main-line working (it was temporarily painted in a purple and grey livery based upon the house colours of Porterbrook, who helped finance the restoration), as did the Deltic Preservation Society's D9009 Alycidon and 55 019 Royal Highland Fusilier. Between 1997 and 2003 all four main-line certified locomotives saw frequent charter and spot hire use, including on the Venice Simplon Orient Express. A highlight of this period was 22 May 1999, when D9000 Royal Scots Grey, D9009 Alycidon and 55 019 Royal Highland Fusilier were all in operation on the East Coast Main Line on the same day – D9000 running the "George Mortimer Pullman" British Pullman between London Victoria and Bradford Forster Square and the DPS Deltics working two charter trains between King's Cross and York. On the return run from Bradford, D9000 was held in platform 1 at Doncaster, whilst 55 019 passed on the up through line. D9000 then followed 55 019 as far as Belle Isle, where it diverged for the run around London to Victoria.

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. D9015 Tulyar is currently undergoing a full overhaul at Barrow Hill, with the aim of main line operation, whilst 55 002 The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry is currently painted in BR blue, main line certificated, and operates from the National Railway Museum. 55 019 remains in full working order along with D9009, whilst D9016 is currently able to operate on one engine only.

55 022 Royal Scots Grey at Castleton East Junction in 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, carried out on behalf of the owners 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 crankcase. 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 completed by Royal Scots Grey's restoration 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 locomotive was removed from future large railtour duties. The locomotive continued working mainline duty by visiting other preserved railway and moving other non-mainline registered locomotives.

In mid January 2007, an agreement was reached between heritage railway Peak Rail and the owner of 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[28] 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 shrouded in some mystery.

On 18 September 2009, 55 022 Royal Scots Grey is seen in Grosmont station, shortly after arrival from Pickering, during the NYMR's annual Diesel Gala.

Subsequently, in October 2008, DRS announced in a press release[29] that it had acquired 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 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 D9016 had been purchased by Beaver Sports (Yorks) Limited. It has subsequently operated (on one engine) on the East Lancashire Railway and the Great Central Railway, pending work to restore it to full working order.

In April 2011, 55 022 was hired in by GB Railfreight for bauxite freight working between North Blyth and the Lynemouth aluminium smelter. This hire was scheduled to last from April to July.[30][31] From May 2013 to November 2015, 55 022 was chartered by GBRF to transfer First ScotRail EMU's for refurbishment.[32] These included the entire fleet of Class 334s, which were moved between Yoker and Kilmarnock. The route taken, partially to prevent false fire alarms in underground tunnels caused by the Deltic engine's emissions, takes the train as far as Craigendoran on the north bank of the Clyde before turning round toward Kilmarnock.[33][failed verification]

On 29 November 2017 it was announced via the official Royal Scots Grey website that 55 022 and D9016, plus all spares, had been sold by Martin Walker to Locomotive Services,[34] with both making the trip to LSL's Crewe Diesel TMD base in December 2017.[35] It is intended that both locomotives will be ultimately be repaired (55 022 currently has engine problems and D9016 is coming to the end of bodywork repairs) and operated on the mainline alongside Hosking's sizable locomotive fleet.[36] By June 2018, 55 022 was under repair while D9016 had been placed in store and was transferred, cosmetically restored, to Locomotive Storage Limited's facility at Margate.[37]

55 022 arrives at North Blyth on 26 September 2011 with a train of aluminium oxide wagons.

Fleet details[edit]

Key: Preserved Cab only Scrapped

Name Depot Withdrawn Status
D9000 55 022 Royal Scots Grey Haymarket 2 January 1982 Preserved by Locomotive Services[34] - Under Repair.
D9001 55 001 St Paddy Finsbury Park 5 January 1980 Scrapped BREL Doncaster February 1980.
D9002 55 002 The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Gateshead 31 December 1981 Preserved by the National Railway Museum - Mainline Registered.
D9003 55 003 Meld Finsbury Park 31 December 1980 Scrapped BREL Doncaster March 1981.
D9004 55 004 Queen's Own Highlander Haymarket 28 October 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster August 1983.
D9005 55 005 The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire Gateshead 8 February 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster February 1983.
D9006 55 006 The Fife & Forfar Yeomanry Haymarket 8 February 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster July 1981.
D9007 55 007 Pinza Finsbury Park 31 December 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster August 1982.
D9008 55 008 The Green Howards Gateshead 31 December 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster August 1982. (One cab preserved and used as simulator.)
D9009 55 009 Alycidon Finsbury Park 2 January 1982 Preserved – Mainline Registered
D9010 55 010 The King's Own Scottish Borderer Haymarket 24 December 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster May 1982.
D9011 55 011 The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers Gateshead 8 November 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster November 1982.
D9012 55 012 Crepello Finsbury Park 18 May 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster September 1981.
D9013 55 013 The Black Watch Haymarket 20 December 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster December 1982.
D9014 55 014 The Duke of Wellington's Regiment Gateshead 22 November 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster February 1982.
D9015 55 015 Tulyar Finsbury Park 2 January 1982 Preserved - undergoing major overhaul
D9016 55 016 Gordon Highlander Haymarket 30 December 1981 Preserved by Locomotive Services[34] - Under Overhaul.
D9017 55 017 The Durham Light Infantry Gateshead 31 December 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster January 1983.
D9018 55 018 Ballymoss Finsbury Park 12 October 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster January 1982.
D9019 55 019 Royal Highland Fusilier Haymarket 31 December 1981 Preserved - Mainline Registered.
D9020 55 020 Nimbus Finsbury Park 5 January 1980 Scrapped BREL Doncaster January 1980.[38]
D9021 55 021 Argyll & Sutherland Highlander Haymarket 31 December 1981 Scrapped BREL Doncaster August 1982. (One cab preserved.)

Proposed Deltic locomotives[edit]

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.[39]

A Co-Co "Super Deltic" was proposed but not built.[40] 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).[41] The locomotives would have looked very similar to the eventual Class 50s, though slightly longer.[42] 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.

Model Railways[edit]

The first OO gauge model was produced by Hornby Dublo in 2 versions. D9012 "Crepello" was the 2 rail version and D9001 "St Paddy" was the 3 rail version. The second OO gauge model was produced by Lima, in two versions initially: D9003 "Meld" in BR Green; and 9006 "The Fife & Forfar Yeomanry" in BR Blue. The same models were also released in N gauge (1:160 scale), however these did not last very long, as Lima eventually decided to concentrate its British outline output on OO gauge.

Bachmann have since released a new version of the "Deltic", in both the OO gauge "Branchline" range and their N gauge "Graham Farish" range. Bachmann have also produced the "Deltic Prototype" in OO gauge (previously only available as a plastic kit from either Kitmaster or Dapol), however this had been commissioned by Locomotion Models - the model railways arm of the Nation Railway Museum - and was not generally available in model shops. A "Graham Farish" N gauge model is available, as a stand-alone model, and as part of the "Merseyside Express" train set.

In 2012 Hornby Railways launched a version of the BR Class 55, which is basic representation of the prototype as part of their Railroad range in BR Blue and BR Green in OO gauge.[43] This model was essentially the old Lima tooling with a new chassis.

Accurascale have also announced a new OO gauge "Deltic", due for release in 2021.

References and sources[edit]


  1. ^ Webb, Brian. English Electric Main Line Diesel Locomotives of British Rail. p. 74.
  2. ^ "BR Class 55 "Deltic"". Trainz Locomotive Database. Auran.
  3. ^ Deltics at Work by Allan Baker & Gavin Morrison, page 18, 1985, ISBN 0-7110-1536-8
  4. ^ British Railways Locoshed Book 1974 edition. Shepperton: Ian Allan. 1974. p. 54. ISBN 0-7110-0558-3.
  5. ^ Nock 1985, p. 31
  6. ^ Nock 1985, p. 74
  7. ^ BR Eastern Region timetable June 1965
  8. ^ BR passenger timetable May 1975
  9. ^ Railway Performance Society : Deltic Fastest Times, J Heaton
  10. ^ Railway Performance Society: Milepost 22 1/4 July 2001
  11. ^ Hoole, Ken (1982). Trains in Trouble. Vol. 3. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 46. ISBN 0-906899-05-2. |volume= has extra text (help)
  12. ^ D. McMullen, Ministry of Transport (1962). "Report on the Collisions which occurred on the 15th December 1961 near Conington" (PDF). HMSO.
  13. ^ Vaughan, Adrian (1989). Obstruction Danger. Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens Limited. pp. 20–28. ISBN 1-85260-055-1.
  14. ^ Hoole, Ken (1983). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 4. Truro: Atlantic Books. pp. 13–14. ISBN 0-906899-07-9.
  15. ^ "Report on the collision that occurred on 16th February 1977 at Darlington in the Eastern Region of British Railways" (PDF). Department of Transport. 13 July 1978. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  16. ^ "55019: Timetable 1981". 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  17. ^ "Deltic Duo joins the fleet". 29 November 2017.
  18. ^ a b c d The Deltic Preservation Society
  19. ^ a b Johnston, Howard (November 1983). "D9000 is saved". Rail Enthusiast. EMAP National Publications. pp. 15–16. ISSN 0262-561X. OCLC 49957965.
  20. ^ "Class 55 Deltics: 55 022 Royal Scots Grey and D9016 Gordon Highlander".
  21. ^[failed verification]
  22. ^ "09.07.94 55001 (55015) Doncaster works". 14 April 2012.
  23. ^ "DRS buys a Deltic" Today's Railways UK issue 84 December 2008 page 58
  24. ^ "News & Events: DP2 appears at Barrow Hill!". The Deltic Preservation Society. 5 October 2003. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  25. ^ "Virgin Trains puts Deltic back into scheduled passenger service" Rail issue 311 13 August 1997 page 8
  26. ^ "Virgin to use Deltic to Ramsgate for 18 weeks" Rail issue 328 8 April 1998 page 54
  27. ^ D9000 Deltic Deliverance railtour and fire
  28. ^ [1] Archived 30 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ [2] Archived 17 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Walker, Martin (10 April 2011). "GB Railfreight hires 55022".
  31. ^ "Deltic locomotive back in service due to freight demand". BBC News online. 30 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  32. ^ "55022 freight & misc workings since 2011". 23 March 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  33. ^ scotrail170434 (4 May 2013). "55022 'Royal Scots Grey' GBRF Class 334 unit move". YouTube. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  34. ^ a b c 55022 & D9016 New Owners Royal Scots Grey 29 November 2017
  35. ^ "D9016 Now at Crewe Diesel Depot". December 2017.
  36. ^ Deltics sold - and could be put to work on new railtours Rail issue 842 20 December 2017 page 30
  37. ^ "LSL begins Deltic repairs" Rail Express issue 265 June 2018 page 73
  38. ^ 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".
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ Nock 1985, p. 75
  42. ^ Webb, Brian. Deltic Locomotives of British Rail. pp. 91, 93.
  43. ^ "Hornby BR Class 55". Hornby. Retrieved 1 February 2020.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]