Coupling code

British Rail Class 26

The British Rail Class 26 diesel locomotives, also known as the BRCW Type 2, were built by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company (BRCW) at Smethwick in 1958-59. Forty seven examples were built, and the last were withdrawn from service in 1993.

Technical details

  • Introduced: 1958
  • Weight:
    • D5300-D5319, 77 tons 10 cwt
    • D5320-D5346, 74 tons
  • Engine: Sulzer 6LDA28 of at 750 rpm
  • Transmission: Electric, four Crompton Parkinson traction motors
  • Maximum tractive effort:
  • Driving wheel diameter:
  • Coupling code: Blue star (electro-pneumatic)
  • Train heating (where fitted): Steam generator


The BR Modernisation Plan contained a large requirement for small diesel locomotives in the - 1250 hp range, and under BR's 'Pilot Scheme' small batches of locomotives were ordered from numerous different manufacturers for evaluation. BRCW obtained an order for 20 mixed traffic diesel-electric locomotives powered by 1160hp Sulzer 6LDA28 engines.

As the name implies, the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company was a rolling stock manufacturer with no long history of locomotive manufacture, although they were building Diesel Multiple Units for BR. However, in 1956-57 BRCW built 12 diesel locomotives for the Irish railway Córas Iompair Éireann (CIE 101 Class), the order going to BRCW due to capacity problems at CIE's own Inchicore Works. A partnership was then established between BRCW and the Swiss diesel engine manufacturers Sulzer Brothers.

The Sulzer LDA28 range was found to be particularly suited to BR's needs. In addition to BRCW's Class 26, the 1160hp 6LDA28 variant was also used in BR's own Class 24 design, while the 1250hp 6LDA28-B was fitted in the later BRCW Class 27 and BR Class 25.


The Pilot Scheme batch of twenty locomotives (D5300-5319, Class 26/0) were delivered to Hornsey TMD (Traction Maintenance Depot) on the Eastern Region of British Railways between July 1958 and March 1959. They were used on a variety of duties, notably including London commuter services into King's Cross station, and were evaluated against rival designs from the North British Locomotive Company, English Electric, Brush Traction, and British Railways' own works. Their allocation was switched to the new Finsbury Park TMD when it opened in 1960.

Locomotive D5303 was on loan to the Scottish Region from 1958, being operated briefly from Inverness TMD, and Eastfield TMD before moving to Leith Central TMD. This was the precursor to a further twenty seven locomotives of a slightly modified design (D5320-5346, Class 26/1) being delivered to the Scottish Region between April and October 1959. The first two of these locomotives were briefly allocated to Leith Central, but subsequently all of the Scottish batch were based at Haymarket TMD (although some went to Hornsey on loan for a time).

By the middle of 1960, evaluation of the various Type 2 designs was complete and it was decided to concentrate all of the Class 26s in Scotland. As a result, the Class 26/0s were transferred to Haymarket, displacing the Class 26/1s to Inverness. Although some transferring of individual locomotives between the two depots occurred, the type was then allocated entirely to Haymarket and Inverness until 1987, apart from the brief allocation of a few locomotives to Kittybrewster TMD and Dundee TMD during 1960.

Like other Scottish Region Type 2s, Class 26 were 'maids of all work' during the 1960s and '70s, and could be found on a wide variety of duties. The Inverness based examples were particularly associated with the Far North Line and Kyle of Lochalsh Line, as well as operating south of Inverness on the Highland Main Line. One notable duty, shared with locally based Class 24s, was to operate 'The Royal Highlander' Inverness to London Euston sleeping car express as far south as Perth, a demanding turn which required three locomotives working in multiple. The Haymarket engines were latterly more associated with goods traffic, and the first seven locomotives (D5300-5306, later renumbered 26007, 26001-006) were given slow speed control apparatus for use on MGR coal trains.

Upon elimination of BR standard-gauge steam traction in 1968, the 'D' number prefix was removed and locomotives D5300-5346 became 5300-5346. In 1974 the TOPS numbering system was implemented and Class 26/0s 5300-5319 were renumbered 26007/1-6/20/08-19, while Class 26/1s 5320-7/9-46 became 26028/1-7/9-46. Number 5328 had been withdrawn in 1972 with accident damage.

The availability of surplus Class 37 and 47 locomotives in the late 1970s and early 1980s displaced the Class 26s from passenger workings and from most goods traffic north of Inverness. However, the type continued to operate goods trains throughout the whole of Scotland, taking over duties previously carried out by Class 25 and 27 locomotives. Most of the class were refurbished in the 1980s to extend their lives, being chosen in preference to the newer Class 25 and 27 due to the better reliability of the Class 26's lower powered engines.

In May 1987, all of the surviving class 26s were transferred to Eastfield TMD, except the 7 MGR examples which remained at Haymarket until transfer in May 1988. In August 1992, all survivors were reallocated to Inverness, although this was essentially a paper exercise, as locomotives only returned to their home depot for major maintenance. By this time, however, the writing was on the wall for Class 26.


The first withdrawal, 5328, occurred as a result of accident damage in 1972. Although the Class 26s were a useful and reliable type, there was a surplus of small diesel locomotives, so any locomotive suffering significant damage was in danger of withdrawal. A further six locomotives were claimed by minor accidents or engine fires between 1975 and 1984. Apart from these, routine withdrawals commenced with three Class 26/0s in 1977, followed by two 26/0s and two 26/1s in 1985. The survivng 33 locomotives were all refurbished examples, and it had originally been intended to keep them in service until around 2000. However, three were lost to minor accidents/fire damage in 1988-89, and the closure of Ravenscraig steelworks in 1991 resulted in a surplus of locomotives. Routine withdrawal of the refurbished locomotives began in 1990, and the last examples were taken out of service in October 1993.


Thirteen locomotives have been preserved.

(current in bold)
Name Livery Location Notes
D5300 26007 - BR Green Barrow Hill Engine Shed First-built locomotive. One of the final locomotives in traffic.
D5301 26001 Eastfield BR Green Caledonian Railway One of the final locomotives in traffic.Operational.
D5302 26002 - BR Green Strathspey Railway Currently awaiting overhaul
D5304 26004 - Railfreight Coal Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway Awaiting repair
D5310 26010 - BR Green, small yellow warning panel Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway Operational
D5311 26011 - BR Blue Barrow Hill Engine Shed Operational
D5314 26014 - BR Green Caledonian Railway Operational
D5324 26024 - BR Blue Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway Operational
D5325 26025 - Undercoat Strathspey Railway Stored awaiting painting
D5335 26035 - BR Blue Caledonian Railway Awaiting repairs
D5338 26038 - BR Blue Privately owned, Cardiff Canton depot
D5340 26040 - BR Blue Privately owned, Methil Undergoing restoration
D5343 26043 - To be repainted BR Blue Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Undergoing restoration


  • Marsden, Colin J. Motive power recognition:1 Locomotives. Shepperton: Ian Allen Ltd.
  • Oakley, Michael BR Class 26/27 Diesels. Truro: D Bradford Barton.
  • Stevens-Stratten, S.W.; Carter, R.S. British Rail Main-Line Diesels. Shepperton: Ian Allen Ltd.
  • Williams, Alan; Percival, David British Railways Locomotives and Multiple Units including Preserved Locomotives 1977 Combined Volume. Shepperton: Ian Allen Ltd.
  • Ian Allan ABC of British Railways Locomotives, summer 1966 edition
  • Sugden, S.A. Diesel & Electric Loco Register (3rd edn). Sheffield: Platform 5.
  • Grindlay, Jim British Railways Locomotive Allocations 1948-1968 (Part 6 - Diesel & Electric Locomotives). Troon: Modelmaster Publications.

External links

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