The British Railways Class 40 (English Electric Type 4), is an eight axle diesel electric locomotive with, a 1CO-CO1 wheel arrangement. The Class 40 locomotives were built between 1958 and 1962 by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry Works, and by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns. There were 200 class 40 locomotives produced in total.

The class 40 is fitted with one, English Electric 16VT MK2 prime mover developing 2000bhp. Traction current is DC electric through six traction motors giving 1,550bhp at the railhead. With a weight of 135 metric tonnes, the class 40 has a maximum tractive effort of 52,000LBF or 231Kn.
BR Class 40

A BR Class 40. (40145 on it's old West Coast Mainline stamping ground at Carlisle on 27th August 2004 with a Railtour.)


The class 40's operated in all areas of the UK however, sightings in the Western and Southern regions were relatively rare and usually the result of Railtour and charter trains. After initial trial the class were based at the following depots: Manchester Longsight, Carlisle Kingmoor, Wigan Springs Branch, Thornaby, and Gateshead.

Although the class 40 was never considered a successful design (been severely underpowered), the locomotives were employed on top-link express passenger duties in the West Coast Mainline and the Great Eastern Mainline. However the arrival of more powerful locomotive classes such as the class 47 and the class 55 saw the class 40's relegated to more mundane duties.

Later in there lives the class 40's were employed hauling heavy freight and passenger trains in the north of England and in Scotland. As more new rolling stock was introduced, passenger work for the class decreased, partly due to their lack of ETH (Electric Train Heating/ Head End Power). One example, D255 was fitted with ETH for a trial period in the mid- 1960's, to test compatibility with newer passenger coaches.

The class lost their last front-line passenger duties -in Scotland in 1980, and the last regular use on mainline passenger workings were on the North Wales Coast Line between Holyhead, Crewe, and Manchester, along with forays over the Pennines on Liverpool to Leeds, York, Hull, and Newcastle services.

Throughout the early 1980's Class 40's were common performers on relief, day excursion (adex trains), and holidaymaker (vacation) services, along with deputisation duties for electric traction, especially on Sunday service between Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street. This resulted in visits to many distant part of the UK network such as Scarborough, Cleethorpes, and Skegness on the Eastern Region, with Blackpool and Stranraer been regularly visited on the West Coast. Much rarer workings included visits to London's Paddington and Euston stations, Norwich, Cardiff, and Kyle of Lochalsh. The fact that Class 40's could turn up anywhere on the network resulted in them bee followed by a hard core of "Bashers", enthusiasts dedicated to journeying over lines with rare traction for the route.


Withdrawal of the Class 40's started in 1976, when three locomotives (40005, 40039, and 40102) were taken out of service. At 135 metric tonnes the Class 40's had always been underpowered and this began to show more as they aged. In early service it was noticed by British Rail that a Class A3 or Class A4 Pacific steam locomotive could outperform a Class 40, despite been up to 50 years old. Also, some of the class were found to have fractures bogie frames resulting from, inappropriate use on wagon-load freight and the associated running on tightly curves yards. Some of the class were scavenged for spar parts at this time to prop up the rest of the fleet.

As newer passenger coaches were introduced, in particular the MK2 and MK3 coaches the Class 40's fell out of favor with British Rail, as many were not fitted with air brakes and instead relied on old style vacuum brakes. Despite this only 17 examples had been withdrawn by the start of the 1980's. The locomotives became more popular with enthusiasts as their number began to dwindle.

Withdrawals pick up apace from 1981, with those lacking are brakes been the first to be withdrawn. In 1981, all 130 remaining locomotives were concentrated in the London Midland region of British Rail. Classified works overhauls on the Class 40's were gradually phased out during this time with only 29 locomotives receiving C4 and C6 overhauls in 1980. The final two emerged resplendent from Crewe Works in 1981. The honour of the very last classified overhaul falls to 40167 being completed in February 1981.

After 1981, number continued to dwindle slowly until, in 1984, there were only sixteen still running. These included the pioneer of the class number 40122, which, having been withdrawn in 1981, was reinstated and painted in original Brunswick Green livery to haul rail enthusiast specials. The last passenger run by a Class 40, other than 40122, occurred on January 27th 1985, when 40012 hauled a train from Birmingham New Street to York. All the remaining locomotives with the exception of 40122, were withdrawn the very next day.

The majority of Class 40's were cut up at Crewe, Doncaster, and Swindon Works. Crewe Works dismantled the most, scrapping 65 locomotives. Doncaster cut up 64 locos, and Swindon cut up 54.

The other eleven machines were cut up at Derby, Glasgow, Inverkeithing, and Vic Berry in Leicester.

1981 and 1983 were the worst year for Class 40 withdrawals with 41 examples going in each year.

The last Class 40's to be cut up were 40091 and 40195 by A. Hampton contractors at Crewe Works in December 1988.

Later useEdit

The story of the Class 40's does not end there. Upon the joint initiative of enthusiasts Howard Johnson and Murray Brown who noticed it on the scrapline at Carlisle Kingmoor in the summer of 1881 ready to go to Swindon Work for breaking up, 40122 was reinstated by BR and overhauled at Toton Depot in Long Eaton, with parts from 40076. Now in working order and repainted in Brunswick Green, it was regularly used to haul normal passenger trains in the hope of attracting enthusiasts, as well as special trains. In addition, four locomotive were temporarily modified to become Class 97, departmental locos, numbered 97405- 40408. They were used to work engineers trains for a track re-modeling project at Crewe Station. These were withdrawn by early 1987.

40122 was eventually withdrawn in 1988 and presented to the National Railway Museum in York. Six other locomotives (40112, 40012, 40013, 40106, 40118, 40135, 40145) and one cab-end from 40088 were also preserved, and on 30 November 2002, over sixteen years after the last Class 40 hauled mainline passenger train, the Class 40 Preservation Society's 40145 hauled an enthusiasts' railtour from Crewe to Holyhead and return.

Accidents and IncidentsEdit

On Boxing Day 1962, D215 "Aquitania" was hauling the southbound Mid-Day Scot when it collided with the rear of a Liverpool to Birmingham Train. 18 people were killed and 34 injured, including the train guard.

On 13th May 1966, a freight train became divided between Norton Junction and Weaver Junction in Cheshire. Locomotive D322, hauling an express passenger service, was in collision with the rear portion of the freight train, which had run away. Both the driver and secondman (Conductor) were killed. The Locomotive was written off in September 1967.

On 7th May 1965, a freight train was derailed at Preston-Le-Skerne, County Durham. Locomotive D350 was hauling a newspaper train that ran into the derailed wagons and was itself derailed. The locomotive was not recovered until 16th May.

On 14 August 1966, locomotive D311 was hauling a passenger train that ran in to a landslip and derailed at Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire.

On 6th August 1975, 40189 was hauling a freight train which was unable to stop due to a lack of brake power. It was in collision with another freight train at Weaver Junction in Cheshire.

On October 26th 1975, at express passenger train failed at Lunan, Angus. Locomotive 40111 was sent to it's assistance but ran into the re of the failed train at 25mph. One person was killed and eleven were injured.

In September 1978, 40044 was hauling a freight train that ran away and was derailed at trap points at Chinley, Derbyshire.

D326 (40126)Edit

D326 (later 40126) was the most famous Class 40 for unfortunate reasons. On the night of Thursday 8th August 1963 it was involved in the infamous "Great Train Robbery", a year later in 1964 a Secondman was electrocuted while washing the windscreens. And, finally another year later in 1965 it suffered a total brake failure with a maintenance train at Birmingham New Street and hit the rear of a freight train, injuring the guard. It then settle down and had a normal life until it was scrapped in 1984.


  • The Class 40 locomotives were nicknamed "Buckets" or "Whistlers" due to their engine and steam heating sound.
  • The Diesel (D261) and Old Stuck-Up (40125) from the Railway Series and Thomas and Friends are Class 40 diesel locomotives.
  • They had a maximum speed of 90mph.