This week features trains that have passed along the sea wall between 2004 and 2006 that aren’t likely to be seen here again, at least in the same livery.
We start with the Class 180 Adelante 5 car high speed train which for a short time had a daily service between London Paddington and Plymouth. For this service two units were connected together but without a corridor connection between the two it wasn’t possible to gain access to the other half without getting out at a station. This was a bit confusing if you had a reserved seat and got in the wrong half of the train and found what you thought was your seat was already taken as the seat numbers were the same in each set. Although they were a comfortable ride and easily capable of cruising at 125mph the trains themselves were dogged with recurring technical problems and First Western finally lost patience and returned them to the leasing company in 2009. In 2012 FGW presumably after then seeing the success Grand Central and Hull Trains on the East Coast Main Line were having with them decided to refurbished 5 sets and use them on the Paddington to Worcester services.
Virgin Trains found a need for a reliable diesel locomotive to rescue any of their electric Pendalinos or diesel Voyagers that failed in service. This coupled with diversions off the West Coast main line onto non electrified lines meant another means of propulsion was needed. They were also used for towing Pendalinos from Crewe to Holyhead along the north Wales coast on a regular basis. Consequently in 2002 they ordered 12 refurbished Class 47 locos from Brush Traction and later another 4, These 16 were re-classified as a Class 57. This saved two thirds of the cost of buying brand new locomotives.They were designated as “Thunderbird” loco’s as their primary use was for rescue missions and Richard Branson with the eye he has for publicity made an arrangement with the TV production company to use the names of the Thunderbird puppets to capture the imagination of the travelling public. We all know of the problems that Voyagers have along the sea wall when the sea water gets into the roof space and shorts out the electrics, so back in 2005 every time there was a severe weather forecast a Thunderbird was sent down to stand at Exeter and tow voyagers along the wall. To achieve this each Thunderbird was fitted with Dellner couplings which are the rather unsightly equipment installed at each end of the loco. This is because Pendolino’s and Voyagers cannot connect to the standard coupling system which hangs below the Dellner in the picture of 57307 Lady Penelope. Nowadays Cross Country trains just stop at Exeter if the waves are crashing over. Is that progress? Virgin does not now operate any of these locos but we do occasionally see them under the DRS company ownership but of course in their own livery.
The Class 52 “Western” diesel hydraulic loco’s were introduced in 1961 and eventually totaled 74 in number and were powered by German Maybach engines which gave them a very distinctive sound. D1015 Western Champion was initially decked out in a golden ochre livery and was returned to it from the BR standard blue it was in at the end of it’s BR life. It has since received a maroon livery which is my personal favourite. On this occasion when the photograph was taken in March 2005 it was a miserable foggy day and the enthusiast excursion to traverse some of the clay only lines in Cornwall was held at the gantry signal on the wall for about 10 minutes. Here it was just restarting the train with the customary clouds of black smoke erupting from the roof vent!
The Dart Valley railway held a diesel gala in June 2005 and the visiting engines included this little line up of 47150, 20095, 20096 and 55019 “Royal Highland Fusilier”
The picture below is of Brush Type 2 31602 “Minotaur” in Fragonset livery. This loco was on the rear of “The Saltburn Cornishman” Pullman weekend excursion in July 2005
which had taken them to St. Austell and was now returning to North Yorkshire.
15th October 2005 saw a bit of superpower with two Class 50 2700hp loco’s numbers 50031 “Hood” and 50049 “Defiance” calling in for a pathing stop at the Warren station.
The prototype locomotive was fitted with a body very similar to the Deltic and numbered DP2 but, when the resultant production run of 50 locomotives arrived in 1967 the body shell was changed to that as seen below. The original workings for the class was on the West Coast Main line from Crewe to Scotland but, with the coming of electrification they were all transferred to the Western Region where sadly from the enthusiasts point of view they replaced the beloved Class 52 Westerns. The class pet name is “Hoovers or Vacs” because of the sucking noise the original air intakes made. These proved inefficient and were soon changed and the new ones no longer made the distinctive noise but the nickname has still carried on. These were then replaced by HST’s on the Great Western services but found a home on the Southern region services from Exeter to Waterloo.
In 2005 GBRf had the contract for taking the Mk3 HST coaches from Laira to Kilmarnock that recently have been done by the Rail Operations Group with two Class 56’s.
This was one of the first and GBRf were utilising Class 73 diesel/electric hybrid loco’s as barrier vehicles to get over the coupling disparity between these coaches and the normal standard coupling. At this time the Class 73’s diesel engine was only 600hp as they normally operate on the 3rd rail electric system hence the Class 66 needed for the Dartmoor hills. Some of the class have been re-engined and are now a more respectable 1500hp.There is going to be a special excursion on July16th amusingly titled “The Herd of Wildebeastie” which will be powered by no less than 4 Class 73 loco’s, two at each end of the coaches and two will be the re-engined 1500hp loco’s and two the original 600hp motors.
2006 saw this unusual array of a Cotswold Rail 47 either hauling or double heading with an Anglia 47 and Vigin Mk3 coach as a barrier car to connect to three Midland mainline HST power cars.
Fragonset mentioned earlier with the Class 31 merged with Merlin Rail in 2005 to form FM Rail and in 2006 introduced the Blue Pullman train and had two dedicated Class 47 loco’s painted in Nanking Blue to match the coaching stock 47709 “Dionysos” leading with 47712 “Artemis” on the rear. Unfortunately the company went into administration in December 2006
And finally it’s fortunate these days the coaching stock of special trains are invariably in a more presentable uniform colour rather than this mixed bag of allsorts on this
Pathfinder tour hauled by a Virgin Thunderbird 57303 “Alan Tracy”. This loco is now DRS blue livery and named “Pride of Carlisle”