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Class 56 Gallery

The British Rail Class 56 was built between 1976 and 1984 to become one of British Rail's heavy haul Type 5 Locomotives. The Class was built for the purpose of moving heavy coal loads on the 'Merry Go Round' coal circuits in the east midlands. The first thirty locomotives were built at Electroputre in Romania, but suffered from multiple problems which resulted in the being rebuilt at Doncaster Works. All remaining Class 56's were subsequently constructed in the UK split between Doncaster and Crewe works. The Class 56's were nicknamed 'Grids' by enthusiasts, a name which has stuck with the class throughout their mainline career. The name was taken from the grid like horn covers fitted to the locomotive nose. While the Class 56's were a powerful and capable locomotive, they suffered from expensive maintenance compared to their Class 58 counterparts. Many issues with the Class 56 would result in roof sections needing to be removed and sometimes power units to be lifted, because the space inside the locomotive body would not allow proper access. As such if time was not invested in regular engine care, then this would often lead to in service failures. As such the class fell out of favour in the privatisation years with EWS/ DB Schenker when many were sidelined at just 15 years old. Some were however exported for use in France under contract hire to assist with the building of TGV lines. Upon their return to the UK after a period out of service many have been purchased by smaller companies and are now back in regular traffic. Taunton has seen a resurgence of Class 56's in recent years. In the 80's and 90's the Class would only make fleeting appearances. Sectorization saw a batch of Metals Class 56's allocated to Cardiff Canton in the 90's, when a class member would often appear on a Saturday hauling the Exeter Basin scrap. Other than this an appearance of a Class 56 at Taunton can be considered 'rare' up until 2013 when Colas Rail Freight returned a large batch of Class 56's to mainline traffic.

13th January 2018
UKRL Class 56 No.56104 rides on the back of the 4Z03 08:00 Okehampton - Caddesden Sidings Lorum Rail Grinder move, seen passing Norton Fitzwarren on the 13th September 2018.
(Photo: Brian Garrett)


17th June 1989
A very rare working occurred on the 17th June 1989. The 13:05 Paddington - Paignton loco hauled service failed at Westbury. The only locomotive to hand was a Railfreight Construction Class 56. 56046 is seen passing 40 Steps, Taunton with quite a few enthusiasts on board. The loco only worked the train between Westbury and Exeter. At Exeter something a little more appropriate was provided for the trip to Paignton. 56046 later returned light engine to Westbury.
(Photo: Taunton Trains Collection)


17th June 1989
A very rare working occurred on the 17th June 1989. Having worked the 13:05 Paddington - Paignton service between Westbury and Exeter. Railfreight Construction Class 56 No.56046 returned light engine to Westbury after a locomotive from Exeter Shed was found to work the passenger service forward. The Class 56 ia pictured returning to Westbury passing 40 Steps.
(Photo: Taunton Trains Collection)


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