This blog is focussed around my interests in Diesel and Electric locomotives and the modern rail freight scene. I particularly like the humble Class 08 and 09 Shunter and also anything with a pantograph, notably Class 86, 90 and 92 locomotives.

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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, or employers.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Cumbrian Docker

Saturday 21st March saw Pathfinder Tours operate a train between Birmingham International and Carlisle. It wasn't however just a straightforward trip up the WCML, it was routed along the scenic Cumbrian Coast line route. As well as the glorious views on offer, thrown in was some rare access to the private docks branches at both Barrow and Workington. The choice of traction wasn't bad either, a pair of DRS Class 57/0's top and tailing!

The Traction

The traction for the tour was a pair of Class 57/0 diesels operated by Direct Rail Services (DRS). These locomotives are normally 'Freight only' machines with no ETH and were introduced in the late 1990's by Freightliner. Utilising the body shells of Class 47 diesels, they have refurbished EMD engines and actually have traction motors from Class 56 diesels. allowing them to be introduced at a fraction of the cost of a new build locomotive. 


57004 was converted from Class 47 47347 in 1998. Originally operated by Freightliner and named 'Freightliner Quality' it was stood down following the decision in 2007 to start to hand back the locos in favour of Class 66 diesels. Allocated to Carlisle Kingmoor depot and carrying DRS 'Compass' livery, this locomotive is actually owned outright by DRS, unlike the other 8 57/0's which are leased from Porterbrook. Following the crash of 37515 in 2008 and subsequent insurance right off, it was given as a direct replacement. 

57008 was converted from 47060 and was introduced in 1999. Under Freightliner it was named 'Freightliner Explorer' and again was stood down with the rest of the fleet with the change in traction policy.
With DRS the 57's are mainly used on nuclear flask workings and are particularly well utilised in the Autumn when the RHTT season starts. 

The Tour

The day for myself started at Warrington Bank Quay and at 09:40 the train pulled in to platform 3 with 57004 at the helm, 57008 hanging on at the rear. The coaching stock was formed of Riviera trains MK1's which have been well looked after. So apart from the fact we were being hauled by a pair of locos introduced for freight in old MK1 coaches, it was a fairly standard journey up the West Coast Mainline through Wigan before our last scheduled stop at Preston. From Preston we continued north through Lancaster towards Carnforth. On the approach to Carnforth we were advised by an on board announcement that Intercity liveried 37518 had been moved to a 'phottable' position on the West Coast Railways depot there. With many onboard now on their feet looking out the windows, we slowly crawled past the seemingly endless line of stored coaching and parcel stock stored there. Eventually arriving at the north end of the yard where the diesel depot is located, the coaches were replaced by lines of Class 47 and 57 locomotives with the odd 37 thrown in. With Carnforth out of the way the train branched left and on to the start of the Cumbrian Coast line. Cumbria is beautiful in any weather, but on this line with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other, in full glorious sunshine then it really is something else. Miles and miles of fields, greenery and wildlife. Disturbing the peace and tranquility today was 57004 on the climb towards Ulverston.

The first private branch line of the day was that of Barrow Docks, something not too many passenger carrying trains have been on in recent times. Today, Barrow docks mainly handles specialist vessels, notably ships from Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited and its nuclear fuel carriers. Security is tight due to the sensitivity of the subject and as such there are a few stops whilst gates are unlocked and the train is given clearance to crawl along the line. Eventually at a stop, the train is next to two PNTL vessels, 'Pacific Heron' and 'Pacific Egret'. These two vessels were introduced in 2008 and 2010 respectively and have security features that enable them to transport MOX fuel and plutonium dioxide from here to Japan. As mentioned above, there have been several issues with the transportation of this cargo over the years mainly involving Greenpeace and the truly reckless behaviour of some of its tree hugging activists. These ships are truly kitted out for this type of Cargo with a double hull and essential systems have backups to ensure reliability, kind of sounds like the Class 92 of the seas... In terms of protection, the vessels are fitted with Naval guns as well as other defence systems.

Also in view is the shipyard of BAE systems which is responsible for the design and production of Nuclear submarines. Nearly all of the Royal Navy Submarines were built here, the exceptions being made at Cammell Laird Birkenhead.

Back to the tour and 57008 was started up on the rear of the train to drag us back out of the private line, before handing back over to 004 which was to continue on the northbound trip. With a planned stop at Barrow station for a photocall being called off due to time constraints we were headed to Ravenglass for a quick stop and an opportunity to stretch the old legs. Here is home to the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway which is a 15 inch narrow gauge railway which stretches for 7 miles to Dalegarth Station. Even with this fine piece of engineering, I couldn't bring myself to point my camera at a 'Kettle'. The stop here allowed an opportunity for some photographs of our train.

Back on board and back underway, the 57 took no time getting up to speed as we headed for Workington Docks. This section was probably the most beautiful and took in towns such as Sellafield and Whitehaven and was alongside the Irish sea for most of it. At Sellafield, we stopped for a couple of minutes next to the DRS holding sidings and the former DRS diesel depot which now houses the nuclear flask wagons and is still owned by BNFL. In the sidings today were Northern Belle liveried 57306+57312 which had worked up from Crewe that morning. On the headshunt was 37612,37059,57009 and 57002. 37603 and 37611 were also noted within the confines of the depot.

At Workington, the docks branch was accessed by a reversal, so 57008 was put back in to use slowly traversing the internal rail system. Workington docks these days handles about 300,000 tonnes of Cargo per year. This ranges from both dry and liquid bulks and forest products. Indeed on the day of our visit there was activity with timber traffic. In one of the sidings were some French registered 'Silver Bullet' wagons with 'Ermewa' branding.

Back on the line and the train was headed to Carlise for a brief 40 minute stop enabling a chance to be fed and watered. On the approach to Carlisle Citadel station we passed the now closed depot at Carlisle Currock. The shed here was closed by EWS in 2007 after being gradually run down over several years like many of their depots. Prior to being mothballed the depot was mainly used for maintaining wagons rather than locos but did still look after a fleet of shunters used in the Carlisle area. The depot is a sad sight today, truly abandoned with smashed windows, doors and overgrowth as well as lifted track. 

Shortly after we pulled in to Carlisle station and here 57004, with a fair shift behind it today was shut down. The stop in Carlisle was originally scheduled to be a two hour break, however this had to be reduced due to operational reasons throughout the day. Leaving at 17:20 the journey down south on the WCML was also set to be interesting as it took it some goods loops such as the ones at Eden Valley, Shap and Oxenholme. These loops are used normally for freight services to pull in to, allowing faster and higher priority trains to pass. One thing I was particularly looking forward to was seeing how the 57 fared on the climb to Shap Summit, which is 916 feet above sea level and the result was pretty impressive. Between leaving Carlisle and passing through Plumpton, the service had lost 8 minutes. This was maintained even on the climb to Shap and upon arriving at Shap Summit the train had not lost anymore time. At this time of day the sun was disappearing but what a sight the Lune gorge was in the evening light, simply stunning. The rest of the trip down South was mainly in the dark and largely uneventful. Upon arriving at Preston the service was by now 20 minutes late, and at Warrington Bank Quay were I was to leave the train we were late almost the same amount of minutes. Railtour time I think they call it..

So all in all a very good tour, allowing some rare mileage on freight only private branches as well as goods loops. The scenery on offer was unbelieveable as expected for Cumbria but with the weather on our side it just took it to another level. The opportunity to get some miles in behind some 57/0's was not one to be missed either for me personally. The price of the tour was a little higher than what I had paid on recent tours at £89, but perhaps with the ridiculous online booking charge taken out of the the equation, I'd say it was a reasonable price for what was delivered. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Hornby R3347 Class 92 92019 'Wagner' Review

My latest purchase for the ongoing project of building a 'OO Gauge' diesel/electric depot is a Class 92 from Hornby. One of two announced in December 2014, I was surprised to see them both hit the shelves so fast considering the delays that have plagued Hornby (and the other manufacturers) in recent times.

The two models are

  • R3346 92009 ‘Marco Polo’ DB Schenker traffic red

  • R3347 92019 'Wagner' EPS Grey with EWS 'Beasties' sticker
46 Class 92 locomotives were built between 1993-1996 primarily for use within the Channel Tunnel. They are quite simply the most powerful electric locomotive ever built for BR and were by far the most technologically advanced loco they had ever introduced. Being dual voltage, they are as at home on DC third rail as they are drawing power from AC overhead wires. The bodyshell is similar to the Class 60 diesel introduced by Brush a couple of years earlier, and in terms of internals, most of the electrics are duplicated. This was a key requirement for the Channel Tunnel to reduce the chance of failure. But while this class of loco ticks all the boxes in terms of performance and ability, its a class that has never ever been utilised anywhere near its true potential. The Channel tunnel has never come close to the kind of volume of traffic that was expected when the project was announced and traffic even declined in the early 2000's due to issues with asylum seekers in Calais. The ill fated 'Nightstar' project was another disaster and the proposed sleeper services between the UK and the continent predictably never materialised.  Currently the Class are operated by DB Schenker and GBRf Europorte.

The subject of my review is R3347, 92019 with the EWS branding. This loco is one of ten active Class 92's currently in use with Britains largest freight operator. It is also one of the Class that has received signalling equipment for use on High Speed 1 (HS1). With rumours that DB Schenker are to scale back on Class 92 operation within the UK, due to expensive running costs, this batch of locos could potentially be the last ones to survive. DB Schenker has exported examples to both Bulgaria and Romania, where they have been able to at last fulfil some of their potential. With the above in mind, more are expected to be sent abroad in due course with duties in the UK taken on by Class 66's and pairs of Class 90's.

Upon removing the loco from the box there are a couple of things that stand out, sadly these are mainly bad things. The roof colour is wrong, it is painted black but it should actually be blue as per the Eurostars. The Class 92's received the two tone EPS grey livery but instead of gaining the grey roofs as applied to the EPS 37's and 73's, the 92's received blue roofs from the start. The first recipient being 92001 in 1993. Granted these days the accumulation of dirt and grime gives the roof a black appearance however it is still incorrect. What makes this slightly frustrating for myself is that Hornby have produced Class 92's in the EPS two tone grey before (without EWS yellow sticker) and got the roof colour correct. It's another example of shoddy research from them, which may class as passable for something in their Railroad range of products, however the 92 isnt. It sits in the middle of that and the 'Super Detail' range. However, it does appear that somebody in Hornby was expecting the roof to be blue, as the blurb on the back of the box describes the model as having a blue roof. Ooops..

The Hornby model is the foreground next to the Lima version allowing a comparison of size of the running numbers and BR arrows on the two versions, plus the differences between the pantographs

Also the running numbers and BR arrows on the cab sides appear to be oversized. These are problems that I can resolve myself with a few hours work, but I'm not sure if people are forking out £80 for a loco that they should have to for such basic things. 

With my two main concerns out of the way, the loco is more or less as expected. Utilising the Hornby tooling of the 92 (Lima also did a version) the loco comes fitted with headlights but no tail lights The loco features the revised chassis introduced a couple of years ago with a 5 Pole Skew Wound motor and an 8 pin DCC socket. The loco has two plastic pantographs which are obviously non working. They don't look that great today but we have to remember when the tooling was introduced in the 90's it was superior to anything previously produced. 
A general view of the roof and pantograph detail

Moving on to the face and the look of the 92, its OK. I think generally it looks like a Class 92, a bit plasticy in areas but on the whole not bad. I've always thought that the Hornby 92 looked a bit 'chunky' and when I place it next to the Lima Class 92 I believe this does stand out. Whilst the chassis and internals are better on the Hornby model, the body of the Lima version is more convincing.

The face of the Hornby model.
Hornby Model (Left)next to Lima version (right)

In conclusion then its a welcome release, with an interesting livery that the class has carried for some years now. Whilst I have highlighted some slight issues with the model, notably the roof colour and running number size, most people could probably live with these. For me personally as an electric modeller, I have to try and remain realistic. It is highly unlikely that we will see a retooled super detailed Class 92 released, certainly not anytime soon. It isn't bad straight out of the box, but also could be perfect for a modelling project. Indeed when time permits it will be on my work bench for some improvements. Feeling generous, I'd give the model a 7 out of 10 rating. This isn't an £80 loco, it'd be better priced in the £60 range. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

37419 and two classic youtube videos!

As railway videos go, 37419 has featured in probably the two best I've watched. This one, from February 2015 has 419 running south from Carlisle to Crewe, The loco has some 900 tonnes behind it and a driver who was clearly loving every second of it. We are fortunate to have some Facebook/Yahoo groups in which drivers and other railway staff are key contributors. Indeed on this occasion, the driver was the one who gave the tip off prior to leaving Carlisle Yard allowing photographers and enthusiasts to get out and see this relatively rare working. What a performance!

This excellent video was shot by BEZ81022 on Youtube. Why not subscribe to him to keep up with his latest videos, as well as checking out the current ones!

Oh, and the other video which features 37419 is quite simply a classic. The only words that need to be said are 37419 and cold start which was recorded by GRIDMASTER6 again on Youtube.

Friday, 13 March 2015

A night on the beds, a day darn South

It was announced in 2014 that the new standalone franchise for the 'Caledonian Sleeper' had been awarded to Serco, and that GBRf had secured a contract to provide the traction. This has seen GBRf put several Class 92's through the Wabtec works at Brush Loughborough, including long stored examples. Rebuilt Class 73's are to be used in Scotland on the diesel legs. This originally meant that the long term traction provider DB Schenker (DBS) would no longer provide the Class 90's and Class 67's that currently perform these duties. This was the main reason for doing the sleeper now, in what was thought to be the final weeks of operation for the 90's on this duty. However, since booking my trip earlier this year, a deal has been struck that will see the 90's and 67's continue in the short term whilst the GBRf fleet is readied. This has saw a proposed deal that would have saw HNRC provide Class 47's for the diesel sections in Scotland scrapped, with DBS reported to have undercut that deal by 10% to provide the newer 67's. The Class 73's are quite far behind schedule and so far only two 92's, 92018 and 92033, have been released from Brush and are undergoing testing.

My trip began on the evening of Sunday 8th March at Warrington Bank Quay station. I had decided to do it so that I travelled down to London to spend the following day there and to get some mileage behind 90's on the GEML to Norwich. This meant that I had to get up to Glasgow Central to catch the 23:15 departure down to London Euston. Virgin Pendolino 390137 on the 18:18 service to Glasgow Central was to get me up there. This unit carries a bizarre nameplate of 'Virgin Difference', I mean what is that all about? I've never paid much attention as such to the name plates (or the pendolinos themselves) since they were introduced but having looked at some of the other names listed online for the 390's it's just utter nonsense, its probably as mad as the RES names applied to a large number of Class 47's in the 90's. Anyways, the trip up to Scotland was rather uneventful, with it dark outside there wasn't a lot to see. Whilst they might carry silly names, there is no doubt the Pendolinos have revolutionised travel on the West Coast. They also may not run at the 140mph initially intended, but even at 125mph, they have sped up journey times to and from London impressively. The reliability of these units as well is impressive, especially considering the sheer amount of mileage done on a weekly basis. However, one area were they truly do not compare to the Mark 3 carriages they replaced is passenger comfort. The layout inside the coaches is cramped, with seats not all lining up with windows. The Mark 3 coach is considered probably the best passenger coach ever made and indeed they are still used down on the GEML on front line Intercity services. With some stock refurbished to include power sockets and wifi, its hard to see what advantage the Pendolino has inside. Anyways, trying not go get bogged down in all of that, the train arrived at Glasgow 5 mins late.

I had a bit of a gap in between arriving and the sleeper train leaving, so headed for a pint. I'm not really into 'Livery Froth' as such and would have been happy as long as a 90 turned up. Saying all of that, I have struggled to see and photograph DB 'Traffic Red' liveried Class 90's so did kind of hope it would be one of those. Shown in Scotland that evening, 90029 was a possibility. Ultimately this wasn't to be as 90024 carrying 'First Scotrail' livery brought the ECS in from Polmadie. This loco was just used to get the stock to Glasgow and was detached from the train upon arrival, as EWS liveried 90035 was on the rear (which was now the front of the train) and was this evenings loco to London. After the sleepers departure from Glasgow, 90024 would run light engine to Mossend Yard.

90035, as mentioned above, carries the remnants of EWS livery. Having carried these colours for a number of years its starting to look rather tatty. But whilst externally it may not be great, internally where it counts, the loco appears sound. The service left on time at 23:15, gingerly making its way out of the Glasgow area. A little after half an hour later and the service arrived at Carstairs and here, the sleeper service from Edinburgh was joined to the train to head down south. The train was approx 4 minutes late leaving Carstairs and was behind schedule by the same amount of time up until Preston, in which case an early departure allowed it to be at one point 15 mins ahead of schedule. The service is routed via the WCML and after Stafford is routed via Birmingham and Coventry before emerging again at Rugby. At this point the service was again approx 10 mins early, something it held on to until arriving at London Euston at just after 06:30. All in all it was a pretty solid performance by the Skoda. Upon arrival at Euston the service awaits a light loco to arrive from Wembley Yard to haul the train to Wembley depot for stabling/servicing ahead of that evenings return up north. In this case 'Royal' Class 67 no 67005 ran light to perform this duty. A few years ago I was stalked by both the 'Royal' locos 67005/6 seeing either of them wherever I went. In the past couple of years I hadn't seen them as much. However, in the case of 67005, after seeing this loco at Warrington Bank Quay (coincidentally along with 90035 on a tour from Newcastle to Wembley on Saturday 07/03/2015) it was a case of twice in 48 hours, normal service resumed?

Being at Euston at that time in the morning also gave me the opportunity to photo the sleeper train down from Inverness and Aberdeen which was due in at 07:46 and arrived on time in the capable hands of 90028.

Now, with a little over 12 hours before my departure back up North, what to do with myself. The London rail scene offers so much variety with so many terminus and so many different classes to see. However with plentiful DMU/EMU classes on offer, my main intention was to get over to Liverpool St and get some mileage behind the Class 90's on the GEML on the line to Norwich. Regular loco haulage is relatively rare nowadays, but this Intercity service is scheduled for loco haulage with approx 11 sets out daily. Loco haulage seems to be slowly coming back in to fashion, with capacity issues and a shortage of units, passenger TOCS are turning to hiring in locos and stock. FOC's such as DBS and DRS have benefitted from this greatly with customers such as Abellio Greater Anglia, Arriva Trains Wales, Chiltern Railways and Northern Rail, hiring in locos and coaches.
In the case of Abellio Greater Anglia who operate the Anglia franchise, they currently hire a pair of Class 47's with coaches from DRS which top and tail the 'Short set' workings from Norwich to Great Yarmouth in place of DMU's which are away for repair/non existent. I'd booked my train from Liverpool St to Norwich as it had cost the same in advance to book to there or Ipswich. Now I would continue to Norwich if the short set was out or if the DRS Class 37's, which are shortly to take over from the 47's on the short set, were out on driver training. Sadly neither was the case on the day with only 1 serviceable 47 at Crown point and the 37's that had been at Norwich on their way back to Crewe for repairs. With this, and the not perfect for photos layout of Norwich station, I decided to get off at Ipswich. As Alan Partridge once said about Norwich, "There really isn't anything else to do around here". Joking aside, Ipswich whilst offering half hourly Class 90s in each direction has an interesting freight scene and the Freightliner yard adjacent to the station so it was a no brainer.

Waiting at Liverpool St I was booked on the 09:30 departure. Sadly this service was delayed arriving in to London. In the end the decision was making to have a quick turnaround, to scrap the usual onboard clean prior to boarding and to leave the refreshments top up, ultimately ensuring we left only 11 minutes down. Class 90 90003 which carries former National Express silver/white livery with Abellio branding was on the London end of the set meaning that it would be pushing to Norwich. I'd forgotten just what it was like to be pushed at 100mph by a locomotive led by a DVT. The performance of the loco was fantastic, by Colchester it had made up 5 minutes, which considering the busy route out of London was good going. The route itself is underrated for me, immediately leaving Liverpool st then you are soon passing Stratford Station and the Olympic stadium. What I love about London is the classic high rise building/flats,, the lines snaking there way though them. Slightly further afield and you hit fantastic countryside and some fine views. I was fortunate to have a day under the sunshine which also makes everything look 100% better. There are plenty of level crossings along this line, which from a rail photographers point of view offers some great opportunities. By arrival at Ipswich we'd slipped slightly and were now 8 mins behind. As soon as I alighted the train, the familiar face of a Freightliner Grey Class 90, 90043 could be seen in the distance awaiting clearance to pass through the station with a northbound container service which it had just been put on the front of at Ipswich Yard. Freightliner electrics work to/from Ipswich as the Felixstowe terminal is not electrified. No sooner had 90043 passed through, then another Grey 90, 90048 passed through with another northbound service. If the first 10 mins or so were anything to go by, then the 4 hours or so I had here were sure to be busy!

Ipswich Freightliner yard was fairly busy with several locos on site. the highlights for me being Powerhaul liveried 66416 and 90042. 90042 is a loco that has finally settled down to some reliability after being reinstated after a major overhaul last year. The loco is still gleaming in its Powerhaul scheme, and really looks the business. Since returning to use, the loco eluded me and I had to wait along time to be in the right place at the right time. This wasn't helped with several long spells out of traffic with warranty repairs as it suffered teething problems. Its last spell out of traffic was November-January in which repairs were reported to be in relation to electrical problems. Since release in January the loco appears to have settled in to a normal routine with stops only being for scheduled exams. Indeed as of late, I can't seem to shift the loco with it making regular appearances on services to/from Garston.

Over in the sidings on the other side of the station, veteran Class 86's 86612+86638 sat awaiting an incoming service from Felixstowe in which they would take forward to Trafford Park. Eventually they passed through the station at about 12:50

Another interesting loco to pass through the station was GBRf Class 66 66751. This loco is an ex German spec loco previously operated by Rush Rail in Germany. The loco has been heavily modified to operate in the UK and is the first of the five imported European 66's to be painted in to full GBRf Europorte livery.

66416 was stabled in the sidings and was used to run light to Felixstowe to form a service later on. The yard itself is like an ongoing conveyor belt of locos arriving in to the yard for fuelling then stabling before later working back out. In the case of the diesels most run back to Felixstowe at some point. There is also a siding where light maintenance can be undertaken, and on this day 70020/70014 were receiving fitters attention.

As interesting as the Freightliner yard was, I had come here to see the Abellio 90's on front line services. These were cascaded from the Virgin West Coast franchise back in 2004, replacing older Class 86's, when the Pendolino units started to come on stream. As well as the locos, there was a gradual upgrade of the coaching stock with Virgin Mk3 stock (including DVT's) replacing Mark 2 and DBSO carriages. The transition was rocky, with the 90's pressed straight into service and the reliability was poor. So much so that some Class 86's were retained to work alongside the 90's. Ultimately things settled down and tied in with the hiring in of 90's from freight operators, this allowed the complete withdrawal of Anglia 86's in September 2005.
So, back to the 90's, with franchise being passed over to Abellio in 2012 from National Express (previously 'ONE') there are three different liveries currently carried by the class. Firstly, there is the stripped back 'ONE' livery that has seen the rainbow stripes removed from the doors/cab sides as well as the branding, leaving the locos in base blue with a white stripe and a thicker black stripe over the grilles. The second livery is National Express Silver/White with Abellio Greater Anglia branding. And the third is the current livery of the franchise which is mostly white with black. The coaching stock again carries these different themes and you can get some interesting, if not tatty, combinations.
The services to/from London are run on a 30 minute frequency meaning that you can expect to see four 90's an hour, two in each direction.

Locos noted in use on the day included, 90001/3/4/5/6/7/8/10/13

Class 47810 owned by DRS was running light engine from Willesden Brent sidings to Norwich Crown Point depot to work on the short set workings. The loco only lasted a day by all accounts and was on its way back to Crewe, along with 47818 behind 37604 on Wednesday. Not sure what that was all about...

The journey back to London was in the capable hands of depot mascot 90001 'Crown Point' a name previously carried by 86237, the last 86 to be used by ONE in 2005. The loco carries the current Abellio White/Black/Grey scheme and looks quite smart. What was even better was that the coaching stock behind it was the majority of the former 'Pretendolino' stock that has been hired after Virgin had returned it to Porterbrook at the end of 2014. Some coaches and the DVT have been taken off and mixed in with other sets, but the bulk of the former WB64 set remain. The name WB64 comes from a combination of WB for Wembley, the depot the stock used to be based at, and the 64 actually refers to West Ham's FA Cup win against Preston in 1964! The stock, now allocated to Norwich Crown point is referred to as NC64. The journey back to London was faultless, with 90001 putting in quite a shift up top.

After arrival back in London I had a couple of hours left before my Pendolino back up North. I had a couple of things I wanted to do. Firstly I jumped the tube to London Marylebone to hopefully see more loco haulage in the form of a Class 67 or 68 on Chiltern Railways workings. I was not disappointed, as the 17:50 departure to Banbury was in the hands of Direct Rail Services 68008 'Avenger' a blue one rather than the more usual silver! These locos have quite a cult following, and I must admit for a new loco I'm really rather fond of them. Their appearance is sleek, modern and purposeful. The noise out of them is ridiculous (and that in this case is a good thing!) and the acceleration for a diesel loco is impressive. Indeed there were a few bashers out for this one, positioning themselves in the front coach behind the 'Cat'.

Another personal objective was to get over to London Kings Cross, as the East Coast franchise passed over the Virgin just a week before. This has meant that we currently have the former East Coast livery, an interim East Coast base with Virgin Logos and even a couple of sets in full Virgin East Coast colours. Indeed upon arrival, one of the two sets currently in the new full Virgin scheme was sat at the platform, the loco at the helm being 91124. Also present still in full former East Coast colours was 91116 and interim liveried 91119.

So after having travelled to London on a Mark 3 coach behind a loco, and travelling east and back in the same fashion, I felt kind of short changed on the Pendolino back home. Still, this was a very successful trip and one that I regret not having done before. With the 90's on the Anglia circuit currently being put through heavy overhauls, they are likely to be around for some time yet. I plan to head back down in the summer and try and tie in some more 90 haulage with the Class 47's (more likely to be 37's by then) on the drags. Booking in advance made this trip relatively inexpensive, even the free upgrade to a bed on the sleeper was unexpected.
 For all pictures from the trip, if you have a spare minute please check out the full album here