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The end of Class 37 haulage on the Cumbrian Coast


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Sadly the 28th of December saw the last scheduled working of a passenger train on the Cumbrian Coast line with Class 37 diesel haulage. The contract was due to expire late in January but the decision was taken before Christmas that the service would be discontinued before the New year.


As you will know, if you have followed my other posts, DRS have been supplying Class 37/4s and Mark 2 coaches to support Northern rail for a couple of years to increase capacity on the line between Carlisle and Barrow in Furness. The results have been mixed as the locomotives, introduced in the early 60's have had reliability issues and the Northern Drivers, more used to driving two car DMUs, needed a lot more training than they were given. What was obvious was how much it grabbed the attention of railfans from far and wide.


Some of the 37s have had serious money spent on them and have become celebrity engines

So I set out to capture as much action as I could in the lat two weeks bearing in mind that the weather and light was appalling for much of the time. The first northbound train in the morning was impossible it being pitch black and the first southbound, passing at 08.30, was problematic. really the last one where there was decent light was the Northbound 2C59 just after 3 in the afternoon so opportunities were limited


Three locos were the mainstay for the last few days


37 401 'Mary Queen of Scots' was doing O.K until a spectacular failure at Foxfield blocked the Up line for Five hours and meant a 'Thunderbird' loco being dispatched from Carlisle to rescue it!




37 425 which uniquely carries different nameplates either side 'Sir Robert MaCalpine' and 'Concrete Bob' behaved itself for the duration although it was getting filthy with the weather




401 was replaced with 37 424 'Avro Vulcan XH588' which confusingly has the number 558 in big numerals on the side. This was the million pound 'show pony' when it returned from major works overhaul including a full re-skin of the bodyshell



The last one I got was yesterday's 2C59 Barrow to Carlisle with 424 on the point. The 'Cumbrian Coast Express' headboard had re-appeared and although loco hauled trains continued until later that evening that was pretty much it. There had been some railfans around who had got wind of the end and were riding and recording as many as they could.

So 2019 is going to be a lot quieter on the Cumbrian Coast as DMUs replace the 37s. While local residents will not miss the throaty roar of the English Electric 12CSVT engines the railfans really will. And with the 37s displaced from Nuclear services by Class 68s and also the class 88 Hybrids it's going to be a lot less interesting for photography and video next year for me

The video is here, the sound is so evocative!






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So today really was the end.


We ran a one-off charter train for the railfans to celebrate the sterling work these locos have done on the coast over the last couple of years. 37 409 'Lord Hinton' and the venerable 37 425 'Concrete Bob' top and tailed a Carlisle to Carnforth and return limited stop working.




An immaculate 409 trundles through Foxfield on the outward leg



37 425 at the rear was doing all the work on the climb to Lindal Summit




on the return leg the train drifts down through Dalton station before plunging into Dalton tunnel



The last video for the forseeable future sadly



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When I grew up, these were THE diesel locomotive. And to have one named after the Avro Vulcan? Double goosebumps. There’s a model I’d pay good money for*. 


Thanks for the video of the cumbrian hills too. It’s good to see the land of my father’s family again 



* not that much money, though


Edited by Sheffie
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I spent a few childhood years not far from that line, though I don't think I ever actually travelled on it.


Kind of weird seeing large logo 37s still running.


In Japan that'd be like a couple of DD50s or ED75s in retro JNR livery topping and tailing a rake of 50-series coaches in revenue service.

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Well in a bizarre twist I was looking on realtimetrains yesterday and noticed that the Ballast train coming out of the track relaying possession wasn't due at Askam until 17.50 (the week before it had been about 10.30) Network rail are relaying the stretch of the Cumbrian Coast between Silecroft and Bootle.


So on a hunch I walked down to the station in the dark, with a howling wind and a threat of rain. My wife is now convinced I'm quite mad by the way!


There is a shallow pool of light at the station by the level crossing.



So maybe not quite the end just yet



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