The Class 56 is a British diesel locomotive built for heavy freight duties between 1976 and 1984. The majority have been displaced from freight duties though some can still be found operated by private freight companies.
Built for British Rail between 1976 and 1984, the first batch of 30 locomotives were built by Electroputere in Romania as a replacement to ageing fleets of first generation locomotives such as the Class 37 and Class 47. A further 105 locomotives were subsequently built by BREL at Doncaster and Crewe Works, bringing the total fleet of Class 56s to enter service to 135.
The bodyshell design was based on the Class 47 and the 56s were the first BR diesel type to be built with air train brakes only. Its 3,250 horsepower output enabled a top speed of 80mph (129 km/h), and the ‘Grids’ plied its trade across the British railway network at the head of heavy freight services.
Following privatisation of the rail network in 1996, many models passed to private owners. However, maintenance needs were high by modern standards, and notwithstanding significant investment by private operators, the class could not compete with the modern Class 66 in terms of availability or maintenance costs.
Most locomotives were withdrawn by EWS on 31 March 2004, although some were reinstated for use on construction trains connected with the LGV East in France; others were put into service for private operators such as Fastline and Colas Rail, and remain in service today.
The Class 56 was developed by Iron Horse House and originally sold through their website. In 2014 Dovetail Games re-released the Class 56 in BR Sectors livery on Steam, having updated the model to modern standards, along with new scenarios and improved exterior modelling.