The West Somerset Railway will be pleased to welcome two Class 20 diesel locomotives to the Diesel Gala and Rail Ale Trail between June 9th and 11th. The class was introduced in 1957 and the last of the 228 that were constructed appeared in 1968. They were by far the most successful of the first wave of lower powered British Railways diesels. Their distinctive engine note is supposed to sound like a helicopter, causing them to acquire the enthusiast nickname of “choppers”. Viewed from above their body and cab shape does resemble that of a double-headed axe.
During their main line career they were mainly associated with freight trains, often working coupled together in pairs. However they also featured, again usually in pairs, at the head of excursion trains such as those from the East Midlands to the seaside at Skegness (like Minehead a town with a Butlins).
Class 20’s have worked on the West Somerset at Galas before but this will be the first time a pair has appeared. They are D8059 and D8188, owned by the Somerset and Dorset Locomotive Company and are currently based on the Severn Valley Railway.