Class 57

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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 General Motors engine, and a reconditioned alternator, vastly improving reliability and performance. Two variants exist, one for freight (no Electric Train supply cables) and passenger operations (electric train supply cables)

West Coast Railway Company

57601 at Carlisle Photo by Ewan


Leasing company Porterbrook realised the potential for an ETS fitted variant of the Class 57 as replacements for Class 47/8s, the latter having been suffering from ever decreasing reliability so a trial locomotive was commissioned; converted from 47825 Thomas Telford at Brush Loughborough.

Internally, the locomotive was completely rewired and fitted with a GM series 12-645-E3 engine and an ex-Class 56 alternator (as with the Freightliner batch). The locomotive has an ETS rating of 100 which, although higher than any current train needs, did prove that such a version is possible. A restyled front end was also included in the rebuild.

First Great Western took 57601 on lease during its trial testing period and it worked many of the day trains and sleeper trains in a common pool with the Class 47/8 fleet also with the company. The trial was a complete success and paved the way for ordering a batch of Class 57s with ETS to replace its Class 47 fleet on sleeper trains. This new batch was to be more powerful still and so, 57601 became non standard within the fleet and was sold to Carnforth-based West Coast Railway Company.

Current Duties

57601 is based at WCRC's Carnforth depot and is employed mainly on charter duties which it shares with the WCRC fleet of Class 47/8 locos.

As of 2011, WCRC bought 57001 from freightliner and also got 57005 and 57006 in 2012. 57001, 57005 and 57006 are stored at Carnforth

As of 2013, WCRC offically bought 57313-16 from porterbrook. They are now in traffic in WRC livery.

Virgin West Coast

57304 Gordon Tracy awaits the signal to depart south from Carlisle on 21/12/10 Photo by ScottD1690


After the original ETS Class 57 - 57601 - had undergone successful proving trials with First Great Western (FGW), thoughts turned to the replacement of the Virgin West Coast and FGW Class 47 locomotives used for 'Thunderbird' and sleeper work respectively. The 47's owner, Porterbrook Leasing, already had experience of Class 57 locomotives with Freightliner and talks ended in an initial batch of 16 locomotives being ordered.

Originally, it was envisaged that the locos would work in a common fleet for both Virgin Trains and FGW based at Central London depot, to be available to either operator, however it was later realised that this would not be practical so the order was officially split between the two companies, 12 for Virgin and 4 for FGW. A number of modifications needed to be made to the Virgin West Coast fleet of locomotives, most importantly that the engine needed to be more powerful so that when hauling a Pendolino EMU, the air conditioning and other features would still continue to function normally. This necessitated a new subclass - Class 57/3 was chosen.

The first loco was delivered in 2002 and went straight onto testing with Pendolino EMU's at the Asfordby Test Centre (being used at the time for commissioning of the new trains). Realisation that the locomotives would be used also for the weekend 'drags' on routes that were not electrified led to a startling modification. Gone was the flat, smooth ergonomic front ends and in came a Scharfenberg coupler to enable coupling to Pendolinos safely with a minimum of work on the track.

Converted from a mixture of Class 47/8 locomotives being returned by Virgin Cross Country and from stored Class 47s formerly used by Freightliner, the original total of 12 locomotives was later upped to 16 with the additional 4 being needed to finally eliminate Class 47s from standby duty on the West Coast.

Current duties

Current duties include the Chirk to Carlisle and Arrochar timber trains, thunderbird duties at selected West Coast stations and the daily drag of a Pendolino from Crewe to Holyhead.

They all have names after the characters from the original TV series "Thunderbirds" and all are fitted with Dellner couplings to be able to couple to Class 390s, Class 220s and Class 221s. Virgin West Coast drivers have recently (Summer 2007) carried out route learning the Edinburgh suburban line using the Class 57s.

They are also hired to GBRf as required and have been used for mail trains and ScotRail EMU moves.

As of 2013, virgin west coast no longer operated the 57/3s. The majority of them are either with DRS, Network Rail or WCRC.

1M03 - 57314 » 57314 Heading south past Pettinain with the very late mail 12/5/10 19:40 Photo by DEREKO



DRS inherited 6 Class 57s that Freightliner were no longer using. Originally they were put in pool XHNC - Direct Rail Services Nuclear Contracts, Based Carlisle Kingmoor TMD (KM) but they have been moved to XHHP - Direct Rail Services, De-registered Locomotives, allocated Carlisle Kingmoor TMD (KM). 57009 and 57011 were the first DRS Class 57s to move back into the XHNC pool. The 57 fleet was boosted in June 2008 when 57010 and 57012 were added to the Operational fleet. DRS have moved most of their stored 57's to Crewe Gresty Bridge (GB). 57002 / 57003 have been moved from secure storage on the Barry Island railway to Gresty Bridge at the end of June 2008. 57004 was already on site at Gresty Bridge. 57002 - 57004 are stored at Crewe Gresty Bridge and are in Freightliner Green (FZ) without FL logos. 57007 remains the only stored 57 at Carlisle Kingmoor and it is in the DRS compass livery (DZ).

As of May 2013, all of the 57/0s are in traffic. They also required the remainder of the 57/3s from virgin west coast, all of which are now in the DRS/northern belle (57305/12) livery.

As of 2016 most of the 57/0s are stored at longtown with the expection of 57002/3/7 which are in service

DRS 57007 » 57007 L/E Passing Carstairs 23/8/10 Photo by DEREKO


Original No.New No.LiveryPoolNotes
4734757004DZXHSSStored at Longtown
4706057008DZXHSSStored at Longtown
4707957009DZXHSSStored at Longtown / Multiple Working Fitted
4723157010DZXHSSStored at Longtown
4732957011DZXHSSStored at Eastleigh Works / Multiple Working Fitted
4720457012DZXHSSStored at Longtown

See Also

External Links