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TSW: The Southern Region Shunter

Train Sim World: West Somerset Railway is coming soon, and with it, a derivative of the popularised ‘Gronks’ - the BR Class 09!

In the steam age, any shunting duties throughout yards, sidings, and major stations was carried out by diminutive 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 tank locomotives, their short wheelbase able to fit around the typically tighter curves found in such complex and compact locations.

It was inevitable, however, that diesel equivalents would be required nationwide. Diesel could offer more tractive effort for a locomotive similar size, ideal for general purpose use where anything needed moving or shunting over a short distance. The London Midland and Scottish railway had already tinkered with the idea of using diesel shunters by the mid-1930s, and had English Electric building the D3/6 in 1935.

The D3/6 shunter formed the basis of things to come, a short 0-6-0 wheelbase upon which a small cab and long bonnet was rested - the bonnet housed an 350 horsepower English Electric 6K engine and two traction motors, giving a top speed of 30mph and a tractive effort of 122.k kN. Only a handful of these shunters were built, yet they were the foundation for what would be the LMS 12033 series (BR Class 11), of which 120 were built.

When the time came to “go large” with general purpose shunters under British Railways, the design of the BR Class 11 was chosen, and between 1952 and 1962, a whopping 996 diesel shunters were built as the BR Class 08. Being the most prolific of any British Rail locomotives, they became a common sight at any site of significance.

In the late 1950s, a derivative of the BR Class 08 was sought after, one which could shunt as per design but also work short-distance light freight journeys on branch lines in the Southern Region of British Railways. The answer was the BR Class 09, of which 26 were built as new at BR’s Darlington and Horwich Works between 1959 and 1962; and a further 12 Class 08s were rebuilt into 09s in the 1990s.

The principal difference between the 08s and 09s was their gearing, the 09s were built with a higher top speed of 27.5mph (the average for an 08 being 15), with a subsequent sacrifice in tractive effort to attain this. The small fleet of Class 09 shunters would work throughout the Southern Region, on light freight duties typically, but also arranging coaches in the likes of Brighton station, and some were even briefly seen on passenger trains out of Clapham Junction.

The Class 09s continued working on the main line right into the early 2000s, with several seen in privatised liveries. Today however, with a total of 10 surviving, the remaining examples of the class exist only in preservation.

One in particular, D4107, built at Horwich Works in 1961, was one of the few of the class to work further north, up in Carlisle, before being transferred to the south’s Hither Green depot, located in the London borough of Lewisham. From here the shunter would have marshalled freight trains together, trains which were bound for destinations beyond London. D4107 became 09019 when the TOPS classification system was introduced.

09019 would be one of the locomotives to feel the wrath of privatisation, it was to work for Mainline Freight and so soon received their blue paint scheme and unique logo. When the time for retirement came in 2013, 09019 was saved from scrap and sent to the West Somerset Railway, where it can still be seen today, restored back to D4107 in BR Green livery, on passenger workings and coach shunting procedures.

The lesser-seen, yet faster sister to the ‘Gronks’, the BR Class 09, will shine in the spotlight of the coming soon Train Sim World: West Somerset Railway route!

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In a future article, we'll go over the history of the BR Class 47, watch this space!

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