West Coast Railway Company
|Headquarters||Carnforth, United Kingdom|
West Coast Railways (WCR) is a railway spot-hire company and charter train operator, based at Carnforth MPD in Lancashire. Using buildings and other facilities previously owned by Steamtown Carnforth visitor attraction, in 1998 the company became the first privately owned company to be given a licence as a train operating company.
After British Rail closed the Lakeside branch to passengers on 6 September 1965, a group of enthusiasts chaired by Dr Peter Beet formed the Lakeside Railway Estates Company, with the idea of preserving both the line and Carnforth MPD, to provide a complete steam operating system. After agreeing to rent out part of the Carnforth MPD site, but with the counter the development of the A590 road meaning that the complete vision was unsuccessful, Beet developed the visitor attraction Steamtown Carnforth, which became a mecca for steam enthusiasts from 1967.
In 1974 Sir Bill McAlpine became a shareholder in the company, allowing his LNER A3 Pacific No.4472 Flying Scotsman to make Carnforth its home. McAlpine subsequently acquired a controlling interest in the company, in order to fund the purchase of the complete site including the track from BR.
In light of McAlpine's declining interest, in 1990 his controlling interest in Steamtown Railway Museum Ltd was sold to David Smith, who over the following years has boughtout the majority of the minority shareholders. With increasing Health and Safety Executive regulations, and an increased reliance on revenue from supplying and servicing steam locomotives to power enthusiast trains, the commercial decision was taken not to reopen Carnforth as a museum or visitor attraction for the 1998 season. Steamtown Railway Museum Ltd still exists today as the holding company, and operates an extensive railway repair and operating facility on the site. Smith later set up the West Coast Railway Company Ltd, as a train operating company.
West Coast Railway Company (WCR) today 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, engineering base and depot are at Carnforth, where locomotives and stock are stored and maintained, along with contract work undertaken for other operators.
West Coast are noted for their ownership and 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.
Today WCR 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. Before the 2011 season, WCR issued a statement 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 had to cease running.
Train Operating Company
WCR provides locomotives, stock and crews for many railtour organisers across the country. It also provides crews to some organisations, such as SRPS and Vintage trains, who own their own stock. WCR act/have acted as TOC to the following companies:
- Nenta Traintours
- North-East Railtours
- PMR Tours
- The Railway Touring Company
- The Royal Scotsman
- Saltburn Railtours
- SRPS Railtours
- Statesman Rail
- Steam Dreams (As of October 2013)
- Vintage Trains
- Compass Tours
- Daylight Railtours (Ceased trading in 2004)
- Railtourer (Ceased trading in 2013)
- Shepherd Neame (No railtours during 2013)
- Spitfire Railtours (Ceased trading after financial 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.
The headquarters and main depot 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.
For half of the year the company also use part of Fort William depot as a base for the stock and locomotives for its "Jacobite" service.
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. 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. As of 2011, WCR started investing in more Class 57 locomotives, bought from Advenza Freight, Harry Needle Railroad Company, Freightliner and former Arriva Trains Wales/Virgin Trains locomotives from Porterbrook Leasing.
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. Some engines may not now be operated on the mainline cause their mainline or boiler ticket has expired or maybe on display away from the national network. 5972 Olton Hall is now on a 2yr loan to Warner Bros studio's in Watford.
|Key:||Operational||Under Repair||requires GSM-R||Under overhaul/restoration||Away from Network Rail||Due to be certified in near future|
All locomotives below are owned and operated by West Coast Railways.
|Key:||In service||Under repair||Stored||Spares donor||Currently not operational on Network Rail|
|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||Carnforth|
|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||-||WCR Maroon||March 2011||N/A||ex-EWS||Under repair||Barrow Hill|
|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||Carnforth|
|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||Southall|
|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||Carnforth|
|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||Carnforth|
|57313||57||-||Arriva Trains Wales Blue||January 2013||April 2013||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Southall|
|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||47||County of Essex||BR Blue (with Union Jack)||Stratford 47 Group||Operational||Carnforth|
|47773||47||-||BR Two-Tone Green||Vintage Trains||Operational||Tyseley|
|47798||47||Prince William||Royal Train Plum||National Collection||Operational||York|
|50007||50||Hercules||BR Blue||Boden Rail Engineering||Operational||Washwood Heath|
|D1015||52||Western Champion||BR Maroon||Diesel Traction Group||Operational||Tyseley|
|55002||55||The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry||BR Blue||NRM||Operational||TBA|
|D9009||55||Alycidon||BR Green||Deltic Preservation Society||Operational||Chesterfield|
|86259||86||Les Ross||BR Electric Blue||Les Ross||Operational||Willesden TMD|
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