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Sadly the 28th of December saw the last scheduled working of a passenger train on the Cumbrian Coast line with Class 37 diesel haulage. The contract was due to expire late in January but the decision was taken before Christmas that the service would be discontinued before the New year. As you will know, if you have followed my other posts, DRS have been supplying Class 37/4s and Mark 2 coaches to support Northern rail for a couple of years to increase capacity on the line between Carlisle and Barrow in Furness. The results have been mixed as the locomotives, introduced in the early 60's have had reliability issues and the Northern Drivers, more used to driving two car DMUs, needed a lot more training than they were given. What was obvious was how much it grabbed the attention of railfans from far and wide. Some of the 37s have had serious money spent on them and have become celebrity engines So I set out to capture as much action as I could in the lat two weeks bearing in mind that the weather and light was appalling for much of the time. The first northbound train in the morning was impossible it being pitch black and the first southbound, passing at 08.30, was problematic. really the last one where there was decent light was the Northbound 2C59 just after 3 in the afternoon so opportunities were limited Three locos were the mainstay for the last few days 37 401 'Mary Queen of Scots' was doing O.K until a spectacular failure at Foxfield blocked the Up line for Five hours and meant a 'Thunderbird' loco being dispatched from Carlisle to rescue it! 37 425 which uniquely carries different nameplates either side 'Sir Robert MaCalpine' and 'Concrete Bob' behaved itself for the duration although it was getting filthy with the weather 401 was replaced with 37 424 'Avro Vulcan XH588' which confusingly has the number 558 in big numerals on the side. This was the million pound 'show pony' when it returned from major works overhaul including a full re-skin of the bodyshell The last one I got was yesterday's 2C59 Barrow to Carlisle with 424 on the point. The 'Cumbrian Coast Express' headboard had re-appeared and although loco hauled trains continued until later that evening that was pretty much it. There had been some railfans around who had got wind of the end and were riding and recording as many as they could. So 2019 is going to be a lot quieter on the Cumbrian Coast as DMUs replace the 37s. While local residents will not miss the throaty roar of the English Electric 12CSVT engines the railfans really will. And with the 37s displaced from Nuclear services by Class 68s and also the class 88 Hybrids it's going to be a lot less interesting for photography and video next year for me The video is here, the sound is so evocative! Cheers Kev
Once again it's July and time for our annual Open Day where we open the gates of one of our depots to the public with the proceeds going to Charity. This year it was held at our Crewe Gresty Bridge depot roughly in the centre of England and situated close to the West Coast main line between London and Scotland. The show tends to alternate between our Crewe and Carlisle but Crewe is a railway town through and through so the attendance is always massive. Friday was taken up with shunting the shed and and yard to position all the exhibits, a minor epic as it turned out as some key locos were still en-route to Crewe. '' L-R 57 007 which was to be one of the naming ceremonies on the Saturday stands alongside one of the TPE Class 68s (of which more later) and 37 424 37 403 'Isle of Mull' , which normally operates Loco hauled passenger services on the Cumbrian Coast line is ready for a trip though the washing plant and is seen alongside one of the FNA-D Flatrol wagons, which was being put on display for the first time. The Class 37 is painted in the very retro British Rail 'large Logo' as are many of the other 37/4s we have. This has resulted in these locos, first introduced in 1960, having a bit of a cult following and attracting many railfans to the areas where they operate. 37 407, still missing its Loch Long nameplates, has recently come out of the works More tomorrow Kev
Recently my work duties took me to Crewe for a couple of days. This has always been a major rail-hub and centre for railway manufacturing and maintenance from the old days of the LNWR through to British railways. Needless to say I had my camera bag with me so I thought I’d do a mini journal for the back end of last week. Travelling down on the Northern rail DMU it sort of got off to a surprise start when I suddenly realised as we approached Carnforth that there was a steam loco coming the other day. This was the Southern railway Bulleid Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 35018 ‘British India Line’ nearing completion after 37 years of on-off restoration. Scrabbling for a camera I got a quick snapshot as it trundled past. Bizarrely the loco is finished in plain black, a colour it never carried in service and even weirder it was carrying the nameplates off ‘Bodmin’, A West country Class light pacific. Currently being tested in the Carnforth depot limits it is due out on test trains shortly before joining the U.Ks main line Steam fleet Changing trains on to one of Virgin railways smooth quite tilting Pendolino EMUs, which did the section from Lancaster to Crewe in less than an hour I spent a few minutes at Crewe station before checking in to the hotel but spotted a familiar steam loco outline over at the Crewe heritage centre 60103 (LNER 4472) ‘Flying Scotsman’ really needs no introduction as it is perhaps the most famous steam loco worldwide and was positioned at the museum for a couple of days prior to working some excursions down to South Wales More in a mo. Kev
kevsmiththai posted a topic in Worldwide RailExciting times for U.K railfans as the Cumbrian Coast Rail line in North West England has the re-introduction of Locomotive hauled scheduled passenger trains after decades of being a DMU only line. to support the current franchise operator on the line 'Northern Rail' the freight operator 'Direct Rail Services' are supplying class 37s, Mk II coaches and train crews to provide more comfort and greater capacity on some of the busier trains. DRS had already started to support Scotrail by providing some of the new class 68s Bo-Bos and coaches to run the Fife circle around Edinburgh. The Cumbrian Coast line skirts the Irish Sea between the two historic rail towns of Carnforth and Carlisle and takes in spectacular scenery en route. One of the Class 37/4s is seen here at Green Road with the fells around Conston providing a backdrop. This location is on the westside of the Duddon estuary and on a quiet day you can hear the trains heading up and around the head of the bay for twenty or thirty minutes. Now the Class 37s allocated for the service are 37/4s equipped with ETS (Electric Train Supply) and were originally built between 1960 and 1966 by English Electric with 12CVST engines pumping out a modest 1750 HP, The 37/4s had the main generator replaced with an alternator. 37 423 'Spirit of the Lakes' is a typical finished in the latest DRS livery and here is seen on the rear of one of the early passenger trains at Askam in Furness station Now those of you who know British railways will immediately spot that the train seems to be on the wrong line, Not so, the train is running 'Top and tailed' with a Class 37 at either end and 37 423 is at the rear. The loco hauling the train is 37 609 a freight only loco at the leading end The trains are running in this formation until the DBSO coaches (Coaches with driving cabs) are ready for deployment when the trains will run in classic push-pull fashion. Running like this the rear 37 only provides the ETS supply in this direction but does everything on the retun leg with the 37/6 DIT (dead in train) 37 423 is seen again heading east on the steep bank from Dalton in Furness to Lindal in Furness which has always been a test of any loco. This is one of the test trains run before the service started properly to train the drivers and traincrew, mark out the platforms with the stopping points etc. You will notice the real mish-mash of coach colour schemes. Acquiring a large amount of loco hauled coaches in the U.K these days is really difficult and they come from various sources hence the mix of DRS, Virgin and Riviera liveries. Eventually they will all be finished in DRS blue/green and modernised internally. In the next instalment I'll show some of the other motive power used on the trains and link in the videos of the trains in action cheers Kev