Comings & goings at St. Leonards Depot (part 3)

This article was opened on Saturday 31 August 2013, and
last modified on 12 October 2014.

[PHOTO: Railway depot yard: 30kB]

Above: Plenty goes on at St. Leonards depot! In this view from August 2013, we can see a Class 171 receiving attention for an alternator fault prior to departure on the 1708 Hastings – Ashford service for Southern; two Class 73 electro-diesel locomotives visible undergoing repaint, one of the ex-Berkshire motor coaches that used to form one of Network Rail’s de-icing trains, and HDL’s own DEMU in the car-sheds on row 4.

All photos on this page are by Andy Armitage, except where otherwise stated.


St. Leonards Depot is leased and operated by St. Leonards Railway Engineering Limited (SLREL), which is HDL’s sister company. This article is intended to illustrate the number and variety of tasks which are undertaken by the small band of staff at the depot. It is felt that these might be of interest to some of our readers.

These works provide a steady income for the depot site and provide a source of revenue; some of this is used to offset the costs of storing & maintaining HDL’s fleet of railway vehicles.

It should be noted that the activities described on this page are not those of Hastings Diesels Limited (HDL).


Staff at St. Leonards Depot undertake many tasks, including (but not limited to) the following works:

Repainting Class 73 Electro-diesel locomotives for GB Railfreight

In addition to the locos depicted and mentioned in the photos below, 73 141 is expected shortly for repainting to match the GBRf locos shown below.

[PHOTO: Loco awaiting repaint in yard: 41kB]

Above & below: Class 73 loco 73 136 has been quite a long-term visitor to St. Leonards depot; gone is its green livery (and name “Perseverence”), and the GBRf colour-scheme now sparkles upon its body.

[PHOTO: Repainted loco in yard: 71kB]

[PHOTO: Locomotives in station platform: 62kB]

Above: 73 136 departed via Hastings station in a convoy on 16 August 2013.

[PHOTO: Railway depot yard: 29kB]

Above: This general view of the yard shows a Class 66, a couple of Class 73s with more beyond, and a Class 171. The orange-painted sleepers and track chairs mark the Fouling Point on each pair of converging roads.

[PHOTO: Loco in railway depot shed: 54kB]

Above & below: Class 73 locos 73 212 and 73 213 were outshopped in late August 2013, prior to being named at ceremonies in London Victoria station.

[PHOTO: Repainted locomotives in yard: 46kB]

73 109 repainted for 20189 Limited

As well as the repaint shown below, 73 107 is waiting to have its triple-grey livery re-done, and 73 201 has been having its rail blue touched-up.

[PHOTO: Locomotive in depot trainshed: 52kB]

Above: 73 109 had been in SouthWest Trains livery but is now being repainted in light blue.

[PHOTO: Locos in yard: 47kB]

Above: The finished article, shortly before departure in convoy with sister ED 73 201 on Monday 26 August 2013. Photo by Andrew King.

Former Network Rail motor coaches undergoing repaint

[PHOTO: Train in depot sunshine: 47kB]

Above: As and when time permits, the pair of former Network Rail de-icer motor coaches which have passed into SLREL ownership are continuing to undergo repainting. The ex-Berkshire DEMU stock is seen basking in the sunshine at St. Leonards depot at the end of October 2013; they were being sent on ‘The Soap Run’, delivering supplies to the South Eastern carriage-washer on the site of West Marina station.

An unusual visitor

[PHOTO: Engineering train in yard: 33kB]

Above: An unusual visitor to St. Leonards depot on Sunday 1 December 2013 was this Network Rail Rail Grinding Unit, seen laying over between forays onto the Bexhill – Ashford route which was closed to traffic for engineering works. Photo by Andrew King.

73 202 repainted for Southern

[PHOTO: Loco in yard: 43kB]

Above & below: Electro-diesel Class 73 number 73 202 left St. Leonards depot on 10 December 2013 to return to its home at Stewarts Lane, having been repainted to a suitable livery suggested by Andy Armitage for Southern; minor repairs were also carried out to the locomotive. Obtaining the correct colours of paint, and getting the stuff to dry in such cold weather-conditions, are hurdles which had to be overcome to meet the deadline!

[PHOTO: Loco in yard: 49kB]

73 128 arrives by road

Electro-diesel Class 73 locomotive 73 128 arrived at St. Leonards Depot by road on 15 April 2014. It was brought on an Allelys low-loader from the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway. The loco has been acquired by Michael Owen (Class 20189 Ltd) and has come to St. Leonards with a view to being returned to main-line operation.

[PHOTO: loco on lorry: 56kB]

Above: The low-loader becomes a ramp and the tractor unit is detatched; its winch will then be used to lower the loco down the ramp onto the yard’s rails.

[PHOTO: loco in sunshine: 50kB]

Above: Job done! The loco’s journey to the seaside is now complete; a fair amount of work is no doubt in prospect before her next journey which should be by rail out of the depot gates.

As of the start of October 2014, 73 128’s paintwork is nearing completion and it has successfully been put back ‘on juice’.

20 189 & 20 142

On 9 October 2014, Michael Owen (Class 20189 Ltd)’s 20 142 and 20 189 had come to St. Leonards depot for a bit of TLC. They are currently acting as standby locos at Tonbridge should they be required on this leaffall-season’s RailHead Treatment Trains.

Those with an interest in such matters will appreciate that the Class 20 locos are fitted with a power unit closely related to that of our own DEMUs, in this case an English Electric 8SVT which is essentially a V8 version of the 4SRKT.

[PHOTO: Trains in depot yard: 58kB]

Above & below: The pair of locos, with 20 189 closest to the camera, are coupled nose-to-nose as is common with this type, and are seen basking in the yard at St. Leonards depot on a sunny autumnal Thursday late-morning.

[PHOTO: Trains in depot yard: 39kB]

[PHOTO: Trains in depot yard: 26kB]

Above: The other end of the pair of locos, showing 20 142 which like its sister sports a headcode-blind box.