BR Class 20 20048

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BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 20 20048
BR Class 20 20048 Bridgnorth 20220616.jpg
20048 at Bridgnorth, June 2022
Built By Vulcan Foundry
Configuration Bo-Bo
Power type Diesel Electric
Status Operational
Loco Number 20048
Other Numbers D8048
Built 1959
Designed By English Electric
Type Class 20
1991 First preserved
2022 Arrived on SVRSevern Valley Railway on hire
Length 46ft 9¼"
Weight 73t

Diesel Locomotives

BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 20 20048 is a Bo-Bo diesel-electric locomotive, otherwise known as an English Electric Type 1The British Railways classification for diesel locomotives of up to 1000 bhp. Numbered in the D8000 series they were later classified under TOPS as Class 20. 228 were built between 1957 and 1968, English Electric’s Vulcan Foundry producing 135 and Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn Ltd in Darlington 93. Unusually, 128 were built up to 1962, and a further 100 followed 4 years later, between 1966 and 1968, to replace other less reliable Type 1The British Railways classification for diesel locomotives of up to 1000 bhp classes. They were allocated to BRBritish Rail or British Railways’s Eastern, Midland, North Eastern and Scottish Regions.

The locomotive has a single cab. This caused issues with visibility when travelling nose first, though in these circumstances the driver's view is comparable to that on the steam locomotives that they replaced.

Weighing only around 73 tonnes and delivering 1,000 horsepower, they were designed to work light mixed freight traffic at up to 75 mph. During the period of their introduction this traffic was already declining, and their low power and limited view when operating ‘nose first’ limited their suitability for other work. Therefore, some class 20s were paired together at the nose, with their cabs at the outermost ends. This offered 2,000 hp and they were used on heavier coal and aggregates trains.

They were built without train heating facilities, meaning that passenger work was extremely limited. In pairs they were regular traction for summer dated trains from the midlands to the east coast resorts.

Members of the class are nicknamed “Choppers” because of the distinctive engine beat under load which resembles the sound of a helicopter.

In later years through sectorisation and privatisation the class has continued to see use on freight, departmental traffic and movement of stock. Members of the class were used for construction of the channel tunnel and French high speed lines. Around 20 or so are listed as ‘preserved’, though some of these are among those that remain registered for mainline use and in revenue earning mainline service.

20048 in service

The locomotive was built at English Electric's Vulcan Foundry as Works no 2770 and entered service at Hornsey Depot (34B) on 31 December 1959 under its original number D8048. Subsequent allocations included Finsbury Park (34G) in 1960, Immingham (40B) in 1966, Tinsley (41A) in 1970 and Eastfield (65A) in 1971.[1]

It was one of the first diesels to be repainted in BRBritish Rail or British Railways's 1965 blue livery, although it ran for a period with the BRBritish Rail or British Railways 'double arrows' reversed after an incorrect application.[2]

D8048 was renumbered 20048 in 1973 under TOPS. It was then reallocated to the London Midland region in 1976.[1] After being withdrawn from service in February 1981 but reinstated in May 1983,[3] it was finally withdrawn at Bescot in 1990.[2]

20048 in preservation

20048 was purchased in 1991 by The Midland Class 20 Association which had been formed in 1989. It was briefly based at Peak Rail in Matlock before spending a period on industrial hire to RFS Industries for use in construction of the Channel Tunnel terminal at Cheriton. It returned to preservation in May 1993 and was restored to its original BRBritish Rail or British Railways green livery and number D8048 in 1998.

After spending time at the Battlefield Line at Shackerstone and the Great Central Railway at Loughborough, D8048 then began a second period of industrial hire in February 2002, on this occasion to Victa Railfreight for use at Charing; the main railhead for the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link in Kent. After 14 months, D8048 was stopped by mechanical failure and moved to Wabtec at Doncaster for repair, after which it returned to the Great Central Railway around April 2005.[4][5]

After brief periods at several other railways, D8048 moved to what would become its new home, the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley, circa May 2008. It was repainted into BRBritish Rail or British Railways Blue during 2009, reverting to the later number 20048.[6]

In February 2021 the Association completed the sale of the locomotive to Class 20189 Limited.[2] Class 20189 Limited was incorporated in 2006 as Company number 05742768; as of 2024 Michael Owen is the sole Director.[7] The company also owns Class 20 locomotives 20007, 20142 and 20189, the latter pair being main line registered and all of which have previously visited the SVR for Diesel galas or other use.

Loan to SVRSevern Valley Railway

In June 2022 the SVRSevern Valley Railway signed a deal with Class 20189 Limited to hire 20048 to assist working Bridgnorth based turns that were then seeing increased diesel usage due to coal supply problems. The locomotive, which had just completed a full overhaul, arrived by rail on 10 June in convoy with fellow Class 20s 20142 and 20007 (20048 not being main line registered). Its first day in traffic on the SVRSevern Valley Railway was 15 June. The loan period initially was until October 2022, although it has continued in traffic beyond then.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 BRDatabase
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Railways Illustrated via
  4. 2002 Photo on Flickr + history
  5. 2006 Photo on Flickr
  7. Companies House