Recognition and Equipment information
CLASS 73





For the Southern Region, where the principle power source was electric, a dual-power (electric/diesel) loco was considered an advantage, having the ability to operate from the third rail electric supply, or from an on-board subsidiary diesel/generator. The basic plans for this style of dual power loco were first considered in the late 1930s, but it was not until the mid-1950s that any firm project on the dual power traction was drawn up.
Plans advanced in the closing years of the decade and by July 1959 approval was given to construct six prototype dual-power locos. The prime power source was straight electric. The auxiliary source was an English Electric 4SRKT engine set to deliver 600hp, traction power was provided by an English Electric generator. The electric power output was 1,600hp.
Construction of the six prototype locos, Nos. E6001-E6006, was awarded to Eastleigh Carriage Works, where building commenced in 1960. The first completed locomotive emerged on February 1, 1962. The livery applied was BR EMU green with small yellow warning panels. By the end of 1962 all six locos were in service, allocated to Stewarts Lane in South London. An important design feature of the ED fleet was the installation of electric and diesel multiple control equipment as well as emu compatible jumpers, permitting the locos to work in multiple with any blue star compatible diesel loco or post-1951 electric multiple unit.
During the mid-1960s the SR were so pleased with their ED fleet that repeat orders for 43 almost identical locos was made in 1964, with the contract going to English Electric. The number range allocated was E6007-E6049. The English Electric contract was carried out by the Vulcan Foundry Works at Newton-le-Willows, with the first loco arriving on SR metals in October 1965. The body styling of the EE build was practically identical to the BR fleet except for slight window/grille alterations, the removal of the multiple control jumper from the driver's side and re-designed bogies. Minor internal technical alterations were also incorporated.
Under the BR numerical classification the fleet became Class 73. Sub Class 73/0 - Nos. 73001-73006 for BR built locomotives and Sub Class 73/1 - Nos. 73101-73142 for the EE built locomotives.
After their introduction, the fleet of 49 locos settled down well, operating on all three the SR divisions at the head of both passenger and freight services. The fleet's duties remained almost the same until May 1984 when the 'Gatwick Express' service was launched. This originally called for seven of the fleet to be dedicated to the service, which was later increased to 13.
For the 'Gatwick Express' service, special rakes of Mk2 stock were formed with a Gatwick Luggage Van (GLV) at one end, and a Class 73 at the other. Additional work was found for the fleet in 1986-88 when the new Bournemouth stock was under construction and the REP units were phased out early to donate their electrical equipment to the new type. As a temporary measure Class 73s were formed with TC stock and used on some Waterloo- Bournemouth services.
When built the prototypes were finished in BR green livery, however when the production EE fleet emerged, Electric blue was applied, this giving way to standard Rail blue from the late 1960s. The adoption of the 'more yellow' scheme for some classes was extended to the Class 73s in 1983 but after only a handful had been so treated full main-line or InterCity colours were authorised, this being applied to all locos from 1984 to 1988. Following the introduction of the independently funded business groups within BR, other liveries were applied. Some of the Class 73/1s appeared in Civil Engineers 'Dutch' livery, while others were repainted in all over grey. From 1991 Network SouthEast livery was applied to locos owned by this business. Most members of the Class 73/0 fleet retained all-blue or 'more yellow' format. Following the re introduction of names on selected fleets the Class 73s benefited from this addition.
Following the take over of the 'Gatwick Express' services it was decided in 1988 to dedicate a fleet of 12 locomotives (later 13) specifically for this service, and classify the machines as Class 73/2. These locos, apart from sporting full InterCity colours were maintained for full 90mph running, whereas others were restricted to 60mph.
The original six prototype locos were transferred north to the Merseyrail electric network after being made redundant on the former Southern Region.
Over the years few modifications have been necessary to the Class 73 fleet. Some worthy of mention are (1) when built the six prototype locos had oval buffers which were later changed to the conventional Oleo type, and (2) following introduction on the 'Gatwick Express' service several electrical fires occurred due to arcing between shoes and bogies, and to overcome this arc shields were fitted, (3) Class 73/2s later had vacuum brake equipment removed.
During 1991, it was agreed to repaint No. 73101 in full 'Pullman' colours. This was carried out by Selhurst Level 5 depot, and the loco was used to power the VSOE on a special London-Brighton run. It was the intention to repaint it back into conventional livery, but agreement was then reached to retain this distinctive livery. Following the decision to fit headlights to all main line traction from 1990, all members of the fleet were so fitted.
When the Eurostar operation was launched, two Class 73s were allocated to this business, both receiving major modifications to incorporate Scharfenberg auto couplers, permitting direct attachment to Eurostar stock. Under privatisation this pair were transferred to Eurostar UK ownership.
In the immediate pre-privatisation period, and the formation of shadow freight businesses, the Class 73s not allocated to Gatwick Express, Eurostar or working on Merseyrail became the property of Mainline Freight, who painted a small number in their aircraft blue livery. Upon full privatisation and the transfer of all freight operations to English Welsh & Scottish Railway, the corporate EWS livery was applied to two locos.
From 2001 the Gatwick Express fleet was being replaced by new Class 460 electric multiple units with the 73/2s having an uncertain future, two have been taken over by Railtrack, while others are stored. Two locos have been retained by Gatwick Express for ‘Thunderbird’ duties. Only a handful of EWS Class 73/1s now remain in traffic and the Class 73/0s and 73/9s are stored on Merseyside. One loco No. 73109 has seen far more use in 2000-2001, owned by South West Trains and outbased at Woking as a ‘Thunderbird’.





Class 73/0. This view shows No. E6003 (73003) superbly restored to 1960s green livery by Selhurst Level 5 depot for the last few months of its BR life. As will be seen the front end of these six locos was slightly different from the EE production fleet in having an additional jumper on the drivers side. The very cluttered buffer beam hoses both air and vacuum brake equipment, engine control air pipes ETS connections as well as a drop had buck-eye coupler. CJM.





Class 73 side elevation, main equipment areas are marked. A-No. 1 or diesel end, B-radiator compartment with fan on roof, C-diesel engine and generator compartment, D-electric compartment, E-fuel tank, F-air compressor, G-battery boxes, H-sand boxes, I-third rail power collection shoes. Loco No. 73101 is seen in BR rail blue at Clapham Junction. CJM.





Following the launch of the self accounting business units within BR and the formation of Network SouthEast, the distinctive NSE colours of blue, grey, white and red soon adorned a handful of Class 73s. No. 73136 is shown outside the paint shop at Selhurst following repaint. Note how all the underframe equipment has been picked out in the correct colours - a trade mark of the Selhurst paint shop. This Class 73/1 also sports the 1990s additional fitment of sealed beam headlights. CJM.



Two more of the revised liveried given to the Class 73/1 fleet are shown here, again outside the paint shop at Selhurst. No. 73128 in the background shows the 'Dutch' or civil engineers livery, while on the right is Pullman liveried No. 73101. This loco became the flagship of the fleet and the livery is still retained today. CJM.



Following the take over of the UK freight and parcel businesses by EWS, the hen US Wisconsin Central-owned company livery of maroon and gold was soon applied to a number of locos of most classes. No. 73128 is seen outside its then home depot of Stewarts Lane after repaint. This early repaint shows the EW&S branding, which was subsequently changed to read just EWS. CJM.



As part of the introduction of Eurostar services between the UK and Mainland Europe, a pair of Class 73/1s were rebuilt by Crewe Works with hinged Scharfenberg couplers, enabling the locos to couple directly to a Eurostar. The complex equipment was a 'bolt-on' to the locos front end and consisted of a buffer beam, brake pipes, headlight unit and MU connections, vacuum brake equipment was removed. The two locos are usually kept at North Pole depot and are used as depot pilots or to haul full or part Eurostar sets on the main line. No. 73118 is illustrated at Stewarts Lane. CJM.



The 13 locos dedicated to Gatwick Express operations between Victoria and Gatwick Airport, where a 15 minute interval service is operated were virtually used as part of the EMU fleet and for this reason usually worked with their buck-eye couplers in the raised position and buffers retracted, for dedication purposes the fleet became Class 73/2. The 13 locos were all painted in InterCity style livery and after privatisation carried the Gatwick express fleet name. All locos were modified by Stewarts Lane to have their vacuum brake equipment removed. No. 73206 is illustrated at Gatwick Airport. CJM.