D381 approaches Whitacre Station from Coleshill at the head of the up Ulster Express on Sunday 3rd May 1964. The photographer is standing on the overbridge carrying Station Road over the railway. The train has been diverted due to engineering work in electrifying the Trent Valley Line. Built by English Electric between 1958 and 1962, and eventually numbering 200, they were for a time the pride of the British Rail early diesel fleet. The locomotives were later given the TOPS code of Class 40 and D381 was renumbered 40181 and remained in service until January 1985. Despite their initial success, by the time the last examples were entering service they were already being replaced on some top-link duties by more powerful locomotives. As they were slowly relegated from express passenger uses, the type found work on secondary passenger and freight services where they worked for many years, the final locomotives being retired from regular service in 1985.
Direct comparisons on the Great Eastern mainline showed they offered little advantage over the "Britannia" class steam locomotives, when driven well, and the Eastern Region declined to accept further machines as they deemed them unsuitable to replace the Pacific steam locomotives on the East Coast Main Line preferring to hold on until the "Deltic" Class 55 diesels were delivered. The London Midland Region was only too pleased as the Eastern Region's decision released additional locomotives to replace their ageing steam fleet, Class 40 managing Camden bank, just north of Euston, with apparent ease. The West Coast Main Line had been starved of investment for many years and the poor track and general lower speeds (when compared to the East Coast route) suited the Class 40 as the need to hold trains at speed for long periods simply did not exist and it better exploited their fairly rapid acceleration.