The National Railway Museum is home to many significant locomotives and of course, not all of them are steam locomotives! It would be wrong to not include some of them in the series of blog posts that have been published in the past few weeks on the NRM! As ever I beg for forgiveness if I make any mistakes, as this isn’t, strictly speaking my area of expertise.
We start with a historically important machine – Southern Railway’s 1925 built suburban motor third brake 8143 (above). This is an early example of an Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU). In the modern day, the EMU is a vitally important type, moving thousands of commuters cleanly and quietly every day. When this unit was built, it was a relatively new technology being used in a time when steam dominated most of the UK’s railway network.
Our next locomotive (above and below) is also of elderly origins, despite it’s looks. Built in 1934, the LMS 7050 0-4-0D Drewry Car Co actually pre-dates the LNER A4 class of locomotives that were on display as part of the Great Gathering.
Moving back to electrics (below), but rather than of the third rail variety, this is an overhead type. The British Rail class 76 was an electric mixed traffic locomotive. The class has it’s origins in a 1941 LNER design by Sir Nigel Gresley, but was not used in the UK until the electrification of the Woodhead route in 1952 (this scheme was delayed by the #Second World War). The National Railway Museum’s example is the only survivor of this very successful class that would have lasted much longer if it wasn’t for the closure of the route it was designed to serve.
Our next locomotive to feature (below) is British Rail class 52 diesel hydraulic locomotive D1023 Western Fusilier. The Western region of British Railways developed a series of diesel hydraulic classes of locomotives, of which the class 52 was the most powerful. Diesel hydraulic technology in the UK was not successful in the long term, despite the advantage of it being relatively light-weight when compared with diesel electric locomotives. Politically, the technology was not seen as British enough, which didn’t help, nor did the transmissions being restricted to dealing with 1,500hp. The class 52 Western’s simply couldn’t match the performance of type 4 diesels and were withdrawn in the 1970’s.
Our next locomotive (below) is the first member of the class 40 to be built. A key part of British Railway’s modernisation plan of 1955, the 2000hp English Electric class 4 may not have out-performed the steam locomotive’s they were to replace at the extent expected, but they nevertheless proved to be operationally far more economic. Interestingly, despite being the first of a very important class, the National Railway Museum did not intend to save D200 when it was withdrawn in 1981. If it wasn’t for the staff of RAIL Enthusiast magazine who campaigned for it’s rescue, D200 could have been lost forever.
Our final locomotive is very different to the others featured here! Built in a country where train delays are measured in seconds rather than minutes; we have the Shinkansen Japanese Bullet Train. Withdrawn in 2000, this series 0 West Japan Rlys Shinkansen car is very impressive and was capable of running at speeds of 220kph (136.7mph). One of the things that really shocked me was that although this example was built in 1976, the class were first introduced in 1964 – four years after 92220 Evening Star was built (the UK’s final British Railways built steam locomotive!) Incredible!
To read about other exhibits to be found in the National Railway Museum during this visit in 2013, please click here.