Welsh Sulzer Type 2 to join the roster for GWR summer diesel gala

Alex Farran
May 17, 2024

• Sulzer Type 2 / British Rail Class 26 Diesel D5310 to visit the Cotswolds • Sulzer’s at the helm for the GWR summer heritage gala, 12-14 July 2024 • Class 26 joins GWR’s home diesel fleet for intensive three-day weekend

A popular North Wales based 65-year-old British Rail Bo-Bo diesel locomotive is to join the roster for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s annual Summer Heritage Diesel Gala in July. The locomotive in question is Sulzer Type 2 / British Rail Class 26 No. D5310 (26010) and is appearing courtesy of the Llangollen Railway and The Llangollen Diesel Group.

47 of the locomotives were built between 1958 and 1959 in two batches, with construction being carried out by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company (BRCW) at its factory in Smethwick. Numbered between D5300 and D5346 (later 26001–26046 under TOPS), the Type 2s were fitted with 1,160 hp (870 kW) Sulzer 6LDA28-A engines and primarily operated passenger and freight services in Scotland. The pilot scheme batch of 20 locomotives (D5300-5319, Class 26/0) were delivered new to Hornsey TMD, on the Eastern Region of British Railways. In their formative years, examples could be found operating commuter services into London Kings Cross.

By October 1959, a second batch of 27 locomotives (D5320-5346, Class 26/1), built to a slightly modified design of the pilot scheme, had been delivered to the Scottish Region. During 1960, after extensive evaluation of several ‘Type 2’ designs, it was decided that all of the Class 26s would be transferred to Scotland. Class members were allocated in the main to either Haymarket (HA) or Inverness (IS) depots, where they remained until the late 1980s. With a route availability of 5 (RA5) & 6 (RA6), the Sulzer Type 2s could be found pretty much anywhere across Scotland, which quickly brought about their nicknames ‘McRat’ and ‘Teacup’ amongst rail enthusiasts – the latter being a reference to the teacup-teacup-teacup sound that their engines make when idling.

Between the 1960s and 1980s the class could be found on a wide variety of workings, with the Inverness examples being regular performers on the Far North Line, the Kyle of Lochalsh Line, and the Highland Main Line. In their later years, the Haymarket examples were typically associated with freight traffic, most notably operating MGR coal workings to and from Cockenzie Power Station, which opened in 1967. During the 1980s, the majority of the class went through a refurbishment programme in order to extend their lives with many based at Eastfield from 1987. Withdrawal of the class began in 1972 when D5328 was removed as a result of damage sustained in an accident. Further class members were taken out of service over a period of 20 years with the last examples being stood down in October 1993. Fortunately, 13 locomotives survived into preservation.      

Time for a bit of history on our visitor - Sulzer Type 2 / British Rail Class 25 Diesel No. D5310.

D5310 was outshopped from BRCW on the 6th January 1959 and allocated to Hornsey (34B) on the Eastern Region (ER), wearing BR green livery (GNP) with white cab window surrounds and a white waistline band on the bodyside. A member of the pilot scheme batch of locomotives, D5310 was fitted with vacuum brakes and steam heat, and spent time at Finsbury Park (34G) before moving up to Scotland during May 1960. The ‘Type 2’ was allocated to both Haymarket (HA) and Inverness (IS) depots, being renumbered to 26010 under TOPS in April 1974. D5310 was stored unserviceable on the 5th October 1987 and officially withdrawn from service on the 4th December 1992 after a turboblower fire, ending a British Rail career spanning nearly 34 years.

Following withdrawal, the locomotive was moved to the Northampton and Lamport Railway in January 1995, where its engine was started six months later in July. In 2006, the Class 26 underwent an extremely comprehensive bodywork overhaul at the Great Central Railway (GCR), but sadly suffered a failure of its main generator shortly after returning to traffic. The failed generator was subsequently overhauled and rewound, allowing the ‘Type 2’ to return to active service and attend a number of diesel galas across the country. D5310 was delivered to the Llangollen Railway on Wednesday 9th September 2009. It’s first Welsh debut in traffic took place on Saturday 26th September 2009, with members of the public and all the owners of the locomotive (at the time) in attendance.  

Following nine years of service at the Llangollen Railway, a bearing in the No.2 traction motor failed in July 2018. In early March 2019, the locomotive had a full repaint into plain BR green with full yellow ends (GFYE). Repairs to the locomotive took place during 2020 at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, with assistance from the Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group (CMDG). D5310 returned from the GWR on Monday 6th July 2020 and the locomotive was successfully started and moved under its own power on the 23rd July 2020 – the first time in over two years. The popular ‘Type 2’ officially operated the first diesel hauled service under the Llangollen Railway Trust on Saturday 4th September 2021, and continues to be a regular and reliable performer.

Tickets for the summer diesel gala are available online at www.gwsr.com. With up to eight diesel locomotives and a diesel multiple unit (DMU) running*, it will offer an action-packed timetable of trains. The locomotive and carriage & wagon workshops will throw open their doors for rare behind-the-scenes visits and there will be plenty of other activity at the railway’s picturesque period stations.