37518 at Lockerbie


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   D6983 had been withdrawn pre tops following a collision with a class 47 and was scrapped.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.

BR Use

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.


Fleet List

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