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.

If you have a spare minute please visit my Flickr page

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.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Run-down of the DB Schenker Class 92

I've always liked the Class 92's. These ridiculously powerful machines resemble an electric version of one of my favourite types of diesel locomotives, the Class 60. The one problem I've encountered however is that whenever I've googled 'Class 92' I tend to get a lot of pictures of Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers in the search results!! As a Liverpool fan, this is far from desired! The past twelve months have been an interesting time for the UK Class 92. Currently operated by DB Schenker and GBRf, these fleets have had contrasting fortunes. Whilst GBRf have been activating several stored examples, some of which had been in long term storage, DB have gradually run down their fleet.

As the traction provider for the Serco Caledonian sleeper franchise, GBRf have opted for Class 92's for the electric portions of these trains. This has seen four locos, 92014, 92018, 92023 and 92033 put through a substantial rebuild. In addition, GBRf's 92038 has been repainted in to Serco colours but has not been overhauled, standing out as it has retained its Crewe EMD depot plaques and Chunnel 'Polo mints' on the body sides. Other Class 92's from the GBRf general freight pool will also be used in addition when required, indeed 92044 has already seen some use.

Over on the DB side of things, the fleet has been trimmed down to just seven active locos. DRS had been hiring locos for intermodal turns but this agreement was ended in early 2015. In the past couple of years DB have exported locos to Eastern Europe to their start up operations in Bulgaria and Romania. The locos expected so far are;

92001 Romania
92002 Bulgaria
92012 Romania
92024 Bulgaria
92025 Bulgaria
92027 Bulgaria
92034 Bulgaria

Currently being prepared for export at Crewe EMD are;


So where does this leave the remaining Class 92's? Well the fleet is likely to stay at or around the size it is as present. They are still required for all Channel Tunnel workings between Dollands Moor and Calais Frethun. The locos were designed specifically for the Channel Tunnel with a lot of the electrical systems duplicated to ensure that a loco could continue in the Tunnel in all but the most serious type of failure. This has also led to the Class being very expensive to run and maintain with the operating cost of a single 92 to be more than that of a pair of Class 90's for example. This has seen DB replace the 92's with pairs of 90's over the past couple of months. With the loss of the sleeper contract, DB had a number of spare 90's available. Workings from Mossend, Carlisle, Warrington, Daventry and Wembley have all moved over to double skodas in recent weeks. Indeed it is rare to see a 92 north of Daventry these days, besides for maintenance at Crewe. Most of the active DB 92's also have signalling for the HS1 line in Kent which also currently makes them indispensable completely.

Still in traffic in the UK are;


I plan on travelling over to Eastern Europe to see these locos in action, as well as the Class 56, 86 and 87's operating in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria later this year. Whilst it is sad to see a Class that has never really been used to it's true potential in the UK being exported, it is pleasing to know that these locos might finally get the chance to realise it. Indeed Bulgaria in particular seems to be quite taken with them.

In the meantime, I'm more than happy with double 90's..

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


Today, Tuesday 05/05/2015, DB Schenker (UK) have offered for sale 10 Class 08/09 shunting locomotives.


In terms of condition, this has to be perhaps one of the best offered sets of locomotives put up for sale by EWS/DB Schenker. Of the list, 08877 st Wigan and 'Cut-down' 08993 at Stoke are currently in use as internal user pilots despite officially being regarded as stored. 09201, for years the trip loco working off Knottingley, arrived at Toton in Summer 2014 for repairs that were later cancelled. 08738 and 08939 have remained in store after returning operational from France, where they saw use with Euro Cargo Rail (ECR) a few years back.

08500 and 08711 are perhaps the least complete, with just nose, cabs and frames remaining after overhaul work on the pair at Tees Yard stopped a couple of years back.  Cut down 08994 at Toton and 08995 at Crewe, along with 09006 at Toton complete the list and have had some parts removed. 

DB Schenker remain keen on eliminating the Class 08/09 from their fleet despite all attempts so far failing miserably. Currently they are trialling battery electric shunters at Toton and Crewe but in their present form they would not be suitable for shunting yards and forming trains. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is a need for at least 10 serviceable shunters in the DB operation. Locations such as Didcot, Eastleigh, Hoo jn, Knottingley, Margam, Mossend, Tees Yard, Warrington and Westbury, as well as depot pilots at various locations (internal user at Stoke, Toton, Wigan etc) still require the need for dedicated shunt locomotives. It has been proved it is not practical to have mainline locos such as Class 60 and 66 take over full time, as in DB's drive for efficiency locos standing idle in yards are virtually a thing in the past. On numerous occasions a Class 66 allocated to 'SHNT' or 'CL08' has actually ended up working a service leaving yards empty and trains unformed.

If DB feel the 350hp Gronk isn't the answer for their shunting needs then they need to put their money where their mouth is. This humble design has been around since the days not long after the Germans were defeated (again) in World War 2. They have been through everything, every change, every traction policy and are still standing. Other operators have invested in the design in recent years putting locos through heavy overhauls to ensure reliability. Unfortunately for DB, the UK's largest rail freight operator, the policy of traction rotation and pit stop/patch up repairs every time a loco requires work has come back to bite it on the arse. Rather than spending money on overhauling the locos, money was wasted on remote control technology that was subsequently rejected by Network Rail. It is the belief that this is one of the main reasons DB want rid of these vintage locos, pretty much spitting the dummy out of the pram. An overhaul programme for a core fleet of 10/15 locos would probably prove most cost effective in the medium term. Toton and Crewe depots are currently at breaking point with work on mainline locos so it highly unlikely such work will actually ever happen.

From this list, beneficiaries are likely to include HN Rail who have identified a need for dedicated overhauled shunting locomotives. It is inevitable that some, if not most of these locos will go for scrap. 

08877 has been at Wigan since the 1990's and has survived one tender list already. It looks like this time though it is going to be impossible to dodge and one would hope that given its serviceable condition it is bought for continued use and not scrap.

When 08737 goes up for sale, I'll have to sell my house...