The Black Hat | The Black Hat on the Norwich Loco-hauled sets
Created 1-Feb-17
Locomotive haulage on the National Network is returning to be seen in various parts on a more regular basis. Some is due to passenger growth, others for seasonal traffic, but some is due to unit shortages as the various units are doubled up or repaired.
In Anglia, the Franchise was hit by a number of unit failures, resulting from overhaul programmes or repairs needed due to incidents. This brought need for one set to be used and DRS supplied two class 37/4’s that had been used on summer seasonal traffic. The Short set idea in its modern current term owes much to the Anglian operation, even if drags had also seen whole sets with the class 90 still attached dragged to the coastal destination in Great Yarmouth. In various years class 47s were used before, supplied from various sources and the current DRS moved in when the last supplier, Cotswold Rail folded.
Yet, with an incident involving a crossing leaving Anglia short on units, Network Rail were forced to offer alternative traction as a replacement. DRS had no further 37/’s to offer, with the rest being used for the Northern Franchise operation on the Cumbrian coast. As a result DRS sent in class 68 engines to work alongside their older EE stablemates.
It saw the meeting in regular operation of venerable traction meeting that which will be the next generation. Class 68, with 3,300 horsepower is a far more modern, powerful and efficient machine compared with the older English Electric designed class 37. The load of three coaches and a 68 on the back allowed the Caterpillar powered diesel to accelerate away from stops with tremendous speed, not unlike a Voyager or car with a turbo when opportunity allowed.
Anglia also allows the trains to be seen in much different scenery. The flats and rivers give many chances for excellent vantage points and the spectacle of seeing engines with boats or swing bridges was rather different than back home with hills, gradients or the more modern mainline operation.
While I suspected that this operation might not last as long as it has, the time spent in the area focusing solely on this allowed an interesting insight into what could be seen in other areas if chance, operational necessity and costs can allow.
This meeting of old and new was also fascinating to compare what had been and what will surely be seen more in the future. Already class 68 is on the Chiltern operation and will soon be deployed to Transpennine. As passenger numbers continue to grow, and the network edges more to capacity its probable that a return to express work is more likely in the future for locomotive haulage to make a comeback. However, that aside, Anglia has shown it could still be used for branch line work and wouldn’t that be marvellous!

Class 37

Visitors 12
47 photos
Created 1-Feb-17
Modified 1-Feb-17
Class 37

Class 68

Visitors 73
28 photos
Created 19-Oct-16
Modified 19-Oct-16
Class 68

East Anglia 2016

Visitors 5
28 photos
Created 1-Feb-17
Modified 1-Feb-17
East Anglia 2016