Class 73s Over The Last Decade

Class 73s Over The Last Decade

The class 73 electro-diesel locomotives are a common sight around Kent and Sussex. The purpose of this post is to share some photos of the different liveries that the class 73s have worn in recent times, mostly the past decade. Because otherwise these photos would sit on my computer unlooked at.

Times haven’t changed that much since 2010. My class 73 photo collection starts off in 2011 with The Mine of Serpents railtour at London Bridge railway station. Below, GBRf class 73 number 73141 stands at London Bridge. The railtour worked around East Kent, to Mountfield Gypsum and East Grinstead from London Waterloo. 73141 is still in service today with GB Railfreight.

73208

Above, BR blue livery 73208 stands at the buffers on the other end of the Mine of Serpents railtour at London Bridge.

South West Trains Class 73

73109 “Battle of Britain” was employed by South West Trains as a thunderbird locomotive but now belongs to GB Railfreight who run the most expansive collection of the electro diesels today. In the above photo, 73109 sits at Tonbridge West Yard – the best place to see class 73 locomotives today.

73109 South West Trains

73109 again in the above photo, coupled to a dark green livery class 73, which number is not visible from the photograph.

Below, a considerable number of class 73s rest at Tonbridge West Yard. New sidings are constructed in the background, which are today used for refilling RHTT trains and stabling locomotives and on-track plant. The class 73 locomotives wore a large number of liveries over the past few decades, but this soon changed when they were repainted into GBRf branding.

Class 73s at Tonbridge West Yard

2014 saw private class 73 number 73140, which spends its time at the Spa Valley Railway, reliveried into Network Southeast branding. A number of class 73 electrodiesels are preserved across the country. To the right of the shot below, ex-Southern Lovers Walk shunter 09026 now belongs to Spa Valley Railway.

73140

For many years, Southern based test trains used class 73s, including Network Rail’s own 73136. Below, 73136 is seen at Brighton Railway Station on a test train from Hither Green Down Reception. At this time, the test trains used the other GBRf class 73s alongside DRS class 37s. 73136 is now withdrawn and no longer used. Instead, it has been replaced by 73951 and 73952 Ultra 73s nicknamed minions.

Network Rail Class 73136

GB Railfreight Class 73 working a RHTT train
A GB Railfreight Class 73 with a series of RHTT tankers. The RHTT tankers are maintained at York by Thrall Europa Ltd

Above, 73207 before it was converted into 73971. You can see all locomotives converted into 73/9s below. Despite the large number of 73s converted into 73/9s, there are still quite a few of the original 73s in service with GB Railfreight, however they are now mainly used for seasonal RHTT and SITT trains.

  • 73104 was converted into 73951
  • 73211 was converted into 73952
  • 73209 was converted into 73961
  • 73204 was converted into 73962
  • 73206 was converted into 73963
  • 73205 was converted into 73964
  • 73208 was converted into 73965
  • 73005 was converted into 73966
  • 73006 was converted into 73967
  • 73103 was converted into 73968
  • 73105 was converted into 73969
  • 73117 was converted into 73970
  • 73207 was converted into 73971

Class 73s Today

Class 73s both original and rebuilt as /9s, are still widely used across the South East. Below, Southern Railway’s thunderbird number 73202 passes Preston Park. It can be seen occasionally working Stewarts Lane to St Leonards where it gets its regular maintenance and exams.

73202

Pano

Above, Tonbridge West Yard in 2020. January wasn’t a great time to go to Tonbridge West Yard to see class 73s, because a landslip between Redhill and Edenbridge brought difficulty in operating SITT trains in East Sussex, therefore 2 sets with 4x 73s was stabled at Horsham.

Below, a mega convoy of 8x class 73 locomotives works Kentish Town to Tonbridge West Yard GBRf in 2019, where 8 of the locomotives were used on engineering trains on the Midland Mainline around St Pancras and Kentish Town. 4th in the convoy, 73201 “Broadlands” retains its original BR livery.

0X35

Below, rebuilt class 73 locomotives as class 73/9s, work a Rail Head Treatment Train at Preston Park.

GBRf Class 73/9 with RHTT Train
A GBRf Class 73/9 tails a Tonbridge West Yard based RHTT (3W90) out of Preston Park, top and tail. The tank wagons are filled with water which is sprayed on the rail heads.

I hope these pictures brought back some fond memories of these locomotives in recent times.

Comments 6

  • Thanks very much for the article and photos of class 73s.

    I’ve always had a keen interest in them, seeing them as exotic as I live in Yorkshire!

    I was actually going to try and hunt the GBRf ones out soon and was wondering where to go and on which days? Also are there regular diagrams for them? I would be really grateful to have this info!

    Thanks very much.

    David Pollard
    York.

    • I’m afraid you’ve probably just missed them as they’re really only used for SITT and RHTT, the rest of the time they’re sat at Tonbridge West Yard (has a footbridge over it so you’d probably be able to tick them all off at once!) Your be best coming down here during RHTT season then you’d see them all out and about 🙂

      • Thanks for that Matt.

        So if I go to Tonbridge Yard from now on I’m likely to see them all there?

        Thanks

        • There’s a landslide between Redhill and Tonbridge, so 4 of them are stabled at Horsham with SITT sets because they can’t go SITT via Redhill anymore. The 4 at Horsham will probably be back at Tonbridge in about 2 months maybe longer.
          So 4 are at Horsham whilst the rest are at Tonbridge. The 73/9s are usually on test train or stabled in the yard. Here’s a tops pool for today showing their whereabouts.

          73101 GBSD ELGHARLTN ELGHARLTN X 1H A
          73107 GBED HORSUTCGB HORSUTCGB D N 14D A
          73109 GBED TONB11&12 TONB11&12 D N 11D A
          73119 GBED HOOJNDNYD 883Y743G19 D * HOOJNDNYD N 18D A
          73128 GBED HOOJNDNYD 883Y743G19 D * HOOJNDNYD N 27D A
          73134 GBBR BURTON WS BURTON WS F B -1H A
          73136 GBED HORSUTCGB HORSUTCGB D N 26D A
          73139 GBSD ELGHARLTN ELGHARLTN B -5H A
          73141 GBED TONB11&12 TONB11&12 D T 10D A
          73201 GBED HORSUTCGB HORSUTCGB D N 14D A
          73212 GBED TONB11&12 TONB11&12 D N 7D A
          73213 GBED HORSUTCGB HORSUTCGB D N 10D A
          73961 GBNR TONB11&12 TONB11&12 F N 27D A

    • at the moment the classic 73s work SITT trains mostly, while the /9s work test trains and occasional SITTs. the SITTs are very subject to change, due to the changing weather. the best way to see them is to go to horsham or tonbridge yards, i’d say.

  • Thanks Matt, you’re a Star!
    David

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