No. 31285 was the first Class 31 to be out-shopped in NR yellow, being released from Fragonset’s workshops at the former RTC site in Derby in October 2003.
While the livery was striking enough, even more dramatic was the addition of five large spotlight brackets (two on the lower cab front and three on the cab roof) and a forward facing camera in the plated nose door at the No.2 end.The ultra violet spotlights – of various designs over time – gave it the nickname ‘scooter’ and were deployed when running with the Structure Gauging Train.
Meanwhile, the No.1 end also featured various sockets for connecting to the test coaches. At the start of 2008, No. 31285 debuted new larger LED tail lights and, at the same time, lost its original windscreen washer jets and baffles in favour of new wiper-mounted versions.
After 12 years of service with NR and some 54 years after being delivered to Tinsley as D5817 in October 1961, it was retired and sold to Harry Needle in August 2015. It has been based at the Weardale Railway ever since, still with full light package, and is operational.