Two locomotives have proudly carried the name The Railway Observer; 37890 which was bestowed with the RO name at Hither Green depot on 23rd February 1994 and 60001 which was named at Toton depot, again on 23rd February, seven years later in 2001.
60001 was stored at Toton on 2nd March 2006 after unofficial reports that a big end had failed and a connecting rod had gone through the side of the engine block. Subsequently, in 2013, the nameplates were removed.
Following a suggestion by a member of the society’s development sub-committee and supported by the MC, a proposal was made to Network Rail to have one of the Cl.43s which power their New Measurement Train named The Railway Observer. The RO name is of course most appropriate as the object of the measurement train is to spend its time ‘observing and recording ‘the railway’.
Negotiations were successful and I am pleased to report that on 17th June at the Railway Technical Centre at Derby power car 43014 was named The Railway Observer by Eric Palmer, Society Vice-President and the chairman of the development sub-committee. In attendance were members of the MC and the DSC. About two hours after the ceremony the train was out on the network and was heading for Crewe.
The naming would not have taken place without the kind permission of Porterbrook Leasing who agreed to have one of their power cars named and the Society appreciates the company’s co-operation and support.
At Network Rail our thanks go to Gerry Swift, Head of Community Rail Planning & Development who started the ball rolling and to Mick Stewart, NDS Senior Fleet Engineer and Stuart Burrows, Fleet Engineering Manager, who oversaw the project and gave invaluable help and assistance. At the naming ceremony one RCTS wag commented that the nameplates were not straight causing much mirth as both Steve Simkins and Simon Thornton, who had actually fixed the plates to 43014, were standing right behind the culprit but took no offence as the plates were perfectly straight! The nameplates were manufactured by Procast and Steve Cliff had made a perfect job casting all four plates which look resplendent on 43014. In addition to the main nameplate there is also a small secondary plate underneath proclaiming “The magazine of the RCTS – Britain’s leading railway society”.
Our own Andy Lickfold from the DSC was the chief negotiator with all the parties concerned. Andy put in a considerable amount of time and effort in ensuring that we had nameplates fitted. I am sure you will join me in adding your appreciation for a job well done and my own personal thanks to all who were involved with this project.