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On the Cumbrian Coast line in North West England recent developments have seen Direct Rail Services Class 68 becoming more and more prominent. Reliability issues of the Class 37/4s tasked with hauling some of Northern Rail's passenger services has seen one set converted to 'Top and tailed' Class 68s retaining the DBSO driving car behind the south loco to provide train crew facilities.




This set has worked pretty much faultlessly since deployment albeit with a loss of seating capacity.




Alongside this the Nuclear traffic is now exclusively hauled by 68s with the occasional appearance by the new Class 88 hybrids. In a new development a 'Nenta' railtour also used T&T 68s on a Norwich-Carlisle and return excursion and recently two 68s were commandeered to haul the heavy Barrow-Drigg stone train after problems with the two Class 66s allocated to it




More in a mo




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These locos are really proving their mixed traffic credentials now. The video shows members of the class on a varity of working along with a trip inland to catch 68 025 Superb on a Carlisle-Crewe Basford hall SCO working at Armathwaite on the settle and Carlisle line


Contents are


Park South and Lindal in Furness 68 004 'Rapid' and 68 017 'Hornet' on 2C32

Pennington and Askam in Furness 68 005 'Defiant' and 68 001 'Evolution' on 6C53

Pennington 68 017 and 68 004 2C47

Askam in Furness 68 023 'Achilles' and 68 028 on the stone

Park South 68 005 and 68 025 'Superb' on 6C53

Askam and Lindal 68 028 and 68 023 on 0K73

Sowerby Lodge 68 018 'Vigilant' and 68 030 on 6C53

Armathwaite (in the pouring rain) 68 025 on 674C

Ravenglass (in more pouring rain!) 68 017 and 68 004 on 2C32

Park South and Lindal 68 030 and 68 018 on 6C51

Dunnerholme 68 004 and 68 017 on 2C41

Thwaites Flats 68 020 and 68 025 6C53 followed by

68 030 and 68 018 on 6K73

Oak Lee Road 68 004 and 68 017 on 2C40

and finally

Kirkby in Furness 68 023 and 68 001 on the Carlisle-Norwich Cumbria Hoovers




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However there are still some variations


As I said the 20 JNA long stone trains have been running for a few weeks with a pause now until some serious tonnage starts to run later on. These also run top and tailed empty to Barrow and laden return. The top and tailing making accessing the Ramsden Dock branch and a train reverse at Sellafield a lot easier. The JNAs were hired in which meant that we had the incongrous site of DRS locos hauling brand new GBRF wagons!


Seen skirting the fells at Kirkby in Furness



And accelerating hard through Askam in Furness




And again at Askam passing the northbound 68s




The Coast line also had a rare treat when a pair of preserved Class 50s passed on an excursion 'The Cumbrian Hoovers' Hoover being the popular nickname for this class introduced in 1967.  50 007 Hercules and 50 049 Defiance were both resplendent in immaculate BR Railblue





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Video of the 66s and 50s at



Next up will be the challenge of deploying the class 68s on the upgraded  'Trans Pennine Express' services when their haulage power and reliability will be tested on the Northern English hill routes. needless to say I'll be out with the cameras!






Edited by cteno4
fixed youtube embed
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68s are a bit too far north for me - so far I have only seen one at close quarters (68022 at Horsham, having delivered a track machine from Carlisle); although I really ought to wander over to Marylebone to see the Chiltern examples. I do occasionally visit the in-laws up in Lancashire, so may catch the TPE sets when they are introduced ( I spend a most enjoyable couple of hours at Todmorden last weekend).


The 50s however, I have very clear memories of these beasts operating the Waterloo - Exeter services (although I recall 50007 in its 'Sir Edward Elgar' phase).



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