But what does it all mean?

"The who, what, why, when, where and how of the gen"


Loco Number

Whilst there were 327 Class 25 locomotives between them they carried 337 different numbers so you may have a bit of a problem if you wish to search for workings of the Class 25/9s.  Throughout the tables I have used the original renumbering as the source for the loco number.  So you will find that up to 1974 the comments column will have a reference to the original D number of the loco (although I left the D out as I couldn’t be sure whether the loco carried that prefix at that time).  Similarly by 1986 the ‘creation’ of a dozen Class 25/9’s meant for those locos I have had to use their original number in this column.  Again in the comment’s field you will see the number they carried at the time of working.  In case you don't know what the 25/9s were renumbered from here they are.

25901 = 25262 25904 = 25283 25907 = 25297 25910 = 25315
25902 = 25268 25905 = 25286 25908 = 25307 25911 = 25316
25903 = 25276 25906 = 25296 25909 = 25309 25912 = 25322

Did someone say that 327 plus ‘12’ equals 339 so what gives with the 337 different numbers the class has carried in passenger service?  (And sorry Ethel’s, you don’t count).  Well two locos were never renumbered from the D series due to accidents but I have used what they would have been renumbered to if or when I discover any passenger train workings for them!  Just for the record this was the numbering series for Class 25 locomotives prior to 1974.

D5151 to D5299 = 25001 to 25149 D7500 to D7627 = 25150 to 25327

Occasionally I have stooped to including workings where the loco number was unknown.  These are identified by 25000 in this column and an explanation provided in the comments field.  I believe these may be working passenger trains but I don’t know what the loco (and often train!) is.  I’m not helped by my records as whilst I used to record ECS workings differently to passenger workings in my spotting notes there is no guarantee that these so called passenger trains aren’t parcels trains made up of a few empty passenger coaches.


Now if you think there can’t be much confusion over the date a loco worked (other than it being unknown) then think again.  Overnight trains, such as the Euston – Stranraer Harbour would start out one day whilst the 25 would work the last leg of that service, essentially on the next day.  So the convention I have used is to record overnight journeys with the date the loco actually worked on.  (This is the same as I used for haulage in my ‘bashing’ days).  I don’t think there will be any workings here that fall into what was my tie-breaker, the day on which the majority of that working occurred.  However if after applying these rules I think there may still be confusion the comments field will make clear on what day the train started and the working occurred on.

Hint: Southbound overnight trains with workings somewhere between Rugby and London are almost always Sunday workings!

Head Code

Do you remember when locos displayed a four character code in the roof display panel?  You do then good, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  However if you’re from the era of colour light signals and  electric signalboxes you may not.  The following is taken from the excellent series of booklets Ken Howard produced in the early 80's to aid 'Bashers'.

All British Rail trains, and certain other trains running over BR lines, are allocated a four character reporting number even though [by then] few locomotives or multiple units are capable of displaying this as a headcode, as had been common practice until the beginning of 1976.

The code normally consists of three parts: a number, a letter and two numbers viz 1H80.  The first number denotes the class of train.  An express passenger, mail, postal or newspaper train is class 1, whilst a local passenger train is class 2.  The exact dividing line between these two categories varies considerably from one area to another, depending on the nature of services in that area.

The second digit gives an indication of the area for which the train is bound.  Most inter-regional trains carry the relevant letter for the region in which the train terminates as follows:

E for Eastern Region: M for London Midland Region: O for Southern Region: S for Scottish Region: V for Western Region

An inter-regional train includes one that starts and finishes in the same region, but goes through another region in the course of its journey ie 1M49 St. Pancras - Sheffield - Manchester.  For trains that run wholly on one region the letter usually gives an indication of the train's destination area within that Region.  In most cases the letters E, M, O, S and V are avoided but the Southern and Scottish Regions in particular resort to using them in areas where they are unlikely to be confused with inter-regional trains.

The last two digits give a specific number to a particular train although where there are several local trains over a certain route this part of the code may be no more than a code for that route and common to all trains.

Of particular interest to users of this website will be the Z and T codes.  The former is normally associated with charter, railtour or additional trains whilst the latter was used by the London Midland Region for BR excursion trains.


This column indicates where I found what I consider to be the most accurate information for this working.  This is what the codes mean:

O – It doesn’t get much better than this.  Somewhere during this working someone saw it, travelled on it or photographed it.  Unfortunately that doesn’t mean the loco will have worked throughout the journey that has been quoted for it.  We need to be careful with workings where locos run round, eg the Llandudno – Nottingham or where the train disappears into the unknown, ie beyond Welshpool on the Aberystwyth/Pwlhelli line or into Norwich because anything might happen (and usually did).


Me – Back in the 80’s when I collected most of this data I didn’t record who told me the gen.  Indeed at the time some of it was a bit vague and subsequently became more (or less credible) although it was given to me in good faith (I hope).  The rest is from my observations including where I have been unable to positively identify the train.  The Crewe – Cardiff services are a good example of this.  I would arrive at a station and record what I saw working in my notebook but only to the extent of whether the loco was on a passenger, freight, ECS, etc.  I didn’t record what the train was unless I photographed it (and even that might not have been right if it was, for example, on the North Wales coast where trains ran out of order because of delays etc).  It was also down to my diary to show what time I got there as I didn’t start to record the actual trains I travelled on until 1980.  I suspect we will also find a few 25s reported as working passenger trains that might well have been on ECS, can you tell the difference at speed?  Hint, if you see a ? somewhere in a record the more doubt there is about it!


Joe Bloggs – From about 1984 onwards people used to send me their lists of Class 25 moves or passenger train sightings.  If I understood them to be moves then they used to be assigned the anonymous ‘O’ but nowadays I add the persons name to that.  (Apologies to those who think they should see their name against a working marked but hopefully your contribution put you on to the credits page).  However some of these workings will relate to what people had heard rather than seen and so need to be treated in the same way as ‘Me’ gen.


Photographs – If you see a source reference with a (p) suffix that means there is a photograph in that publication referring to this working.  If it is a website photo then I have tried to included a link to that page  This sounds like quality gen until one realises photo captions are not always accurate.  I have seen pictures that purport to be of a particular loco only to find the same loco and working in another book/magazine with a different number!  In one example one train appeared in three publications (different pictures each time), the first giving only the year (aargh), the second the season and year (OK, so its summer, cheers) and finally the third the actual date (and I did discover them in that order!).  If I think a photo caption is wrong then I have ignored and perhaps made a note of this in the Concerns column.  If you think it is actually right then let me know but please supply more than “it says it is this”!


Magazines – It doesn’t matter whichever magazine it is but the list of reported workings seems to have been compiled by juniors who don’t know what their correspondents are writing about and have no idea what a calendar is.  That may sound grossly unfair until you take the time, as I have done, to compare magazine gen to known observed gen and then you find that all too often the date is a day or two out or the working has been misquoted.  The latter is understandable but the former?  If it had been a one off then I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it but incorrect dates are rife throughout magazines so beware!  I have used the following shorthand for magazines and the numbers that follow them are either the issue number or year/month the reference appeared in that magazine:  RX = Rail Express; RE = Rail Enthusiast (or Rail); RM = Railway Magazine; MR = Modern Railways; RW = Railway World 


Websites – I have obtained a lot of workings from websites providing gen from the 70’s and 80’s.  This falls into three camps, either it is from an individual's site with observations and photographs; the “I found or made a record of this working” type of site (for example, the Timewarp Web Diary for booked workings or Six Bells Junction for excursions) or a collection of reports culled from contemporary magazines (such as the Derby Sulzers website).  You need to assess the validity of the information provided rather than believe it to be gospel.  Don’t get me wrong it can and is often good, but just like this site it isn’t always right!

The following shorthand has been used for websites: WD = The web diaries section from the Timewarp website; SBJweb = Six Bells Junction, the site for Charter and Excursion trains (both mostly based on individuals gen); DSweb = Derby Sulzers (BR Sulzer Type 2s), the site for the history behind Sulzer locomotives (mostly based on magazine gen); BIRGweb = Bideford Rail


DIAG - The worst gen of all because it isn't gen!  As we go back in time many quotes are for either the outward or return leg but seldom both.  Even contemporary publications such as the SO booklets or Aber and Yarmouth train lists often quote the return leg as being what was on the outward diagram but in practice no one actually saw it.  Some diagrams are good, what went to Skegness or Aberystwyth almost always returned as stated.  "Almost always" means every week except the date you are really, really interested in!

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