|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.
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|