Class 73s into Privatisation
Class 73s Into Privatisation
73119, 73109 & 73006 at Eastleigh Works - Photo by Simon Bendall
Throughout the privatisation era, the ownership of the Class 73s has varied considerably with an assortment of companies acquiring fleets and then disposing of them. This is amply illustrated by this view of 73119, 73109 Battle of Britain 50th Anniversary and 73006 at the Eastleigh Works open day on 23rd May 2009. At this time, 73119 was owned by Knights Rail Services for use as a shunter at the works while 73109 belonged to South West Trains but would be sold off at the end of that year. Meanwhile, 73006 was a preserved machine in the care of the Dean Forest Diesel Association. Today, all three are owned by GB Railfreight with the 73/0 rebuilt as 73967.
With the commencement of the privatisation process from 1st April 1994, the Class 73 fleet stood at 45 strong, although 73004 and 73111 both also still existed as withdrawn spares donors that were later scrapped. From this date, the loco fleet was divided up amongst the embryonic train operating units and the regional freight organisations as follows:
|Gatwick Express||73112, 73201 to 212 & 73235|
|Merseyrail||73001, 002, 005 & 006|
|Trainload Freight South East||73003, 73101, 103 to 108, 110, 114, 117 to 119, 126, 128 to 134, 136 & 139 to 141|
Taking the Merseyrail examples first, the quartet began this new era in operational condition but 73002 was stored in November 1995, becoming a spares donor for is three sisters. At the same time, the class leader was renumbered as 73901 with 73006 also taking up a Class 73/9 classification 11 months later as 73906.
This renumbering reflected various modifications made to the two Merseyrail-liveried locos, namely for sandite use and exhaust alterations for diesel working in the Merseyrail tunnels. The sandite duties involved powering two ex Class 501 EMU cars in an unusual formation that saw a 73 sandwiched between two of the vehicles. During 1996, 73005 lost its faded Network SouthEast plain blue livery for a coat of blue with Merseyrail ‘M’ logos. As the decade wore on, the locos saw increasingly little use and were finally stored in 2000, all four being sold into preservation at the Dean Forest Railway during the autumn of 2002, where the first two still reside.
From October 1994, the three regional freight organisations became separate companies that were able to compete against each other. As part of this, each chose a new identity and livery with Trainload Freight South East becoming Mainline Freight. The striking blue livery was almost immediately applied to 73114 but it was not until the start of 1996 that 73133 and 73136 were also repainted, just before the company ceased to be.
73114 & 73107 at Ham Street - Photo by Anthony Kay
One of the long-standing strengths of the Class 73s has been their ability to work in multiple with many Southern EMU and DEMU classes, creating a highly flexible formation. This capability was in use on 2nd May 1995 when a shortage of serviceable Thumpers saw a 4-CEP deployed on the non-electrified Marshlink route. Motive power was provided by 73114 Stewarts Lane Traction Maintenance Depot and 73107 Redhill 1844-1994 running in ‘top and tail’ formation. Painted some six months earlier, Mainline Freight-liveried 73114 still looks fresh as it heads the 16.22 Ashford-Hastings at Ham Street.
Under Mainline’s two year tenure, the Class 73s operated much as before across the former Southern Region, undertaking infrastructure duties and charter trains in particular. However, there was also an increased use on revenue freight and Rail Express Systems duties. One loco that did not last the course though was BR green-liveried 73003, the now non-standard JA being stored in the summer of 1995 prior to withdrawal the following year and sale into preservation.
European Passenger Services
As part of the locomotive fleet created to support Eurostar operations, 73118 and 73130 were transferred from Mainline Freight to European Passenger Services during mid 1994. To give compatibility with the Class 373s, both were modified with disfiguring Scharfenberg couplers that same year and received the EPS two-tone grey livery.
73118 & 73130 at North Pole - Photo by Gareth Bayer
The modifications needed to fit the Scharfenberg couplers to the two EDs were extensive, the bufferbeams requiring much alteration to support the equipment. Looking far from elegant, 73118 and 73130 stand at North Pole depot on 28th August 2001, this being their usual resting spot. Notably, 73130 is sporting clean flashguards on its bogie.
Based at North Pole, the duo were originally intended for standby and rescue duties. However, following the unexpected availability of the Class 37/6s following the cancellation of the Nightstar sleeper services, the EDs spent much of their EPS (and subsequently Eurostar after company restructuring) career under-employed.
With expenditure on new wheelsets required to keep them in main line condition not forthcoming, both were placed on long-term loan, 73118 moving to the Barry Island Railway in November 2007 and 73130 to Finmere station in Buckinghamshire two years later. At least 73130 has since been sold off to its preservation caretakers while 73118 has in recent years come under the Transmart Trains banner.
As early as October 1993, Gatwick Express became a shadow franchise in the run up to privatisation. No time was wasted in adopting a new identity with 1994 seeing the InterCity Swallow livery on the Class 73/2s and Class 488/489 stock amended to feature a narrow claret stripe along with a new flag logo. By the end of the same year, 73205 had returned to the fold from its test train duties while 73213 (the former 73112) was resurrected from store and added to the fleet in mid 1996.
73201 at Clapham Junction - Photo by Gareth Bayer
The modernisation of the Gatwick Express services was already well underway when a de-named 73201 was captured at Clapham Junction heading a down service to the airport on 17th June 2002. However, the sub-class leader still had another three years of use ahead of it before being released.
From April 1996, National Express took on the franchise, a condition of this award being the investment in new rolling stock, which ultimately took the form of the Alstom-built Class 460 Junipers. These EMUs began to enter service in 2000, allowing the first Class 73s to be removed from service, but considerable reliability problems with them meant it was not until late 2005 that the venerable push-pull sets were finally displaced. An official final working occurred on July 28 but sporadic outings with the last surviving loco, 73202, continued until late autumn. 13 of the locos were returned off lease to Porterbrook, which disposed of them thus:
|Number||Finished on Gatwick Express||Initial Disposal Details|
|73201||June 2005||Leased to South West Trains|
|73202||-||Retained by Gatwick Express|
|73203||May 2001||Sold to GB Railways, stored at MoD Shoeburyness|
|73208||October 2005||Sold to GB Railfreight|
|73209||May 2001||Sold to GB Railways, stored at MoD Shoeburyness|
|73210||September 2002||Preserved at Stewarts Lane, later to Mid Norfolk Railway after restoration|
|73211||July 2002||Spares donor at Stewarts Lane, later sold to Class 73 Locomotive Preservation Group|
|73212||October 2000||Sold to GB Railways, resold to Railtrack|
|73213||May 2001||Sold to GB Railways, resold to Railtrack|
|73235||June 2003||Sold to South West Trains|
73202 at Eastleigh Works - Photo from Barham Collection
Carrying its unmistakable Juniper-based Gatwick Express livery, 73202 Dave Berry is seen on accommodation stands at Eastleigh Works during the autumn of 2011, its bogies having been removed to receive new wheelsets. The door indicator light added to the bodyside can be seen between the first window and the Gatwick lettering.
Prior to the end of the loco-hauled Gatwick Express services, 73202 received some modifications to work with the Class 460s. This included the installation of an orange light on each bodyside to indicator door release when coupled to one of the EMUs. While its sisters went on their way, 73202 was retained by the franchise to act as a ‘Thunderbird’ rescue loco, it going on to receive the white, red and grey Gatwick Express livery carried by the Junipers in July 2008. With the merger of the airport services into Southern, the ED eventually received the company’s green and white livery in December 2013, the indicator lights being removed earlier the same year. Today, 73202 remains with the franchise, albeit rarely used.
73202 at Brighton - Photo by Geoff Plumb
As part of the Branch Line Society’s ‘Southern Class 442 Farewell Tour’ on 12th March 2017, 73202 was involved in hauling 442402 on a mini-tour from Brighton to nearby Preston Park and Hove Yard before returning to the terminus. Little used in recent years, the ED is seen arriving at Brighton to couple up to the EMU. Now named Graham Stenning, the background colour of the nameplates has recently been changed from red to Southern’s light green.
South West Trains
With the break-up of the BR fleet in 1994, the South Western train operating unit was assigned a solitary ED in the form of 73109. Allocated to Bournemouth, the loco was primarily intended for standby and empty stock moves but passenger workings were by no means uncommon in these early years of privatisation. The franchise was taken on by Stagecoach from February 1996 under the brand of South West Trains with 73109 continuing in its role, this including an early application of the company’s colours.
73109 at Southampton - Photo by Martin Loader
In matching South West Trains colours, 73109 Battle of Britain 50th Anniversary heads 4-VEP 3425 through Southampton on 2nd December 1998 on an empty stock move to Bournemouth. The colours particularly suited the ED, it often being found stabled at Woking where much of the SWT patch could be quickly reached.
During May 2004, 73235 was acquired from Porterbrook to act as a second ‘Thunderbird’ loco, SWT deeming it prudent to have more locos available as the traditional EMU fleet was ousted by the Desiros. The loco had been out of use since June 2003 after partly derailing at 75mph on a track defect near Redhill while propelling a Gatwick Express service, causing damage to the bogie that neither Gatwick Express nor Porterbrook were willing to pay to repair. Following stints on repair at Eastleigh Works and St. Leonards, 73235 was repainted at Wimbledon in February 2005, gaining the blue Desiro livery, before entering traffic.
73109 at Eastleigh Works - Photo by Simon Bendall
The Desiro-derived livery given to South West Trains’ three EDs was undoubtedly striking and colourful. The locos were initially intended for ‘Thunderbird’ duties but later became rather redundant as the new Siemens-built EMUs bedded in. 73109 Battle of Britain 50th Anniversary basks in the sun at Eastleigh Works on 21st May 2009 as exhibits arrived for the open day two days later.
Another Gatwick Express refugee was taken on lease by SWT in the early summer of 2005, 73201 gaining the blue livery at the same time, while 73109 was similarly treated to a repaint shortly beforehand. In the next couple of years, the trio remained rather under-utilised, a fact that was recognised in January 2008 as 73201 was returned to Porterbrook and placed in store at Long Marston. 73109 was similarly sold off in December 2009, leaving 73235 on the books as depot shunter at Bournemouth. No longer passed to work on the main line, the ED still resides at the depot today for use by South Western Railway, it having gained a plain dark blue livery last year.
English Welsh & Scottish Railway
The acquisition of the three regional freight companies by Wisconsin Central in February 1996 gave the newly formed EWS ownership of the former Mainline Freight Class 73s, the fleet now standing at 23 strong. By the end of that year, 73128 and 73131 had both received maroon and gold at Stewarts Lane, complete with the original EW&S lettering and no ‘besties’ logos, but in the event, they would be the only EDs to be so painted. Around 2000, 73131 was given a fresh application of the livery, this seeing the lettering updated to EWS and the company logo applied to the secondman’s cabsides.
73131 & 73136 at Willesden Junction - Photo by Anthony Kay
A popular train with photographers throughout the early years of EWS was the Willesden PRDC-Dover Travelling Post Office, this being worked by ‘top and tail’ Class 73s. On 17th March 2003, 73131 with its revised EWS livery leads the 1O90 working to Dover through Willesden Junction with Mainline Freight blue 73136 Kent Youth Music just visible on the rear.
Under American ownership, the divide between revenue and infrastructure fleets disappeared completely with the EDs expected to undertake all manner of freight work across the south east, including heavy aggregates duties that they were not necessarily suited to. Also in the mix were Royal Mail workings, charter outings, test trains and unscheduled appearances on Virgin Cross Country services, these all mounting up to give the Class 73s their most diverse and colourful workload for years.
During mid 1997, Mainline blue-liveried 73133 was converted for route learning duties at Stewarts Lane, this involving a number of modifications.
- both the headcode blinds and headlights were removed
- new vertically-mounted light clusters were installed
- a windscreen wiper was added to what was now a centre window
- the cab front lamp irons were reduced to one, which was repositioned
- a third pivoting seat was installed in each cab, which came from withdrawn Class 08s
73133 & 73106 at Eastleigh - Photo by Martin Loader
The route learning modifications made to 73133 The Bluebell Railway are clear to see as it heads 73106, still in Departmental Grey, through Eastleigh on 25th June 1999. Entirely typical of the revenue duties the class was expected to perform under EWS, the empty china clay slurry tanks had just departed the yard on the 6Y26 08.28 trip working to Quidhampton.
Like EWS’ other inherited classes, the Class 73s were on borrowed time and examples began to be stored in 1998/99, these typically including those long overdue for major attention. During 2001, plans were put together for a major overhaul programme, this going so far as seeing 73108 and 73136 sent to Brush Traction, but ultimately the project was abandoned with no work undertaken. More EDs were sidelined throughout 2002/03 until just 73136 was left, this being simply switched off in the first week of January 2004. There then followed a sales bonanza as the best examples of the fleet followed their classmates onto sales tenders, many finding new owners.
|Number||Final Livery||Stored||Initial Disposal Details|
|73101||Pullman||May 2002||Sold to Booths, resold for preservation at Dean Forest Railway|
|73103||InterCity Executive||January 1999||Sold to Fragonset, to Meldon Quarry|
|73104||InterCity Executive||April 1999||Sold to Fragonset, initially to Carnforth, then Mid Hants Railway|
|73105||CE 'Dutch'||March 2000||Sold to Fragonset, initially to Peak Rail, then Battlefield Line|
|73106||Departmental Grey||February 2000||Scrapped Booths 09.04|
|73107||CE 'Dutch'||November 1999||Sold to Fragonset, initially to Peak Rail, then Derby RTC|
|73108||CE 'Dutch'||January 2002||Scrapped Booths 09.04|
|73110||CE 'Dutch'||May 2002||Sold to Booths, resold for preservation at Churnet Valley Railway|
|73114||Mainline Freight||January 1999||Sold to Fragonset, initially to Peak Rail, then Battlefield Line|
|73117||InterCity Executive||January 1999||Sold to Fragonset, to Meldon Quarry|
|73119||CE 'Dutch'||January 1999||Preserved at Barrow Hill, then to Keith & Dufftown Railway|
|73126||Network SouthEast||March 1996||Sold to Cotswold Rail, to Fire Service College. Scrapped Booths 08.09|
|73128||EW&S||February 2002||Sold to Booths, resold for preservation at Chasewater Railway|
|73129||Network SouthEast||June 2002||Sold to Booths, resold for preservation, to MoD Ashchurch, later to Gloucestershire - Warwickshire Railway|
|73131||EWS||September 2003||Scrapped Booths 08.04|
|73132||InterCity Executive||November 1998||To Wigan CDRC, later sold to Fragonset. Scrapped Ron Hull 07.06|
|73133||Mainline Freight||December 2003||Sold to Booths, resold and moved to Barry Island Railway|
|73134||InterCity Executive||April 1999||Sold to Fragonset, to Meldon Quarry|
|73136||Mainline Freight||January 2004||Sold to Booths, resold for preservation at Kent & East Sussex Railway|
|73138||CE 'Dutch'||October 1999||Preserved at Barrow Hill, then to Long Marston|
|73139||InterCity Executive||March 1999||Sold to Fragonset, initially to Carnforth, then Mid Hants Railway|
|73140||InterCity Executive||November 1998||Preserved at Lavender Line|
|73141||InterCity Executive||March 1999||Sold to HNRC, resold to Network Rail|
Railtrack / Network Rail
October 2000 saw Railtrack acquire 73212, this being the first loco to be released by Gatwick Express. Proposed for use on Merseyrail sandite operations, it was taken to Fragonset at Derby to be prepared during the first half of 2001, emerging that June in Railtrack’s blue and lime green livery. During late 2001, 73213 was similarly acquired from store at MoD Shoeburyness and eventually prepared for use in the autumn of 2002, it too receiving Railtrack colours.
73212 at Tonbridge West Yard - Photo by Gareth Bayer
Both of the Railtrack-liveried Class 73s proved to be rather under-utilised during the first half of the 2000s. This situation improved from the spring of 2005 with the locos going on hire to GB Railfreight, to which they were eventually sold. On 1st May that year, 73212 rests at Tonbridge West Yard in the company of Fragonset pair 33202 and 73107 with 73213 beyond. While the ‘heart of the railway’ branding is still in place, the Railtrack lettering that was previously above the large bodyside grille had disappeared some time earlier following the emergence of Network Rail.
In the event, the Merseyrail deployment never occurred while the pair’s initial use was rather limited, spending much of 2003/04 at MoD Ludgershall. This changed from March 2005 when both locos were placed on hire to GB Railfreight for infrastructure work, although much of their time was still spent stabled in Tonbridge West Yard. Despite this under-employment, 73141 was also acquired by the now rebranded Network Rail in the spring of 2003, this having resided in HNRC ownership at the Battlefield Line. Still in InterCity colours, it too did little of note between 2003-07 apart from warm sidings at various locations.
During the autumn of 2005, 73212 and 73213 both received Network Rail yellow, again returning to Tonbridge for use on infrastructure duties as required. They were joined by a similarly liveried 73141 from August 2008 following a lengthy overhaul at Eastleigh Works. However, their lack of purpose was eventually recognised, all three being sold to GB Railfreight in June 2009.
73138 at Tring - Photo by Simon Bendall
Network Rail’s 73138 was captured in the unlikely surroundings of Tring on 11th October 2013 after the loco had failed the previous evening while running light from Derby to Dollands Moor. It remained in one of the track machine sidings for a further five days until a travelling fitter attended to the cause of the failure. The cab front camera and additional lights were only fitted at this No.2 end, the other end featuring connections to the test coaches.
Network Rail was not done with the class though as 73138 was acquired from the AC Locomotive Group in April 2010 in a swap deal for 86424. Retrieved from Long Marston, it spent the next four months being modified for its new role as motive power for test trains. As well as a coat of yellow, this including fitting a thermal imaging camera at one end in place of the headcode display along with additional lights. In this form, the loco was in regular employment on both the Southern and much further afield until the spring of 2016. Increasingly beset by reliability issues, 73138 was finally laid up a year later and now awaits disposal at Derby.
Amongst Fragonset’s various Class 73s, only 73107 managed to achieve a meaningful comeback for the company. Overhauled during 2004, it was outshopped in a striking all black livery with maroon lettering that September. During the next two years, it saw use on a variety of charters and spot hire duties but the collapse of successor FM Rail in January 2007 saw it side-lined awaiting a buyer.
73107 at Tonbridge West Yard - Photo by Gareth Bayer
Of the various Class 73s that came under the Fragonset banner, only 73107 Spitfire saw main line use with the company. Finished in a revised plain black livery, it was used on an ad-hoc basis during 2005/06 before FM Rail went into administration. Surrounded by colourful classmates, the ED is seen at Tonbridge West Yard on 1st May 2005.
Meanwhile, the other EDs under the Fragonset umbrella, 73103/104/105/114/117/134/139, were divided up during 2007 amongst the two companies that rose from its ashes in the form of Nemesis Rail and Mainline Rail. After more time in store at various locations, all bar 73114 were eventually sold off to RVEL or GB Railfreight, the odd loco out being operational at the Battlefield Line.
Still relatively unknown, this organisation began life as the Class 73 Locomotive Preservation Company, it acquiring 73136 from EWS in 2004. Initially moved to the Kent & East Sussex Railway, restoration to main line standards took place at Stewarts Lane during 2004/05, this culminating in the loco emerging in a reapplication of the original BR blue livery. It soon found employment on a variety of charter and other ad-hoc workings during the late 2000s but also saw some use on hire to GB Railfreight, including occasional deployment on infrastructure work.
73136 & 73210 at Hardingham - Photo by Gareth Bayer
The EDs look as good as the weather on 27th September 2008 as 73136 Perseverance and 73210 Selhurst roll through Hardingham on the Mid Norfolk Railway with the 13.00 Dereham-Wymondham Abbey during the line’s English Electric gala. Both were a credit to the restoration team that carried out the work on the locos at Stewarts Lane prior to the 73/2 moving into preservation at the line, although today it is based at the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.
During 2010, the company was rebranded as Transmart Trains with further Class 73s coming under its wing. These included the aforementioned 73118 at Barry, spares donor 73211 at Stewarts Lane and 73133, which was based at Taunton Fairwater Yard between 2007 and 2009 for use as a shunter for a High Output Ballast Cleaner train but in the event little used. Subsequently overhauled at Selhurst in 2010, which included a repaint into Transmart’s green livery, 73133 was placed on hire to South West Trains at Bournemouth in May 2013 to support 73235. This role continued until October 2017 when the franchise change saw the hire end with 73133 being removed to Eastleigh Works, where it now sees use as a shunter.
73107 & 73205 at Battledown Flyover - Photo by Simon Howard
Resplendent in Transmart Trains’ green livery, 73136 Perseverance leads GB Railfreight’s 73205 Jeanette past Battledown Flyover on 4th May 2011 while running light from Stewarts Lane to Eastleigh. The latter ED had just been repainted into InterCity Executive colours at St. Leonards.
Following its acquisition from South West Trains in late 2009, 73109 also became part of the Transmart fleet but was left in SWT colours with the company name blanked out. From 2010 until early 2013, it saw action on various main line workings, the latter half of this period bringing use with GB Railfreight alongside 73136, which had been painted into Transmart green in 2010.
RT Rail / 20189 Ltd
With the demise of FM Rail, 73107 was acquired by RT Rail in early 2007, it losing its black livery for a coat of two-tone grey during that summer. It was joined in the autumn of 2008 by 73201, this being extracted from store at Long Marston and repainted in BR blue with grey roof by May 2009. In this form, both locos saw considerable main line use, 73201 with GB Railfreight and 73107 on Network Rail test trains, the latter being a near constant companion to 73138 during the first half of the 2010s.
73107 at Alton - Photo by Simon Howard
Finished in RT Rail’s two-tone grey livery, 73107 Redhill 1844-1994 arrives at Alton on 21st October 2010 with the 1Q12 09.00 Selhurst to Selhurst test train. With 73138 just visible on the rear, the train had been routed via Streatham and Surbiton and would later visit Ascot, Guildford and Woking.
In May 2013, 73109 was added to the fleet after its sale by Transmart Trains, it immediately joining 73107 on test train duties. During that summer, it lost its South West Trains livery for a coat of light blue, giving the ED a very similar look to that of 73005 in its Network SouthEast plain blue of the late 1980s/early 1990s. Then in April 2014, 73128 was acquired from the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway, it returning to the main line six months later after overhaul and a repaint into two-tone grey, again on hire to GBRf.
73109 at Eastleigh - Photo by Simon Bendall
Although a GBRf machine at the time of this photo, 73109 displays the light blue livery applied the previous year when owned by 20189 Ltd. The stabling point alongside Eastleigh station is the location on 19th April 2014, the loco being paired up with large logo blue 73207 on this occasion.
Knights Rail Services
During 2008, 73119 was brought from preservation by Knights Rail Services to act as a shunter at the revitalised Eastleigh Works. The BR blue electro-diesel was delivered to the Hampshire workshops in January 2009, seeing considerable use over the next 18 months.
The association of GB Railfreight with the Class 73s began in the first half of 2001 when parent company GB Railways snapped up a large chunk of the redundant Gatwick Express fleet. This included 73203-207 and 73209, which were moved into store at MoD Shoeburyness along with some of the Class 488/489 sets, with a view to using them on new passenger services.
When these plans were ultimately abandoned, the locos became available for the company’s freight division, July 2003 seeing the six EDs moved to Norwich Crown Point for assessment. February 2004 saw 73204, 73205, 73206 and 73209 moved on to Derby for overhaul and reinstatement for use on Southern infrastructure duties while 73203 and 73207 were taken to Peterborough to be held in reserve. Little time was wasted in preparing the quartet with all ready for use by that October.
73209 at Merehead - Photo by Simon Bendall
Four years into its new career with GB Railfreight, one of the company’s original foursome, 73209 Alison, is pictured at Merehead in the company of 66731 on 22nd June 2008, this being the occasion of the Mendip Rail open day.
The operational fleet was further expanded during the autumn of 2005 with the acquisition of 73208 from Gatwick Express, although it was the following summer before the now BR blue loco was ready for traffic. Next to be reactivated was 73207, this emerging from St. Leonards in the spring of 2009 and finished in BR large logo blue. The latter was initially deployed as a ‘super shunter’ at March Whitemoor Yard for 12 months until it caught fire in March 2010. Following repairs, 73207 was bumped up to full main line use that summer, replacing the poorly 73209. Unfortunately, 73203 did not get a second career with GBRf, it seeing extensive parts recovery before going for scrap in May 2010, it being the only Class 73/2 to have been disposed of thus far.
|73204||GBRf blue/ orange||July 2004||Janice||Rebuilt as 73962|
|73205||GBRf blue/ orange||Aprl 2004||Jeanette||InterCity Executive repaint 04.11, rebuilt as 73964|
|73206||GBRf blue/ orange||September 2004||Lisa||Rebuilt as 73963|
|73207||BR large logo blue||March 2009||-||Rebuilt as 73971|
|73208||BR standard blue||August 2006||Kristen||Rebuilt as 73965|
|73209||GBRf blue/ orange||August 2004||Alison||Rebuilt as 73961|
From the summer of 2009, GB Railfreight commenced a policy of expanding its Class 73 fleet at pretty much every opportunity, this still being the case in 2018. During this period, it has purchased EDs from Network Rail, Knights Rail Services, Transmart Trains, 20189 Ltd, Nemesis Rail, Loram and preservationists.
|Number||Acquired From||Livery Upon Acquisition||Into Traffic||Repaint Dates||Notes|
|73005||Dean Forest Diesel Association, 05.14||Original style blue||-||-||Rebuilt as 73966|
|73006||Dean Forest Diesel Association, 05.14||BR blue||-||-||Rebuilt as 73967|
|73101||Loram, 07.18||Pullman||-||-||Stored at Eastleigh|
|73103||Nemesis Rail, 08.14||InterCity Executive||-||-||Rebuilt as 73970|
|73105||Nemesis Rail, 08.14||CE 'Dutch'||-||-||Rebuilt as 73969|
|73107||20189 Ltd, 02.14||Two-tone grey||02.14||GBRf blue/ orange, 07.15||-|
|73109||20189 Ltd, 11.13||Plain light blue||12.13||GBRf blue/ orange, 08.15||-|
|73110||English Electric Preservation, 09.17||Original style blue||-||-||Stored at Eastleigh|
|73117||Nemesis Rail, 08.14||BR blue||-||-||Rebuilt as 73968|
|73119||Knights Rail Services, 09.11||BR blue||06.12||GBRf blue/ orange, 08.15||-|
|73128||20189 Ltd, 04.15||Two-tone grey||04.15||GBRf blue/ orange, 12.15||-|
|73134||Nemesis Rail, 04.15||InterCity Executive||-||-||Stored at Brush Traction|
|73136||Transmart Trains, 05.13||Transmart green||08.13||GBRf blue/ orange, 08.13||-|
|73139||Loram, 07.18||Loram grey/ blue||-||-||Stored at Eastleigh|
|73141||Network Rail, 06.09||Network Rail yellow||07.09||
First GBRf 'barbie', 06.09
GBRf blue/ orange, 09.13
|73201||20189 Ltd, 02.14||BR blue with grey roof||02.14||BR blue w/ GBRf logos, 05.17||-|
|73212||Network Rail, 06.09||Network Rail yellow||06.09||
First GBRf 'barbie', 04.10
GBRf blue/ orange, 08.13
|73213||Network Rail, 06.09||Network Rail yellow||10.09||
First GBRf 'barbie', 09.09
GBRf blue/ orange, 08.13
73141 & 66732 at Minehead - Photo by Simon Bendall
The three Class 73s acquired from Network Rail in June 2009 all received the First GBRf livery, the only members of the class to do so. On 11th July that year, the freight operator marked its 10th anniversary with a special train to Minehead where 66732 and 73141 were both named, the ED being christened Charlotte. Pictured in conditions typical of a summer day by the seaside, 73141 displays the large cabside numbers it originally carried, these later being replaced by smaller versions. With the sale of GBRf to Europorte a year later, the First logos were soon stripped away on the trio as were the pink stripes on 73212. It was 2012 though before the stripes were completely removed from all three locos, leaving them in plain dark blue for a time.
In the past few years, the serviceable 73/1 and 73/2 fleet has become rather seasonable in its usage, seeing daily employment during the autumn on Railhead Treatment Trains and through the winter on Snow and Ice Treatment Trains. Then during the spring and summer, the locos are generally laid up at Tonbridge West Yard, only seeing occasion use as needed. This policy is aimed at prolonging their lives at a time when spares are increasingly difficult to source, hence the recent acquisition of the three EDs now stored at Eastleigh.
73212 at Tonbridge West Yard - Photo by Simon Bendall
In the dying days of the 2014 Railhead Treatment Train season, 73212 Fiona stands in the then recently opened servicing area at Tonbridge West Yard on 12th December. Having been replenished with water, the RHTT’s generator set is now undergoing attention prior to the formation, with 73136 at the other end, heading out again later that day.
While rumours continue to surface every so often of more MTU rebuilds happening, these look to depend on the award of new Network Rail infrastructure contracts from next year, at least as far as the Southern-based locos are concerned. Equally, there are suggestions of more conversions being authorised for use in Scotland on Caledonian Sleeper duties to increase the resilience of the small fleet, which may well feature an improved specification. Time will tell but GBRf certainly now has no shortage of donors at its disposal.
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Dapol OO Class 73
We currently stock a range of the popular Dapol OO model of the class with 73/0, 73/1 and 73/2 variants all available. Seven models are currently part of our Sale of the Century, discounted heavily from their original RRP, with prices starting from just £84!
Also available on pre-order are some new variants of the model in BR green, NSE, South West Trains, Southern, EWS, Network Rail and Fragonset liveries.
Explore all Class 73s, HERE.
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