|Sub-Category||Diesel and Electric|
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Bachmann 32-978: Class 66 (Low Emission Variant) 66725 'Sunderland AFC' First GBRF
English Welsh & Scottish Railway Ltd, owned by the American company Wisconsin Central, placed an order in June 1996 for 250 GM locomotives to replace their freight locomotive fleet. They were based on the successful Class 59 but with a new 3000hp power unit, a top speed of 75mph, radial steering bogies and computer control systems. The new build locomotives were initially classified Class 61, but by the time of entering service they had become Class 66. Between April 1998 and June 2000 the locomotives were delivered to the UK. The improved reliability and availability quickly lead to the rapid withdrawal of BR designed Classes 31, 33, 37, 56, 73 and eventually 58.
Other rail freight operators were quick to spot the advantages of the new design and Freightliner, GB Railfreight and Direct Rail Services also placed orders for these locomotives. There are external variations to be found with two types of lighting units, buckeye and conventional hooks, horn grille modification, and different combinations of lashing eyes welded on the front of the buffer beam.
Recent environmental regulations have led GM to develop a low-emission version of the Class 66. The design incorporates a larger cooler group, modified roof grille, extra side door with step, shorter fuel tank to compensate for the larger cooler group and reinforced side cab windows. All new orders for Class 66 post 2005 are now supplied to this design.
Enthusiasts have nicknamed them 'sheds' because of their shape and the class can now be found working all over the UK network. The success of the 66 has now spread right across Europe with EWS and Freightliner now operating trains in other countries.