Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Brush / Hawker Syddeley HS4000 'Kestrel'

I thought it would be a good idea to follow the previous posting, featuring Heljans OO gauge model of the Brush / Hawker Syddeley designed Type 5 prototype diesel locomotive 'HS4000' with a couple of photographs of the original.
The top photograph was taken on 29th January 1968 with the loco in pristine condition departing Marylebone station at the head of a special Press test train.
Unfortunately, I do not have any details for the second photograph but it was probably taken towards the end of its working days for BR.
Kestrel was, without doubt the supreme of all the prototypes, being as powerful and rugged in its performance as it was in its appearance.
It was introduced in 1968 and BR were originally delighted with their new, high power, locomotive. However, they found, to their concern, that with a running weight of 133 tons, mounted on to Co-Co bogies, it was greatly in excess of their existing axle limitations.
The  high performance of HS4000 was tested on various freight trains during the early part of 1968 but BR did not really use it to its full potential.
On 8 May a train consisting of 20 standard Mk 1 coaches, weighing in excess of 665 tons, was hauled up Shap Bank by HS4000, topping the summit at an amazing 46 mph. This was indeed the first time that the locomotive had been seen working to its full operating potential.
Later, in August 1968, a special test train was arranged to put Kestrel through her paces when a train of 2,028 tons, formed of 32 ton open hopper wagons, was hauled between Mansfield and Lincoln. This was announced at the time as being the heaviest train to operate on the BR network.
For much of its early life HS4000 was employed hauling coal trains between Shirebrook and March (Whitmore Yard)  because  BR engineers would not let the locomotive haul passenger services until the axle loading had been reduced. So, Kestrel was called back to Falcon Works at Loughborough early in 1969 to be fitted with modified Class 47 bogies.
Following this refitting, Kestrel duly took up the 'Deltic' diagram of the 07:55 King's Cross to Newcastle and the 16:45 return service.
Its passenger train running was superb with an 89% availability and virtually 100% timekeeping.
During 1970 the locomotive was employed hauling one of the heavy daily freightliner services between London and the north.
Following an engine overhaul in September 1970, the loco returned to its original coal train duties between Shirebrook and Whitmoor Yard before being finally withdrawn in early 1971 having accrued only 136,646 miles.
The loco was then sold to the USSR where it was displayed at the railway exhibition at Scherbinka during the summer of 1971. Since then very little was known of HS4000 but it is believed to have been finally scrapped during the early 1990s.

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