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European Railroad Discussion > US Invasion of England!


Date: 08/28/20 11:56
US Invasion of England!
Author: exhaustED

Back in 1986 there was something of a revolution in UK railfreight. A large quarry in the southwest of England was so unimpressed by the reliability and performance of the (then) British Railways locomotives used to take its aggregate products east to London that it decided to offer 'the Yanks' a chance to intervene and show what could really be achieved in terms of freight haulage.

The initial result was an order for four 'class 59' locomotives, essentially SD40-2s in a smaller body-shell to fit the UK's loading gauge. These were the first privately owned mainline diesels to operate on the UK's (then) nationalised system. Needless to say, the rest is history, as the reliability and performance of these machines was in an entirely different league to what had gone before, and as a result they have very significantly influenced the future of railfreight traction in the UK ever since then. In 1986 I went on a family holiday to the south coast and spent a day watching these new beasts calmly handle multi-thousand tonne trains single-handedly with little fuss.

Fast-forward nearly 35 years and about a month ago I decided I needed to take a long overdue trip to see these locomotives once again - at a location called Crofton, in Wiltshire. This is about 30-40 miles east of the quarries whose products are still routinely hauled by those same class 59s today. Some things have changed in the intevening period; the locos are no longer owned by the quarries but by a freight operating company called Freightliner, itself owned by Genessee and Wyoming, which I guess is pretty apt, being US-owned!

There are now 15 class 59s operating as two further orders were placed in the 1980s/1990s and they are in 3 different subclasses. The photos are all from a single gorgeous summer's day at Crofton, which is a delightful spot where what gets called the 'Berks and Hants route' (railway) and the Kennet and Avon canal run side by side in rural Wiltshire, close to Savernake forest.

Photo 1. 59005 (named Kenneth J. Painter) heads east with the UK's heaviest freight train, close to 5000 tonnes.

Photo 2. 59001 (named Yeoman Endeavour) heads east in the early afternoon with a loaded train.

Photo 3. 59102 (named Village of Chantry) heads west in the late afternoon with empties.

Photo 4. 59004 (named Paul A. Hammond) heads west in the late afternoon with empties.

Photo 5. 59201 heads west in the late afternoon with empties.



 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/28/20 14:44 by exhaustED.








Date: 08/28/20 15:30
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: krm152

Your Class 59 posting is most excellent.
Thanks for your photo post.
ALLEN



Date: 08/29/20 07:44
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: SamRae

I remember a number of year ago, when Maryland DOT (MARC) was taking deliveries of their four AEM-7 locomotives from EMD, the factory service rep delivering our electric  locomotives had been
involved in delivering and setting up the four Class 59 engines to the UK.  He told stories of the surprised reaction as our brothers across the pond began to understand the power, ruggedness reliability of those 4 locomotives. 

G.F.Payne
B'more, MD



Date: 08/29/20 08:41
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: 86235

Excellent set! Great location too, I'm lucky as my father in law lives in Marlborough so I get to Crofton a few times a year.



Date: 08/29/20 09:21
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: exhaustED

SamRae Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I remember a number of year ago, when Maryland DOT
> (MARC) was taking deliveries of their four AEM-7
> locomotives from EMD, the factory service rep
> delivering our electric  locomotives had been
> involved in delivering and setting up the four
> Class 59 engines to the UK.  He told stories of
> the surprised reaction as our brothers across the
> pond began to understand the power, ruggedness
> reliability of those 4 locomotives. 
>
> G.F.Payne
> B'more, MD

Very interesting. It would be interesting to know more about the technical history of traction control, specifically how the effect of creep can be used to maximise adhesion and tractive effort.



Date: 08/29/20 09:29
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: exhaustED

86235 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Excellent set! Great location too, I'm lucky as my
> father in law lives in Marlborough so I get to
> Crofton a few times a year.

Thank you! It is a really unique location, delightfully rural and with some nice angles due to the sharp track curvature in that location. I should have made more of an effort to get there previously - I certainly will from now on!
The history of railways in that area is really interesting also, with a couple of railway companies competing at one time with routes up to Marlborough from Crofton. 



Date: 08/30/20 05:13
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: march_hare

Great pix.

Is that mass of purple flowers in the background of photo 1 Purple Loosestrife by any chance?  It's an invasive that's really common in similar environments here in the US, especially this time of year. 



Date: 08/30/20 05:33
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: exhaustED

march_hare Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Great pix.
>
> Is that mass of purple flowers in the background
> of photo 1 Purple Loosestrife by any chance?
>  It's an invasive that's really common in similar
> environments here in the US, especially this time
> of year. 

You could certainly be forgiven for thinking it's Purple Loosestrife, but it's actually a plant called Rosebay Willowherb. It comes into full bloom in late July/August and although it's widely distributed in Europe, for me it's a quintessentially English sight, particularly along railway embankments. That gives rise to another anecdotal name that it's known by, which is 'railway flowers'!



Date: 08/30/20 15:31
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: gbmott

I'm pleased to see the bells (non-operating I think) are still on 59001 and 59201.  Do the National Power locomotives still carry "Vale of ____" names?

Gordon



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/30/20 15:39 by gbmott.



Date: 08/31/20 02:44
Re: US Invasion of England!
Author: exhaustED

gbmott Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm pleased to see the bells (non-operating I
> think) are still on 59001 and 59201.  Do the
> National Power locomotives still carry "Vale of
> ____" names?
>
> Gordon

Yes, those 'commemorative' bells look good and were a nice touch. Non-operating, correct.

No, the class 59/2s (originally owned by National power, now owned by Freightliner/G and W) have lost their original nameplates. 59206 was recently repainted into the orange/black G and W svheme and is named 'John F. Yeoman Rail Pioneer'. It looks as though the 59/2s will all receive the G and W paint scheme pretty soon, as 59203 is currently in for maintenance and repainting. 
59202 is named 'Alan Meddows Taylor MD Mendip Rail Limited'.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/31/20 03:03 by exhaustED.



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