A history of the class 47/7s

Article written by Ian Crowder in 2006

The Class 47/7 subclass was originally for the designated former Scottish push-pull Class 47 locos, but later saw the addition of the push-pull RES fleet for working mail trains.


The original 47/7 subclass (No.s 47701-47712) were converted from twelve Class 47/4s (standard Class 47s but fitted with electric train heating equipment) by BREL between 1979-1980 at Crewe works. These locos were modified with push-pull working to operate with Mk.III coaches and DBSO vehicles between Edinburgh and Glasgow . Long range fuel tanks were also fitted resulting in a greater mileage availability between refuelling. With a higher top speed of 100mph, they were destined to replace the 'top n tailed' Class 27s (as mentioned in an earlier article) by reducing the time between these two principal stations. By 1985 the push-pull service had spread from Glasgow to Aberdeen resulting in a further four locomotives being modified for the service, becoming 47713-47716 (although one more loco was later converted - becoming 47717 to replace fire-damaged 47713 in 1988).

Originally outshopped in rail blue livery (with the exception of 47711 and 47712 which also has wrap-round yellow and large logo), the whole fleet was later painted into two tone grey/blue strips Scotrail livery, being branded Scotrail at sectorisation in the early 1990s.

47/7 train47701


47701 started life as two-tone green D1932 emerging from Brush Falcon Works and accepted into BR traffic on the 24th February 1966 being allocated to Bristol Bath Road. In May 1974 the loco was fitted with ETH and renumbered to 47493, being re-allocated to Landore depot in Swansea. After spending a few weeks between Landore and Bristol, 47493 migrated north and was allocated to Haymarket depot, Edinburgh in June 1977. Works attention and conversion to 47701 came in January 1979 after which the loco was utilised on the Glasgow-Edinburgh/Aberdeen push pull services until November 1990 when Class 158 'Sprinters' took over the routes.


47701 made its way down to Old Oak Common in west London and allocated to the Network SouthEast passenger sector hauling trains in the area, notably on the Waterloo - Exeter line replacing the Class 50s. In 1993 the loco became a parcels department (RES) locomotive based at Crewe and was later sold to Pete Waterman.

Withdrawal came in 1997 where the loco was bought by a private individual and hired to Fragonset - a spot-hire company who sub-leased the loco to anyone who required it. The loco last saw  use in 2003, unable to continue in front line operation as it was not fitted with the required TPWS safety systems. In December 2003, 47701 was transferred to MoD Ludgershall in advance of the demise of Fragonset in 2004. More recently, the loco was transferred to Long Marston where it is used as an internal shunter and to provide train heat to the stored coaches on site.


The last known passenger working of 47701 was on the 18th of October 2003 when it was  top 'n' tailed with 47854 and hauled parts of a West Coast Railways charter from Lancaster to Edinburgh.


Throughout its life, 47701 has carried three different names:

  • The name Saint Andrew was applied in January 1979 at Haymarket starting a tradition of naming all the Scotrail push-pull Class 47s with Scottish associated names. On the 30th of November, the Saltair Cross coat of amrs was fitted above the nameplate and unveiled at Edinburgh Waverley by Lord Wemyss. The Saint Andrew name was later carried by 47624.
  • At the Old Oak Common open day on the 18th August 1991, 47701 was christened Old Oak Common Traction & Rolling Stock Depot by Chris Green (NSE director) and John Poole (Production Manager at Old Oak). This name was carried by 47701 until June 1993.
  • Finally, the name Waverley was applied at Crewe International Electric depot on the 3rd May 1997 during their open day in a joint naming by the owner and Murray Brown, the editor of Rail Express magazine. Interestingly the name Waverley was previously carried by 47708 but were applied to 47701 as the owner couldn't purchase 47708 as it was cut up in August 1995!


Liveries carried by this loco include two-tone green (with both small yellow panels and later with full yellow ends), BR Blue (standard, then later with a grey roof), Scotrail, Network SouthEast (revised variant), Rail Express Systems (RES) and is currently in the Fragonset black/red-stripe livery.


For information, the RES locomotives were converted in the 1990s from further 47/4 locomotives and again fitted with long range fuel tanks but with a not-so-similar 'push-pull' modifications... These locomotives were fitted with a system known as Propelling Advisory Control System (PACS) and could work with ex-Class 307 propelling control vehicles (PCVs) which were employed on the travelling post office trains. A second driver was required for the 'push-pull' working; the second driver (in the PCV) would open a power handle, which would send an electronic signal through the RCH cables to the PACS display in the cab of the locomotive. The driver on the 47/7 locomotive would then react to whatever demand for power was asked for, this being either 'on', 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 or full power, i.e. the PACS system did not allow remote operation of the 47/7 from the PCV. The driver leading in the PCV was responsible for all braking. This mode of operation was only allowed at certain terminals, yards and stations and was subject to a maximum speed of 40mph. These locomotives were numbered in the 47/7 series but from 47721 to 47793 and not to be confused with the original batch of 47/7s!


There have only been a limited number of workings of the original (ex-Scottish) 47/7s working on preserved railways in recent years, including:


  • Last year 47703 worked a farewell trip on the Wensleydale Railway after it was sold by Cotswold Rail and expected to be scrapped.
  • 47705 worked at the East Lancs. Railway in June 1996.
  • 47712 appeared at the Severn Valley Railway diesel gala in 2005.
  • 47715 is expected to work trains on the Wensleydale line later this year and has also operated on brake van rides at the NRM a few years ago.
  • 47716 used to work trains on the Dartmoor Railway.




Original BR number

  • D1932
  • D1947
  • D1960
  • D1937
  • D1957
  • D1936
  • D1949
  • D1968
  • D1942
  • D1939
  • D1941
  • D1948
  • D1954
  • D1955
  • D1945
  • D1951
  • D1940

Class 47/4 number

  • 47493
  • 47504
  • 47514
  • 47495
  • 47554
  • 47494
  • 47506
  • 47516
  • 47499
  • 47496
  • 47498
  • 47505
  • 47510
  • 47511
  • 47502
  • 47507
  • 47497

Class 47/7 number

  • 47701
  • 47702
  • 47703
  • 47704
  • 47705 (now 57303)
  • 47706
  • 47707
  • 47708
  • 47709
  • 47710
  • 47711
  • 47712
  • 47713
  • 47714
  • 47715
  • 47716
  • 47717