Friday, April 27, 2018

Four Class 56s at Leicester this evening

Readers who follow me on Twitter will know that I often tweet pictures with the caption "Exciting times at Leicester station".

Sometimes this is an ironic comment on run-of-the mill freight workings, but sometimes the pictures really are exciting to rail enthusiasts of a certain age.

That is because there is a depot to the immediate north of Leicester station that now belongs to UK Rail Leasing:
UK Rail Leasing own, maintain and lease out freight locomotives, with the core of our operations being the leasing of our fleet of Class 56 locomotives. Our main business is long-term leasing, but we are also able to offer locomotives on shorter terms, for emergency needs or as maintenance cover. 
UK Rail Leasing’s fleet consists of 15 Class 56 as well as two Class 37 locomotives.
Those two classes are now on the elderly side. Class 37s were introduced at the start of the 1960s and handled both passenger trains (notably out of Liverpool Street) and heavy freight.

They appeared clumsy and bulbous to me 40 years ago, but are still going strong. They handle the odd scheduled passenger train in East Anglia to this day.

Class 56s were introduced from 1976, with the first 30 of them being assembled in Romania. Those were the days when Nicolae CeauČ™escu was seen as a more reasonable sort of Eastern Bloc leader who deserved encouragement.

As part of this effort David Steel presented the Romanian dictator with a labrador puppy.

Anyway, the Class 56s were withdrawn at the start of this century as the coal traffic they hauled had largely disappeared.

This evening, waiting for my train home, I saw four of them on manoeuvres coupled together. You can see them in the picture above.

UK Rail Leasing also owns a cute green shunter that puts in an appearance from time to time.

I think it is a Class 03, though in British Rail days these had to push a trolley wherever they went because on their own they were too small to trigger the track circuiting that tells signallers there is a train on the line.

Later. I am told by someone knowledgeable on Twiter that it is not an 03, it is a Hudswell Clark locomotive that was never owned by British Rail.

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