Anniversary run for pioneer ‘37’ thwarted by pandemic
COVID-19 has prevented pioneer Class 37 D6700 from being in operational condition for its 60th anniversary.
The ‘37’ is currently at the National Railway Museum in York, where it requires repairs to its traction motor blowers on its No.2 end.
NRM Senior Curator for Rail Transport and Technology Anthony Coulls told RAIL that while this work was not hugely expensive, the component would have to be sent away for specialist repairs.
He also explained that because of the pandemic, workshop staff and volunteers were still working from home, and that projects such as returning the ‘37’ to operational condition had to be paused.
Two groups are unable to work together in the NRM’s workshop due to social distancing rules.
The ‘37’, which is part of the NRM’s operational strategy, last hauled trains in October 2017 at the Mid-Hants Railway.
The locomotive was released from English Electric’s VulcanFoundry at Newton-le-Willows on December 2 1960. It hauled its first revenue-earning train on December 24 that year, taking an additional passenger train from London Liverpool Street-Great Yarmouth.
It was restored to near as-built condition by EWS ahead of the RAIL/ EWS Toton Open Day in August 1998, and was withdrawn from traffic in December 1999, passing to the National Collection.
“The locomotive was part through a maintenance regime that had been going on for two years,” Coulls told RAIL.
He said work had initially been paused while the NRM reviewed its policy around volunteers and access, but that it had been agreed repairs would resume last March with a view to starting the ‘37’ in July. Then COVID-19 struck.
Longer-term, the plan remains for it to be available for hire to galas.
Coulls explained: “It’s able to operate in the yard, but that is suited for smaller locomotives. We know ‘37s’ are very popular and we had requests for galas this year. It will be available, but less likely for long-term loans and more likely short-term ones.”