55019 was withdrawn on December 31st 1981, after hauling the 16.30 Aberdeen-York between Edinburgh and York – this was the final BR Deltic hauled service train. It was, therefore, appropriate that the loco should become the first to operate a train in preservation, an event which took place at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway eight months later, on August 22nd 1982. The locomotive remained on the NYMR until 1987, when she moved to the Midland Railway Centre and later the Great Central Railway.
Following a ballot of the society’s members, RHF was repainted into original two-tone green livery with no nameplates or yellow warning panels at the beginning of 1994, the first Deltic to carry this colour scheme in preservation. The following year, the loco moved to a new home, the East Lancashire Railway, which has a large collection of preserved types of diesel.
The loco remained on the ELR until late 1998, where she was used at the railway’s diesel galas, as well as on Saturday services approximately every two months. In November 1995, the locomotive’s nameplates were refitted, and a rededication ceremony, attended by the Royal Highland Fusiliers took place. July 1998 saw the application of full yellow ends, a livery variation carried by the class in the late 1960s. After a visit to several events and railways, the loco returned to the ELR for a final operating day.
After this, work was concentrated on preparing the loco for mainline operation. A large amount of this was undertaken at Barrow Hill depot, where the loco arrived at on December 8th 1998, and the loco appeared at the Midland Railway Centre’s Diesel Gala, now carrying BR blue livery and numbered 55019. It then moved to Crewe and gained its mainline certificate on May 8th 1999 following a test run to Castleton.
55019 ran from Crewe to Bounds Green with D9009 on May 21st 1999 in readiness for a return to mainline passenger duties the following day. Departing Kings Cross at 15.03, the loco worked to York in 2 hours and 4 minutes, before returning to Kings Cross, overtaking another Deltic, D9000, at Doncaster. The loco then saw regular use by VSOE and hauled the Regency and Northern Belle train on many occasions prior to the cessation of these workings. It was even used to rescue a Freightliner on August 11th 1999!
On October 23rd 1999, 55019 suffered a scavenge blower failure, requiring power unit 451 to be sent away for repair. A power unit exchange was carried out at Barrow Hill in January 2000, returning the loco back to fully operational status. The loco was used regularly by VSOE until October 2000 (when EWS took over the operation of Northern Belle), and in January 2001 ran to the National Railway Museum at York for a C Exam. After completion, the loco returned to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for its Diesel Gala on April 28th/29th before moving to the Nene Valley Railway for the season. The loco departed the NVR on October 20th, being used with D9009 to haul the society’s rail-tour to Great Yarmouth, and then back to Preston. The loco then went to Barrow Hill for the winter, during which the loco was repainted into 1977 style livery in readiness for the society’s ‘Silver Jubilee’ rail-tour which took place on April 13th 2002. The loco then returned to the Nene Valley Railway for a visit, where it remained until late June 2002 before travelling via the Midland Railway Centre to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. After a mainline tour in September, and a visit to the Severn Valley, the loco returned to Barrow Hill in October 2002. Like D9009, it made a number of mainline outings during 2003, including a 5-day tour of Scotland with D9009, which received a lot of press coverage. 2004 was quieter as the society undertook an intermediate body repair during the year – photos of this repair can be found on the galleries section of the website. The loco returned to service in April 2005, becoming the first Deltic to operate on the mainline since 2003.
55019 is now confined to preserved railway operation (although it can be hauled on the main line), as it does not have OTMR equipment. In 2017, it took part in the DPS 40th anniversary celebrations and the Bluebell Railway, and in 2018 is booked to appear at various railways.