British Rail Class 90
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|British Rail Class 90|
|National Express 90015 at London Liverpool Street|
|Builder||BREL Crewe Works|
|AAR wheel arr.||B-B|
|Gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Locomotive weight||84.5 tonnes (83.2 long tons; 93.1 short tons)|
|Electric system(s)||25 kV AC Catenary|
|Traction motors||1,250 hp (930 kW) GEC G412CY|
|Multiple working||TDM system|
|Top speed||110 mph (180 km/h)|
|Power output||5,000 bhp (3,730 kW)|
|Tractive effort||58,000 lbf (258 kN)|
|Train heating||Electric Train Heating|
|Locomotive brake||Air, Rheostatic|
|Axle load class||Route availability|
The British Rail Class 90 electric locomotives were built by BREL at Crewe in 1987-1990, weighing 84.5 tonnes and with a top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h). They operate from 25 kV AC overhead lines and produce 5,000 bhp (3,700 kW). The class is employed on express passenger and heavy freight trains. Their main passenger roles include the Caledonian Sleeper, the ex-Virgin trains Mark 3 set and the Greater Anglia services from London to Norwich. Freight operations are with DB Schenker and Freightliner on a mixture of roles mainly on the West Coast Main Line and the Great Eastern Main Line.
Fifty Class 90/0 locomotives were built in the late 1980s, numbered 90001-050. They were developed from the Class 87, with many improvements and new features. The Class 90s were primarily built to replace the ageing Classes 81, 82, 83, 84 and 85 dating from the early 1960s, which were prone to fire damage.
The class is fitted with rheostatic brakes in addition to standard Westinghouse air brake equipment. A Time-Division Multiplexer (TDM) is fitted to enable two or more locomotives to work in multiple. It also allows a Class 90 to work a push-pull passenger train with a Driving Van Trailer (DVT), DBSO or Propelling Control Vehicle.
A Class 90 with a rake of eight British Rail Mark 3 coaches and a Driving Van Trailer (DVT) will reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in just over 1 mile (1.6 km), and 100 mph (161 km/h) in another 1 miles (2.4 km).[ 1⁄2citation needed]
In the early 1990s, with the sectorisation of British Rail, 26 locomotives were dedicated for freight traffic; they were reclassified Class 90/1 and renumbered 90125-150 by the addition of 100 to the original number. The modifications included lowering the maximum speed to 75 mph (121 km/h) and isolating the electric train supply. Many of these locomotives were repainted in the new Railfreight Distribution two-tone grey livery, which was replaced by a revised version in 1994. Three locomotives, 90128, 90129 and 90130, received special "continental" liveries (NMBS/SNCB blue, DB red, SNCF grey respectively) to celebrate the Freightconnection event in 1992.
Around the same time, five locomotives, 90016-020, were repainted into the new Rail Express Systems livery and dedicated to postal trains. They were primarily used on London-Glasgow, London-Newcastle and Birmingham-Glasgow services.
Of the remaining locomotives, the first 15, 90001-015, were operated by the InterCity sector on express passenger services. 90021-024 were operated by Railfreight Distribution, but remained as standard Class 90/0 locomotives to enable them to rescue passenger trains.
Despite being built to be less susceptible to fire damage than Classes 81-85, 90050 caught fire at the end of September 2004, prompting its storage and subsequent stripping for spares. It is not expected to work again.
Many Class 90 locomotives have received names. The passenger locomotives were named after cities, newspapers or famous institutions. Many of the freight locomotives have been given names with a commercial link. The Class 90 was the first new locomotive to carry InterCity Swallow livery.
Current operations 
DB Schenker 
DB Schenker acquired the largest fleet, 20 locomotives from Railfreight Distribution and five from Rail Express Systems. DB Schenker contracted to provide locomotives for First ScotRail's Caledonian Sleeper between Scotland and London Euston, and the Class 90s are frequently used for this purpose as well as on freight duties. An agreement was reached in 2006 to livery a number of Class 90s for First ScotRail, for their exclusive use hauling the Caledonian Sleeper.
November 2012 saw locomotive 90029 painted into DB Schenker Red livery, other examples are to follow.
Freightliner inherited ten Class 90/1 locomotives. These have been returned to their original Class 90/0 configuration.
Greater Anglia 
In early 2004 'One' (later National Express East Anglia) needed a replacement for the ageing Class 86 locomotives on the Great Eastern Main Line. At the same time Virgin Trains was starting to retire its Class 90 locomotives as Class 390 units were introduced.
A deal was struck and progressively 90001-015 were delivered to Norwich Crown Point to replace the Class 86s, but their reliability was not good and the last few Class 86s were kept in service, and Class 47s hired from Cotswold Rail were sometimes used. 'One' then borrowed Class 90s from EWS and Freightliner to retire the remaining Class 86s. The Class 90s' reliability improved and the borrowed locos were returned to their owners.
Through 2006 and 2007 reliability has improved greatly: in 2007 the whole fleet won the 'Silver Spanner' from Modern Railways for the most improved main line fleet reliability in the UK.
Virgin Trains 
Virgin Trains inherited 15 locomotives, 90001-015, to work passenger trains on the West Coast Main Line (WCML). They were based at Willesden depot in London for services from London Euston to Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street, Preston and Glasgow Central.
In 1998, 90002 became the first locomotive to be repainted in Virgin Trains' red and black livery. It was named "Mission: Impossible" to launch the challenge of upgrading passenger services on the WCML. The rest of the fleet was quickly repainted into the new livery.
In 2002, 9-car Class 390 Pendolino electric multiple units started to enter service to replace VT locomotive-hauled trains on the WCML. The first locomotives to be replaced were the elderly Class 86/2 and some of the less reliable Class 87 locomotives. However, since the VT Class 90 fleet was relatively small and subsequently non-standard, it was decided to retain the larger Class 87 fleet. Therefore, from March 2004, VT started to replace its Class 90 fleet, being transferred to the new 'one' (later National Express East Anglia) franchise.
Following the derailment of 390033 at Grayrigg derailment in 2007, Virgin Trains had the need for an additional set. As a result, Virgin has been using Class 90 locomotives hired from DB Schenker, but more recently Freightliner, along with a rake of Mark 3 coaching stock and a DVT. Nicknamed the Pretendolino, this received re-upholstered seating, power points, wi-fi and a full external re-paint at Wabtec, Doncaster in 2009. Virgin used this set with a Class 90 locomotive hired from Freightliner on a Euston to Crewe (via Birmingham) Friday relief service until December 2012, and also hires the train out as a charter train. It sometimes is used on London - Birmingham services in the event of a Pendolino shortage.
|Subclass||Number built (year)||TOPS number range||Operators||Comments|
|90/0||50 (1987-1990)||90001-90015||Greater Anglia|
|90017-90040, 90050||DB Schenker||90019, 90021 and 90024 are in First ScotRail livery.
90018, 90029 is in DB Schenker Red livery.
90050 thought to be unserviceable after catching fire in 2004, may never return to traffic.
|90016, 90041-90049||Freightliner||90042 suffered fire damage on 30 August 2011 while working a container train from Coatbridge to Felixstowe.|
90036 on loan to 'one' from EWS at Liverpool Street in 2007.
90008 at Norwich in National Express East Anglia livery.
- Charter train potential for Virgin Trains 'new-look' loco-hauled trainset Virgin Trains Press Release 1 July 2009
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