July/August/September 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 now lives in Biggleswade, near the ECML, but 
on this page he reports on news and movements on this historic line, close to his home and heart.



September 28th 2019.

 90020 ‘Collingwood’ on 1Z70 King’s Cross to Carlisle charter today, passing Langford on its way north to Doncaster where it would come off and be
 replaced by A1 60163 Tornado for the classic Settle and Carlisle steam run.

 90020 has been in this obsolete EWS livery for over a decade! A welcome return to the ECML for a Class 90 after regular LNER hire ceased in June.

 Sadly 90020 got itself into trouble near Retford and limped into Doncaster, where 60163 was waiting to take over.
 It promptly took 90020! off and dumped it!
 Over 100 minutes late then, on way to Carlisle, nothing 60163 could do but shave off a few minutes delay. About 95 late into Carlisle.
 Tonight, the train has still to make York, via Newcastle, at 21.00. Long haul back to London!

29th September 2019.
I now hear that 90020 had ‘brake issues’. Now dumped in Doncaster Yard.
Yesterday’s North Briton tour to Carlisle (above) using 90020 and 60163 arrived back in the capital at 01.34, 191 min late! Delay repay I think.


September 24th 2019.

I went out on a dull  Sunday, September 22, to take a closer look at the Mountsorrel (Leicester) to Peterborough, (for onward transit to
Langley Siding, Stevenage) aggregates train.
 This freight train has run for over 30 years, and oddly, only runs on a Sunday!
In the first few years the turn used Class 56 locomotives and an ingenious self-unloading fixed-rake consist of Redland (later Lafarge) PGA
 hopper wagons, equipped with a continuous belt running underneath the length of the train.

It was known as the self-discharge train (SDT) and several were built for successful use in the UK and abroad in the late 1980s.
 The stone neatly dropped onto the conveyor belt below and halfway along the train the stone went up onto a diesel-powered conveyor unit wagon,
into a hopper, and then over a swing conveyor jib, turned at 90 degrees to the track, the stone then falling into storage bins
alongside. Only one or two operators required at the most. Clever and no waste.

Alas, all great things come to an end. In 2016 an SDT train was undergoing maintenance at Barrow-on-Soar sidings next to the Midland Main Line.
The conveyor jib had not been fully turned parallel to its train and the jib smashed into the cab of an express passenger train,
fortunately without loss of life.
 As one consequence of this unfortunate mishap, the SDT train was deemed life-expired and the trains scrapped.

In 2019 stone is now carried around the country in large JNA bogie box wagons; simple, strong vehicles that now require a mobile grab crane
to unload. In the earliest days men had to shovel the stone out, hard work. Nowadays the yellow bucket and grab crane does the same job,
easier but hardly an advance in logistics and always the spectacle of left-over stone rolling over the floors.
Materials handling technology by rail, has reversed into the dead-end siding, so to speak.

Below, approaching Biggleswade, right time at 17.17, is smartly turned-out DB Class 66, 66113, in the bright Deutsche Bahn red,
hauling its rake of empty JNA wagons back to Peterborough and onward back to Mountsorrel Sidings near Leicester.

The wagon logos require explanation. The circular left hand Ermewa Group logo shows that the wagon belongs to that company and is leased
to Tarmac, logo on right. Ermewa is part of France's SNCF Logistics.

Ermewa operates 42,000 'railcars' and 55,000 tank containers throughout Europe and runs six workshops.

Below is 66095 with the complete and lengthy SDT hopper train, diverted via the Fens through Ely and Cambridge from Peterborough, due to Sunday
 engineering work on the more direct ECML itself.

This next photo shows the SDT going home through Hitchin to Mountsorrel after its Sunday discharge at Langley Siding, Stevenage back in 2014.
66114 is in charge and the first wagon is the actual diesel-powered conveyor with swing-jib. You can also see the hopper
that filled via the conveyor belt from behind - this ran the entire length of the train or until the next conveyor, often two pair train.

Hope this helps explain the process. It's all history now!


August 29th 2019.

last few runs of 91103. It was officially withdrawn today by LNER for scrapping.
Here is 91103 on Bank Holiday Monday, with a King’s Cross to Grantham ‘shuttle’ owing to the weekend’s big engineering blockade at Newark.
 On Wednesday it did one more out and back to Newcastle and after running empty to depot at Bounds Green, it was switched
 off, becoming the second Class 91 to be withdrawn.


August 29th 2019.

A4, 60009 'Union of South Africa', at Hitchin today , with support coach. It was a move from Dereham (Mid Norfolk Railway) to Southall (WCRC).
Miracle I got this for a twelve car Thameslink coming the other way was about to ruin the photo!


August 26th 2019.

Here’s another NR Twitter photo below (I checked the source) of the famous flat crossing at Newark being renewed yesterday (25/08.2019).

The Nottingham Lincoln, running west to east, crossed the East Coast going south to north - a rare bit of track, it must be the only one in the country!
 If you cross over it at 100 plus it is merely a brief drum roll.

 I am pleased to say that all ECML Network Rail possessions were handed back on time early this morning and I have just
 heard a train hoot, the first in over 48hrs!


August 25th 2019.

Kings Cross has been closed all over this Bank Holiday weekend for essential engineering work which has meant nothing moving on the ECML .

This has caused major disruption for commuters. However the only available traction at Hitchin station yesterday was this lovely little engine.

Below shows LNER to Cornwall! Hired to Arriva XC for the bank holiday weekend- well there is nothing running at home!
 I was just looking at a satellite map of Dawlish and think the happy snapper (unknown) was standing on Teignmouth Hill, through which the main line tunnels.

 That hired HST should be on a York to Plymouth service for Arriva XC. In return, Arriva XC HST's sometimes appear at King’s Cross as hire-ins for LNER!!

Hi-spec Arriva on RRP duty at Hitchin. This one will take passengers the ten miles over to Luton Parkway station (just below the airport).
 Normal services from there to London and south east and north to Leicester and Nottingham on the MML.


August 22nd 2019.

 I was down at Peterborough on August 20th 2019 and found this brand new, unbranded Class 802 in Platform Two. Although destined for
 Trans Pennine Express, this was a driver trainer for Hull Trains.

 The bi-mode five-car train was due to return to Hull as ‘5Z87,. Hull Trains expect the first of their own 800s by next winter.

New branding at Peterborough, Aug 20th. An East Midlands Railway Class 158 departs from Peterborough with a Norwich to Liverpool service.


August 19th 2019.

New Out today - East Midlands Railways. Class 222 repainted. Goodbye East Midlands Trains.

Tin rocket of East Midland Trains last year, Peterborough to Lincoln.


August 17th 2019.

The Poppy 91: LNER Class 91, 91111 has just arrived at Leeds with an unscheduled ecs from King’s Cross.
 The driver can be seen locking his cab door. Within seven minutes ‘Poppy 91, The Fallen’ will be  leaving Leeds for the capital with the timetabled 17.45 departure.
The unscheduled ecs move was in reaction to the disruption to electricity supply, following the National Grid ‘outage’ the previous evening.
 Services took a day to return to normal. As ever, Leeds station is as busy as ever on Saturday, August 10 th 2019.

The LNER 91s are going through an uncertain period at the moment. My driver ‘insider’ now says 91103 is next for the ‘chop’ on August 23/24.
It hasn’t worked for three weeks but was serviceable. Today it worked to Edinburgh and back and this evening it has just gone down. to Leeds.
No new operator, as yet, has come forward with a plan to use the 91s. The planned Blackpool services look like Mk4 coaches (ex LNER) and hired DB 90s.
 I hear that Freightliner will grab the Anglia 90s to replace their ancient Class 86s, now well over 50 years old.
 Meanwhile, DB run so little electric freight, the hiring out of 90s will make a nice little ‘earner’. It’s all good fun!

Further to my above message about LNER's soon-to-be-withdrawn 91103, it appears I didn't phot it! 91128 turned up on 91103's scheduled working
instead! Oh well. 'subject to last min change'.

Preceding 91128 by a few minutes was the 17.30 hst, King's Cross to Edinburgh, '1S27', headed by 'celebrity' power car 43247 'Spirit of Sunderland', to
promote the city. The irony of this promotion is that Grand Central are the main train operator between Wearside and London.

There are black marks on the bodyside. I thought they might be escaped oil but they are graphic shapes summarising Sunderland.
Just stick to the lettering, lads!

All good fun as usual. 


August 2nd 2019.

Mallard being shunted into position at York station to help launch the first of LNER’s Class 800 Azuma services from London to Scotland, Tuesday July 30th.
 Public services started on Aug 1st, with one round trip and more to follow as Azumas are brought into service.


August 1st 2019.

 My report last week, Tuesday, that LNER's 91108 had been withdrawn for good was, err, um, premature!
Sure enough, it languished in the bay platforms at Doncaster for a few days as local enthusiasts finger-rubbed goodbye
 messages into its bodyside grime.

BUT! On Sunday another 91 failed in service and 91108 was resurrected! Off it went from Donny, down to Newcastle, and then did a
 full return trip up to the 'Cross. It continued in front line service on Monday and, surprisingly, into Tuesday, retiring at the
 end of service to Neville Hill depot.

91108 is pictured below, on Tuesday early evening, its 'final' working, the 18.33 King's Cross to Bradford Forster Square.
She is pictured here just south of Biggleswade at full line speed, going like a good 'un.

There's still life in them yet, even as the Azumas spread their wings down to Edinburgh from today, Thursday, with an Edinburgh 05.40
departure, the first of the day, '1E01' up to King's Cross and the balancing return '1S27' 17.30 down to Edinburgh.


July 23rd 2019.

Phew! I managed to get out in the searing heat at midday, and catch LNER’s 91108 as, appropriately ‘0Z91’ on its last journey from
 Bounds Green depot in north London to Doncaster works for scrapping, or component removal, to keep other locomotives of its type in service.
91108 is seen passing Biggleswade, in 30 degrees of heat!

It’s journey north was later disrupted by other problems further north, and was reported to be only just approaching
 Newark at 17.10 after having passed Biggleswade at 13.12.

RIP 91108, marking the beginning of the end of 30 year’s service of the Class 91 on the ECML.

91108 ‘170 mins late’ approaching Retford! TV news shows LNER passengers sweltering on stationary trains due to overhead wire problems.


July 23rd 2019.

Not a good day on the ECML last Friday (19/07/2019). I had to catch a bus! Sign, apologetic, at Biggleswade station today.


July 16th 2019.

Forgive the slight doomy title but I have nicknamed Rail Operations Group's flagship Class 37 loco, 37884 'Cepheus', as the 'Grim Reaper'
 as 37884 is responsible for dragging away for scrap redundant electric multiple units, hence the mighty, but emu-compatible knuckle coupling
 seen clearly in these two pictures, taken early this morning, Monday, July 15, 2019.

 37884 was en route from Leicester, via Oakham and Peterborough and up the ECML to Hornsey Electric Multiple Unit depot.
 Its task was to
remove two redundant 25kVac/750dc Class 313 units and tow them to Sims Metals at Newport, South Wales, for
 destruction, travelling down the
GWML main line.

 This light engine path is now in Real Time Trains every Monday, with a booked 06.00 start from Leicester.
 The original Great Northern dual
voltage emus, built in 1976, are now being withdrawn and gradually
 replaced by new Siemens-built Class 717 trains, also dual voltage, and taking over the same Hertford North and
 Welwyn Garden City to London
Moorgate services, that the 313s had done without fuss for over 40 years.

 Also displayed below, for reference, is my view of the last 313 built, 313064, taken in 2014, and unusually at Royston, on the
 GN branch to
Cambridge, not a place frequented very often by these non-toilet fitted trains.
There is talk that the Class 313 was barred from
entering Cambridge station, due to clearance problems and the emu,
 despite the Great Northern branding, never ran timetabled trains from the university city to London.
 313064 is still in service as of July 15.

 It is ironic that 37884, built for BR as D6883 in 1963, is at least
12 years older than the 313s and 37884 had itself once
 been withdrawn
for scrap in 2012!


July 10th 2019.


Report by Roger Carvell.

My insider at LNER tells me that the 08.45 from Leeds to London pulled down the wires just nth of Peterborough, on the famous two-track
section over Stoke Bank where Mallard triumphed all those years ago.  It was an Azuma 800113 that did the dewiring too!

 It was still stranded at Tallington as at 13.30. Diesel diverts via Lincoln, from Peterborough to Doncaster which has recently been upgraded for
 freight and diversionary express services although the line is not electrified.


July 10th 2019.

The ECML internet ‘photter’ chat livened up last week when an '0Z60'was found on Real Time Trains, booked departure Doncaster Decoy at 17.07, on
Wednesday, July 3rd. This duly happened, the '60' part of the headcode was indeed a Class 60, the first seen at the south end of the ECML for some years.

It transpires that a contract has been placed with GBRf to move London spoil north to the site of Maltby Colliery, in the former South
Yorkshire coalfield.

Below is GBRf's 60096, still in its former owner's livery but with 'Colas' removed, on its light engine run up to the capital to
collect the first loaded train.

60096 is one of ten 3,100hp Class 60s acquired by GBRf from Coltas, in anticipation of heavy construction work associated with
 HS2 and other big 'civil' projects.

On Tuesday, July 9th, 60096 (below) reappeared with its raft of rather battered bogie wagons, en route, now empty, from Barnetby in Lincolnshire, to
Willesden dc sidings, in north London, running as ‘6Z46’.

 A fully loaded down spoil working, again with 60096, is expected down the ECML in the wee small hours of Wednesday or Thursday,  July 10 or 11th to
Maltby Colliery.

The Class 60 Co-Co heavy freight diesel was first introduced in 1989 by BR, with the class of 100 machines built by Brush, at Loughborough.
For some years, the Class 60 or ‘tug’ as it is nicknamed was a familiar sight across England but in recent years, since privatisation
and the successful introduction of the less powerful US-built Class 66, the ex-BR heavy hauler has rather fallen on hard times, with DBS
side lining over half the class at Toton, outside Nottingham for many years.

 Some  suitable Class 60s have since been upgraded to ‘Super 60s’. It is hoped that rail freight prospects may change for the better and
that a heavy freight revival is in the offing, for the slow-revving Class 60 is ideal for moving heavy material transshipments.


July 2nd 2019

There seems to be a steady stream of new trains arriving on our shores at present,
displacing older, and not so old, British-built trains.

802205 is seen approaching East Road vehicle and foot crossing, at Langford, just south of Biggleswade, some 38
miles north of King's Cross

802205 going away.

As part of TransPennine Express's (TPE) plan for new bi-mode trains, on June 20th (above), brand new, but not yet vinyled and titled,  Hitachi-built
802205, a five car bi-mode train left Eastleigh Works at Southampton, and travelled up the SW main line to London and then gained the ECML
via the key North London Line that links the two trunk routes. En route to Heaton depot in Newcastle 802205 will have now joined
earlier-built 802s, ready for testing and driver training across the Pennines this summer.

These 802s will have been assembled at Hitachi's Pistoia factory in mid-Italy, following  shipment of parts from Japan, and are a
follow-on order from Great Western Railway's own fleet of 36 trains, which run in nine and five car formations.
 Pistoia is about 19 miles north of Florence and the plant there, was previously owned by AnsaldoBreda.

The Italian factory was called in to supply further Class 802s as Hitachi's Newton Aycliffe facility is at full capacity with LNER's own orders.
TransPennine hope to introduce the Class 802 by the end of the year, and the bi-modes will link Newcastle with
 Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

TPE are to call their new trains 'Nova1'

Not to be outdone, Hull Trains have also ordered 802s to replace their unreliable Class 180s by next year. A pair of GWR HSTs, reduced to
five coach lengths, are deputising for the Class 180s at present. The HSTs had earlier been displaced by new GWR Class 800s!

To return to the picture, 802205 is seen approaching East Road vehicle and foot crossing, at Langford, just south of Biggleswade, some 38
miles north of King's Cross As a fellow photter remarked, 'Won't be seeing these trains again anytime soon, down here in the south of England!'

It is not easy to photograph a plain, glossy grey, train on a dull day. A neat yellow warning panel would have helped 'lift' the photo.
Yellow panels or ends are no longer mandatory, a shame.


The photo below shows LNER's 07.00 Hull to King's Cross service, on June 15, racing through Sandy, with bi-mode 800113, a
 nine-car set, seen here, despite the 25kv overheads, running on diesel power. Bi-mode
Class 800s, branded on the LNER as 'Azuma', will total 13 nine-car sets and 10 five-car units
LNER have also ordered the all-electric nine and five-car all electric Class 801 derivative, 30 and 12 units respectively.

 Top speed will be 125mph. All should be in service by early next year, although a small fleet of LNER's classic HST sets are
 expected to be retained until next summer for operational reasons.