When I hear the word 'Freightliner', I instantaneously think of two things - Container Cranes and the British Rail Class 86. The AC electric loco has been a workhorse for well over 50 years now, and with the formation proper of Freightliner as a standalone entity in the mid 1990's, have been an ever present in their fleet. Now with the cascading of redundant Class 90's from the Greater Anglia passenger services, Freightliner now have 23 operational Class 90's at their disposal.
The Freightliner Class 86 fleet had remained static at 16 for many years. Earlier this year, as members of the class became due for expensive repairs (mainly new wheelsets/bogie overhauls) the 1st examples were started to be stood down from traffic. The good news to come out of this, was that the plan was to 'warm store' the locos for an eventual overhaul and return to service for at least some of the fleet.
86610 was the 1st to be stood down in January 2020, followed soon after by 86614. Against the odds, 86614 returned to traffic before succumbing to storage for a second time in October 2020. 86627, 86605 and 86612 all followed in May and June, 86628 in July (described as terminal). The most recent 'Can' to be stood down was 'Powerhaul' liveried 86622 during November. The remaining 9 locos now are concentrated on flows between Ipswich and Garston or Trafford Park, with Scottish runs now a thing of the past. It is believed that retention and overhaul is still on the cards for some of the class after a period of retirement, but we believe this to be dependant on several factors. 1 being the current COVID Global Pandemic and the economic impact that is having. The intermodal sector seems to be picking up again and performing strongly which could be a good sign.
2. Freightliner are believed to be hoping to secure a couple of contracts that would increase the requirement of it's fleet and the need for the 86's.
These truly are a wonderful locomotive that have stood the test of time, and owe their owners nothing. Their owners however, probably will be in debt to them forever...
Current Fleet Status as below as of 20:00 on 27/11/2020
|Still defying the odds is 86604, which reportedly is now on very thin wheels that apparently cannot be turned again. Glad to get 86604 on the front here in this instance as it leads 86613 near journeys end on the long trip from Ipswich Yard to Garston FLT. 26/11/2020.|
|86638 86639 4L60 Hartford 19/11/2020.|
|After working up over night from Ipswich with the 4M45 intermodal service from Felixstowe, 'Powerhaul' liveried 86637 leads 'Racing Green' liveried 86607 and dead 66550 + 66517 over Halewood East Jn on the 4K83 12:23 departure from Garston. At this point it was running some 20 mins early. 10/10/20.|
|86638 leads 86622 with 4Z14 0618 Garston to Crewe BH passed Acton Bridge at 0727 (32 late) on 03/10/20.|
|86622 86607 4L60 Halewood East Jn 27/08/20|
|86632 86607 4L60 Halton Jn, 18/08/20|