West Coast Railway Company
|Headquarters||Carnforth, United Kingdom|
West Coast Railways, also known as West Coast Railway Company, is a railway spot-hire company and charter train operator, based at Carnforth MPD in Lancashire, using buildings and other facilities previously owned by the old Steamtown heritage depot. In 1998, the company became the first privately owned company to be given a licence as a train operating company.
West Coast Railway Company is a spot hire company which provides locomotives, stock and crews to other companies within the rail industry. The company operates charter trains throughout the year, many of which are hauled by steam locomotive and has grown to become the UK's leading special trains operator. The company now provide most of the stock and crews for steam workings on the national network plus a large amount for diesel tours as well. The headquarters and large engineering base and depot at Carnforth are where locomotives and stock are stored and maintained and contract work is also undertaken for other operators.
West Coast are also famed for their operation of steam locomotive 5972 "Olton Hall" under the guise of "Hogwarts Castle" for the Harry Potter film series, with the "Hogwarts Express" train being featured in each of the films.
West Coast Railways operates several regular steam-hauled excursions every summer.
The most famous of these trains is the 'Jacobite' (named for the historic Jacobite political movement). It runs along the West Highland Line from Fort William to Mallaig, crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct. It runs Monday to Fridays from the middle of May until the end of October and also runs at weekends from the end of June until the end of August. In 2011, WCR added a second "Jacobite" service, leaving Fort William in the afternoons from the start of June until the end of August running on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 2012 saw this second service increase to five days a week, between June and August.
In 2007, West Coast Railways took over operation of the 'Cambrian Coast Express' running over the Cambrian Coast Line from Machynlleth to Porthmadog and Pwllheli and renamed it "The Cambrian". The service ran from the last week of July until the end of August between 2007 and 2010, and used Ian Riley's BR Standard Class 4 2-6-0 76079, with BR Class 33 diesel locomotive 33207 acting as a contingency locomotive. Before the 2011 season, West Coast Railways issued a statement on their website, stating that due to Network Rail's implementation of the new ERTMS signalling on the Cambrian Coast, which necessitated new in-cab signalling equipment, the seasonal steam services were to cease.
Train Operating Company
As a Train Operating Company West Coast Railways provides locomotives, stock and crews for many railtour organisers across the country. It also provides crews to some organisations, such as SPRS and Vintage trains, who own their own stock. West Coast Railways act as TOC to the following companies:
- Nenta Traintours
- North-East Railtours
- PMR Tours
- The Railway Touring Company
- The Royal Scotsman
- Saltburn Railtours
- SPRS Railtours
- Statesman Rail
- Steam Dreams (As of October 2013.)
- Vintage Trains
- Compass Tours
They have also acted as the TOC of the following companies in the past:
- Railtourer (Ceased trading in 2013.)
- Shepherd Neame (No railtours during 2013.)
- Spitfire Railtours (Ceased trading after finiacial difficulties in 2012.)
Routes commonly operated over by WCR include the nearby Cumbrian Coast Line and Furness Line, Little North Western Line, the Settle and Carlisle Railway and the West Highland Line. The company utilises several sidings at Hellifield railway station, south of Settle Junction, where the lines to Carlisle and Carnforth diverge, allowing easy access to the WCR home base.
West Coast Railways has two operational bases. The headquarters and main depot for the company is at Carnforth MPD. The former London Midland and Scottish Railway 10A depot has workshops for steam and diesel locomotives, and also carriage and wagon facilities to maintain the companies fleet of Mark 1 & 2 carriages. The site includes extensive sidings plus a paint shop.
The company's second base is the former Great Western depot at Southall Railway Centre in West London. "The Green Train" is based here and is used on "The Cathedrals Express" workings for Steam Dreams. Steam locomotive 34067 "Tangmere" is often based here along with other locomotives plus some of the companies fleet of diesels.
The company owns and operates a fleet of diesel locomotives, which are primarily used to haul charter trains, but have also been hired to other railway operators. The fleet is mainly composed of Class 37 and Class 47 locomotives, but also includes Class 57 locomotives including the prototype passenger locomotive 57601.
Several Class 37 locomotives were purchased from Ian Riley Engineering, which ceased its spot-hire operations in mid-2004.
In 2005, WCR won the contract to haul The Royal Scotsman luxury train. As a result, its two operational Class 37 locomotives and a Class 47 were repainted into a revised maroon livery, officially known as Royal Scotsman Claret, based on that of the Royal Scotsman carriages. The contract sees the West Coast locomotives in use all over Scotland.
In late 2005, WCR sold its two operational Class 37 locomotives (nos. 37197 and 37261) to Direct Rail Services (DRS), and received four Class 33 locomotives in exchange. WCR later sold non-operational locomotive no. 37423 to DRS as well. In 2006, WCR hired two preserved locomotives, nos. 37214 and 37248 and it later bought 37214. However, 37248 was owned by three Growler Group members under the venture 'Type Three Traction'. The hire period for the locomotive ended in 2009 and the engine was moved back into preservation at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre in May 2009. 37214 is currently undergoing repairs and has been out of action for around two years, as of May 2009.
In early 2007, WCR purchased five Class 47/7 locos from EWS. These were nos. 47760, 47776, 47786, 47787 and 47792. These locos had been stored at Healey Mills, near Wakefield, after being deemed surplus to requirements. Of these, 47792 was the first to be returned to service and returned to its former number, 47804. This was followed by the return of 47787 in September 2007, 47760 in April 2008 and 47786 in October 2008. These were supplemented by the purchase of 47772 from EWS at Margam, South Wales, in June 2008. 47772 and 47776 are currently under repair and expected to return to traffic at some point in the near future.
Later in 2007, WCR again added to its fleet by purchasing a number of Class 37 locomotives from EWS. 37676 was the first to be purchased in October, followed by nos. 37517, 37668, 37685, 37706, 37710, 37712 and 37717 in December. These were transferred across the Pennines to Carnforth in January 2008 in several batches. Of these locomotives, 37712 returned to traffic in July 2008, with 37676 following in November 2008 and 37706 working again in December. 37712 suffered a serious fire in November 2008 at Crewe while working an empty stock movement to Southall and has since returned to Carnforth for major repairs. 37717 was sent for scrap at Booths, Rotherham, and 37516 was bought from DB Schenker (formerly EWS) as a replacement. This locomotive arrived at Carnforth in February 2009 and returned to traffic in May 2009.
As of 2011, West Coast Railways started investing in more Class 57 locomotives, which have proved over the years that they are more reliable than their Class 47 counterparts. Firstly, they purchased former Advenza Freight locomotives 57005 (in January 2011) and 57006 (in April 2011) from Harry Needle Railroad Company. At the same time 57005 was bought, they also purchased 57001 from Freightliner. 57001 and 57006 were returned to service in March 2011 and June 2012 respectively whilst 57005 is still to be used by West Coast and has remained in storage at Carnforth. Following these purchases were another four Class 57's in January 2013, this time the ones that had been hired in for use with Arriva Trains Wales from Virgin Trains, but like all of the Virgin Trains 57/3 fleet; all of which were owned by Porterbrook Leasing, they were sold off to other companies and 57313-57316 were purchased by West Coast. All of them entered traffic almost immediately, but remained in the Arriva Trains Wales corporate blue livery. Two of these had received the West Coast Railways Maroon livery as of July 2013 and they were 57314 and 57315.
The company's coaching stock consists of vacuum and air plus dual braked Mark 1 and Mark 2 coaches, mostly painted in the British Railways maroon livery, albeit with West Coast Railways branding on the bodyside. Some of these coaches were built as BR Pullman coaches.
It should be noted that these locomotives are operated but not owned by West Coast Railway Company.
Locomotive status as of 3 December 2013.
|Key:||In service||Under repair||Under overhaul/restoration||To be mainline certified||Currently not operational on Network Rail|
All locomotives below are owned and operated by West Coast Railways.
|Key:||In service||Under repair||Stored||Spares donor|
|Number||Class||Name||Livery||Date Acquired||Into Traffic||Previous Operator||Status||Location|
|03196||03||-||BR Blue||July 2002||July 2002||ex-British Rail||Stored||Carnforth|
|D2381||03||-||BR Green||March 1976||March 1976||ex-British Rail||Stored||Carnforth|
|08418||08||-||EWS Red||August 2010||November 2010||ex-DB Schenker||Depot shunter||Carnforth|
|08485||08||-||BR Blue||August 2010||September 2010||ex-DB Schenker||Depot shunter||Carnforth|
|08678||08||Artila||Glaxo Blue and Black||November 1994||November 1994||ex-Glaxo, Ulverston||Under repair||Carnforth|
|33025||33||Glen Falloch||WCR Maroon||September 2005||November 2005||ex-Direct Rail Services||Operational||Southall|
|33029||33||Glen Loy||WCR Maroon||September 2005||March 2006||ex-Direct Rail Services||Operational||Southall|
|33030||33||-||DRS Blue||September 2005||N/A||ex-Direct Rail Services||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|33207||33||Jim Martin||WCR Maroon||September 2005||November 2005||ex-Direct Rail Services||Operational||Southall|
|37214||37||WCR Maroon||May 2006||May 2006||ex-Preservation||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|37516||37||Loch Laidon||WCR Maroon||February 2009||June 2009||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|37518||37||Fort William/An Gearasdan||InterCity Swallow||October 2013||October 2013||ex-Ian Riley||Operational||Carnforth|
|37668||37||-||EWS||December 2007||N/A||ex-EWS||Under repair||Carnforth|
|37669||37||-||EWS||March 2011||N/A||ex-EWS||Under repair||Carnforth|
|37676||37||Loch Rannoch||WCR Maroon||November 2007||November 2008||ex-EWS||Under repair||Carnforth|
|37685||37||Loch Arkaig||WCR Maroon||December 2007||May 2010||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|37706||37||-||WCR Maroon||December 2007||December 2008||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|37710||37||-||Loadhaul||December 2007||N/A||ex-EWS||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|37712||37||-||WCR Maroon||December 2007||June 2008||ex-EWS||Stored||Carnforth|
|47194||47||-||Railfreight||September 2005||N/A||ex-Fragonset||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47236||47||-||RfD||December 2006||N/A||ex-Fragonset||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47237||47||WCR Maroon||January 2011||July 2011||ex-Advenza Freight||Operational||Southall|
|47245||47||-||WCR Maroon||April 2004||April 2006||ex-HNRC||Operational||Southall|
|47270||47||Swift||BR Blue||May 2010||May 2010||ex-Preservation||Under repair||Carnforth|
|47355||47||-||Fragonset||May 2010||N/A||ex-European Metal Recycling||Stored||Carnforth|
|47368||47||-||Railfreight||December 2006||N/A||ex-Fragonset||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47492||47||-||Rail Express Systems||March 2010||N/A||ex-Preservation||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47500||47||-||WCR Maroon||December 2009||July 2010||ex-EWS||Stored||Carnforth|
|47526||47||-||BR Large Logo||December 2006||N/A||ex-Fragonset||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47746||47||-||WCR Maroon||March 2011||October 2013||ex-Preservation||Operational||Carnforth|
|47760||47||-||WCR Maroon||February 2007||April 2008||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|47772||47||-||Rail Express Systems||June 2008||N/A||ex-EWS||Stored||Carnforth|
|47776||47||-||Rail Express Systems||February 2007||N/A||ex-EWS||Stored||Carnforth|
|47786||47||Roy Castle OBE||WCR Maroon||February 2007||October 2008||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|47787||47||Windsor Castle||WCR Maroon||February 2007||February 2008||ex-EWS||Under repair||Carnforth|
|47804||47||-||WCR Maroon||February 2007||June 2007||ex-EWS||Operational||Scotland|
|47826||47||-||WCR Maroon||April 2005||June 2005||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|47851||47||WCR Maroon||April 2005||June 2005||ex-Virgin Trains||Under repair||Carnforth|
|47854||47||Diamond Jubilee||WCR Maroon||June 2003||February 2004||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|57001||57||WCR Maroon||January 2011||March 2011||ex-Freightliner||Under repair||Carnforth|
|57005||57||-||Advenza Freight Blue||January 2011||N/A||ex-Advenza Freight||Stored||Carnforth|
|57006||57||-||WCR Maroon||April 2011||June 2012||ex-Advenza Freight||Operational||Scotland|
|57313||57||-||Arriva Trains Wales Blue||January 2013||April 2013||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|57314||57||-||WCR Maroon||January 2013||April 2013||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|57315||57||-||WCR Maroon||January 2013||March 2013||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|57316||57||-||Arriva Trains Wales Blue||January 2013||March 2013||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|57601||57||-||WCR Maroon||November 2003||February 2004||ex-Porterbrook Spot Hire||Operational||Carnforth|
47580 County of Essex is owned by the Stratford Class 47 Group and is based at Dereham, on the Mid-Norfolk Railway, and 47773 is owned by Vintage Trains and based at Tyseley Locomotive Works. 47798 Prince William is owned by the National Railway Museum in York and is sometimes used as backup for railtours. These locomotives are occasionally hired by WCR for main line excursion use or to haul steam locomotives as light engines or empty coaching stock moves.
|47580||47||County of Essex||BR Blue (with Union Jack)||Stratford 47 Group||Operational||Southall|
|47773||47||-||BR Two-Tone Green||Vintage Trains||Operational||Tyseley|
|47798||47||Prince William||Royal Train Plum||National Collection||Under repair||York|
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