Between the late 1950’s and the early 1960’s, 309 of the English Electric Class 37 diesel locomotive were built. Over 50 years later in 2012 and a number of the fleet are still in service both on the main line and in preservation.
As part of the British Railways Modernisation plan, and the need to eventually eradicate steam traction, a new batch of mixed traffic locomotive capable of hauling both passenger and freight trains was needed. This new locomotive required an engine capable of producing 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) to 1,999 hp (1,491 kW) of power.
Initially to be classed as Type 3, the order for 309 class 37’s were split between English Electric's Vulcan Foundry at Newton-le-Willows, and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns of Darlington, originally numbered in the range D6700-D6999 and D6600-D6608.
Following the introduction of the TOPS system, Type 3’s became Class 37 and D6701 – D6999 became 37001 – 37299, D6700 became 37119, whilst D6819 became 37283. D6600 – D6608 became 37300 – 37308. D6983 had been withdrawn pre tops following a collision with a class 47 and was scrapped.
The Class 37's were based at depots all over the country however were mostly found in Scotland, Wales and East Anglia at first before popping up all over the place.
By the 1980's, a number of Class 37's had been modified and refurbished and were split into subclasses depending on the modifications undertaken, the subclasses were
Class 37 / 0
All 309 locomotives were originally classes as 37 / 0 when built, some remained as in this subclass for their entire working life. There was a number of differences between the class 37's. The most visible difference was that the first 119 37's built had a split headcode box showing the TOPS number for the train. The remainder had a single headcode box, and horns mounted on the roof rather than on the nose of the locomotive. Throughout the 1980's a number of 37/0's were based at Inverness and Eastfield depots to operate the Far North and West Highland Lines respectively whilst Motherwell had a number allocated for freight duties especially those operating out of Ravenscraig. The 37/0's had water tanks for steam heating coaches on passenger duties.
Class 37/ 3
The Class 37 /3's received new bogies but did not receive further refurbishment other than having their steam heating tanks converted to carry extra fuel.
Class 37 / 4
The class 37/4's were refurbished and rewired with their English Electric Generator being replaced with a Brush Altenator and Electric Train Heating capability installed. 31 examples were created with 25 based in Scotland at Eastfield, Inverness and later Motherwell depot, with the remaining 6 being based in Wales.
Class 37/ 5
The Class 37/5's were refurbished to a similar standard as the 37/ 4's except that electric train heating was not fitted
Class 37/ 6
12 Class 37/ 6's were created to haul overnight Nightstar trains as part of Eurostar services over non electrified lines around Britain. They never made it into service for this purpose as the project was abandoned, with the 12 37/6's being stored. DRS bought all 12 locos and were until recently all still in service with DRS.
Class 37/ 7
This subclass was created for hauling heavy freight and were mostly based around South Wales. They were identical to the 37/ 5's except they were fitted with extra ballast to give extra pulling power. A number of this class were transferred to Europe where some are still used on Engineering Trains. Only 1 class 37/7 remains in service today (37706 with West coast)
Class 37/ 9
Similar to the Class 37/ 7's this subclass was used for hauling heavy freight, this small class of 6 were used for testing a new Mirlees engine and Brush Altenator. The 37/9's were introduced in 1986 and were withdrawn as non standard in 2000.
Under British Rail ownership, the 37's found use on passenger and freight workings but passenger use plummeted following the introduction of DMU's to a number of lines. The final normal 37 turn in Scotland was the West Highland Sleeper, which was operated by the Electric Train Heating fitted class 37/4's operated by EWS, these were replaced by Class 67's in 2006.
Into privatisation in 1997 and all BR owned 37's transferred to a new company called EWS, they had over 100 37's still on their books along with numerous 31's, 33's, 47's, 56's, 58's and 60's. Following the introduction of 250 Class 66's and 30 class 67's, most of these classes disappeared and many of the class 37's were gradually withdrawn. Many were sold to other companies but more were scrapped. A fleet of 37/4s was retained for use on the Sleeper between Edinburgh and Fort William, for freight and engineering duties on the West Highland lines, however the sleeper service was taken over by class 67's in 2006. By 2008, only 37401, 406 and 417 remained in service. Both 406 and 417 were then taken out of service in 2009 with severe faults and 401 was then joined by 419 and 670 that had been on long term store in service newly repainted in the new DB Schenker livery, however 670 was withdrawn with persistant faults and 419 suffered a severe failure on its debut run and was withdrawn. 37425 was then returned to service and along with 401 were used until summer 2010 when all EWS / DBS's remaining class 37's were withdrawn and put up for sale. The 37/4's were all sold to DRS.
In the early 2000's DRS bought a number of 37's which had been withdrawn by EWS and 12 37/6's that were sold by Eurostar. They currently own a number of 37/0's, 37/4's, 37/5's and 37/6's. Their most recent accusitions being 14 37/4's which had been sold by EWS/ DBS. The DRS 37's work a number of freight and charter services including nuclear flask trains, RHTT trains, Scrap trains, Snowplough duties, Charter trains, intermodal trains and from 2015 also operate some passenger services in Norfolk and on the Cumbrian Coast between Carlisle and Preston.
West Coast Railways
West Coast have a number of 37's although most are used as a source of spare parts. They are used on charters, stock movements and for backup / rescue for steam charters.
Number Livery Location Status Name
37003 BR Blue Mid Norfolk Rlwy Preserved
37025 BR Large Logo Rugby In Service
37037 BR Green Mid Norfolk Rlwy Preserved
37038 DRS Kingmoor In service
37042 EWS Eden Valley Railway Preserved
37057 BR Green Rugby In Service
37059 DRS Kingmoor In Service
37069 DRS Kingmoor In Service
37075 BR Blue KWVR Preserved
37108 BR Blue Crewe Heritage centre Preserved
37109 BR Blue East Lancs Railway Preserved
37116 Colas Rugby In Service
37152 Intercity Swallow Peak Rail Preserved
37175 Colas Livery Rugby In Service
37190 BR Large Logo Midland Railway Preserved
37198 Network Rail Great Central Railway Preserved
37214 West Coast Carnforth Stored
37218 DRS Carlisle Kingmoor In Service
37219 Colas Rugby In Service
37229 DRS Kingmoor In Service
37248 West Coast Gloustershire and
Warwickshire Rlwy Preserved
37250 Transrail Wensleydale Railway Preserved
37254 Colas Rugby In Service
37255 BR Engineers Great Central Railway Preserved
37259 DRS Kingmoor In Service
37261 DRS Boness Preserved
37264 BR Large Loco North Yorks Moor Preserved
37275 BR Blue Barrow hill preserved
37308 BR Blue Cardiff Canton Preserved
37350 BR Green NRM York Preserved
37401 BR Large Loco Carlisle Kingmoor In Service
37402 BR Large Loco Carlisle Kingmoor In Service
37403 BR Large Loco Carlisle Kingmoor In Service
37405 DRS Carlisle Kingmoor In Service
37407 DRS Carlisle Kingmoor Being Restored
37409 DRS Kingmoor In Service Lord Hinton
37413 EWS Burton Wagon Shops Preserved
37418 BR Large Loco East Lancs Railway Preserved East Lancashire Railway
37419 DRS Kingmoor In Service
37421 Colas Rugby Preserved
37422 Plain Blue Kingmoor In Service
37423 DRS Kingmoor In Service Spirit of the Lakes
37424 BR Large Loco Carlisle Kingmoor Preserved
37425 DRS Kingmoor in Service Pride of the Valleys
37503 EWS Barrow Hill Stored
37510 DRS Barrow Hill withdrawn
37516 West Coast Carnforth in service
37518 West Coast Carnforth in service
37521 EWS Barrowhill Stored
37601 DRS Kingmoor In Service Class 37 - fifty
37602 DRS kingmoor In Service
37603 DRS Kingmoor In service
37604 DRS Kingmoor In Service
37605 DRS Kingmoor In service
37606 DRS Kingmoor In service
37607 DRS Kingmoor in Service
37608 Europhoenix in Service
37609 DRS Kingmoor in Service
37610 DRS Kingmoor in Service Ted Cassidy
37611 Europhoenix in Service
37612 DRS Kingmoor in Service
37667 DRS Kingmoor in Service
37668 West Coast Carnforth in service
37669 West Coast Carnforth in service
37670 DBS EMR Kingsbury Stored
37676 West Coast Carnforth In Service Loch Rannoch
37683 DRS Crewe Heritage Centre Stored
37685 West Coast Carnforth In Service Loch Arkaig
37688 DRS Kingmoor In service Kingmoor TMD
37703 Blue Boness Preserved
37706 West Coast Carnforth In Service
37800 Europhoenix In Service
37884 Europhoenix In Service
37901 BR Railfreight Llangollen Railway Preserved Miriless Pioneer
37906 BR Railfreight Severn Valley Railway Preserved