The British Rail Class 56 Type 5 Co-Co diesel locomotive was first introduced in 1976 to cope with the increased requirement for heavy freight. British Rail awarded the contract contract to Design and build these new engines to Brush Traction in Loughborough who subcontracted the construction to Electroputere in Romania due to the lack of capacity in their own works.
The initial 30 locomotives to be delivered from Romania suffered from transit damage and construction deficiencies. With this in mind the decision was made to build the remainder of the fleet in the UK. British Rail Engineering Limited were given an order to produce a further 55. A total of 135 locomotives were built as part of this Class with the construction being divided between the Doncaster and Crewe Works.
The Class 56 locomotives were designed using a modified Class 47 bodyshell fitted with a Ruston-Paxman power unit to provide capacity for heavy freight. The ‘Grids’, as they were nicknamed, replaced the Class 20 and Class 47 locomotives and commonly undertook the transportation of iron ore, coal aggregate and steel. The Class 56 locomotives operated on the Eastern and London Midland Regions where the first livery used on the Class 56 locomotives was followed by the BR ‘Large Logo’.
Since those times numerous other liveries have graced the Class 56 locomotives including ‘Dutch’, Trainload Coal and Metal, Loadhaul, Transrail, early ‘EW&S’ and the revised ‘EWS’ logo and now Colas Rail Freight.
The introduction of the Class 60 locomotives saw a gradual reduction in the use of Class 56 locomotives and with the arrival of the Class 66 locomotives and with the arrival of the Class 66 locomotives the Class 56 fleet ceased operating and were placed into storage in 2004. The majority of the locomotives remain in various depots around the UK although some have been reinstated and used on projects in France. A few were also refurbished for ‘Fastline’, which ceased operating in 2010.
Locomotive No. 56084 entered service in October 1980 and carried the standard BR Blue livery with the large white arrows emblazoned on each side. The next livery was Railfreight Grey, which gave way to the triple grey with Railfreight Coal Sub Sector markings followed by the Loadhaul black and orange livery. In September 2008, No 56084 was withdrawn and placed into storage, eventually being scrapped in March 2009 by CF Booth in Rotherham.