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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
Hi all After over forty years the Cumbrian Coast line between Barrow in Furness and Whitehaven in the North West of England finally re-opened for Sunday Services on the 20th May. The last service was in 1976 and left some major tourist attractions accessible only by car or sporadic bus services at weekends. The new service had been trailed for a while but leading up to it there was some doubt about whether there would be sufficient traincrew to operate it. In the event a full service ran on that first day with 156 363 doing the honours with the first Barrow to Millom working. Not exactly rammed with passengers though! This unit, seen at Askam, returned about forty minutes later with a few pioneer passengers aboard. As the day drew on the higher capacity Class 156s started to make an appearance 156 445 in the new 'Whiter' Northern livery traverses the s curve at Thwaites Flats on the single line section between Park South and Barrow. Hard to believe that this bucolic setting was once a very busy triangular junction, double tracked, with a constant procession of Iron ore, Coke and finished steel trains running 24/7. 156 490 had come up from Carnforth and again was lightly loaded but ridership will evolve, particularly when the ral ale fans find they can get to the famous 'Prince of wales' at Foxfield pub on a Sunday with ease
On the Cumbrian Coast line in North West England recent developments have seen Direct Rail Services Class 68 becoming more and more prominent. Reliability issues of the Class 37/4s tasked with hauling some of Northern Rail's passenger services has seen one set converted to 'Top and tailed' Class 68s retaining the DBSO driving car behind the south loco to provide train crew facilities. This set has worked pretty much faultlessly since deployment albeit with a loss of seating capacity. Alongside this the Nuclear traffic is now exclusively hauled by 68s with the occasional appearance by the new Class 88 hybrids. In a new development a 'Nenta' railtour also used T&T 68s on a Norwich-Carlisle and return excursion and recently two 68s were commandeered to haul the heavy Barrow-Drigg stone train after problems with the two Class 66s allocated to it More in a mo Kev