Locomotive Performance

Class 37: English Electric type 3

In earlier editions of Locomotive Performance, we have covered the running of the English Electric type 3 class on the West Highland line (Edition 3: West Highland Tractors), and on the Cambrian line (Edition 9: Diesels on the Cambrian). So here we complete the picture with runs on the Marches Line between Crewe and Cardiff, on the North East to South West Route from Birmingham to the West Country, the North Wales Coast line from Crewe to Holyhead, The Central Wales line, and a solitary run over the Settle & Carlisle. 

Known by the enthusiast fraternity as Growlers, Tractors, and Syphons, The English Electric type 3, 1750hp locomotives have, for over 40 years, played a very significant role in the running of our Railways. But their time is nearly up. Many of our Heritage Railways now have working examples of the class, and others are likely to follow. Surely the Class 37's must rank as one of the major successes of the BR 1960's modernization program.  It was not until 1981 that I travelled behind one. And I reached my 100th run in 2002.  
29th March 1986: A 420 ton load really put 37429 to the test on the diesel legs from Birmingham on this SLOA steam charter. On the Birmingham to Hereford section, it was 88 mph down the Lickey, and hard work on to Worcester and Hereford. And later, a slog back from Gloucester to Birmingham (with banking help up the Lickey). [view log of 37429] 
13th June 1988: In 1988, class 37's were called on to deputize for class 155 dmu's, which required door modifications, on the Manchester to Cardiff services. I did a round trip from Crewe to Cardiff, out on 37431 [view log of 37431] and back on 37427 [view log of 37427]
31st May 1993: On the "Cornubian" railtour, 37073 & 37110 ran from Birmingham, via Kidderminster and Worcester, to Bristol and Exeter. A non stop, unchecked, 57 min 40 sec run over the 75.51 miles from Bristol to Exeter, was the highlight. We reached 92 mph near Worle, and topped Whiteball summit at 65 mph. [view log of 37073 & 37110]  
10th July 1993: Many class 37 fans will have happy memories of journeys on the North Wales Coast line. The linespeed was 75 mph, which some drivers kept to, and others didn't. Here is a run on 37407 on a 6 coach load from Colwyn Bay to Holyhead, and return. Top speed was 80 mph at Aber, in the up direction [view log of 37407]
18th September 1993: 37185 ran from Kidderminster to Taunton & return on the Silver Jubilee tour, which ran with an 11 coach, 368/400 ton train. The loco performed splendidly, with sustained 85 mph running from Yatton to Cogload. More good running back from Bristol to Kidderminster in the evening got us back on time. I believe driver Ron Gardner, of Saltley and the Severn Valley, might have had something to do with it. [view log of 37185]
11th June 1994: Returning to the Midlands after day on the East Lancashire Railway, from Crewe I caught the 4.55pm Holyhead to Birmingham International, a 7 coach train hauled by 37408. We ran fast line to Stafford in style, reaching 90mph.  [view log of 37408]
8th August 1994: Two runs from Rhyl to Holyhead and return. 37425 had a 5 coach load, and reached 83 mph at Llanfairfechan westbound, and 80 mph at Aber, returning eastbound. The train was running to time [view log of 37425]  37429 on a 6 coach train, running 10 to 12 minutes late throughout, reached 83 mph at Aber westbound, and 81 mph at Abergele on the return [view log of 37429]
12th September 1995: On this date, services were truncated at Chester due to a bridge bash. I had arrived at Chester on a class 31, which was coupled to the front of the return service, nominally the 15.24 ex Crewe. It was then decided to remove the class 31 in favour of 37025. We ran in the 80 mph's most of the way to the first stop at Prestatyn, reaching 87 mph at Bagillt. I travelled as far as Llandudno Junction. [view log of 37025]
4th November 1995: I joined the Pathfinder  "Heart of Wales Rambler" at Kidderminster, for the run to South Wales an then up the Central Wales Line. The bright November sun showed the scenery to maximum advantage. With only 6 coaches, the loco was never pressed. We reached 94 mph at Margam, but thereafter there were many slowing and crossing stops over the single line. A lengthy delay at Craven Arms caused a late conclusion to a very enjoyable tour. [view log of 37411]
1st June 1996: Another Pathfinder tour, the "Cumbrian Coaster". A pair of 37's had worked north to Preston, and worked south from Carnforth in the evening. With a nine coach load, there was some brisk running, with a top speed of approx 98 mph south of Garstang.  We were 2 mins early back into Kidderminster; a good conclusion to to another splendid day out.  [view log of 37611 & 37604]
17th April 1999: "The Settle Excursioner", also a Pathfinder tour, had 47558 from Banbury to Crewe, and return. 92001 from Crewe to Carlisle (with 37152 and 37165 tucked inside), and the two 37's booked to run in multiple from Carlisle to Crewe, via the Settle & Carlisle line. But the multiple working failed to materialize, and 37165 was not able to provide any power. So 37152 had a 475 ton train, plus a 105 ton locomotive, to haul up to Ais Gill. It made a lot of noise in the process, and passed Ais Gill summit at 25 mph. At Ribblehead, the fault was rectified, and both locos provided power thereafter. [view log of 37152 & 37165]
15th May 2000: For the final class 37 run, it is back to the North Wales Coast line. Since non of the journeys previously described included the Crewe to Chester section, I thought I had better rectify the omission. 37429 had a light train of only 4 coaches, and there was nothing out of the ordinary in the running along the coast from Llandudno Junction. But on the final section to Crewe, we would have been well inside "even time", but for a signal check. We reached 80 mph at Brassey, and again at Worlesdon. [view log of 37429]
The only concluding statement that I feel is appropriate to the English Electric Type 3, Class 37,  locomotives, is that when their end comes, our  railway will be poorer for it.