Class 26 (Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company 1,160hp Type 2 Diesel-Electric)

The Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company's Class 26 was one of the earliest pilot-scheme diesel-electrics built as part of British Railway's Modernisation Plan and ended up being one of the longest lived Type 2 designs. They out lasted a number of later built (and more powerful) designs being finally withdrawn in 1994. The Class 26 had a good basic design which was later used on the Class 27 and Class 33, the latter still in service on National Rails.

Number built: 47
Built: 1958-59
Builder: Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
Engine: Sulzer 6LDA28-A diesel
Power: 1, 160 hp (865 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

Twenty locomotives were ordered from the BRCW in the Type B power classification (later Type 2). The Class 26 shared some visual design guidance (Wilkes & Ashmore) with the Brush Type 2 (Class 30, later 31) [1] though had an improved power/weight ratio and hence was able to use a Bo-Bo not A1A-A1A wheel arrangement [2].

Following the success of the pilot-scheme batch a further 27 were built before the design was power uprated to form the Class 27. Initially the Class 26 was allocated to Eastern Region for London suburban services [3] though later were reallocated to Scotland where they spent the majority of their careers. The pilot-scheme locomotives became the Class 26/0 under TOPS with the later batch 26/1. There were a number of detail differences between the two sub-classes though some of these differences were removed during refurbishments [4].

The Class 26 remained in service working mostly on freight traffic in Scotland, including Merry-Go Round coal traffic, seven locomotives being fitted with slow speed control [5]. Their numbers were gradually reduced in the late 1980s and early 90s with the last examples withdrawn by 1994, being surplus to requirements. Thirteen have been preserved.
D5343 (26 043) at Duffield

D5343 runs around its train at Duffield

D5343 at Wirksworth
Another view of D5343 at Duffield

[1] David Lawrence, British Rail Design 1948-97 (Ian Allan, 2016) p. 128
[2] Brian Haresnape, Early Prototype and Pilot-Scheme Diesel-Electrics (Ian Allan, 1981) p. 56
[3] Colin Alexander, The British Railways Pilot Scheme Locomotives (Amberley, 2017) p. 49
[4] Colin J Marsden, Motive Power Recognition 1: Locomotives (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 33
[5] Alexander p. 55