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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. In an effort to improve the reliabilty of the loco hauled passenger trains on the Cumbrian Coast line in England, Northern rail and DRS agreed to substitute new class 68s to replace one of the Class 37/4s that have been struggling. The 68s and DBSOs don't talk to each other electronically so this meant reforming the train so that instead of a DBSO driving car, three TSO standard carriages and a Class 37/4 working push-pull there was to be a class 68 at either end working top and tail with the DBSO buried in the formation and just two TSOs. This kept the train the same length for platform and 'loco stop' board reasons. As Northern drivers are not passed out on 68s, DRS drivers are handling this set, the other set retaining Class 37 power. The first day of the revamped service was marred by awful weather and I managed to get a shot of the first Carlisle to Lancaster service just after daybreak at Sellafield. 68 018 'Vigilance' was on the lead with 68 017 'Hornet' at the rear. These two locos would handle the train for the first week. After work I headed to Kirkby in Furness to catch the return northbound trip. This part of the Duddon estuary is very exposed and the weather had not improved with 3,850 HP these locos make light work of a short train like this and easily manage the timings required With blended brakes ( a mix of dynamic and air brakes) most station stops use the dynamic brakes mainly. 68 017 eases to a halt on the steep downhill gradient at Dalton in Furness on the Lancaster to Barrow trip more in a minute Kev
  4. Exciting 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
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