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File:57601 near Cheltenham.jpg
File:57602.jpg
File:57304 'Gordon Tracy' at Crewe.jpg
File:57313 Virgin Trains Tamworth.png
File:57303 with DVT.jpg
File:57307 Lady Penelope in Virgin Trains livery.jpg
File:57303 at Bagillt.jpg

The Class 57 diesel locomotives were introduced by Brush Traction between 1997-2004. They are rebuilds, with reconditioned EMD engines, of former Class 47 locomotives, originally introduced in 1964-5.

Description Edit

The Class 57 is a re-engineered locomotive, rebuilt by Brush Traction at Loughborough from redundant Class 47 locomotives. The locomotives are fitted with a refurbished EMD engine and a reconditioned alternator, improving reliability and performance. Three variants exist, one for freight and two for passenger operations.

The class has its origins in 1997 when Freightliner ordered an initial six locomotives. In 2000 a prototype locomotive, number 57601, was converted with electric train heating, with a view to obtaining orders from passenger companies.

They are known as "bodysnatchers", or "Zombies" to enthusiasts, by virtue of the fact that the shell (body) of the Class 47 has been stripped, rewired and re-engined[1] and as "GM"s due to them being "genetically modified" with General Motors equipment.

Current operations Edit

Direct Rail Services Edit

Direct Rail Services currently owns nine 57/0s, comprising 57002 (47322), 57003 (47317), 57004 (47347), 57007 (47332), 57008 (47204), 57009 (47079), 57010 (47329), 57011 (47231), 57012 (47060). These locomotives work alongside the Class 20/3s which are also operated by the company. All are painted in DRS Blue. DRS also recently acquired 57302, 57305 and 57309 from Virgin, these are currently being repainted into DRS Blue at Eastleigh.

First Great Western Edit

In 2000 Porterbrook Leasing placed an order for a prototype passenger locomotive fitted with electric train heating. This locomotive, no. 57601, was leased to First Great Western (FGW), which was looking for a replacement for its elderly Class 47 locomotives, which were employed on the "Night Riviera" overnight sleeper and Motorail services from London Paddington to Penzance. After an evaluation period of three years FGW ordered four production Class 57/6 locomotives from Brush, which were delivered in 2004. These new locomotives displaced the Class 47 locomotives, which were transferred to other operators. As the prototype locomotive was non-standard it was returned to Porterbrook Leasing, which then sold it to West Coast Railway Company. The FGW locomotives have been having reliability problems lately, resulting in hiring locomotives from Cotswold Rail.

The FGW fleet was originally painted in a green livery with a gold bodyside band, with cast name and numberplates. All four locomotives have been named after castles in Devon and Cornwall, and operate solely on the Night Riviera sleeper service and standby and rescue duties, the Motorail service having been abandoned in 2005. In 2008 the fleet started to receive the FGW blue, with 57605 the first to receive the colours and 57602 following shortly afterwards. In 2010 57604 received a repaint into lined Brunswick green livery to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway celebrations.[2]

Class 57 on the Taunton–Cardiff service. Class 57303 has recently been used due to 57316 failing on the first day of the service. The service began on the 14 December 2009 and will run until the next timetable commences. These ran from December 2008 until November 2010, using one set of carriages initially but with a further set of carriages between December 2009 and October 2010. These service ran in the short term to cover for the unavailability of the normal DMU trains. When sufficient DMU trains were available following the transfer of 6 Class 150/1 sets from London Overground, the locomotives and coaching stock were withdrawn.[3]

Network Rail Edit

Network Rail November 2011 took over 6 Class 57/3s from Virgin Trains to be used on Network Rail test trains and the new Network Rail snow train.

Virgin Trains Edit

Virgin Trains Class 57/3s were initially not expected to work in regular service with Pendolino sets except on diversionary routes, so therefore were not delivered with Dellner couplings. After their introduction the locomotives were then employed on regular workings to Holyhead and the decision was taken to fit Dellner couplings to the Virgin fleet to allow faster coupling on revenue earning trains. The Dellner coupling on the Virgin fleet allows easy connection to Class 390 Pendolinos in regular service, and also Class 221 Super Voyager units in case of failure, breakdown or emergency.

Virgin Trains has taken the convention of calling locomotives employed for rescue duties 'Thunderbirds' one step further by naming their Class 57 fleet after characters from the television series.

From the clearance of the Pendolino sets for the North Wales Coast Line in December 2008 Class 57 locomotives were used to haul some Virgin services from Crewe to Holyhead, complementing the Voyagers that covered the other North Wales services. The downside of this arrangement was that whilst the pendolino sets are longer and have the added advantage of running off OHLE when south of Crewe, coupling and uncoupling at Crewe added to the journey time. Since December 2008, with the cessation of twice daily pendolino services, Virgin liveried 57s have become a rare sight on the North Wales Coast line; however Arriva Trains Wales workings of Class 57 locomotives with their North-South Wales express service have allowed the class to maintain a presence in Wales.

Since the completion of the West Coast Main Line upgrade works Virgin's requirement for Class 57s has decreased dramatically. The 16-strong fleet is now finding other work with Arriva Trains Wales. November 2011 six Virgin Class 57/3s were transferred to Network Rail.[4] With the return of 57313-57316 from Arriva Trains Wales, 57302, 57304 and 57309 have been transferred to DRS.


West Coast Railway Company Edit

The West Coast Railway Company (WCRC) owns a single Class 57/6, the prototype passenger locomotive 57601. Purchased from Porterbrook following delivery of Class 57/6s to First Great Western, this is employed on WCRC charter trains and is painted in the company's maroon livery, to match the coaching stock.

In January 2011 WCRC purchased 57001 from Freightliner, along with Advenza Freight's 57005 shortly after. 57006, also from Advenza Freight was purchased in April 2011. 57001 has since been repainted into WCRC Maroon and used on a number of Railtours, whilst 57005 and 57006 are stored at Carnforth.

Former operators Edit

Arriva Trains Wales Edit

In 2008 Arriva Trains Wales began operation of a daily express service between Cardiff Central and Holyhead utilising the company's stored Mark 2 rolling stock. To provide the motive power for this train ATW obtained the use of four of Virgin's Class 57/3 locomotives to operate in locomotive-hauled mode. 57313 - 57316 were painted in the Arriva Blue Livery, while only 57314 and 57315 were branded in addition to their new livey.[5][6]In 2012, Class 67s took over the duties of the 57s and so they were returned to Virgin Trains.

Colas Rail Edit

From the start of 2007 until 31 October 2009 Colas Rail hired Class 57/3 locos from Virgin Trains. Starting in August 2009 a Class 57/0 was hired from Direct Rail Services on a trial basis for one or two days each week. These trials culminated in the use of two Class 57/0 locos in multiple on 2, 3 and 4 November 2009. On 5 November 2009 the current standard hire of one Direct Rail Services Class 57/0 each day became the norm. Although on paper the Class 57/0 is 2,500 Horsepower, 250 Horsepower less than a Class 57/3, the 57/0s are able to keep the timings allocated to the Colas Rail timber trains by Network Rail. Unlike the Virgin Trains Class 57/3s, all 16 of which were variously used on the timber trains, Direct Rail Services has specifically allocated 57002 to the Colas workings with 57008 as standby when 57002 is out of use for maintenance or repairs. To reflect this allocation 57002 has been fitted with a large Colas Rail logo on each side, just behind the non-driving side of each cab.

Freightliner Edit

In 1997 Freightliner placed an order for an initial six Class 57/0 locomotives. The first of these was released in 1998, and coincided with the unveiling of the new British Racing Green Freightliner livery. After an evaluation period Freightliner was sufficiently impressed to order a further six locomotives, with plans for an eventual fleet of 25. However, in the event only 12 locomotives were rebuilt, due to the purchase of completely new Class 66 locomotives from General Motors.

The Freightliner fleet saw use over a wide area, serving locations such as Ipswich, Southampton, Birmingham, Cardiff and Leeds. The introduction of the class resulted in the replacement of the Class 47 locomotives on most long-distance intermodal trains.

Freightliner named all its locomotives, with examples such as 'Freightliner Pioneer' and 'Freightliner Phoenix'.

In 2007 Freightliner started to replace its Class 57s with new Class 66 locos. Initially six Class 57s (the second batch) were returned to their leasing company, and were redeployed with DRS in July 2007. The sole remaining 57 (57001) was sold to West Coast Railway Company in January 2011.

Advenza Freight Edit

Advenza Freight operated two ex-Freightliner locomotives, painted in the Advenza Freight livery, on a number of freight flows won by the company in 2008.

Advenza Freight was part of Cotswold Rail which operated some of the Class 57's donor locomotives, the Class 47. The class was seen most frequently on scrap metal trains but Advenza used its small fleet on a wide variety of stock moves and deliveries.

Advenza ceased trading in late 2009 and the locomotives are now stored. In January 2011, 57005 was sold to the West Coast Railway Company, as was 57006 in April.

Fleet details Edit

Subclass No. Built No. Range Operators Loco Nos. Total
57/0 12 57001-012 Direct Rail Services 57002-57004, 57007-57012 9
West Coast Railway Company 57001, 57005-57006 3
57/3 16 57301-316 Virgin Trains 57307-57308, 57311, 57313-57316 7
Network Rail 57301, 57303, 57305-57306, 57310, 57312 6
Direct Rail Services 57302, 57304, 57309 3
57/6 5 57601-605 First Great Western 57602-57605 4
West Coast Railway Company 57601 1


Number Rebuilt from Livery Operator Name
57001 47356 WCRC Maroon West Coast Railway Company
57002 47322 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57003 47317 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57004 47347 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57005 47350 Advenza Freight Blue West Coast Railway Company
57006 47187 Advenza Freight Blue West Coast Railway Company
57007 47332 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57008 47204 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services Telford International
Railfreight Park June - 2009
57009 47079 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57010 47329 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57011 47231 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57012 47060 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57301 47845 Network Rail Yellow Network Rail
57302 47827 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services
57303 47705 Network Rail Yellow Network Rail
57304 47807 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services Pride of Cheshire
57305 47822 Network Rail Yellow Network Rail
57306 47814 Network Rail Yellow Network Rail
57307 47225 Virgin Trains Silver Virgin Trains Lady Penelope
57308 47846 Virgin Trains Silver Virgin Trains Tin-Tin
57309 47806 DRS Compass Blue Direct Rail Services Pride of Crewe
57310 47831 Network Rail Yellow Network Rail
57311 47817 Virgin Trains Silver Virgin Trains Parker
57312 47330 Network Rail Yellow Network Rail
57313 47371 Plain Blue Virgin Trains
57314 47372 Arriva Trains Wales Blue Virgin Trains
57315 47234 Arriva Trains Wales Blue Virgin Trains
57316 47290 Plain Blue Virgin Trains
57601 47825 WCRC Maroon
with black stripe
West Coast Railway Company
57602 47337 First Great Western Blue First Great Western Restormel Castle
57603 47349 First Great Western Blue First Great Western Tintagel Castle
57604 47209 GWR Brunswick Green[2] First Great Western Pendennis Castle
57605 47206 First Great Western Blue First Great Western Totnes Castle
  1. Renown Repulse Restoration Group. Nicknames.
  2. 2.0 2.1 FGW honours 'GWR 175' - Railway Herald. Page 3. 28 June 2010. Issue 228. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  3. Taunton Trains Loco-Hauled Info. Taunton Trains (27 April 2011).
  4. Virgin bids farewell to six Class 57/3s - Railway Herald. Page 3. 2011-08-29. Issue 281. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
  5. North-south service to go ahead - BBC News, 08/10/08
  6. 12:41. Arriva Class 57 timings. Railforums.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-01-01.

References Edit

Further reading Edit

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