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LMS Route: Trent Valley Line

LMS Route: Nuneaton to Leamington

Nuneaton Station: lnwrns3848

A pair of British Railways English Electric Type 1 'Bo-Bo' locomotives run through Nuneaton station on a Class C working circa 1960

A pair of British Railways English Electric Type 1 'Bo-Bo' locomotives run through Nuneaton station on a Class C working circa 1960. The two discs, one on the left and the other in the centre replace lamps found on steam locomotives to designate the type of working. British Railways categorised a Class C working as 'Parcels, fish, fruit, horse, livestock, meat, milk, pigeon, or perishable train composed entirely of vehicles conforming to coaching stock requirements; express freight, livestock, perishable, or ballast train with continuous brake pipe throughout the train and vacuum brake operable on a least half the vehicles; empty coaching stock train not specially authorized to carry class a headlamps.' In total, two hundred and twenty-eight diesel-electric locomotives were built by English Electric between 1957 and 1968, the large number being in part because of the failure of other early designs in the same power range to provide reliable locomotives. The locomotives were originally numbered D8000 to D8199 and D8300 to D8327. They are known by railway enthusiasts as 'Choppers', a name derived from the distinctive beat that the engine produces when under load which resembles the sound of a helicopter.

Designed around relatively basic technology, the 73 tonne locomotives produce 1,000 horsepower and could operate at up to 75 mph. Designed to work light mixed freight traffic, they had no train heating facilities. Locomotives up to D8127 were fitted with disc indicators in the style of the steam era (as seen above); when headcodes were introduced in 1960 the locomotive's design was changed to incorporate headcode boxes. Although older locomotives were not retro-fitted with headcode boxes, a few of the earlier batch acquired headcode boxes as a result of repairs. Unusually for British designs, the locomotive had a single cab. This caused serious problems with visibility when travelling nose first, though in these circumstances the driver's view is comparable to that on the steam locomotives that the Class 20s replaced. It was common however to find Class 20s paired together at the nose (as seen above), with their cabs at opposite ends, ensuring that the driver could quite clearly see the road ahead.