D3023 in use on an extension works train - 29 November 2006 - Chris Dadson
We have now taken delivery of locomotive D3023, an English Electric 350hp diesel shunter, more recently known as 08016. Early this year the board approved the decision to hire a diesel loco for the East Grinstead extension works, and after evaluating various options and suppliers, D3023 from the Heritage Shunters Trust was chosen.
My personal position is that Bluebell is no place for a diesel locomotive, as it devalues our preservation and operation of all types of steam locomotive. In particular, owning a diesel shunter would make Normandy redundant, at least until the day that we have money to spare for non-essentials.
Our present situation with locomotives makes it impossible to take any other course of action. The size of our operating fleet has reduced to a point where we can only just maintain the public service, and in July this year we will lose Normandy, with only Baxter nearly ready, and 27505 some years away. We have looked into buying a steam loco for the extension work (a Hunslet "Austerity" - condition not good enough), and hiring a steam loco (none suitable found). If we continue to use our existing steam locos for the extension work, then we will soon have too few to run the published timetable.
This is not to say that using steam locos during 2005 was wrong. It was the hire of 41312 which made this possible, but this loco did much more than the extension works trains, covering for the shortfall in locos during the summer when 21C123 was out of service. However, we need to devote more resources to increasing the running loco fleet, and hiring a diesel is much cheaper than a steam loco.
The hire of D3023 is for the duration of the extension works only, and is charged on a pay per day's use basis. After Normandy's end of ticket it will also be used for the regular Monday and Thursday shunt duties, with a steam loco used on the extension on those days. It will not be used on any public duties of any kind. It is intended that the period of hire will enable us to get 27505 in service to cover the shunting requirement. It is also intended to make appropriate use of Baxter and Britannia for shunting duties.
The choice of type of diesel loco was made on grounds of cost and likely reliability. It is pleasing to note that the supplier is a heritage trust rather than a mere commercial organisation. Diesel sympathisers may be interested to know that it is the last loco of the first batch of its class, built in 1953. We will be painting it in its early green livery to fit in better with our steam-era railway.
Trustee and Director for Locomotives and Rolling Stock
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