BR Class 52 D1015 Western Champion

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BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 52 D1015 Western Champion
D1015 20160829.jpg
D1015 Western Champion at Bridgnorth in August 2016
Built By BRBritish Rail or British Railways Swindon Works
Configuration C-C
Power type Diesel Hydraulic
Status Operational
Loco Number D1015
Built 1963
Designed By British Railways
Type Class 52
1980 Purchased by DTG
2002 Main line certified
Length 68ft
Weight 108t

Diesel Locomotives

D1015 Western Champion is a BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 52 ‘Western’ diesel-hydraulic locomotive, owned by the Diesel Traction Group (DTG). The locomotive visited the railway on various occasions for diesel galas and for attention by the DTG’s engineering staff. From 2015 onwards the locomotive has remained at the SVRSevern Valley Railway for extended periods of time, and from 2017 is regarded as a resident locomotive.[1]

D1015 in service

D1015 Western Champion was built at BRBritish Rail or British Railways’s Swindon works and entered service at Cardiff Canton in January 1963. Other allocations included London Old Oak Common, Swansea Landore and Plymouth Laira, where the locomotive was withdrawn by BRBritish Rail or British Railways on 13 December 1976 after accumulating 1,296,000 miles in service.[2]

D1015 in preservation

In 1980 D1015 became the third locomotive to be acquired by the DTG, which already owned SVRSevern Valley Railway residents D821 Greyhound and Hymek D7029.[3]

In 2002 and 2015 D1015 attended the diesel galas and in 2016 D1015 attended both the May diesel gala and the August ‘Western Weekend’. By December 2016 the DTG had entered into a running agreement with the SVRSevern Valley Railway.

The locomotive experienced an engine issue in 2016. In January 2017 the DTG announced that the engine needed to be replaced before D1015 could commit to further mainline running and an appeal for £50,000 was launched, which was rapidly filled and the share offer closed the following month.[4] The loco operated on one engine while two engines were rebuilt in parallel, one by DTG engineers at Kidderminster and one on their behalf in Germany. In August 2019 the locomotive moved to the Diesel Depot for a replacement engine to be fitted, and subsequent workings of the SVRSevern Valley Railway 'The Pioneer' excursion trains were with two engines again operating.

D1015 on the main line

D1015 achieved main line certification in 2002, since which it has hauled over 60 rail tours as far as Penzance in the south and Kyle of Lochalsh in the north.[5] Its TOPS number is 89416.

A notable occurrence was the rescue of an HST on 26 October 2002 at Daunsey. The HST had slipped to a stand and Champion took the train to Swindon.

In 2016 the locomotive suffered an issue with the B engine during The Canterbury Champion rail tour.[6] An overhauled MD655 engine was installed in early 2021.[7] Western Champion returned to the mainline for a test run on 17 September 2021 but unfortunately suffered a seized engine[8].

Freight workings

  • On 29 and 30 August 2002 it worked Colas Rail freight China Clay Tanks trains around St Blazey, as part of crew training and attendance at the St Blazey open day.
  • On 14 and 15 October 2009, Western Champion worked Colas Rail freight China Clay Tanks trains from Quidhampton to Tavistock Junction.
  • Its loaded mainline test on 17 September 2021 included piloting the GBRfGB Railfreight, a main line rail freight operating company. Avonmouth Hanson Siding to Penyffordd Cement train as far as Gloucester.

The picture below shows the locomotive still carrying the identity of D1031 Western Rifleman which was used during the 2016 rail tour.

It is nicknamed 'The Mule'.

TV and film

The 'Bank Job' film was based on a true story about a bank robbery of Lloyds Bank on Baker Street in September 1971. It was directed by Roger Donaldson, produced by Steven Chasman and Charles Roven and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Champion was transformed into D1046 Western Marquis, which at the time was the sole remaining operational Western in Maroon livery. Filming took place at Paddington on 18 February 2007[9].

See also

Diesel Locomotives
Diesel Locomotives visiting the SVR for galas
Locomotives running under different identities


  1. SVR Spring Diesel Festival 2017 Brochure, which listed D1015 under "Home Fleet"
  2. BR Database
  3. About Us
  4. DTG website announcement (retrieved 6 January 2017)
  5. D1015 Western Champion Railtour Archive
  6. Canterbury Champion railtour
  7. DTG (retrieved 20 September 2021)
  8. DTG (retrieved 20 September 2021)
  9. DTG


DTG website
British Rail Class 52 on Wikipedia