British Rail Class 52

Ranked #5 on the list Best Locomotive class of All Time

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About British Rail Class 52

  • Locomotives of this class: Western Enterprise
  • Parent class:
  • Built by:

British Rail (BR) assigned Class 52 to the class of 74 large Type 4 diesel-hydraulic locomotives built for the Western Region of British Railways between 1961 and 1964. All were given two-word names, the first word being Western; thus the type became known as Westerns. When switching to diesel traction as part of the Modernisation Plan of the 1950s, BR designed, and commissioned designs for, a large number of locomotive types. At this time (and arguably right up until Sectorisation in the 1980s), BR's regions had a high degree of autonomy, which extended as far as classes of locomotives ordered and even the design criteria for those locomotives. Whilst almost all other diesel locomotives were diesel-electric, the Western Region employed a policy of using diesel-hydraulic traction, originally commissioning three classes of main line locomotives— a type 2 and two type 4s (later designations class 22, class 41 and class 42). With pressure to increase the speed of the transition from steam to diesel, volume orders for the class 22 and class 42 followed in 1957, a mere two years after the original orders and well before any idea of performance or reliability could be gained. At the same

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