THE SOUTHERN Region Class 73s have had a long history on both the real railway and in model form, but Heljan has stepped outside its pure diesel comfort zone to offer an all-new model of the ‘JB’ variant of this class of 49 electro-diesels for ‘O’ gauge.
Above: Heljan's all-new Class 73 for 'O' gauge is arriving in September. We met with Heljan's Ben Jones to find out more about the model of Heaton Lodge Junction - Britain's Biggest Model Railway.
The first of the design was completed in 1962 at BR’s Eastleigh Works to the original ‘JA’ specification which had a lower maximum speed and tractive effort when compared with the production ‘JB’ locomotives. Six ‘JAs’ were built, E6001-E6006 and their success led to construction of a production batch of 43 ‘JB’ Class 73s between 1965 and 1967 by English Electric at Vulcan Foundry.
They were capable of working from the 750V DC power supply on the Southern Region as well as through the 600hp English Electric diesel engine fitted to the locomotive from new. This meant that when the power was turned off, or they needed to work in yards, the Class 73s could continue going about their business.
These locomotives have had a long and varied life including service on Boat Trains from London’s Southern Region termini to the south coast as well as general passenger, push-pull formations on the Bournemouth Main Line, freight, engineers and special workings. They also had a long association with Gatwick Express shuttles from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport. In recent years the fleets numbers have reduced in main service, but even in 2022 Class 73s were still active with GB Railfreight. In addition several have been rebuilt as Class 73/9s with higher capacity diesel engines which has seen their sphere of operation spread to north of London including on test trains for Network Rail to the Midlands as well as hauling the Caledonian Sleeper trains in Scotland.
Heljan’s all-new model for ‘O’ gauge of the Class 73 was announced in 2021 with a list of new items in its specification including a LokSound XL plug and play decoder interface, additional lighting functions including DCC controlled arc-flash and improved decoration of the body and interior.
The model specification includes two motors with brass flywheels, all-wheel drive, illuminated headcode panels, cab, engine and arc-flash lights, separate handrails throughout, etched metal grilles, a separately powered roof fan and a wide choice of liveries spanning from original BR blue with small yellow warning panels through to modern day Network Rail and GBRf colour schemes.
Prices for the new ‘O’ gauge Class 73 are set at £779 with all models supplied DCC ready. A full review of the new Heljan ‘JB’ Bo-Bo electro-diesel will feature in HM197 – on sale from October 5 2023 and available online on Key Model World in October.
Watch our product launch video here and read more about Heljan’s models on our dedicated page.