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In an effort to improve the reliabilty of the loco hauled passenger trains on the Cumbrian Coast line in England, Northern rail and DRS agreed to substitute new class 68s to replace one of the Class 37/4s that have been struggling. The 68s and DBSOs don't talk to each other electronically so this meant reforming the train so that instead of a DBSO driving car, three TSO standard carriages and a Class 37/4 working push-pull there was to be a class 68 at either end working top and tail with the DBSO buried in the formation and just two TSOs. This kept the train the same length for platform and 'loco stop' board reasons. As Northern drivers are not passed out on 68s, DRS drivers are handling this set, the other set retaining Class 37 power. The first day of the revamped service was marred by awful weather and I managed to get a shot of the first Carlisle to Lancaster service just after daybreak at Sellafield. 68 018 'Vigilance' was on the lead with 68 017 'Hornet' at the rear. These two locos would handle the train for the first week. After work I headed to Kirkby in Furness to catch the return northbound trip. This part of the Duddon estuary is very exposed and the weather had not improved with 3,850 HP these locos make light work of a short train like this and easily manage the timings required With blended brakes ( a mix of dynamic and air brakes) most station stops use the dynamic brakes mainly. 68 017 eases to a halt on the steep downhill gradient at Dalton in Furness on the Lancaster to Barrow trip more in a minute Kev
Once again we had our big company charity open day organised. This year it was a our Carlisle Kingmoor depot as it alternates with our Crewe Gresty bridge facility and was to be the first event to feature the new 25Kv Ac/Diesel hybrid class 88 Bo-Bos. Friday was spent shunting the yard and marking out the car park for all the visiting trade stands and Railway societies. The wind was a bit wicked and one marquee nearly went over the fence before we screwed it down! A pair of EMD Built class 66s stand waiting with 66 301 positioned ready for its naming ceremony the following day. 37 259 had brought two of our venerable Class 20s from Barrow Hill depot. These are planned to be used on the RHTT (Rail head treatment train) this autumn as they can get up some of the trickier branch lines barred to heavier locos. Our Class 68s are now becoming well established and we lined three different liveried ones up in front of the shed The shortest lived colour scheme will be this plain blue. These locos are due to be allocated to the new TPE and will be wrapped in their livery nearer the time The Chiltern rail class 68s, leased from us, work out of London Marylebone station to the West Midlands and are not named apart from one example