Class 73

Another prime and exclusive passenger working by the class is powering the British VSOE trains around the Southern Region. This resulted in 73101 being painted into Pullman livery. In February 1988 (ahead of assignment of assets to the Business Sectors under BR's 1991 Organisation for Quality) a dedicated pool of 73s for Gatwick Express services was created with the locomotives being re-designated class 73/2. Initially of 12 this pool grew to 14 and in the early days the pool provided traction to VSOE services as well. In fact it took some time after the pool was created for 73/2s to be confined to their own services and for 73/1s not to appear on Gatwick Express workings. It was originally mooted that the locomotives in this sub class would have their diesel engines removed as the sector's requirement was for straight electric traction but in the end common sense prevailed and the diesels were retained to get the service out of trouble on many an occasion. 73/2s have minor detail differences to 73/1s in that their vacuum brakes have been isolated and connecting hoses removed, as have low level MU connections from their buffer beams.

The final two major changes to 73 use firstly came with the allocation of 73118 and 73130 to European Passenger Services/Eurostar and these two have their front end modified to carry pivoting Scharfenburg couplers to enable them to both shunt and rescue Eurostar sets. Then secondly with the assignment of five of the 73/0s to the Merseyrail system largely for infrastructure work. Two of these 73001 and 73006 have been converted for Sandite duties and have been renumbered into the 73/9 series as 73901 and 73906 respectively. A current "star" of the fleet is 73109 which is the South West Trains "Thunderbird" which is normally based at Woking to travel throughout the SWT network to rescue failed trains.

Celebrity EDL Nº73101 The Royal Alex in the Pullman livery which suits it well is seen passing Egham with a VSOE Royal Ascot working in 1999. This locomotive was originally named Brighton Evening Argus and renumbered Nº73100 on 3rd December 1980 in celebration of that newspaper's centenary. It was renamed on 2nd May 1992.

photograph by Jonathan Hall

73101 A close up view of Nº73101 (double headed with EWS liveried Nº73131) at Bournemouth Central on 28th April 2001 whilst working an Hertfordshire Railtour to Poole.

photograph by Colin Duff

All photographs are copyright

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Modern Railways' March 1967 article on these engines

This page was last updated 7 February 2004

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