GB Railfreight honours class 73 locomotive 73128 for Kent & East Sussex Railway’s 50th anniversary


Rail freight UK

On the eve of the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) 50th Anniversary Gala weekend, GB Railfreight (GBRf) renamed class 73 locomotive 73128 “Kent & East Sussex Railway: 50 Years of Heritage 1974 –2024” in honour of the railway’s 50th Anniversary and the start of work to extend the line to Robertsbridge.

The Class 73/1 Electro-Diesel locomotive was revealed in a stunning new livery, developed in collaboration with GBRf and railway heritage experts. This has been designed to replicate a sister locomotive 73 126 which was named ‘Kent & East Sussex Railway’ back in 1991 to celebrate the extension of the heritage railway to Northiam as well as the intention to one day reconnect to Robertsbridge and the national rail network. Unfortunately, locomotive 73 126 is no longer in existence, so, as a fitting tribute to the start of RVR work on the line extension as well as the 50th Anniversary of the re-opening of the K&ESR, GB Railfreight agreed for 73 128 to be used, recognising both the past, present and future of the much-loved heritage line.

The naming ceremony was performed by John Smith, Chief Executive Officer of GBRf. Alongside him were the former Minister of State for Rail Huw Merriman, members of the K&ESR Board, three former directors of Network South East – Chris Green, Geoff Mee and Alan C Baker – who were involved in the original naming in ’91, and Steve White, the current Director of Southeastern which has been collaborating with RVR and K&ESR for the Gala.

The initial idea for the loco naming came from a GBRf Train Manager and life-long K&ESR volunteer fireman Chris Stuchbury who remembered the significance of the previous naming. He convinced GBRf, K&ESR and RVR that this would be a fitting tribute to the past, present and future and then helped to develop the concept, working closely with everyone to bring the idea to fruition.