British Rail Class 27

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BRCW Type 2
British Rail Class 27
27001 in Bo'ness Yard.jpg
27001 at Bo’ness
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company
Serial number DEL190–DEL258
Build date 1961–1962
Total produced 69
 • UIC Bo'Bo'
 • Commonwealth Bo-Bo
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter 3 ft 7 in (1.092 m)
Minimum curve 5 chains (100 m)
Wheelbase 39 ft 0 in (11.89 m)
Length 50 ft 9 in (15.47 m)
Width 8 ft 10 in (2.69 m)
Height 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
Loco weight Originally: 72.50 long tons (73.7 t; 81.2 short tons)
71–76 tonnes (70–75 long tons; 78–84 short tons)
Fuel capacity 685 imp gal (3,110 l; 823 US gal)
Prime mover Sulzer 6LDA28-B
Generator DC
Traction motors four GEC WT459 DC traction motors
Transmission Diesel electric
MU working Blue Star
Train heating As built, Steam generator
subclass 27/2, Electric Train Heating, Houchin 120 kW (160 hp) alternator powered by Deutz 8-cylinder air-cooled diesel engine, type F8L413
Train brakes Initially 14 dual-braked, 10 fitted with additional air brakes later on. Remainder vacuum only.
Performance figures
Maximum speed 90 mph (145 km/h)
Power output Engine: 1,250 hp (932 kW) @750 rpm
At rail: 933 hp (696 kW)
Tractive effort Maximum: 42,000 lbf (187 kN)
Continuous: 25,000 lbf (111 kN)
Brakeforce 34 long tons-force (340 kN)
Operators British Railways
Numbers D5347–D5415; later 27001–27066
Axle load class Route availability 6 (RA 5 from 1969)
First run 1961

British Rail's Class 27 comprised 69 diesel locomotives built by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company (BRCW) during 1961 and 1962. They were a development of the earlier Class 26; both were originally classified as the BRCW Type 2. The Class 27s were numbered D5347-D5415.[1]

Working life[edit]

Original allocations were D5347–D5369 to Glasgow Eastfield, D5370–D5378 to Thornaby and D5379–D5415 to London Cricklewood for Tilbury Boat trains and Cross-London freight services. In the period September to December 1963, some of the Cricklewood allocation were transferred to Leicester and in December 1965 the Thornaby allocation was also nominally transferred to Leicester to join them. Traffic changes combined with reallocation of Class 25s led to the gradual transfer of the Leicester and Cricklewood locomotives to Scotland during 1969 thus concentrating the whole class within Scotland and being part of the replacement fleet that allowed the withdrawal of the poorly performing Clayton Class 17 locomotives from traffic. For many years they were extensively used on the West Highland Line. By September 1986, the final vacuum brake only locos had been withdrawn, regular passenger services had ceased and only 21 locos remained, allocated entirely to Eastfield depot. A mass withdrawal in July 1987 due to the presence of blue asbestos left 27008 as the last in service. Its final working was on 13 August and the loco was officially withdrawn on 19 August 1987. The Class 27s were actually outlived by the older Class 26s, whose less powerful engines were more reliable.


  • 27/0: Locomotives as built with steam heating (excluding 27024–27031)
  • 27/1: Locomotives converted in 1971–1973 for push pull operation, renumbered back to 27/0 after conversion starting in 1982.
  • 27/2: Locomotives converted in 1973–1976 with Electric Train Heat, renumbered back to 27/0 after conversion starting in 1982.

Edinburgh-Glasgow push-pull operation[edit]

By the late 1960s, the Swindon-built Inter City DMUs operating the Edinburgh Waverley - Glasgow Queen Street express service were becoming unreliable. In 1970 the decision was made to replace them with locomotive-hauled carriages. So between 1971 and 1973, twenty-four Class 27s were fitted-up with dual (vacuum and air) brakes and reclassified Class 27/1, while 36 Mark 2 carriages (7 brake second opens, 22 open seconds, and 7 corridor firsts) swapped their vacuum-operated shoe brakes for air-operated disc brakes and were though-wired with "Blue Star" control cables to enable "top and tail" push-pull working. It was later decided that as the Mark 2 stock was dual (steam or electric) heated, to convert half the 27/1 fleet to electric train heat, by replacing the train heating boiler with a Deutz 8-cylinder, air-cooled diesel engine and alternator. The conversions were then classified as Class 27/2, and were used on one end of the train, with a 27/1 on the other.

The very intensive 90 mph (140 km/h) "push-pull" service was demanding on the locomotives and reliability started to suffer. The 27/2s, especially, appeared prone to fire damage, especially from their electric train heating alternators. The push-pull sets were replaced in 1980 by single Class 47/7s at one end of a rake of Mark 3 carriages and a DBSO. The Class 27/1s and 27/2s were then renumbered to 27/0 and could often be found on Edinburgh-Dundee semi-fast passenger services, until their replacement, briefly by Class 101 and subsequently by Class 150 Sprinter DMUs in 1987, whilst the remainder were largely used on freight.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 30 June 1962, locomotive D5386 was in a minor collision with a diesel multiple unit at Cricklewood carriage sidings, London due to confusion over a hand signal.[2]
  • On 25 August 1965, locomotive D5383 was heading a freight train that collided with the rear on another freight train at East Langton. It was taken to Derby Works for evaluation, but was withdrawn in January the following year.[3]
  • Locomotive 27 044 was severely damaged by fire before 5 September 1980. It was consequently withdrawn and scrapped.[4]

Fleet list[edit]

Preserved locomotives[edit]

Eight examples of the class have been preserved at various heritage railways in Great Britain.[7]

(current in bold)
Livery Location Condition
D5347 27001 BR Blue Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway Serviceable
D5351 27005 BR Blue Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway Long Term Restoration
D5353 27007 BR Green Scotland Long Term Restoration
D5370 27024 ADB968028 BR Green (Yellow Warning Panels) Caledonian Railway (Brechin) Serviceable
D5386 27103 27212 27066 BR Blue Barrow Hill Roundhouse Running, Poor Bodywork Condition
D5394 27106 27050 BR Green (no Yellow Warning Panels) Strathspey Railway Serviceable
D5401 27112 27056 BR Blue Great Central Railway Bodywork Repairs
D5410 27123 27205 27059 BR Green UK Rail Leasing, Leicester Long Term Restoration
27066 on the Dean Forest Railway
D5401 (27056) at the Great Central Railway


  1. ^
  2. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1991). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 7. Penryn: Atlantic Books. p. 41. ISBN 0-906899-50-8.
  3. ^ "BRCW Type 2: 1958–1976". Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  4. ^ Butlin, Ashley. Diesels and Electrics for scrap. Penryn: Atlantic Books. p. 9. ISBN 0 906899 27 3.
  5. ^ "BR Class 27 Fleet". Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Strickland, p. 85.
  7. ^ "Preserved Diesels - Class 27". Retrieved 2009-10-28.


  • Harris, Roger (1985). The Allocation History of BR Diesels and Electrics (2nd ed.). Bromsgrove: Roger Harris.
  • Marsden, Colin J. (1981). Motive power recognition:1 Locomotives. Shepperton: Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-1109-5.
  • Oakley, Michael (1981). BR Class 26/27 Diesels. Truro: D Bradford Barton. ISBN 0-85153-418-X.
  • Strickland, David C. (September 1983). Locomotive Directory: Every Single One There Has Ever Been. Camberley, Surrey: Diesel and Electric Group. ISBN 978-0-9063-7510-5. OCLC 16601890.
  • Tayler, A.T.H (1984). BR Locomotives:2 Sulzer Types 2 and 3. Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-1340-3.
  • Williams, Alan; Percival, David (1977). British Railways Locomotives and Multiple Units including Preserved Locomotives 1977. Shepperton: Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-0751-9.
  • Ian Allan ABC of British Railways Locomotives, 1983 edition

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]