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ROGER CARVELL'S

EAST COAST MAIN LINE NEWS

 July / August /September 2020.

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.

*ALL PHOTOS ARE BY ROGER CARVELL UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED

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COMPILED AND EDITED BY GEOFF POOLE.
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July 30th 2020.

Below are a couple of pics of the evergreen (although this one is Colas Rail Freight yellow) Class 37s.

On July 18, Network Rail’s 37254 ´Cardiff Canton’ heads down the ECML at the site of Langford Siding. 37254 is heading back to Derby via Peterborough and Leicester after
 spending all night surveying the former Eastern Region lines in east London and south Essex.
37254, as D6954, was delivered new to Cardiff Canton on January 5, 1965 and much of its earliest years were spent in South Wales.







 Here is the back end of that train, showing the driver’s cab end, converted from a BR Mk2F brake coach, one of 14 conversions to allow push and pull working.
In an earlier phase of 9708, it would have worked in conjunction with Class 86s on the Liverpool St to Norwich expresses.



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July 14th 2020.

On a Saturday afternoon (11/07/2020) there is a regular path put into Network Rail’s database for a Southeastern third rail emu drag from Slade Green (Kent) to
 Doncaster Works where the se unit will receive attention. The return to Kent is normally during the night so not suitable for photography.

Below is GBRf’s 66751 doing the job, conveying two, two-car Class 366 Networkers, sandwiched between two former Class 508 emu trailers.
The two-car Networkers are used mainly in Kent and the south east London area, used for strengthening eight-car diagrams to ten in busy periods or used on
 lighter trafficked routes such as the Sheerness branch or the Medway Valley line.

 They were built by BR in the early 1990s to replace traditional slam door stock.





Passing along the ECML at Biggleswade.









On Saturday July 11, it was GBRf’s 66712´s turn for drag duty, this time with LNER. Having being sent light engine from Peterborough up to
 Bounds Green depot, near Alexander Palace, 66751 was coupled up to yet another now withdrawn and de branded LNER Mk4 set.
 66751 approaches Biggleswade over an hour late en route to Doncaster Decoy yard for temporary storage before scrapping. So RIP another bit of old BR.




An hour earlier, at 08.36, it was still business as usual for LNER’s 91124, heading down to York with the 08.06 dep from King’s Cross.
 It arrived ‘right time’ in the historic city at 11.27. It is planned that all remaining Mk4 sets and locos will be concentrated on the
Leeds and York diagrams: Azumas will do all the Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen turns.




91124 races down to York, at Biggleswade, July 4th 2020.



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July 8th 2020.

91119 ‘Bounds Green InterCity Depot’ races north with the 16.30 King’s Cross to Edinburgh, just south of Biggleswade, July 4, 2020.





Four minutes earlier, southbound, 91105 hurries the 15.15 Leeds to King’s Cross past the same spot.
The reduction in the LNER IC225 (BR’s old classification) fleet continues apace as new Class 800s join, despite Covid19 virus, the LNER fleet.





On June 27th, GBRf’s 66767 takes off-lease and de-branded 91121 and ‘26 and a complete set of Mk4 coaches down to Doncaster Decoy, seen below passing through
the ripening cornfields at Langford, just south of Biggleswade.





Status of LNER InterCity 225 fleet on July 6.
There were five only sets out on LNER service, one of which was later a failure at Leeds.
Ten Class 91s remain either in service or on standby. Two more are stopped awaiting exams at Bounds Green and the rest are withdrawn or stored at
 either Bounds Green, Doncaster Works or former Royal Mail depot.

 Two, in new operator’s colours, Phoenix, returned to Doncaster Wks after a period of storage at Leicester LIP. These two are intended, after modification, to
 be exported to Eastern Europe, as freight locomotives.


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July 7th 2020.

For some weekends up to June 15th, engineering work took place on the WCML, north of Preston to Carlisle and Glasgow, which led to the WCML being closed overnight.

The two affected northbound and two southbound Caledonian Sleepers, 'Highland' and 'Lowland', to and from Euston to Inverness, Fort William and Aberdeen via Edinburgh and
 Glasgow were diverted onto the ECML each weekend.

The 'Highland Sleeper' which comes up from Inverness, Fort William, and Aberdeen, is well-served by early dawn sunlight at this time of the year. In the
timetable it was discovered that at 06,44 the 'Highland Sleeper' stops for two minutes at Biggleswade for 'staffing purposes'.

Intrigued why this should be, on Monday, June 15, I set off for the station at 06.25, Covid19 facemask at the ready, as this was the first
day that facemasks were mandatory for train travel. Even though I wasn't travelling, it was better to comply and protect fellow travellers from any infection.

Sure enough, at 06.42, a distant headlight shone into view, and GBRf's 92028 drew to a discreet stop, just inside the up fast platform at Biggleswade.



An orange coach light came on in the first coach and a staff member duly stepped onto the platform, closely watched by his driver colleague in the cab.

 That was curious, for train crew normally alight from their locomotive. Was he actually the driver? Who knows, for he quickly disappeared.


 Duty discharged, the driver of 92028 did his cab checks and right time, 06.44, he drew the locomotive forward for the
last lap up to London Euston, via the ECML, then onto the North London Line and down into Euston via reversal at Wembley.




As the lengthy train pulled quietly away, the illuminated coach destination displays showed 'Crewe and London Euston', Alas not on
this journey via a staff stop at humble Biggleswade!





The new, Spanish-built Mk5 vehicles have rooms, not berths, to appeal to a new generation of overnight passengers- no more off-putting
thoughts of sharing an overnight journey with a complete stranger.

The view below of the Mk5 rear end shows the sophisticated Swedish-design Dellner/Scharfenberg coupling; gone is the traditional drop buckeye
and the revealing hook that requires a shunter to squat beneath adjoining vehicles to attach or uncouple.
 The Dellner coupling has all electrical connections built in and can be safely used up to about 3mph without jolting passengers out of their sleep.




As I made my way homeward past the station buffet, I thought I glimpsed an early customer inside, being served at this early hour; it
was a regular Biggleswade commuter, the new generation, young, tech-savvy, open-necked shirt, trousers and black rucksack, clutching
a fresh coffee to take on the next up service to London.

 There was no sign of 'my mystery' Caledonian Sleeper man.


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