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Class 68s on the Cumbrian Coast passenger trains


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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



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At Askam there is a station stop just before the climb to Park South. The 68s romp up here from a standing start




Looking at this pastoral scene of a northbound service approaching White bridge at Askam you get no impression of how bitterly cold and strong the wind was




We had a massive influx of railfans descend on the Cumbrian Coast when the 37/4s first appeared and I suspect the same might occur with the 68s. But they'd better hurry, the plan is only to have them on this ewrvice until September


video of the first week can be found at





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Just for interest. we don't get much snow on the Cumbrian Coast, it tends to hit the fells and mountains rather than us down at sea level but we did have enough the other day to cause some disruption .


I was out with my camera early on to get the following




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43 minutes ago, kevsmiththai said:

The 68s and DBSOs don't talk to each other electronically

Well, 8 to 15 could and if i see it right 8 and 9 belong to DRS. (the other 6 are at Chiltern) So if they could get one of these, then imho they could also have push-pull operation with the 68s.

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