BR Class 03

British Rail Class 03
Doncaster Works open day on 27 July 2003
Power type Diesel-mechanical
Builder BR Swindon & Doncaster
Build date 1957–1961
Total produced 230
Configuration 0-6-0
UIC classification C
Wheel diameter 3 ft 7 in (1.092 m)
Minimum curve 2 chains (40 m)
Wheelbase 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
Length 26 ft 0 in (7.92 m)
Width 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Height 12 ft 2.4375 in (3.72 m)
11 ft 10 in (3.61 m) (cut down)
Locomotive weight 30.2 long tons (30.7 t; 33.8 short tons)
Fuel capacity 510 imp gal (2,300 l; 610 US gal)
Prime mover Gardner 8L3
Transmission Wilson-Drewry CA5 R7, 5-speed epicyclic gearbox, RF11 spiral bevel reverse and final drive unit.
Top speed 28.5 mph (45.9 km/h)
Power output Engine: 204 hp (152 kW)
At rail: 152 hp (113 kW)
Tractive effort Max: 15,650 lbf (69.6 kN)
Train heating None
13 long tons-force (130 kN)
Train brakes Vacuum (some Dual Air & Vacuum)
Railroad(s) British Railways
Number 11187–11209, 91, 92;
later D2000–D2199, D2370–D2399;
later 03004–03199, 03370–03399
Axle load class RA 1
Retired from April 1968
Disposition One still in service, over 50 preserved, most scrapped

The British Rail Class 03 locomotive is, together with Class 04, one of BR's most successful smaller 0-6-0 diesel-mechanical shunters. The class, numbering 230 examples, was built by British Railways' Swindon and Doncaster works in 1957-1962 and numbered D2000-D2199 and D2370-D2399 (later 03004 to 03399). D2370 and D2371 were used as departmental locomotives and originally numbered 91 and 92 respectively.


Like other shunters of this size, the Class 03 was built for light duties where a larger locomotive was not needed, especially for shunting at locomotive and carriage depots and as station pilots. The reduction over time in the demand for shunting locomotives meant that they were progressively withdrawn from 1968 onwards, many being sold to private industry. However, some remained in service much longer, with two examples on the Isle of Wight lasting until 1993 (mainland examples had gone by 1987). In 1998, one of the Isle of Wight locos, no. 03 179, was re-instated into service by the West Anglia Great Northern Railway Company (WAGN) for service at their Hornsey depot. This remains the last operational Class 03 locomotive on the network. It is named Clive after a depot employee. It is now owned by First Capital Connect, and was recently painted into a variant of FCC's urban lines colours.

Technical details

The engine is a Gardner 8-cylinder, 4-stroke 8L3 of 204 hp (152 kW) connected to a Wilson-Drewry CA5 R7, 5-speed epicyclic gearbox with RF11 spiral bevel reverse and final-drive unit. Drive is through a jackshaft mounted beneath the cab, driving the wheels through coupling rods (US: side rods).

During their later life, some locomotives were fitted with Dual (Air and Vacuum) Brakes. These were 03059, 03063, 03073, 03078, 03084, 03086, 03089, 03094, 03112, 03152, 03158, 03162, 03179, 03180, 03371, 03397 and 03399.



Originally the Class 03s were often deployed where their attributes of short wheelbase and light weight enabled them to operate where other shunters could not. On lines such as that to Ipswich docks, bridge weight restrictions prevented the ubiquitous Class 08s from operating. Another common use was as Station Pilot, usually coupled to a shunters' truck to ensure operation of track circuits which did not always register the passage of the short Class 03.

By 1979, Class 03s' operations included:[1]

Passenger duties

Despite the limited scope for the use of such a small locomotive on main line passenger duties, there were a number of duties rostered to the class. During the early 1970s Southern Region Class 03s worked Channel Island boat trains through the streets to the harbour along the Weymouth Quay tramway.[2] In 1980 a Class 03 at Ipswich was booked to shunt the 23:20 Peterborough - Liverpool Street onto the rear of the 23:45 Norwich - Liverpool Street.[3] Also, according to Mangapps Railway Museum,[4] 03 089 once hauled a Liverpool to Scarborough Express along the York to Scarborough Line from Malton to Scarborough.

Burry Port & Gwendraeth Valley Line

Several examples were rebuilt with cut-down cabs for working on the Burry Port & Gwendraeth Valley Line in Wales, as there were several low bridges on the line that normal height locomotives would not be able to clear without incident.

The modified examples were nos. 03119, 03120, 03141, 03142, 03144, 03145, 03151 and 03152.[5] Their duties included shunting (for example at Burry Port) but also hauling full coal trains down from the valley's pits. For this latter duty they sometimes worked triple-headed.

They were replaced by Class 08/9 locomotives, which were also rebuilt to a reduced height. Several cut-down locomotives have been preserved.

The Isle of Wight shunters, nos. 03079 and 03179, were also rebuilt with cut-down cabs, to enable them to pass through a low tunnel in Ryde.

The only 03 left in service is 03179. Owned by FCC and painted into their livery, 03179 is based a Hornsey depot on the ECML and is used to shunt EMUs around the depot.


A fairly large number (around 56, confirmed so far) of the class survive into preservation, along with a 57th example still in active service as of 2013.

D Number Image Preserved location Industrial use Notes
03018 D2018 Mangapps Railway Museum - [1]
03020 D2020 Lavender Line - [2]
03022 D2022 Swindon and Cricklade Railway - [3]
- D2023 Kent & East Sussex Railway Tees & Hartlepool Dock Authority (1972-1980) [4]
- D2024 Kent & East Sussex Railway Tees & Hartlepool Dock Authority (1972-1980) [5]
03027 D2027 Peak Rail - [6]
03037 D2037 Peak Rail - [7]
- D2041 Colne Valley Railway Richborough Power Station (1970)
Rye House Power Station (1971)
Barking Power Station (1971)
Rye House Power Station (1974-1981)
- D2051 North Norfolk Railway Ford, Dagenham (06/1973-04/1997) [9]
03059 D2059 Isle of Wight Steam Railway - [10]
03062 D2062 East Lancashire Railway - [11]
03063 D2063 North Norfolk Railway - [12]
03066 D2066
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Barrow Hill Engine Shed - [13]
03069 D2069 Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Vic Berry, Leicester [14]
03072 D2072 Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway - [15]
03073 D2073 Crewe Heritage Centre Used for occasional loco shunting and brakevan rides to visitors to the heritage centre [16]
03078 D2078 North Tyneside Steam Railway Newcastle Central Station, used as a station pilot.
03079 D2079 Derwent Valley Light Railway TBA [18]
03084 D2084 Lincolnshire Wolds Railway [19]
03090 D2090
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Locomotion Part of the National Collection [20]
03099 - Heritage Shunters Trust - [21]
03113 - Heritage Shunters Trust - [22]
03119 D2119 Epping Ongar Railway TBA [23]
03128 D2128 Appleby-Frodingham RPS, Scunthorpe Sold for scrap to Birds, Long Marston, where engine and coupling removed and then exported to Belgium where fitted with Deutz V12 air cooled engine, VM hydraulic pump and motor into original change speed box. Reimported and operated at Peak Rail, eventually to Dean Forest where stored incomplete. Moved to Scunthorpe 2009, being repowered with Cummins 14 litre [24]
03170 - Epping Ongar Railway - [25]
- D2118 Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre Worked at Anglian Building Products, Lenwade, Norfolk from August 1973,
then at Dow-Mac near Stamford from December 1993.
- D2139 Heritage Shunters Trust - [27]
- D2199 Heritage Shunters Trust Sold to NCB in 1974 after being overhauled and fitted with air brakes at Doncaster Works. Worked at Rockingham, North Gawber and Royston until being placed into store at Monkton in 1984. Was on loan to Hanson Aggregates, Machen Quarry near Newport 2003 (?)-2006 [28]
03081 D2081 Mangapps Railway Museum - was used between 1981-2000 [29]
- D2084 Lincolnshire Wolds Railway TBA [30]
- D2089 Mangapps Railway Museum TBA [31]
- D2094 Royal Deeside Railway TBA [32]
- D2117 Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway TBA [33]
- D2120 Fawley Hill Railway, Buckingamshire TBA [34]
- D2133 West Somerset Railway Worked at Cellophane's Bridgwater factory in the 1970s, prior to preservation at the time. [35]
- D2134 Royal Deeside Railway Was based in Belgium between 1976 and 1993, has since been repatriated back to the UK. [36]
- D2138 Midland Heritage Railway Used at Pye Hill Colliery between 1969-1984, prior to preservation. [37]
- D2141 Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway TBA [38]
- D2144 Wensleydale Railway TBA [39]
- D2145 D2578 Locomotive Group, Moreton Business Park TBA [40]
- D2148 Ribble Steam Railway TBA [41]
- D2152 Swindon & Cricklade Railway TBA [42]
03158 D2158 Great Central Railway TBA [43]
- D2162 Llangollen Railway TBA [44]
- D2170 Battlefield Line Was owned by Otis Euro Transrail between 1989-1999 [45]
- D2178 Gwili Railway TBA [46]
03179 D2179 First Capital Connect Hornsey
- D2180 Battlefield Line TBA [47]
- D2182 Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway TBA [48]
- D2184 Colne Valley Railway TBA [49]
- D2189 Ribble Steam Railway TBA [50]
03192 D2192 Dartmouth Steam Railway [51]
03196 D2196 West Coast Railway Co Carnforth TBA [52]
03197 D2197 Lavender Line TBA [53]
- D2371 Rowden Mill station museum TBA [54]
- D2381 West Coast Railway Company, Carnforth TBA [55]
03399 D2399 Mangapps Railway Museum TBA [56]


Mainline used to offer an OO gauge example of this little shunter before the original 'split-chassis' tooling passed on to Bachmann. When the company later took the decision to produce the Class 04 in its place these toolings were altered, retaining the split chassis power arrangement. However, Bachmann later announced that they would be re-introducing several new variations of the 03 in OO gauge, including special edition examples of the Isle of Wight prototypes.

The new Bachmann-produced version of the model is now on sale and is available in several liveries with appropriate detail differences. Most importantly it now features an all new 'pick-up'-type chassis which is fitted with a 6-pin socket to simply accept a 'plug-in' 6-pin DCC decoder. (However the promised Isle of Wight variants with cut-down cab does not yet seem to have been produced).


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