37/6 - The Number of The Beasts! Our Latest 37 Arrivals... — Accurascale Skip to content
37/6 - The Number of The Beasts! Our Latest 37 Arrivals...

37/6 - The Number of The Beasts! Our Latest 37 Arrivals...

If one variant from our first production run could be described as the catalyst for  our English Electric Type 3 it is the Class 37/6.

Not to be confused with the centre headcode Class 37/5s numbered in the 376xx series, the 12 ex-European Passenger Services, later Eurostar, locomotives numbered 37601-37612 were originally converted in the mid-1990s to haul the pan-European ‘Nightstar’ services away from the wires in the UK. While all variants in our first run were new to OO gauge when announced, it is this sub-class that was the real missing link in the range of available privatisation era diesels.

While the EE machines were no strangers to sleeper services there were still a few eyebrows raised when 12 freight Class 37/5s, nine former ‘splitbox’ and three centre headcode, were transferred to EPS in 1994. Pairs of Type 3s were proposed to sandwich a Mk.3 generator vehicle on trains between Plymouth/Swansea and Kensington Olympia, before the sections combined behind a Class 92 for the run through the Channel Tunnel. Additional locomotives were required for diversionary purposes on the ECML and WCML routes, or for hauling Class 373 ‘Eurostar’ trains with the assistance of a barrier vehicle.

BRML Doncaster undertook the modifications which included re-geared and refurbished 90mph bogies from withdrawn Class 50s, ETS (electric train supply) through cables and exterior control buttons, RCH communication jumpers and the removal of vacuum-brake equipment. The first to be completed were 37601 and 37602 – former Thornaby celebrities 37501 and 37502 – in January and February 1995, while the final member of the fleet, 37606 (ex-37508), was released the following July.

Incredibly after spending over £100 million on the ‘Nightstar’ trains the venture was cancelled in June 1997, which came at an opportune time for the fledgling rail freight operator Direct Rail Services, a subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL). With the nuclear flask contract with EWS due to end in early 1999, DRS was desperate for motive power to supplement its existing fleet of Class 20/3s. Acquiring 37607-12 in July 1997, they initially retained their EPS triple-grey livery with the addition of dark blue DRS logos ahead of being hired to Freightliner to work in pairs on container services.

All six were repainted in the original DRS scheme in early 1998, gaining multiple working sockets in the nose at the same time. The following year, 37608 and 37612 became the first examples to be rebuilt at Brush Loughborough with WIPAC light clusters, top headlight and refurbished cabs with revised drivers desk and a new partition to improve soundproofing. Toughened cab front windows were next, from around 2001. Three further Class 37/6s were acquired the following April, 37602, 37605 and 37606 and they were also upgraded at Brush with the same modifications. Over time some also saw the reskinning of the nose to remove plated doors or obsolete headcode panels.

37601 and 37603, made the move to DRS in November 2007, while the final member of the sub class, 37604, transferred across exactly a year later. This final trio kept their unique Eurostar modified square tail light housings, only gaining a DRS multiple working socket to replace the large spotlights and nose-mounted cabling. They were also the only three Class 37/6s to debut in the new Compass branding in September and October 2008, with the rest of the fleet gaining the new look between October 2007 and August 2012. The livery was further revised in 2014 and was inspired by the ‘fade’ vinyls applied to the new Class 68s, although only 37609 from this sub class received them.

As well as their appearance, their duties radically changed over time. In its first year or so, DRS’ small portfolio included nuclear operations between Barrow Docks and Sellafield only, the ‘milkliner’ between Penrith and Cricklewood, and acid tanks between Ince and Sellafield. By the early 2000s, DRS had added intermodal services for the Malcolm Group to its range of ex-EWS nuclear diagrams, while Network Rail test train work commenced in 2005. By the end of the decade, DRS Type 3 operations had expanded to include a wide array of charter work, scrap metal, stock moves and numerous other temporary or trial freight flows.

With the Class 37/6s having provided the backbone of the DRS fleet in its early years, the arrival of new Class 68s along with a second tranche of Class 37/4s from 2016 saw 37601, 37608 and 37611 move to Europhoenix. They were followed by 37607 and 37612 to Harry Needle in June 2017, which also acquired 37610 from Locomotive Services in 2019. The remaining half dozen would be stopped and placed into store over the same period, with the last, 37602 and 37609, taken out of service in September 2019.

In 2022, DRS sold off the six remaining locos. HNRC added 37602, 37603, 37604 and 37609 to its existing roster, 37606 went to the owner of Loram Rail-hired 37418, while 37605 has moved to the GCR for use as a spares donor for the Heavy Traction Group’s 37714 and the NRM’s D6700. It has since been scrapped.

The current operational fleet includes the Europhoenix trio, all of which are allocated to Rail Operations Group for stock moves – with 37611 now wearing the operator’s blue ‘PCB’ scheme – and HNRC’s recently ‘tangoed’ 37607, blue/yellow 37610 and unbranded DRS blue 37612, which are all hired to Colas Rail. 37602 and 37609 are also hoped to return to traffic in 2023. Meanwhile, 37606 has also been cosmetically backdated to original Railfreight livery as 37508 at Nemesis Rail, Burton-upon-Trent, but as of August 2023 had yet to return to the main line.

With three decades of service behind them and drawn from all all major variations of split and centre headcode machines, including both EE and RCH-built, the 12 donor Class 37/5s were already individually unique before emerging from Doncaster as Class 37/6s. Rebuilt and modified several times for Direct Rail Services and more recent owners like Europhoenix the sub class is essentially a completely new locomotive compared to a Class 37/0 and presented a formidable challenge to any model manufacturer. We have risen to the challenge with number-specific body, roof and nose tooling with a wide range of different separately-added plastic and etched metal parts, these authentic replicas also sport correct Class 50-style cast bogies, two styles of buffer, single or double nose multiple working sockets, a range of fuel tank, kick plate, bodyside window, step and nose grille combinations and optional miniature snowploughs.

Our eagerly anticipated Class 37/6 locomotives have now arrived in stock and we are currently prepping orders to begin shipping later this week. While we are currently sold out on pre-order, it is worth checking back on the website for cancellations and clicking the 'Notify me if item becomes available' button should any become available. 


Previous article Jump For Joy As First J67/8/9 Samples Arrive!
Next article EE's first five - The next 37s about to arrive

Compare products

{"one"=>"Select 2 or 3 items to compare", "other"=>"{{ count }} of 3 items selected"}

Select first item to compare

Select second item to compare

Select third item to compare