January/February/March 2019.

The East Coast Main Line (ECML) is a 393-mile long (632 km) major railway link between London and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Doncaster,
Wakefield, Leeds,York, Darlington and Newcastle, electrified along the whole route. Services north of Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness use diesel trains.
 The main franchise on the line is operated by Virgin Trains East Coast.

The route forms a key artery on the eastern side of Great Britain and is broadly paralleled by the A1Trunk Road. It links London, the South East and
 East Anglia, with Yorkshire, the North East Regions and Scotland. It also carries key commuter flows for the north side of London.

 It is important to the economic health of several areas of England and Scotland.

 It also handles cross-country, commuter and local passenger services, and carries heavy tonnages of freight traffic.

 Roger Carvell is a rail enthusiast who contributes much of the local content to this website. He lives in Hitchin, on the ECML, but 
on this page he reports on news and movements on this historic line, close to his home and heart.



March 12th 2019.


Over last weekend Freightliner had a problem, a Class 66 loco was in trouble at their Ipswich servicing and stabling point, located next to Ipswich station.
How did they plan to get the locomotive back to Leeds for repairs? The engine had suffered traction motor issues and a
 wheel flat but was still able to deliver power. Trucking by road is one answer but another is to use an ingenious wheel skate to enable the stricken loco to at
 least 'go home by rail' but without calling on the services of another to do a drag.

Thus 66541 was jacked up by fitters at Ipswich and a wheel skate placed under the damaged wheel set.
 Safely done, the next task was to locate a crew and find a late night path for 66541 to proceed across East Anglia at a
 very slow speed with stops at intervals to lay over, inspect, and allow other trains to overtake.

At 23.59hrs March 10, 2019 66541 had safely arrived at Peterborough's Platform 6 from Ipswich via Ely and March.
 The Ely to Peterborough stretch is about 35 miles, roughly a half hour journey by passenger train but 66541 took a
 total of two and three quarter hours at a very low speed leaving Ely at 20.15.

Here, attached, is 66541 berthed at Peterborough in the wee small hours with a driver keeping warm within. At about 04.50 a
 fresh crew arrived to take 66541 onwards, north, via Lincoln, to Doncaster.

 The use of the Peterborough to Lincoln line, which sees more container freight now, was to avoid using the more direct ECML to Doncaster and Leeds.
The neat wheel skate can easily be seen between the two outer axles.
 Skates are used by other train companies and LNER has used them to get an electric 225 set back to Bounds Green.
 Again, the train must wait until close of passenger business, just after midnight for a protracted, slow crawl,
quite a mental challenge to drivers more used to high speed.

I hope this is of interest for I have seen very little published about wheel skates.

My thanks go to Jon Benton for kindly allowing me to use his three photographs of the engine, at Peterborough, clearly showing the wheel skate.


February 16th 2019.

Hull Trains (part of First Group) launched their ‘stand in’ HST on Friday, February 13, using hired-in FGW power cars and coaches.
 Here is the first down service, 11.48 King’s Cross to Hull service approaching Biggleswade at 12.18.
 The rolling stock remains in First Group’s now obsolete blue vinyled First Great Western livery.
FGW on ECML! Power cars 43010/190 race down the East Coast Main Line.
The HSTs will continue to return to FGW for servicing. The consist requires only five Mk3 coaches.


February 14th 2019.

 This IEP appeared, with a keen young man anxious to get it.
 I stood back to make him part of the picture!

 There are three IEPs out today from Doncaster Carr, all ‘up to Lunnon’ as they say.

 This one is 801102, an all electric five-car unit.


February 14th 2019.

Here is 60103 Flying Scotsman, heading down to York from King's Cross with 'The Scotsman's Salute', which ran on January 11, 2019.
At York the passengers disembarked to visit the NRM to celebrate the naming of DBS Class 90 Bo-Bo electric 90028. DBS 90028 had earlier
travelled up from Doncaster after repainting and having nameplates fitted (but covered over).

The engine was named 'Sir Robert McAlpine' in honour and memory of the man who did so much to rescue a
 seemingly abandoned 60103 from the USA after Alan Pegler's second UK trade mission ran out of
backing money, owing to changed political circumstances at home.

Now back in better times is 60103 'Flying Scotsman', going well, right time, heading for York passing
 Langford, just a few miles north of Hitchin on the ECML, the engine's traditional stamping ground for so
many years. Alas, iconic railway heritage or not, the sheep were more interested
in the photographer!

Later on January 11, newly-named 90028 'Sir Robert McAlpine' brought the guests back to London. I wasn't able to photograph that
train but caught it a few days later, while still very clean, pushing through Biggleswade with an up LNER
Newcastle service to the capital. 90028 joined the regular hired-in DBS Class 90s
for a while on LNER diagrams which daily took it to Leeds and Newark Northgate.
Since the beginning of February It has returned to normal WCML duties.


February 3rd 2019.

BR InterCity revived! To mark 30 years of Class 91 operations on the ECML, 91119 has been restored as near as possible to its original 1989 BR InterCity
livery and named Bounds Green, the north London depot that has looked after them.

 On January 29th, 91119 gets the green aspect at Stevenage, departing right time at 16.56 for Leeds.
 The locomotive is booked to appear at the Crewe Open Day later this year.


January 15th 2019.

With tongue in cheek I asked Roger, after noticing his bike in one of the shots below of Class 73/9 electro diesels, if he was starting a sequence of photos like
 Ivo Peters when he included his Bentley in some of his classic shots on the S&D. True to form Roger answered me in no uncertain terms with the shots below.

 THE bike!!!! Tucks in nicely on a Class 365, next to the wheelchair access loo.

It's that bike again!  A Bentley would be nice though.


January 15th 2019.

Tornado is booked off the Nene Valley tonight, with a twenty minute wait in Peterborough station before legging it north on a trial run up to 60mph and
 should end up at Barrow Hill in the small hours. He’s back, ready for first tour of 2019 in February!

 Just checked Real Time Trains (RTT) - 60163 is still a runner under revised ‘Very Short Term Plan’ or (VSTP). Schedules as original but just the loco and
 restricted to 59mph - and only to Doncaster.
 Original plan was overnight throughout northern England via Thirsk. Somebody must have thought, we can’t do all of this on a night turn!

Manage to get four shots at Peterborough shown below.


January 15th 2019.

Network Rail's heavily rebuilt Class 73/9 electro diesels 73951 and '952 head south through Biggleswade with a Network Rail test train from
Derby Railway Technical Centre, RTC, to Tonbridge in Kent on January 4, 2019.

The 600hp/1500hp (electric) Southern Region-designed Class 73 /0 Bo-Bo electro- diesel has had a long, reliable, career in third rail land and since
 privatisation, the type, after rebuilding, has spread its wings as far north as the West Highland line, with the overnight Caledonian
 Sleeper portion to Ft William from Glasgow.

These two pictured, 73951 leading, and 'tail lamp' 73952, followed a different, technical, rebuild path from their Scottish 73/9 sisters, being modernised at
 Derby in 2014 with a pair of 750hp Cummins diesel engines, similar to the Voyager class of dmu, giving 1500hp, over twice that of
 the original English Electric diesel engine when used off the electric third rail.
73951 started life in 1966 as the Southern Region's E6010 and 73952 as E6019. The first six Class 73/0s, beginning at E6001 were considered as a pilot batch and
 were originally known to SR drivers as the 'JA' Class while the main batch of 43 that followed, as the 'JB', owing to revised
 specifications, gained in the light of experience with the original six.

Ten of the original Class 73/0s have been scrapped but such is the 'do anything' versatility of the type, the remaining ones, not in preservation, can turn up anywhere!

The sharp-eyed will notice the Mk2 driving trailer coach in front of 73952. I understand it took the place of an NR Mk1 coach as that type is
 barred from working through the Thameslink core tunnels beneath central London.


January 2nd 2019.

 Today’s LNER Azuma Class 800 test run - it is not the usual trip but ‘5Q90’ Doncaster Carr Depot to King’s Cross and return.
 It is 800109 not '03', the usual suspect Seen here at Biggleswade. This must have been a shake down run as not seen this particular train before.