Fearless returns after 15 years

RAIL reader and D400 appeal contributor Geoff Williams from Westbury was chosen to present the cheque for £3,000 to Peter Field, the network director for the South West and a short presentation took place at Waterloo during D400’s first day back in service. After the presentation Williams was invited to travel in the cab as far as Woking. 

Following its return to service, it joined the ranks of ‘50s’ working for NSE on the Waterloo Exeter route but was plagued with a series of failures caused by engine problems from its new power unit. On August 21, the power unit completely failed and a replacement was required. With the rundown of the Class now reaching an advanced stage any other Class 50 would undoubtedly have been withdrawn, but Laira arranged for recently-withdrawn 50048 Dauntless to donate its power unit to allow D400 to return to use. 

By 1992, the ranks of the operational Class 50s was down to single figures. With the ‘50s’ removed from daily service on the Waterloo-Exeter services in May 1992, NSE decided it would retain three operational Class 50s at Laira for working a programme of railtours for an indefinite period - 50007 Sir Edward Elgar, 50033 Glorious and D400. All three locomotives received repaints for their new roles, with D400 retaining BR blue, 50007 receiving another coat of its unique GWR 150th anniversary green livery and 50033 received a new coat of revised NSE colours. 

Throughout 1992 and 1993 the three ‘50s’ made regular appearances at the head of various tours and special workings, alongside open day appearances across the BR network. To protect them from possible damage, the ‘50s’ were given restricted top speeds and for most tours at least two of the three ‘50s’ were used to provide some backup in the event of failure.

Towards the end of 1993 it was announced that the three ‘50s’ would be withdrawn at the end of March 1994 after working a series of farewell tours. It was also announced that 50033 was being claimed for the National Collection and would be being admitted to the National Railway Museum when withdrawn by BR. 

For the final few months the painters at Laira were kept busy, with D400 and 50033 receiving repaints to represent various stages in their careers. For its final couple of railtours before withdrawal D400 was taken into Laira Depot and repainted into BR ‘large logo’ blue, regaining its 50050 identity and Fearless nameplates and twinning crests from HMS Fearless. 50033 was also repainted into ‘large logo’ blue in preparation for its handover to the NRM. 

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