Direct Rail Services stores Northern Belle Class 47

One of the two Class 47s dedicated to Northern Belle duties, 47832 Solway Princess, has been stored by Direct Rail Services and is unlikely to return to traffic.

It was scheduled to be withdrawn at the end of April, as it requires a major exam, but was retained for a few extra weeks by DRS because of an additional requirement for Class 47s. However, it failed with a turbo fault near Durham on June 14, while hauling a Northern Belle charter. 

It was rescued by DRS 47853 Rail Express and taken to Crewe Gresty Bridge, where it was promptly stored by DRS and placed in the XHSS stored pool, where it joins 47802 Pride of Cumbria. The latter ‘47’ was stored in January, and is used to heat carriages at Carlisle Kingmoor Depot. It is believed that 47501 Craftsman will also be withdrawn soon. 

DRS currently has 47501, 47790, 47805/810/813/818/828/841/853 in its fleet. Of these, 47790 is also dedicated to Northern Belle trains, while 47810 is at Arlington Fleet Services’ Eastleigh facility for a repaint and to be fitted with a flush cab front and modified roof louvres. 

This will leave 47805 John Scott 12.5.45 - 22.5.12 as the only unmodified DRS ‘47’, while 47828 has had the roof modifications but not the cab front.

DRS Class 47s are used for passenger work. One locomotive will be needed through the summer to haul Norwich-Great Yarmouth Summer Saturday trains for Abellio Greater Anglia, while currently 47805/813/828 are at Norwich to work AGA’s ‘short set’ between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. The latter work will transfer to DRS Class 37/4s from September, once driver training is complete.  

The locomotives also work charters. Three are allocated to the XHNB pool for Northern Belle work - 47501 Craftsman, 47790 Galloway Princess and 47813 Solent, although the latter is at Norwich. 

Other casualties from DRS’ Class 47 fleet in recent years have been 47709/747/791, 47829/839. None worked for the company and all have been scrapped.

There are 29 operational main line-certified ‘47s’, with a further 24 stored. West Coast Railway has the largest operational fleet, with ten in traffic (47237/245/270, 47746/760/786, 47804/826/851/854).

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