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Anyone fancy a Growler Thrash with veteran locomotives on region's rail lines?

PUBLISHED: 13:26 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:43 19 March 2019

The Class 37  locomotives have been operating trains between Lowestoft and Norwich over recent years. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The Class 37 locomotives have been operating trains between Lowestoft and Norwich over recent years. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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A pair of historic diesel locomotives are to be revved up for a special tour of the region to mark the end of an era - and the launch of a modern railway age.

Some Class 37s have been preserved by enthusiasts. This one is in early green and yellow livery on the Epping Ongar Railway in Essex. Picture: PAUL GEATERSome Class 37s have been preserved by enthusiasts. This one is in early green and yellow livery on the Epping Ongar Railway in Essex. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Hundreds of rail enthusiasts are likely to take up that offer on May 18 as Greater Anglia runs a special rail tour for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.

They will use a pair of Class 37 diesel locomotives, whose design dates from 1960, on the special tour from Norwich that will visit Ely, Kings Lynn, and London before returning to Norfolk with a fast run along the Great Eastern Main Line through Ipswich and Colchester.

The Class 37s were once the workhorses of rail services, both passenger and freight, throughout the region and a pair continues to operate services between Norwich and Lowestoft.

However they will be taken out of service later in the year as Greater Anglia introduces its new Swiss-built Stadler trains that are currently being tested.

The 37s stopped being part of the main line passenger fleet when the line was electrified in the 1980s – but across the country there are still scores in main line service.

At their height there were 309 Class 37s which earned the nicknames “Growlers” or “Tractors” because of the distinctive noise of their engines. Enthusiasts describe a special train eating up miles of track as a “Thrash.”

But despite their nicknames they have earned a reputation as a reliable, go-anywhere locomotive and are still used by five rail companies – and a number of preserved railways across the country.

Jonathan Denby from Greater Anglia said: “We’re delighted to be running this special Class 37 railtour to raise funds for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. It’s an extremely worthwhile cause focused on the region we serve and supported by many of our employees.

“Taking in routes which have been synonymous with Class 37 locomotives in the past, we hope the trip will be very popular and generate an impressive contribution to EACH funds. It promises to be a great day out.”

Elaine John, of EACH, said: “This will be a wonderful opportunity for rail enthusiasts to travel behind these locomotives before they leave East Anglia whilst also supporting children, young people and their families across the region.”

Bookings can only be made online via https://public.greenrailtravel.co.uk, clicking on the Special Trains/Events tab and choosing the Greater Anglia Specials option.

Anyone with any queries about the event can ring 0345 600 7245 and choose option 3, followed by option 2 to find out more details.

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