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The 1955 Railway Modernisation Plan provided for the introduction of 2,500 new diesel locomotives, with initial orders for 171 examples, to replace steam locomotives on Britain's railways. The Modernisation Plan was the death knell for steam traction, arguing that dieselisation should take place as quickly as the new locomotives could be built. In 1956, for the first time, more diesel locomotives were built than steam. However, several of the Pilot Scheme orders were for batches of ten or twenty machines, without a prototype, a decision that BR would later come to regret. Maintenance and reliability would be problems for these early diesel locomotives. Most coaching stock in use in the late 1950s did not allow for electrical train heating, so boilers had to be fitted to the locomotives to heat the carriages, which in turn caused weight problems. This book takes a look, in full colour, at the green diesel days on Britain's railways as steam was being phased out.
From 1958 onwards, vast numbers of diesel locomotives were constructed, both by BR's own workshops and by a growing number of outside contractors, to replace steam. Whilst some of the new diesel designs proved to be successful, others were not, and some failed to outlast the steam locomotives that they were introduced to replace. This colour album illustrates those early years of modern traction when many locos were being finished in an attractive green livery. Looking back at those early years of diesel motive power, the Western Region's use of hydraulic, instead of electric transmission can be seen as a mistake but so too were the designs of the Metropolitan-Vickers Co-Bo and the Clayton Bo-Bo classes. Excluding pioneering prototypes, all of the major first generation locomotive types are featured here together with a number of early DMUs and diesel shunters, providing the reader with a colourful contrast to the grime and matt black of the ageing steam fleet.