|Sub-Category||Diesel and Electric|
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Hornby R3067: RailRoad BR Class 31 Diesel Electric Locomotive
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In 1955 the British Transport Commission (BTC) launched their Modernisation Plan to replace all steam engines with diesel over a 10 year period. Locomotive builders were invited to produce small fleets of pilot designs to undergo trials.
Designed and built by Brush Traction in Loughborough, early examples of the Class 31 entered service in November 1957 at Stratford Depot, London for use on the former Great Eastern lines. Under the TOPS scheme the locomotives were originally designated as Class 31 but subsequently changed to Class 31. Delivery of the first batch of 20, numbered D5500 - D5519 was completed between 1957 and 1959, with the majority being sent to East Anglian Sheds.
These pilot locomotives were non-standard in having Electro-Magnetic Multiple-Working control equipment and were limited to 80mph.
The BTC were impressed with the Class and orders were placed for more locomotives - in all by 1962 a total 263 Class 31 locomotives had been built.
These locomotives had standard electro-pneumatic controls with the BR Blue Star multiple working system. Between 1965 and 1969 the entire Class was re-engined with English Electric power units after serious problems were experienced with the original Mirrlees power units. The first to be re-engined was D5677 (No. 31249) and the last was D5500. Further modifications led to several sub Classes 31/0, 31/1, 31/4, 31/5 and 31/6.
As more locomotives were built, the Class spread throughout the BR network, working both passenger and freight services.
Between 1973 and 1985 a total of 68 locos were fitted with electric train heating and all examples still in traffic in 1988 were fitted with dual train brakes (air and vacuum). From 1983 a life extension programme started including removal of body side bands, skirts and redundant steam heat equipment. Locomotives not in this programme were earmarked for early withdrawal, with the last locomotives continuing until 1994. Today, the only operational Class 31s service the national system and belong to Fragonset Railways and Network Rail.
With privatisation, EWS took over BR's remaining Class 31 locomotives and No. 31110, liveried in the Civil Engineers' yellow and grey 'Dutch' livery was officially withdrawn in 2000, although it still remains as part of the EWS Heritage fleet. Several of the Class have been preserved and now belong to various Heritage Railways.
- DCC Ready: