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International Railroad Discussion > This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics


Date: 11/18/19 09:19
This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: eminence_grise

The BR East Coast Main Line was electrified at 25kv between 1980 and 1991 from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverly, a distance of 394 miles.

British Rail Engineering Limited designed new intercity train sets for the electrified route. The working name for the new locomotives was "Electra". Between 1989 and 1991, thirty one Class 91 B-B electrics were delivered, a joint project between BREL and GEC. They feature body mounted traction motors connected to the trucks by drive shafts.

BREL also supplied Mark 4 coaches for these trains, along with a "Driving Van Trailer" on the tail end, a baggage car with the same nose as the locomotives.

These train sets soon became standard on the East Coast Main Line including the prestigious "Flying Scotsman" service between London and Edinburgh.
They did have some teething and reliability issues, so the design was not repeated.

Thirty years on, these unique train sets are starting to run out of spare parts, and certain locomotives are being cannibalized to keep others running. 

Also, new Hitachi "Azuma" electric multiple units are replacing the earlier trains on the ECML.

The images show class 91023 on the head end of a train at London Kings Cross. A few minutes earlier, this train set arrived at Kings Cross  lead by a Driving Van Trailer.

Three Class 91 locomotives plus a couple of train drivers congregate at the north end of the platforms at London Kings Cross.

These trains did achieve greater utilization by remaining coupled during servicing in long covered sheds. They made two or three journeys in twenty four hours.








Date: 11/18/19 09:28
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: eminence_grise

Class 91 91028 is shown following a naming ceremony at London Kings Cross. It was named "Guide Dog" after the British charity which supplies guide dogs to the blind.
This locomotive has carried three names during its years of service. "Peterborough Cathedral", "Guide Dog" and "Intercity 50", and two numbers 91028 and 91128.

The name "Scotsman" is named after a Scottish newspaper and was carried by another locomotive in the fleet.








Date: 11/18/19 11:52
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: eminence_grise

The Class 91's came with a full driving cab on the blunt end of the unit. At the time they were designed, I think there was a plan to use them on an overnight postal train between their daytime assignments.

The Class 91's and the Mark 4 train sets are now used on other parts of the electrified network.

Privatization took place in the 1990's, and they have been conveyed to a variety of Train Operating Companies , such as GNER and LNER while in use on the East Coast Mainline.

For awhile the electric train sets shared Kings Cross with the diesel HST train sets. A Class 81 DVT and HST locomotives 43107 and 43118 are under the train shed at Kings Cross.

A pair of DVT's are shown under the train shed at Kings Cross, with passengers alighting from the train on the left.

 








Date: 11/18/19 12:51
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: exhaustED

There's no denying these quite powerful machines have done a pretty impressive job over the years, quietly and efficiently. However, they are relatively lacking in character/'personality' and won't be remembered in the way the 'Deltics' or even HSTs are, in my opinion.
Interesting post and nice images though. I remember seeing the first ones come gleaming into Leeds station a long, long time ago..



Date: 11/18/19 12:58
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: King_Coal

Always enjoy British railway photos.

This would have been almost the equivalent run as Chicago to Minneapolis in the U.S. Roughly 400 miles. Just browsing some schedules, it looks like it is currently done in around 4 hours. Three legs a day is really hoofing it.



Date: 11/18/19 13:21
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: exhaustED

These trains ran at 140mph... where permitted. Ah, see correction in post below from Hartington...

Of note is a class 91 holds the record for being the fastest ever UK locomotive, 161.7mph. A 91 also holds the record for the London-Edinburgh run, at just under 3 1/2 hours. 140mph was reached on that run.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/19 14:55 by exhaustED.



Date: 11/18/19 13:37
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: Hartington

Class 91s have always shared the ECML with HSTs. The 91s are 140mph capable but haven't ever run above 125mph in scheduled service. All the ECML train sets (HSTs and 91s) are being replaced with Class 80x trains. For the short time that Virgin operated with ECML they came up with the name Azuma for the 80xs and the current operator the government "operator of last resort" has sontinued with the name. Two 91s have already been sold to an operator in Bulgaria. There are plans to run the 91s and Mk4 coaches on the GWML (London/Cardiff) and the WCML (London/Blackpool) but so far they haven't got permission so the 91s have not operated off the ECML. The 91s were transferred between each operator of the route they were all operated by one operator at a time, never by multiple operators simultaneously.



Date: 11/18/19 14:26
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: 86235

Transport for Wales is receiving sets of Mk 4 cars and DVTs from LNER for enhanced loco hauled services between Holyhead and Cardiff and Holyhead and Manchester. They will be powered by a sub-class of class 67s being refurbished specifically for TfW.



Date: 11/20/19 06:01
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: 55002

Super photos - thanks guys. I live at Wakefield on the East Coast Main Line to Leeds. I witnessed their testing and arrival, and now quite sad they are getting withdrawn. They have been terrific work horses. A friend works on them at night at the Neville Hill depot. Full of praise for them, they are let down by the failures caused by all the 'add on extras' that they have acquired. Lots of computer gear, electronics etc added since day one. Here's 91027 a couple of weeks ago approaching York at Colton Jnc. I want to get 'pantospray' in the Oxford English Dictionary! chris uk



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/20/19 06:08 by 55002.




Date: 11/20/19 06:06
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: 55002

MY NAME IS BOND.....James Bond.
2013, looked great. 91007 - of course!    chris uk




Date: 11/20/19 14:28
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: exhaustED

Nice shots Chris.



Date: 11/21/19 15:43
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: 86235

The 91s were delivered before the Mk 4 cars and DVTs they were designed to operate with. To be able to use their new motive power BR simply removed a power car from an HST and substituted a class 91. This in effect turned an HST into a Ferrari, the installed horse power went from 4500 to about 7750. It was originally intended to only use the 91 for traction but having the remaining HST power car running at low power simply to provide HEP was both uneconomic and the build up of fuel residues in the exhaust was a fire risk, so both 91 and HST power car ran at full power. Here is one of these hybrid sets on the turn that was used for new 91s, the 17:36 King's Cross to Peterborough, passing Alexandra Palace in North London.




Date: 11/22/19 04:04
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: cricketer8for9

King_Coal Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Always enjoy British railway photos.
>
> This would have been almost the equivalent run as
> Chicago to Minneapolis in the U.S. Roughly 400
> miles. Just browsing some schedules, it looks like
> it is currently done in around 4 hours. Three legs
> a day is really hoofing it.

The whole process is helped by the trains being turned round in the stations themselves. So 07:00 from King's Cross to Edinburgh might return at about 12:30 and then either form a late service to Edinburgh at about 18:00 or just go to Leeds instead.



Date: 11/22/19 06:26
Re: This rise and fall of "Electra", BR Class 91 electrics
Author: eminence_grise

One of the Canadian educational channels showed a several part series featuring GNER operations. GNER was the train operating company operating passenger trains on the East Coast Main Line. One of the shows detailed the "turn around" cleaning and maintenance which took place at Kings Cross. Impressive.



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