Class 444 Desiro

The Class 444 (along with the very similar Class 450) was ordered for South West Trains to replace slam door stock on long-distance services running on the former Southern Region Western Section [1]. They mostly can be found on Waterloo to Weymouth and Portsmouth services.

Number built: 225 cars (45 5-car sets)
Built: 2003-04
Builder: Siemens Transportation
Engine: 1TB2016-0GB02 traction motors (750v DC third rail)
Power: 2, 682 hp (2, 000 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+Trailer Standard
Open (TSO)+TSO+Trailer Standard Buffet (TSRMB)+
Driving Motor Composite Open (DMCO)

The Class 444 differs from the 450 in being a 5-car set and with a low-density seating arrangement [2] to better suit longer journeys. Like the 450 the 444s are equipped with a pantograph well and could be converted in future to 25kV AC overhead line electric collection though there are no plans for any such conversion.

Like most new types the 444s had a few teething problems when entering service but quickly became very reliable units and indeed received the Golden Spanner award for being Britain's most reliable trains in 2010 [3]. They are now operated by SWT's successor South Western Railway.
SWT 444 003 at Clapham Junction

SWT 444 013 at Guildford

SWR 444 003 at Godalming

SWT 444 044 at Portsmouth Harbour

SWT 444 022 at Woking

SWR 444 005 at Milford
[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 344
[2] John Balmforth, South West Trains (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 66
[3] Siemens Desiro Class 444 wins award as most reliable train <>

Waggon und Maschinenbau Railbus

British Railways ordered five railbuses from Waggon und Maschinenbau, similar to railbuses then common on German Federal Railways, for loss-making branch lines. The hope being that the lower cost of running the railbus would allow the branch lines to break even and avoid closure. Seventeen other railbuses from four other manufacturers (though of a similar specification) were also bought. Along with the German engines used in Western Region diesel-hydraulic locomotives the W & M Railbuses were a rare foray by British Railways into employing overseas expertise [1] during modernisation from steam.

Number built: 5
Built: 1959
Builder: Waggon und Maschinenbau
Engine: Büssing 6-cyl horizontal diesel
later replaced by AEC 220X
Power: 150 hp (110 kW)

Waggon und Maschinenbau adapted a fairly standard Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB) design for British Railways needs. The railbuses had four wheels, ride being interesting on the often poor quality track they were later used on! The railbuses had a single sliding door on each side. One interesting feature was the cabs only occupied half the width of the cabin. Passengers could thus sit at the front next to the cab. Three of the railbuses had their original Büssing engines replaced by AEC diesels.

The Railbuses were used on branch lines in the London Midland and Eastern Regions [2] especially in East Anglia. They indeed were successful in reducing running costs but the branch lines they were used on were still losing money and closed. Due to the problem with spare parts for this small fleet and the closure of lines they could be used on the fleet was largely redundant by 1964 though continued in intermittent use until 1967 when they were withdrawn. Remarkably four of the five have survived into preservation.
E79960 arrives at Wirksworth

Another view of E79960

Cab view

E79960 at Ravenstor

Notice the cab only occupies half the front, passengers can occupy the other half

E79960 at Shottle

[1] Brian Haresnape, Diesel Multiple-Units: The First Generation (Ian Allan, 1985) p. 79
[2] Colin J Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 21

Class 73 (BR Eastleigh / English Electric 1,420/600hp Electro-Diesel)

Despite the fact that diesel locomotives often spend a fair amount of time operating along electrified routes it is unusual that British Rail only ever built two classes of electro-diesel locomotives that could operate both as electric or diesel locomotives, the Class 73 and 74. Both were operated by BR's Southern Region of which the Class 73 is the only survivor [1]. A number have been rebuilt and upgraded in the last few years so they look set to remain in service for a long time to come.

The Class 73 is an electric locomotive designed to work with SR's 660-750v DC third-rail system. It also has a small diesel engine for operating on non-electrified lines or if the power is off. They are highly versatile locomotives that have served on a whole range of traffic in Southern England, being true mixed traffic locomotives they could be found on passenger and freight services. Their numbers were steadily reduced in the privatisation era.

Number built: 49, 11 re-engineered
Built: 1962 1965-67, Re-engineering from 2013-16
Builder: BR Eastleigh / English Electric
Re-engineering by RVEL Derby & Brush Traction
Engine: English Electric 4SRKT Mk II diesel
EE542A or EE546/1B traction motors
Re-engineered examples with 2 Cummins QSK19 or 1 MTU V8 diesel
Power: 1, 420 hp (1, 059 kW) - Electric
600hp (447kW) - Original EE diesel
1, 500hp (1, 119 kW) - Cummins
1, 600hp (1, 194 kW) - MTU

In the last couple of years however there have been two separate re-engining efforts to create the rebuilt 73/9 sub-class [2] (at one stage it was considered creating a new Class 75 but would have cost more in administration and re-certification [3]). The work includes replacing the original EE diesel with a much more powerful motor and replacing worn electrical and mechanical components.

Eleven have been re-engineered to date in two phases. The "Phase 2" Class 73s with MTU diesels have had their third rail equipment removed [4]. As virtually "new" locomotives they will likely serve with Network Rail, GB Railfreight and Caledonian Sleeper for a long time to come (they are expected to last at least twenty-five years). A number have also been preserved.

Sub-class Details
73/0 Original prototype batch, originally to have been called the Class 72
73/1 Main production batch, higher power output and speed
73/2 Modified for Gatwick Express push-pull duties (coupled to the Class 488 and 489)
73/9 Re-engineered and upgraded examples

Network Rail 73 952 at Kidderminster SVR

GB Railfreight 73 963 and friend at Derby

Network Rail 73 951 at Derby

GB Railfreight 73 136 cab side view

73 952 cab side

GB Railfreight 73 136 at Kidderminster SVR

[1] Colin J. Marsden, Traction Recognition (2nd Edition) (Ian Allan, 2008) p. 82
[2] "Projects", RVEL <>
[3] "Re-engineered/tractioned 73s", WNXX Forum <>
[4] "Caledonian Class 73 contract nears end", Today's Railways UK, March 2016, p. 32

Docklands Light Railway B07 Stock

The third generation of Docklands Light Railway stock, known as the B07 Stock, was ordered for network extensions and to increase capacity on the Bank-Lewisham route. The initial order was for twenty-four twin sets though another thirty-one were added to the order to increase capacity in East London ahead of the London Olympics in 2012.

Number built: 55 twin cars
Built: 2009-10
Builder: Bombardier
Engine: Bombardier traction system (750v DC third rail bottom contact)
Power: 375 hp (280 kW)

The B07 was delivered betwen 2009 and 2010. They have a different front to earlier DLR stock like the B90 in having a slightly curved profile. They also have larger windows and improved interiors compared to older stock and improved acceleration and braking. The B07 introduced the modification to the DLR livery with a black front end [1], older stock has also now had this change.
#137 at South Quay

#155 at Canary Wharf

#136 at Heron Quays

Interior of #142 (B end)

#119 at All Saints

[1] Colin J. Marsden, Rail Guide 2016 (Ian Allan, 2016) p. 277

Class 159 Express Sprinter

The Class 159 is a sister class to the Class 158, indeed the twenty-two original sets were built as Class 158s but were converted at Babcock Rail for London Waterloo services to replace locomotive hauled trains to Exeter [1]. The conversion took place before their entry into traffic and the modifications included adding first class compartments and retention toilets. Eight more were converted from Class 158s in 2006-7 forming the 159/1 (the original 22 sets are 159/0).

Number built: 30 3-car sets
Built: 1989-93, 2006-7 (159/1)
Builder: BREL Derby / Babcock Rail (159/0)
BREL Derby / Wabtec Doncaster (159/1)
Engine: Cummins NTA855R per car
Power: 1, 200 hp (900 kW) - 159/0
1, 050 hp (780 kW) - 159/1
Formation: Driving Motor Composite Lavatory (DMCL)+Motor Standard
Lavatory (MSL)+Driving Motor Standard Lavatory (DMSL)

Originally operated by British Rail Network South East, later South West Trains they are now all operated by South Western Railway. They mostly operate on services from London Waterloo to Salisbury and Exeter as well as Bristol. In the past they have also worked services to the likes of Penzance, Southampton and Reading.

SWT 159 108 at Clapham Junction

SWT 159 005 at Clapham Junction

Another SWT 159 at Clapham Junction
[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 146

NER Petrol Electric Autocar

At the start of the twentieth century a number of experiments were made with railcars fuelled by light fuels such as kerocene and gasoline, the perfecting of the diesel engine put paid to these experiments. In 1903 the North Eastern Railway built two petrol electric railcars at it's York works.

Number built: 2
Built: 1903
Builder: NER York
Engine: Napier later Wolseley petrol engines
Power: 100 hp (76 kW)

The railcars (known as Autocars by the NER as they had cabs at each end) were the forerunners of the diesel electric multiple unit. The petrol engine being coupled to a Westinghouse generator which generated 60kW which fed a 50hp motor under each bogie [1].

They were put into use on the line between Scarborough and Filey. One of the Autocars was later fitted with a 225hp engine and could haul an unpowered trailer. They remained in service until 1930 and 1931. The coach body of one survived scrapping to become a holiday home and is currently undergoing restoration with a new chassis and powertrain.
Front of an Autocar, all images public domain from [1]

Wolseley engine and generator 
Inside the Autocar

Side view of the Autocar

[1] "Self-propelled Petrol Electric Railway Cars Operated by the North Eastern Railway Company of England", Street Railway Journal Vol XXIV No. 19 p. 842

Class 70 (Type 5 Diesel)

The Class 70 diesel locomotive (the original Class 70 was an early DC electric locomotive) is the most powerful freight diesel locomotive on British rails today with nearly 3,700hp to play with and the first General Electric traction built for the UK [1]. Over thirty have been bought by Freightliner and Colas Rail, they are used on intermodal and heavy haul freight services.

Number built: 37
Built: 2008-14, 2017
Builder: General Electric
Engine: GE PowerHaul P616 diesel
Power: 3, 690 hp (2, 750 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Co-Co

The Class 70 had a troublesome entry into service with a very poor availability rate in its early days on British metals and a number of fires. One locomotive (70 012) was very bad damaged during a mishap during unloading from a cargo ship at Newport Docks and had to be returned to the US [2]. Nowadays the locomotives are much more reliable.

The original twenty Freightliner locomotives are known as the 70/0 with the ten Colas Rail locomotives 70/8. Seven more Class 70s were later ordered for Colas for delivery in 2017.
Freightliner 70 003 at Stafford

Colas 70 807 at Leamington Spa (with a Class 66)

Freightliner 70 020 at Stafford

Freightliner 70 015 at Olton

Freightliner 70 014 and 004 double head through Leamington Spa

Unidentified Freightliner 70 at Lapworth

[1] Colin J Marsden, Diesel & Electric Locomotive Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 202
[2] Pip Dunn, British Rail Main Line Locomotive Specification Guide (Crowood Press, 2013) p. 143