This is my blog concentrating on the UK locomotive scene. I'm particularly interested in Class 08/09 Shunters and I am an Amateur photographer of Diesel and Electric locomotives.

This is my personal blog and as such, all views are those of myself and do not necessarily represent the views of my family, friends, dog or employers.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Finally getting a GBRf Tug....


It was a surprise to many when GBRf purchased the 10 Class 60's from Colas Rail freight in the summer of 2018. Colas had invested in the 10 in 2014 when offered for sale by DB Cargo, with all loco's long stored and being extensively rebuilt to the same standards as the DB 'Super 60' programme. Colas used the 60's on a range of duties from tanker trains to infrastructure runs. In 2018 GBRf was looking at for a stronger type 5 locomotive to handle the heavier biomass flows from Liverpool and Tyne Dock to Drax. Class 66's were deployed to these runs, but in the case of the Liverpool trains, 2 were required with a banker needed to assist on the rear due to the climb out of Liverpool Docks.  

60095 passes through Weaver Junction on Saturday 30/05/2020  with the 6E17 1230 Liverpool Biomass Terminal - Drax AES (GBRf)
The initial trials were actually conducted with a Class 70, with 70814 hired from Colas and used on the Liverpool branch before moving on to the North East. Although the trial was considered largely a success, the announcement came shortly after that GBRf had acquired the 10x Class 60's on Colas' books. In terms of Colas, they had standardised the fleet around the Class 70's of which they have 17 and the Class 56 locomotives they have invested heavily in.

GBRf 60096 'Impetus' leads the 6E09 09:38 Liverpool Biomass Terminal - Drax Alternative Energy station through Acton Bridge this morning.
60002/021/026/047/056/076/085/087/095/096 all moved over to GBRf and entered service initially still in Colas livery. A gradual de branding saw the Colas name and logo removed and just the words 'Rail Freight' remaining. Maintenance remained contracted to DB Cargo at Toton as per the deal between DB and Colas at the time of the original sale. GBRf then sold the 10 'Tugs' to Beacon Rail Leasing and immediately took the loco's back on long term lease.  


Originally unsure if I'd get one 60, then two turned up! Running almost 40 mins late, 60026 'Jupiter' leads classmate 60076 'Dunbar' through Winwick with the 6E17 1230 Liverpool Biomass Terminal - Drax.

GBRf have started to paint the loco's now but this has been a gradual affair with (as of today) 3 loco's painted and 7 outstanding. All have been treated as Arlington's (Eastleigh Works) as is standard for GBRf.





Availability has seemed pretty poor as of late with a number of loco's out of service awaiting/receiving attention. At the time of writing this at 17:30 on Saturday 06/06/2020, 60% of the fleet are available for traffic with 4 loco's awaiting/receiving attention (60002/21/85/96).
60085 'Adept' 6E09 Daresbury 08/02/2020.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Freightliner Update



86604 86639 4L60 19:46 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall seen at Halebank on 02/06/2020.

The last few months have been the strangest time in many of our lives, with the world consumed in a pandemic. COVID-19, or Corona Virus as it is more commonly referred to, has affected all of our daily lives. The railways are no exception with passenger operators running with reduced timetables, some operators such as Grand Central by Arriva decided to suspend all services indefinitely. During the lock down, trains would continue to run to provide key workers an opportunity to be able to get to and from their places of work.


Whilst waiting at Halebank, the familiar roar of the GE PowerHaul P616 engine disturbed the peace as 70005 ran light from Garston FLT - Ditton FLT.  This was under headcode 0F45 and was to position the loco to work the 4K45 12:52 Ditton FLT - Crewe Basford Hall service. Seen here at Halebank, the loco is heading for a runaround at Garston Yard 21/03/2020.
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Rail freight has continued also and in many ways has kept the country going with vital flows of foodstuffs, drinks and biomass to name just a few. One area that is only now really starting to feel the impact of COVID-19 is the inter modal container market. Most of the things we buy and use every day are made in China. With this virus seemingly starting in Wuhan, the Chinese went in to an early lockdown and with it the halting of industry. Many many deep sea container ships leave Chinese ports every day, carrying goods all over the world. In the case of the UK, a journey from China may take 6-7 weeks, so the last ships (in theory) to leave prior to China's shut down have arrived. 

                                      
Operators such as DB Cargo UK, Freightliner and GBRf are all big players in the inter modal market with services running all over the UK. Freightliner is the largest in this market, being originally a business built around the transport of containers all over the country. They have diversified in to other areas now with their Heavy Haul side of the business shifting anything from aggregates to household waste. But the containers are still very much the beating heart of the business. Operations are centred on the ports at Felixstowe and Southampton and serve inland terminals such as Coatbridge (Glasgow), Ditton (Widnes), Garston (Liverpool), Lawley St (Birmingham), Leeds, Trafford Park (Manchester), Teesdock (Middlesborough) and Wentloog (Newport)  - this list is not exhaustive.

Also during the global pandemic, Abellio Greater Anglia, have replaced their loco hauled Intercity services between Liverpool St and Norwich with modern units by Bombardier and Stadler. This has seen the delayed transfer of 13 Class 90's (90003-90015) to Freightliner. With reduced traffic levels at the moment and less pressure on the fleet, these 13 as well as the entire Class 70 fleet (19 locos) and several 66's have been placed in to temporary store until traffic levels pick up again. The 90's will all receive modifications and a repaint in to G+W orange before they enter traffic with 90014 expected to be the first. 90014 received a heavy exam at Crewe TMD and was shipped over to Basford Hall VMF where work has continued. The other 12 currently sit in the depths of Basford Hall yard awaiting the call. 
86637 86632 4M45 Felixstowe North FLT - Garston FLT, Halebank 17/03/2020. 

A jammy patch of light this morning as 90048 and 90016 pass through Red Bank under a moody sky. The service in question was the 4S50 06:03 Crewe Basford Hall - Coatbridge FLT liner. 05/06/2020.


The other loco's in the Fleet, the ever present Class 86's, continue to play an important role with the company. The fleet are largely concentrated on workings south of Crewe working various services to an from Ipswich but do retain at least one booked turn on weekdays to/from Coatbridge.
The fleet has remained static for the last few years at 16 operational locomotives. Some have spent periods out of use such as 86627 and 86632 which had Transformer and Wheel set attention before returning to active use, but were never formally stored. Since the start of the Corona Virus pandemic several examples have been stored. First to go was 86610 which requires new wheels, thankfully the loco is being kept 'warm' at Crewe and hopefully should be returned to traffic in due course. 86614 was then the next to be stood down. That in the past week has been reinstated and is currently back in traffic. At the expense of this reinstatement was 86627 which has been stood down at Basford Hall. Time will tell whether this one comes back, with Freightliner describing rumours of the 86's demise as 'Fake news'. I believe a core fleet will be retained with a couple of locos probably becoming spares donors to keep them going.
This afternoon 86605 has been moved to store but this should be a temporary stint as the loco is receiving attention at Crewe.

86608 86638 4L60 19:46 Garston FLT - Felixstowe North FLT at Hartford on 14/05/2020.

90043 90016 4S59 20:59 Crewe Basford Hall - Coatbridge FLT at Hartford 04/03/2020


90016 was in the news in late May, when it failed near Mossend whilst paired with 90047 on an evening departure from Coatbridge. The train was shunted back in to Mossend yard where the errant 90016, which reportedly had caught fire and was scorched, was removed before 90047 continued south solo. The reports of 90016's demise where premature and somewhat exaggerated as, after being transferred back to Crewe the next day, was back in service by the end of the week once again paired up with 90047 on Anglo-Scottish flows.
At the time of writing 90044, the only electric to carry the G+W Orange+Black scheme, is out of traffic pending the arrival of parts at Crewe.

90044 90046 4M11 Hartford 04/03/2020


90047 90045 4M11 18:03 Coatbridge FLT - Crewe Basford Hall, Acton Bridge 14/05/2020.




08530 Trafford Park FLT 18/01/2020.

66517 66522 4K83 12:13 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall, Halebank 30/05/2020


Thursday, 10 October 2019

08691 - Basford Hall's pilot




Crewe Basford Hall welcomed the return of a Gronk back in August when 08691 'Terri' arrived from the Port of Felixstowe. The loco was last at Basford Hall circa 2002 when it wore a plain grey livery.

The loco will mark 60 years since delivery at the end of this month having started life back in October 1959 as D3858, as a product of Horwich works. The loco was delivered to Walton, Liverpool and would remain in Liverpool for the first decade of it's career with spells at Edge Hill, Speke and Allerton. Staying in the North West the loco was allocated to Wigan Springs Branch in 1970, had a brief return to Allerton a year later, before once again becoming a Springs Branch engine until being sent to store in 1984. A call to Swindon followed for overhaul and upon release in late 1984 headed to York.

It's probably best remembered for being the Sheffield Station pilot whilst being allocated to Tinsley.
Like most of Tinsley's fleet at the time the locomotive received an unofficial name as well as livery embellishments. In this case the name 'Escafeld' was painted on in 1987 and a light grey roof applied to it's BR Blue livery. The loco later received BR Green with grey roof and cast BR Arrows.

Relocation from Tinsley came in 1994 with the loco once again allocated to Allerton. Time was spent in the Crewe area but by 1997 it was laid up at Crewe Diesel. Repairs followed and the now nearly 40 year old Gronk began it's Freightliner career with a spell at Trafford Park FLT in 1998.

A full overhaul came in 2003 at Doncaster works with the loco outshopped in Freightliner Green/Yellow which it carries to this day. During it's FL career it has served at Felixstowe FLT, Tilbury FLT, Trafford Park FLT and Southampton Maritime FLT and once again Crewe Basford Hall.
The name 'Terri' is inspired by an Ipswich girl who at 6 years of age received significant burns in a house fire. Terri named the locomotive herself at the Port of Felixstowe in 2003.

It is believed that it will be joined shortly by another Class 08 in the form of 08891 currently being repaired at Nemesis Burton Rail. The one time Garston FLT pilot having not worked for FL for over a decade after being laid up at Southampton in 2008. It was removed to the LH Group, Barton-under-Needwood the same year for repairs but has ended up donating a lot of parts to other members of the fleet. Removal to Burton came in 2017 along with fellow spares donor 08575.


Monday, 23 September 2019

Autumn of the Class 86

86608 86607 4M83 1033 Coatbridge F.L.T. to Crewe Bas Hall S.S.M taken at Red Bank, Newton-le-Willows 17/08/2019


Freightliner's Class 86 fleet have served the company well with well over 50 years service. With the introduction of large fleets of new trains within the UK over the past few years, the merry go round redeployment of replaced trains mean the 86's time appears to be running out.

From December, Abellio Greater Anglia will start the withdrawal of their Class 90 and Mark 3 coach fleet with the introduction of their new Stadler Class 745 FLIRT units on the Intercity route between Norwich and London Liverpool Street. The 15 Class 90's, who are currently owned by Porterbrook, already have new homes with 2 destined for Locomotive Services Ltd (LSL) at Crewe and the remaining 13 to Freightliner Intermodal. This should allow for the withdrawal of the 86's from FL use. The irony here being that once released from West Coast duties in the early 2000's, the 90's also replaced 86's on these Anglia duties.

Freightliner were up until earlier this year, last year considering an overhaul scheme for the 86's which would have seen a number be retained for a further 20 years service. It is believed that the company is now considering withdrawal instead. From November, Freightliner take over the Mendip Stone contract from DB and will inherit the Class 59/0's and 59/1's. The Class 66/6's which are currently focussed around the Tunstead traffic are believed to be headed to the Mendips with their duties being taken over from some reinstated Class 70 locomotives. Whether enough loco's will be in position to allow for a complete 86 withdrawal remains to be seen but here's hoping not.

86608 86637 4K64 11:46 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall taken at Acton Bridge 22/06/2018.


It is believed that from around October the Anglo-Scottish intermodal trains, long in the hands of pairs of 86's, will be taken over by pairs of Class 90's. Freightliner currently have 11 90's on the books, 10 of which are serviceable but 3 remain on hire to GBRf for Caledonian Sleeper duties. This hire contract should have ended by now but due to delays to the new CAF MK5 stock remain in use. This should however be resolved in the coming weeks. A refresh and training programme has been underway with Mossend based drivers on the type and once the combination of trained staff and loco availability is where it should be, the 86's should give way on these north of Crewe workings.

86627 86609 4M42 2152 Felixstowe North FLT to Garston FLT service at Acton Bridge 27/06/2019.


Other than the Anglo-Scotland workings, Class 86's are currently the booked traction for the following workings:

4L41 0603 Crewe Basford Hall - Felixstowe FLT (as far as Ipswich)
4M42 2152 Felixstowe FLT - Garston FLT (from Ipswich)
0K64 1146 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall (light engines)

4L91 0210 Trafford Park FLT - Felixstowe (as far as Ipswich)
4M87 1113 Felixstowe FLT - Trafford Park (from Ipswich)

 Get them while you 'Can'!!!

86612 86638 4K83 12:13 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall service taken at Acton Bridge 21/09/2019

86622 86638 4K64 11:46 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall service taken at Halewood 05/05/2016

86628 86639 0K64 11:46 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall light engine movement taken at Halebank 20/09/2019

Friday, 24 May 2019

Nearly 5 years after announcement...... the Bachmann Class 90 is here!

Yes folks, if you can be bothered to scroll back through my blog, you will see that in July 2014 I posted celebrating the announcement of a Class 90 electric by Bachmann. Well after 5 long, frustrating, at times just plain annoying years, the model is here!

My local model shop has called to say mine will be landing this afternoon so I can then collect.

3 versions are currently on offer;



Bachmann have provided an excellent video guiding through the basic features of the model. My review will follow in due course.


GBRf Heritage Liveries visit the North West

GBRf are perhaps the most exciting operator on the network when it comes to providing variety amongst it's loco liveries. Recently we have seen Class 47's, 50's and 60's receive different variations of the famous Blue/Orange scheme. But it is perhaps the Class 66 fleet that is the most exciting. Below is a list of the current 'Specials' GBRf have to offer!



2 loco's I have been able to catch up with recently are 66779 and 66789.

BR Brunswick Green liveried 66779 'Evening Star' is nearing journeys end as it passes the Jaguar factory in Halewood, Merseyside. The loco was working the additional 6X43 0909 Dagenham Dock Recp Gbrf to Garston Car Terminal Gbrf Ford automotive service. This particular train has ran more frequent recently with Ford stockpiling due to uncertainty around Brexit. This image was recorded just after 16:00 on 21/05/2019. The loco later returned to Dagenham with the empties and is now back in the area at Tuebrook sidings, where we will wait to see if it drops on to the Biomass circuit.

The lovely BR Large Logo Blue 66879 'British Rail 1948-1997' powers through Acton Bridge with the 6V35 0944 Clitheroe Castle Cement Gb to Avonmouth Hanson Sdg Gbrf on 16/05/2019. The loco the former EWS 66250, painted by GBRf when purchased from DB Cargo. GBRf are to be congratulated on providing such a wonderful bit of variety amongst a class which are seen as many as the devil.

Thursday, 23 August 2018


Recent Pics



60047 6J37 Red Bank, June 28, 2018

After a short break of a couple of weeks, the logs are back! Also back (for now) at the helm is 60047 which will shortly be transferring to GBRf with the 9 other Class 60's operated by Colas. The logs are likely to revert to Class 70 power, indeed 70812 powered this service at the start of the week.

70813 6J37 Red Bank, August 10, 2018

The new order on 6J37 (at least for now) as 70813 eases through Redbank on the first full day post Class 60. The heavy log train runs from Carlisle to Chirk and has been a Colas turn for over a decade. The service has used traction such as Virgin Class 57/3's, DRS Class 57/0's, as well as Colas's own Class 47's, 56's 60's 66’s and 70's over the last few years.


66711 'Sence' 6L48 Weaver Junction, August 2, 2018
One of the most colourtul locomotives on the network is GB Railfreight's Class 66 66711 'Sence' in it's Aggregates Industries scheme. I have a soft spot for this locomotive and cant help but follow it around when its in the local area. Such luck at the moment is that after having a period on the Liverpool-Drax Biomass circuit, Sence is back working off Liverpool on the Ford Automotive train between there and Dagenham Docks. This locomotive actually delivered my new Ford Kuga to Garston last week which was pretty cool. Anyway, the GM is seen here giving it full beans away from Weaver Junction running around 15 mins early.

66721 'Harry Beck' 6E09 Daresbury, August 11, 2018
A pleasant surprise this Sunny Saturday morning as 'London Tube' liveried 66721 'Harry Beck' shifts its load of Biomass through Daresbury towards Weaver Junction. The service was the 6E09 07:40 Liverpool Biomass Terminal to Drax Alternative Energy Station in Yorkshire.

86638 86612 4K64 Halebank, July 11, 2018
Generally booked for a pair of 86's, the 4K64 11:46 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall service is certainly one of my favourite services to photo. Operationally, Monday night to Friday night a pair are booked to work the 4M42 21:52 Felixstowe North FLT to Garston FLT forward from Ipswich, arriving at Garston just before 6am the following morning. The loco's remain on hand then to work 4K64 at lunchtime. Generally this pair (barring operational issues/failures) will then work to Coatbridge from Crewe later that evening. This has been a fairly recent change as it used to be that the loco(s) that worked the 4F45 08:20 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall service would then return on 4K64. This loco now generally runs to Ditton light to assist with shunting/hauling the 4L92 14:03 departure to Felixstowe. On a Monday, loco's are ferried to Garston via 4F80 05:12 Crewe to Ditton and then run light to Garston.
 86613 86627 4K64 Halebank, June 29, 2018

With a toot from the driver and a wave from the second man's seat, Freightliner 86613 leads the 4K64 11:46 Garston FLT - Crewe Basford Hall through Halebank. Class mate 86627 was dead in tow taking a breather en-route back to Crewe. 
60059 6H02 Daresbury, July 11, 2018

A bit of a surprise this morning as I was waiting for the 90's on 4M27.... the unmistakable rumble of the Mirrlees MB275T engine. DB Cargo (UK) Class 60 60059 'Swinden Dalesman' hauls the 6H02 09:29 Arpley Sidings - Tunstead Sidings through Daresbury. The former Loadhaul favourite was the 7th 'Tug' released from the 'Super 60' overhaul programme at Toton after 60007, 60054, 60091, 60074, 60079 and 60063. Earlier work had been trialed on 60011 (electrical) and 60099 (mechanical) prior to the programme commencing. 60059 re-entered traffic in the spring of 2012 and has recently been 'de-schenkerised'.
 67002 1Z60 Daresbury, August 11, 2018

1Z60 04:44 Bristol Temple Meads to Appleby Pathfinder railtour.
 68025 'Superb' 5Z68 Moore, June 28, 2018

Another run of the Class 68 and MK3 ex 'Pretendolino' stock under Freightliner control was recorded this morning at Moore. 68025 'Superb' and 68031 'Excelsior' are recorded at either end of the 5Z68 10:02 Crewe C.S - Carlisle test run.
 88008 'Ariadne' 4M48 Red bank, August 5, 2018

1453 Mossend Euroterminal to Daventry Drs (Tesco)