Classic diesel loco to be 'star of show' at heritage event

The diesel locomotive D5631 is joining the stable at the North Norfolk Railway, which runs between Sheringham and Holt. 

The diesel locomotive D5631 is joining the stable at the North Norfolk Railway, which runs between Sheringham and Holt. - Credit: Steve Allen

It roared along the tracks during the golden age of diesel trains.

Now rail enthusiasts can look forward to the return of a classic Class 31 - also known as a Brush Type 2 - which is to join the stable at the North Norfolk Railway. 

Neil Sharpe, chairman of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society, which bought the locomotive D5631 for the purpose, said: “The loco looks superb. It has certainly been worth the wait.

Neil Sharpe, chairman of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society​​​​​​​.

Neil Sharpe, chairman of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society. - Credit: Archant

"I am certain society members will be impressed and delighted to see D5631 back in service.”

Mr Sharpe said he wanted to thank chief engineer Keith Ashford and the team at North Norfolk Railway Engineering, who have been working on the loco at their Weybourne workshop since the start of 2017.


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D5631 will be the star of the show at the North Norfolk Railway Mixed Traction Weekend on July 24-25, when it will haul special services, including a private charter train for society members and guests, leaving from Sheringham on the Saturday at 1pm.

The Class 31 was once a common sight on passenger and freight services on the main and branch lines across East Anglia, before the Beeching cuts of the 1960s led to many closures. 

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This particular loco entered service in Norfolk in 1960. Professional engineers and volunteers who worked on its restoration initially focused on the badly corroded bodywork- something which plagued the class as a whole.

The project also saw the replacement of its No 4-traction motor and extensive electrical work.

Mr Sharpe said: "The overhaul has been something of a journey of discovery with many surprises en route.

"The degree of corrosion was greater than we had envisaged, and of course other areas needing attention were identified during the disassembly and overhaul process."

The loco was repainted in British Rail Green with bodyside stripes and small yellow front panels. This was the livery from the 1960s which society members voted for in a poll on the project. 

Mr Sharpe said that although the society had yet to find photographic evidence of D5631 working on what is now the North Norfolk Railway during its earlier days, it almost certainly did so.

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