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The British Railways Pilot Scheme Diesel Locomotives


British Railways' Modernisation Plan of the 1950s started, sensibly, with small orders for a variety of diesel locomotives, intended for different purposes, from a range of manufacturers including its own workshops at Swindon and Derby. This was the Pilot Scheme, and the idea was to analyse the reliability and performance of these 174 locomotives of fourteen types in service before placing larger orders. Unfortunately, in its haste to eradicate steam traction, the railway then ordered large quantities of many of these designs before they had been thoroughly tested; this resulted in failures, early withdrawals and even the re-equipping of one large class with new engines at great expense and inconvenience. Some of the designs however, were ultimately successful and lasted in service until the 1990s in some cases. The railway itself was not fully prepared for its expensive new toys, and the new diesels had to share facilities with steam locomotives - not an ideal environment for such temperamental machines.



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