British Rail Class 86

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British Railways AL6
British Rail Class 86
86244 at Wolverhampton.jpg
A Class 86 at Wolverhampton in 1984.
Type and origin
Power typeElectric
Order number
  • E020 (E3101–E3110)
  • E024 (E3111–E3120)
  • E025 (E3121–E3130)
  • E026 (E3131–E3140)
  • E382–E401 (E3141–E3160)
  • E299–E338 (E3161–E3200)[1]
Build date1965–1966
Total produced100
 • UICBo′Bo′
 • CommonwealthBo-Bo
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
BogiesAlsthom suspension[2]
Wheel diameter3 ft 9 in (1.143 m)[3]
Minimum curve6 chains (400 ft; 120 m)[4]
Wheelbase43 ft 6 in (13.26 m)[5]
 • Bogie10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)[5]
Pivot centres32 ft 9 in (9.98 m)[5]
 • Over beams58 ft 6 in (17.83 m)[5]
 • Body54 ft 8 in (16.66 m)[3]
Width8 ft 8+14 in (2.648 m)[5]
 • Pantograph13 ft 0+916 in (3.977 m)[5]
 • Body height12 ft 4+14 in (3.766 m)[5]
Axle load21 long tons 8 cwt (21.7 t)[5]
Loco weight81 long tons (82 t; 91 short tons)[3]
Electric system/s25 kV AC Catenary
Current pickup(s)Stone-Faiveley Pantograph[6]
Brecknell Willis high speed pantograph
Traction motors
  • 4 × AEI 282AZ[7] 900 hp (671 kW)
  • 4 × AEI 282BZ[7] 1,000 hp (746 kW)
  • 4 × GEC G412AZ[6] 1,250 hp (932 kW)
Gear ratio22:65[3]
MU workingSome fitted within class and Class 87, later fitted with TDM system. [8]
Train heatingElectric Train Heating (Index 66)
Train brakesWestinghouse[6] dual vacuum & air
Performance figures
Maximum speed100–110 mph (161–177 km/h)
Power output3,600 hp (2,685 kW),[3] 4,040 hp (3,013 kW), or 5,000 hp (3,728 kW)
Tractive effort60,000 lbf (267 kN)
Brakeforce66.5 long tons-force (663 kN)
Number in class100
  • E3101–E3200
  • later 86001–86048, 86201–86252
Axle load classRoute availability 6
LocaleWest Coast Main Line
Withdrawn1986 (2); 1995–present
Preserved86101, 86259, 86401
  • 3 preserved
  • 15 exported, 17 stored
  • 1 scrapped in Bulgaria
  • Remainder scrapped in UK

The British Rail Class 86 is a class of electric locomotives built during the 1960s. Developed as a 'standard' electric locomotive from earlier prototype models, one hundred of these locomotives were built from 1965 to 1966 to haul trains on the then newly electrified West Coast Main Line (WCML) from London Euston to Birmingham, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and later Glasgow and Preston. Introduction of the class enabled the replacement of many steam locomotives, which were finally withdrawn by British Rail in 1968.

Under the earlier BR classification system, the type was given the designation AL6 (meaning the sixth design of AC locomotive) and locomotives were numbered E3101–E3200. In 1968, this was changed to Class 86 when British Rail introduced the TOPS classification system.

The class was built to haul passenger and freight trains alike on the West Coast Main Line; however, some members of the class also saw use on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) between London Liverpool Street and Norwich, after the remainder of the line north of Colchester was electrified in the mid-1980s. The type has had a generally long and successful career, with some members of the class seeing main line service lives in the UK of up to 55 years. Most regular passenger duties of the class came to end on both the WCML and the GEML in the early-to-mid-2000s, after a career of up to 40 years. Some members of the class remained in use for charter work and for freight work with Freightliner until 2021. A number of the class were exported to Bulgaria and Hungary and remain in use. As of 2022, three Class 86s remain preserved in usable condition in the UK; all are in private ownership.

Development and construction[edit]

The class was developed as a result of experience with the earlier prototype classes 81, 82, 83, 84 and 85; these had been produced by different manufacturers in the early days of the WCML electrification, as test-beds for locomotive development.[9][10]

The AL6 featured design elements pioneered on the earlier classes, such as the general construction of the bodies and bogies, and control systems. However, some design features were unique, such as the squarer front ends (as opposed to the raked back noses of the earlier designs), the lack of a second pantograph and the cooling fans, which were redesigned to produce less noise than the earlier locos. A major departure from the designs of the earlier prototype locomotives came in the use of axle-hung, rather than frame mounted traction motors; this feature would later prove very problematic for the class.[10][11]

The order for 100 locomotives was placed in 1963; it was split between two manufacturers, with the English Electric Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows building 60 locomotives and British Rail Doncaster Works producing 40. The Doncaster and Newton-built locomotives were not identical; the Newton-built versions had a power output of 3,600 hp (2,685 kW), whilst the Doncaster-built examples were rated at 4,000 hp (2,983 kW), due to a different design of traction motor.[10][12]

British Rail service[edit]

Class 86/2, no. 86252, at Birmingham New Street with a cross-armed AEI pantograph during the BR blue era. This locomotive was originally E3101, the class pioneer.

The class was introduced officially into service in August 1965; the entire fleet was delivered within 24 months of that date.[10] In the early years, the locomotives became notorious for rough riding, and causing track damage, being fitted with axle-hung traction motors in place of the bogie-frame-mounted motors of the earlier designs; this additional unsprung mass was causing damage at speeds in excess of 90 mph (145 km/h). In 1969, E3173 was fitted experimentally with the large helical 'flexicoil' springs. Trials carried out under the direction of the British Rail Research Division proved successful and the modification was applied gradually in phases to the whole fleet.[10]

As a result, the first batch of Class 86s were modified with improved suspension and, from 1971 onwards, locomotives were renumbered progressively into two subclasses; 86/0 (numbers 86001–86048), which remained in as-built condition, and had their maximum speed reduced from 100 mph (161 km/h) to 80 mph (129 km/h) and which were generally restricted to use on freight and slower passenger services, and subclass 86/2 (86204–86252), which were fitted with the improved suspension and retained the 100 mph maximum speed. Within a short time, a further batch was modified to the new specification and renumbered accordingly; 86040–86048 became 86253–86261.[10]

In 1970, locomotive E3173 was also fitted experimentally with a streamlined nose cone made from fibreglass; this was to assist BR's research into aerodynamics and high-speed running for their new Advanced Passenger Train and High Speed Train, which were under development. The locomotive was tested on the WCML in the Tring area; it reportedly reached speeds of 129 mph (208 km/h), which made it the first BR locomotive to beat Mallard's speed record. The record was not publicised however, as BR did not want the event to overshadow their new trains.[10][11]

At the same time, three Class 86s were converted into 5,000 brake horsepower (3,728 kW) test-bed locomotives for development of the Class 87; they were numbered initially to 86201–86203, refitted with BP9 bogies[13] but were renumbered quickly to a new 86/1 subclass; 86101–86103. These locomotives were capable of 110 mph (177 km/h) running. The most obvious visual difference between the classes is that the Class 86 has a windscreen with three windows, whereas the Class 87 only has two; likewise, the Class 86 was fitted with headcode boxes (later plated over) while the Class 87 was built without them.[14]

By the late-1970s, there was a need for more locomotives capable of operating at 100 mph. To achieve this, nineteen 86/0s were modified by the use of SAB resilient wheels, a new design of wheel in two sections separated by a rubber bearing, which allowed their top speed to be raised. The converted locos (86011–86029) were renumbered into the 86/3 series (86311–86329). As the SAB wheels were found to be insufficient for preventing track damage, in 1984 BR decided to refit all of their remaining 86/0 and 86/3 locos with flexicoil suspension, and by the mid-1980s all of the modified 86/0s and 86/3s were renumbered again as 86/4s, allowing a standardised fleet capable of 100 mph running.[10][12]

86430 at Coventry in InterCity livery in 1987

Further electrification of the Great Eastern Main Line in the 1980s beyond Colchester[citation needed] to Harwich, Ipswich and Norwich, saw the class employed on passenger trains from London Liverpool Street to these locations. Ipswich was energised in 1985 and Norwich in 1987. The Class 86s would provide express passenger services on this route until 2005. In addition, many of the freightliner trains to Felixstowe were also hauled as far as Ipswich by Class 86 locomotives working in multiple.[12] The West Anglia Main Line from Liverpool Street to Cambridge, was also electrified at the same time, and Class 86s provided services on this route from 1987 until 1989.[15][16]

A later development saw Class 86/2 and 86/4 locomotives fitted with time-division multiplexing to enable them to operate push-pull passenger trains. The main benefit of this was the requirement for fewer locomotives; for example, a second locomotive would otherwise have to join at the other end of the train after arrival at terminal stations to lead the train's onward journey. 52 Driving Van Trailers were manufactured and introduced to the WCML in 1988 to enable push-pull trains; Driving Brake Standard Opens were transferred later from Scotland to the GEML to work with their Class 86/2s. The 86/4s were already fitted with an older multiple-working system and this was gradually phased out after TDM was fitted across the fleet.

Sectorisation of British Rail in the late 1980s, saw the fleet split up again; the 86/2s were dedicated to the InterCity sector for use on express passenger trains, whilst the majority of the 86/4 subclass were dedicated to freight and parcels traffic. As a result, many had their electric train heating isolated and were re-geared to a lower maximum speed of 75 mph (121 km/h), these were usually operated in pairs on long-distance freight services. These locomotives were reclassified as a new subclass 86/6. Eight Class 86/2 locomotives were also dedicated to freight work and were reclassified as Class 86/5, being renumbered into the range 86501–86508. However, the InterCity sector of BR decided that it wanted these locomotives back, so they were soon renumbered back to Class 86/2s.[10] For a period of one year starting on 10 May 1992, six Class 86/6s were returned to Parcels use. These were renumbered back to class 86/4, as follows: 86405, 86411, 86414, 86415, 86428 and 86431. All six remained in Railfreight's Triple Grey livery.

The late 1980s also saw the introduction of many new liveries. The class had previously worn rail blue when built with cast lion-and-wheel emblems, but this was replaced by the standard BR Blue livery from 1967 with a cast-metal double arrow symbol. The first new livery was introduced by the InterCity sector in 1984 with the unveiling of an 'InterCity Executive' livery, with dark grey upper body, tan lower body separated by red and white stripes, with wrap around yellow cabsides and yellow cab roofs.

InterCity undertook a rebranding of InterCity Swallow livery in 1987 on InterCity 125s, Class 90s and Class 91s, which were in the final stages of construction. Class 86/4s were still used on a mixed traffic basis on InterCity express trains, parcels, Speedlink and Freightliner traffic, so a modernised version of InterCity livery was used, commonly known as 'Mainline' livery. The red and white stripes and tan bands covered the whole bodyside, and the roof was dark grey. The whole of the ends were painted yellow, although some were repainted dark grey around the front windows. It wasn't until 1990 that the first Class 86 received InterCity Swallow livery, when a full sector ownership was established.

86241 Glenfiddich, in parcels sector livery, at Northampton in 1992

The Railfreight sector introduced its new two tone grey livery in 1987, initially without sub-sector logos due to shared operations on speedlink and Freightliner duties. Four Class 86s received Railfreight General logos from June 1988, but all Class 86/6 locomotives carried Railfreight Distribution livery beginning in January 1990. Finally, the parcels sector introduced a new red and grey livery with repaints from July 1990 to July 1991, which was replaced with Rail Express Systems livery applied between December 1991 to February 1995.

Former operators[edit]

In the mid-1990s, British Rail was privatised and the Class 86 fleet was divided among several operators. These are dealt with separately below.

Anglia Railways/'One'[edit]

Class 86/2, no. 86227 Golden Jubilee at Ipswich on 31 January 2004. This locomotive was repainted in a special livery by Anglia Railways and named to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.

Anglia Railways was one of three passenger franchises to inherit the class. A fleet of 15 locomotives[nb 1] were inherited, which were used to exclusively haul London Liverpool Street-Norwich express services. The locomotives were used in push-pull mode with Mk 2E and Mk 2F coaching stock and a DBSO, which removed the need for the locomotive to swap ends at the termini. Generally, the locomotive was at the south, or London, end of a formation, with the DBSO at the north, or country, end of the train – this was to aid simple switchover of locomotives by their home at Norwich Crown Point depot.

In 1998, Anglia Railways introduced a new livery of turquoise, with a central white stripe. The first locomotive to be treated was no. 86223 Norwich Union, followed quickly by no. 86218 NHS 50. Over the next few years the whole fleet was treated as they received works overhauls at Springburn Works, Glasgow.

Over the years, several of the Anglia fleet were withdrawn following mishaps. For example, nos. 86220, 86221 and 86237, were withdrawn in 2002, 2003 and 2004 respectively, following transformer failures. Another machine, no. 86252, was written off in 2002 after catching fire near Colchester on 1 December 2001 whilst no. 86257 was withdrawn in 2003 due to its general bad condition. These locomotives were replaced by locomotives made redundant from Virgin CrossCountry (nos. 86234/242) or West Coast (nos. 86209/260) franchises. Another locomotive, no. 86227, was reinstated to traffic in 2002 after being stored for many years. It was repainted in a variation of Anglia's turquoise livery, with a large Union Flag painted on the side and named Golden Jubilee to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's 50th anniversary of her reign.

The first major changes to the fleet occurred in late 2002, when Anglia started to hire Class 90 locomotives from Freightliner. This was because, at the time, the Class 86 fleet was suffering from reliability problems. In late 2003, Anglia swapped to using English Welsh & Scottish owned Class 90 locomotives, hiring up to five at any one time. Consequently, the use of the Class 86 fleet was decreased, which subsequently allowed reliability to improve.

In early 2004, two locomotives suffered from serious transformer failures. One locomotive, no. 86246, was subsequently repaired, but the other, no. 86237, was withdrawn and later scrapped. This prompted the suggestion that the Anglia Class 86 fleet be replaced by the 15 Class 90 locomotives from Virgin Trains, which were soon to be made redundant by the introduction of new Class 390 Pendolino units.

86235 Crown Point passing Stratford with an up express

On 1 April 2004, the Anglia Railways franchise ended and the franchise was merged with the other operators in East Anglia to form the new Greater Anglia franchise operated by One. With this came the news that the Class 86 fleet would progressively be replaced by Class 90 locomotives, cascaded from Virgin Trains. The first day of the new franchise saw two Class 90 locomotives unveiled in the new franchisee's 'One' livery. However, despite this announcement, one Class 86 locomotive, no. 86235, was authorised a complete overhaul. As such, this locomotive became the last to receive classified repairs.

For the first few months of the new franchise, all of the Class 86 fleet was retained, to insure against reliability issues with the new Class 90 locomotives. However, in October 2004, the fleet was reduced to just six examples, these being nos. 86218/232/234/235/246/260. The rest were withdrawn but three (nos. 86217/223/250) were subsequently sold to Fragonset Railways. By December, the fleet stood at just two operational locomotives, these being nos. 86235 Crown Point and 86246 Royal Anglian Regiment. These were the last two locomotives to receive classified repairs and consequently were the most reliable, in theory at least.

It was originally planned to withdraw these final two locomotives on 31 December 2004. However, all did not go to plan, as the replacement Class 90 locomotives did not prove to be as reliable as hoped. Therefore, two locomotives were reprieved until at least March 2005. A final twist saw no. 86232 repaired, replacing no. 86246, which had again suffered from a serious failure. A third locomotive, no. 86234, was also repaired and briefly returned to traffic in April 2005, but was later stored again after failing. The last two locomotives (nos. 86232/235) saw occasional use when insufficient Class 90 locomotives were available. By mid-2005, no. 86232 was out of use and no. 86235 was operational but not used. The final use of the class came on 17 September 2005, when no. 86235 was used on several Norwich-London return trips to mark its retirement from service. This brought an end to 40 years of Class 86-hauled passenger trains.

Colas Rail[edit]

86701 joined the Colas Rail fleet and was painted into the Colas Rail yellow and orange livery in October 2012. This, however, was short lived, as it was withdrawn from mainline use in January 2013. In 2015, it was used for contractual work at Ilford depot. In March 2016, it was transferred to Europhoenix, where it was subsequently exported to Bulgaria for further use.

Caledonian Sleeper[edit]

On 31 March 2015, the new Caledonian Sleeper contract started, following takeover of the contract from DB Schenker. In February 2015, 86101 was repainted into the new Caledonian Blue livery. From 31 March 2015, 86101 was used to convey the empty sleeper coaching stock between London Euston and Wembley Intercity Depot, as well as between Glasgow Central and Polmadie TRSMD, along with 87002. After a lengthy refurbishment, 86401 joined the Caledonian Sleeper fleet on 8 August 2015. In October 2019, the Class 86s were withdrawn, primarily due to coupler incompatibility, and returned to the AC Locomotive Group.[17][failed verification]

English, Welsh & Scottish Railway[edit]

Class 86/2, no. 86261 The Rail Charter Partnership in EWS livery at Doncaster Works open day, 27 July 2003

English Welsh & Scottish inherited a small fleet of 15 locomotives[nb 2] when it bought the Rail Express Systems parcels business. The locomotives were employed on mail trains from London King's Cross to Newcastle and Birmingham to Glasgow. One of the locomotives, no. 86239 LS Lowry, was destroyed in an accident at Stafford in 1996.

EWS soon diversified the use of its fleet, hiring its locomotives to charter train operators and also to Virgin Trains, to supplement their unreliable fleet. Three locomotives (nos. 86261/401/426) were repainted into EWS's red and gold livery.

The rundown of the fleet started in 2001, when the locomotives were replaced on charter and mail trains by Class 67 or Class 90 locomotives. They saw continued use with Virgin Trains, however, but were gradually withdrawn as new Class 390 Pendolino units entered service, reducing the need for hired locomotives. By the end of their working careers, most of the EWS locomotives were in an appalling state and suffered from numerous failures. The final locomotives, nos. 86210/401/424 were withdrawn from traffic in late 2002.

Following withdrawal from traffic, two locomotives (nos. 86426/430) were subsequently reinstated and hired to Freightliner, on a long-term contract. This was due to a Class 90 locomotive, no. 90150, being written off due to fire damage, resulting in a shortage of electric traction. The two locomotives were repainted into Freightliner's racing green livery and employed on intermodal traffic, with the rest of Freightliner's Class 86 fleet. The contract ended in mid-2004, following deliveries of new Class 66 locomotives, meaning that the two electric locomotives were surplus to requirements and they were withdrawn from traffic.

In late 2003, with the exception of the two locomotives on hire to Freightliner, EWS advertised all of its remaining locomotives for sale. Most were subsequently sold for scrap, but one locomotive (no. 86401) was preserved (later hired in and used by GB Railfreight on the Caledonian Sleeper contract), whilst two others (nos. 86210/424) were sold for further use with Network Rail and reclassified class 86/9. The former Freightliner pair were sold to C F Booth in late 2005.

FM Rail[edit]

FM Rail (previously Fragonset Railways) briefly leased several locomotives from HSBC Rail. These locomotives were previously used by Anglia Railways (86217/223/250), Virgin Cross-Country (86231/251) and Virgin West Coast (86229/233). One locomotive, ex-Virgin 86212, was hauled to East Ham Depot in London to be used for carriage power duties for the new Blue Pullman train. However, it did not operate services on the mainline.

FM Rail entered administration in December 2006, without having returned any of their Class 86 locomotives to traffic and they were returned to the lease company.


86613 and 86610 at Ipswich.

Freightliner inherited a large fleet of thirty Class 86/6 freight-dedicated locomotives, most of which had previously been operated by Railfreight Distribution, but some came from Rail Express Systems. The fleet therefore consisted of locomotives in many different obsolete liveries so, from 1995, Freightliner started to apply its newly introduced livery. This was based on the previous Trainload two-tone grey, with the addition of Freightliner red triangle logo.

The Freightliner fleet were originally employed on intermodal traffic along the northern half of the WCML from Crewe to Coatbridge (near Glasgow). The steep gradients along this route meant that trains were hauled by pairs of locomotives working in multiple. The class also worked services south from Crewe to Tilbury and Ipswich (for onwards movement to Felixstowe by diesel locomotive), and some services to Trafford Park in Manchester. The class have occasionally been used on the East Coast Main Line, particularly when services are diverted due to engineering works.

In 1998, following the introduction of the rebuilt Class 57 diesel locomotives, Freightliner introduced a new livery of racing green with yellow cabsides. The first Class 86 to appear in this livery was no. 86631, which was hurriedly repainted for display at an open day at Toton. The majority of the fleet have slowly been treated over the years, such that by the end of 2004, only a handful remained in the original two-tone grey livery.

In 2000, locomotive no. 86608 was experimentally regeared to allow it to work trains single-handedly. It was reclassified as Class 86/5 and renumbered to 86501. This was the second time this classification and number had been used. The first occasion being former 86/2s dedicated to freight work in the late 1980s (86258 having previously held the 86501 number). Despite the apparent success of 86501's conversion, no further locomotives have been similar regeared. In mid-2004, the locomotive suffered fire damage, but was subsequently repaired and returned to service. 86501 again suffered fire damage in August 2008 near Bletchley. It was subsequently repaired in December 2008 and returned to service again shortly after.

Due to a locomotive shortage in 2002, two further locomotives, nos. 86426/430, were hired from English Welsh & Scottish, which had just withdrawn its last examples. Since the hire contract was long-term, both locomotives were repainted in Freightliner green livery. They were used in a common pool with the rest of the fleet. By 2004, the need for the extra locomotives was reduced, so both were returned to EWS and subsequently withdrawn.

Two other locomotives, nos. 86101/102, formerly used by Virgin Trains, were also briefly hired by Freightliner in 2001/2002. Neither of these locomotives were repainted and they both retained obsolete InterCity livery. Due to their non-standard nature, both locomotives had been withdrawn by early 2002.

Following the withdrawal of the Anglia Railways, Virgin Trains and EWS fleets, Freightliner became the last operator of the class. In January 2005, it had an operational fleet of twenty-two locomotives, with several more in warm-storage (capable of being returned to traffic). In the last few years, however, several locomotives have been withdrawn from service, mainly due to the influx of new Class 66 diesel locomotives; in addition, two locomotives (nos. 86611/631) were written off following the Norton Bridge rail crash and another three (nos. 86615/620/621) have been withdrawn following fire damage and subsequently scrapped. In addition, Freightliner's Class 90 fleet, which were previously hired to passenger operators Virgin Trains and Anglia Railways, have now all returned to the company, thus reducing the requirement for the Class 86 fleet. However, Freightliner retained a core fleet of sixteen locomotives,[nb 3] with two locomotives (nos. 86622/637) repainted into Freightliner Powerhaul livery.

By early 2021, the fleet was down to just two locomotives, and these final two were withdrawn from service in March, replaced by ex-Greater Anglia Class 90s.[18]

Hull Trains[edit]

86101 at London King's Cross preparing to depart with a service to Doncaster

The open-access passenger operator Hull Trains obtained the use of 86101 (one of the preserved Class 86 locomotives), between January and April 2008, to provide cover in the short term for its badly damaged Class 222 Pioneer DMU. The locomotive, together with a rake of Mark 3 coaches, was introduced to public services between London and Doncaster on 11 January 2008, following several months of tests and training, and ran until 20 April 2008 when Class 180 Adelante DMUs were introduced to the service.

Vintage Trains[edit]

In 2008, privately owned and preserved 86259 was returned to service on the main line, regaining the name of its owner Les Ross. It was operated on occasional charters by Vintage Trains from their base at Tyseley and, from 2011, was based at Willesden and available for ad-hoc charters. By August 2011, it had covered 5.7 million miles in service. It is currently[when?] cleared for operation at up to 100 mph (161 km/h).

86259 is no longer connected to Vintage Trains.[citation needed]

Virgin Trains[edit]

The Virgin Trains group was formed of two franchises: CrossCountry and InterCity West Coast.


The CrossCountry franchise inherited a fleet of 19 locomotives.[nb 4] These were employed on various services, such as Birmingham New Street to Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool, Edinburgh or Glasgow Central. Other services continued south to Birmingham International, whilst others originated from Preston. At Birmingham New Street and Preston, in particular, it was common for the Class 86 locomotive to be removed and replaced with a Class 47 diesel locomotive, before the service continued south to destinations such as Bristol, Penzance, Reading, Brighton, Poole and Weymouth.

From 1998 onwards, locomotives began to be outshopped in the new Virgin Trains red and black livery. However, a few locomotives[nb 5] retained the old InterCity livery.

In mid-2001, Virgin CrossCountry started to introduce new Class 220 Voyager and Class 221 Super-Voyager units. These new trains enabled Virgin to start to retire its older traction. Several of the early withdrawals were transferred to other operators, such as nos. 86234 and 86242 to Anglia Railways. However, the majority of locomotives were retained in service until September 2002, when virtually the entire fleet was withdrawn en masse. Prior to this, Virgin had specially repainted no. 86253 in InterCity livery to commemorate its final few months in traffic. The final Cross-Country operated service was actually operated by no. 86233, from the West-Coast fleet, which had been repainted in original electric blue livery a few weeks earlier.

Since withdrawal from traffic, several locomotives have been scrapped at Immingham Railfreight Terminal. A few locomotives were sold to other operators for further use, such as no. 86253 to Network Rail and nos. 86231/251 to Fragonset Railways. One locomotive, no. 86249, was retained by Virgin until late-2004, as a driver-training locomotive at Polmadie depot in Glasgow.

West Coast[edit]

Class 86/2 86229 Lions Clubs International at Birmingham New Street.

The InterCity West Coast franchise inherited a small fleet of thirteen locomotives[nb 6] which were employed on West Coast Main Line express trains from London Euston to Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Liverpool Lime Street, Carlisle and Glasgow Central. By 2001, the fleet had been cut to nine locomotives, with 86209 being transferred to Anglia Railways and three more (nos. 86101/102/213) withdrawn from traffic.

In 1998, no. 86229 became the first of the class to be repainted in Virgin's red and black livery. By 2001, all except one locomotive had been repainted in this livery.

The West Coast fleet contained several 'celebrity' locomotives, including no. 86245 Caledonian, which was repainted into a variant of the Virgin livery using Caledonian Railway blue in place of the standard red, to celebrate the company's 150th Anniversary. In 2002, no. 86233 was specially repainted into original electric blue to commemorate the last few months in traffic for the fleet. One locomotive, no. 86228, also retained in the old InterCity livery.

In mid-2003, the rundown of the fleet started as new Class 390 Pendolino electrical multiple units entered service. The final three locomotives (nos. 86229/233/247) were removed from traffic in September 2003. The final service being operated by electric blue locomotive no. 86233. Several of the fleet were later transferred to other operators, including Anglia Railways (no. 86260) and Fragonset Railways (nos. 86212/229/233). One former West Coast locomotive (no. 86259) has been preserved.

Network Rail[edit]

In 2004, Network Rail acquired three locomotives (nos. 86210/253/424), of which the first two were converted to mobile load-bank testing locomotives, with the third used for spares. The two operational locomotives were reclassified as Class 86/9 and renumbered as 86901/902. They were formerly[when?] based at Rugby, but were moved and stored at Derby and carried the Network Rail all-over yellow livery. Their primary use was to test the overhead line supply of electrified lines by simulating various loads. Both locomotives were capable of running under their own power for positioning purposes, but could not haul any significant loads. Therefore, when being used to test the overhead supply, they had to be hauled by a diesel locomotive.

As of 8 January 2014, they were removed from service and extracted from Derby by low-loader and taken to Long Marston. 86901 was subsequently taken to Sandbach Car and Commercial Dismantlers, where it was broken up, whilst 86902 suffered the same fate at CF Booth's scrapyard in Rotherham. 86424, the erstwhile source of spares, was exported to Hungary, where it is used as a source of spares for the Class 86s that were purchased by Floyd Zrt for freight usage. 86424 was returned to service with Floyd in late 2018, due to Floyd's need for an additional Class 86.

Current operators[edit]

Bulgaria export[edit]

86234 overhauled and renumbered 85006 at Express Service Ruse, Bulgaria in 2017.

The first Class 86 to be exported to Bulgaria was 86233 in October 2012. It served as a spares donor for Bulmarket previously exported Class 87s, numbers 87009, 87017, 87023 and 87025. In March 2016, Bulmarket purchased an additional six Class 86 locomotives with the intent of operating them alongside their Class 87 locos. By the end of 2017 they had a fully operational fleet of six locos, renumbered into the 85xxx range:

85001 (ex-86701), 85002 (ex-86702), 85003 (ex-86213), 85004 (ex-86235), 85005 (ex-86231) and 85006 (ex-86234)

Hungary export[edit]

0450 004-1 (previously 86218), owned by the Hungarian Floyd ZRt. in Kecskemét, Hungary

In 2008, Europhoenix completed a deal to purchase the remaining Class 86/2 fleet from HSBC Rail Leasing, numbering 23 locomotives, with the intention of overhauling some of them for use in Europe and the UK. 86248 and 86250 were sold to Hungarian private open access freight operator Floyd Zrt and were delivered in February and May 2009, becoming Hungarian Class 450. As of 2020, Floyd Zrt owns nine Class 86 locomotives.[nb 7]

Locomotive Services[edit]

Following their replacement on the Caledonian Sleeper trains, one of the two class 86s owned by AC Locomotive Group, 86101 Sir William A Stanier FRS, was sold to Locomotive Services Limited in November 2019 along with Class 87 no. 87002.[20] 86101 was then repainted from its Caledonian blue livery into InterCity Swallow livery, as were 87002, 90001 and 90002.

West Coast Railways[edit]

86259, now Peter Pan on one side only, at Crewe, 2017

Privately owned class 86, no. 86259, was transferred over from operating with Vintage Trains in around 2012 and is presently used by West Coast Railways hauling excursion trains from London. These have, so far, included the popular Cumbrian Mountain Express excursion trains and, in recent times, its first-ever visit to Blackpool along the newly electrified line to Blackpool North while working the Pennine Blackpool Express.

In February 2020, West Coast Railway acquired its first Class 86, no. 86401 Mons Meg, which had previously been owned by AC Locomotive Group and used on the Caledonian Sleeper services from London to Scotland. Following the replacement of the sleeper's Mark 2 and Mark 3 coaches with new Mark 5 coaches, 86401 was taken off lease.[21]


86101 Sir William A Stanier FRS at Crewe

Currently three locomotives have been preserved, with examples from both manufacturers:

  • The first locomotive to be preserved was 86401, which was named Hertfordshire Rail Tours at the time. This locomotive was operated by EWS until 2002, when it was one of their three final machines to be withdrawn from traffic. Prior to that, it was the only locomotive of its class to be painted in Network SouthEast livery and was named Northampton Town. In this guise, it was used on London Liverpool Street-Cambridge and London Euston-Northampton passenger trains. In 2004, 86401 was preserved by the AC Locomotive Group, which also owns examples of Classes 81-85, based at Barrow Hill Engine Shed. 86401 was deployed initially in the reserve fleet of operational shunting/depot service locomotives at Willesden TMD. In February 2015, 86401 moved to Leicester depot, where it underwent renovation work; modifications included the fitting of GSM-R and OTMR, the recommissioning of the time-division multiplexing system and attention to the components and bodywork. On 12 May 2015, it was moved to Brush Traction where it was repainted into Caledonian Blue livery and renamed Mons Meg; it was used subsequently on Serco's Caledonian Sleeper contract. The locomotive was purchased by West Coast Railways in February 2020 and is now based at Carnforth MPD; it hauled a small number of railtours in 2022. [22]
  • 86101 was preserved by the AC Locomotive Group in August 2005. It was stored initially at MoD Ashchurch, but was restored to working condition at Barrow Hill. On 15 March 2007, it undertook its first test run; it then hauled the Carlisle-Crewe and return legs of The Ynys Mon Express railtour to Holyhead on 24 March 2007. In December 2014, after a few years in storage, 86101 made its initial main-line run to and from Willesden TMD. In 2015, 86101 was selected as one of the locomotives to support the new Caledonian Sleeper Services. In February 2015, it was taken to Brush Traction where it was painted into Caledonian Blue livery. From March 2015 to September 2019, it was used to convey empty coaching stock for the Caledonian sleepers between London Euston and Wembley InterCity depot, as well as between Glasgow Central and Polmadie TRSMD, alongside 87002. 86101 was sold subsequently to Locomotive Services Limited in November 2019, along with 87002, and was painted into InterCity Swallow livery; it currently hauls excursions. [23]
  • 86259 has been preserved, initially at Tyseley Locomotive Works and, as of late 2017, stabled at Rugby station. It is owned by Les Ross, after whom the locomotive was named. The locomotive is maintained in full operational condition, wearing its initial Electric Blue scheme. The engine also wears different nameplates; on one side, it carries the nameplate Les Ross and, on the other, it has the nameplate Peter Pan. It also has its original number E3137 at one end and 86259 at the other. It hauls the Cumbrian Mountain Express excursions several times each year, in conjunction with Railway Touring Company. [24]
Numbers (current in bold) Name Livery Location Status Builder Built Withdrawn Service Life Owners Operator Notes
E3137 86045 86259 Les Ross
Peter Pan
1960s Electric Blue Rugby railway station Operational (mainline registered) Doncaster Works Jan 1966 Oct 2003 38 Years, 9 Months Les Ross West Coast Railways
E3191 86201 86101 Sir William A Stanier FRS InterCity Swallow Crewe Diesel TMD Operational (mainline registered) Vulcan Foundry Nov 1965 Dec 2001 36 Years, 1 Month Locomotive Services Limited Locomotive Services
E3199 86001 86401 Mons Meg Caledonian Blue Carnforth MPD Operational (mainline registered) Vulcan Foundry Jan 1966 Jun 2004 38 Years, 5 Months West Coast Railways West Coast Railways

A further locomotive, 86213, was preserved initially by the AC Locomotive Group, but has since been sold to Bulmarket and exported to Bulgaria.

Three cab sections have been saved from scrapped locomotives. Two cabs from 86247 were saved by the South Wales Cab Preservation Group[25] and one cab from 86902 was saved by a private owner. One cab from 86247 has since been sold to a private owner and is on display at Crewe Heritage Centre.[26]

Fleet details[edit]

Key: In Service Withdrawn Preserved Scrapped Exported

Numbers Name(s) Dates named Current
/Final Livery
Operator Withdrawn Status[27][19]
86101 86201 E3191 Sir William A Stanier FRS[nb 8] 1978–2005
InterCity Swallow Locomotive Services - Preserved operational
86102 86202 E3150 Robert A Riddles[nb 9] 1981–2002 InterCity Freightliner 04/2002 Scrapped at MoD Caerwent (04/2005)
86103 86203 E3143 André Chapelon 1981–1995 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 05/1995 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2002)
86204 - E3173 City of Carlisle[nb 10] 1978–1998 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 08/1998 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (07/2003)
86205 86503 E3129 City of Lancaster 1979–2003 Colas Rail Colas Rail 10/2003 Exported to Bulgaria, renumbered 85001. See 86701 below.
86206 - E3184 City of Stoke on Trent 1978–2002 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Cardiff (02/2004)
86207 - E3179 City of Lichfield 1981–2002 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (04/2006)
86208 - E3141 City of Chester[nb 11] 1979–2000 InterCity EWS 03/2002 Scrapped at Crewe Electric TMD (07/2003)
86209 - E3125 City of Coventry 1979–2004 Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 10/2004 Involved in Bushey accident (23/01/1975). Scrapped at Boreham, Essex (07/2005)
86210 - E3179 City of Edinburgh[nb 12] 1981–1995 Network Rail yellow Network Rail 12/2002 Scrapped. See 86902 below.
C.I.T. 75th Anniversary 1995–2003
86211 - E3147 City of Milton Keynes 1982–1986 BR Blue British Rail 11/1986 Written off in Colwich accident in 1986.
Scrapped at Crewe Works (09/1987)
86212 - E3151 Preston Guild 1979–1992 Virgin Red/Black FM Rail 10/2003 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury (02/2011)
Preston Guild 1328–1992 1992–2003
86213 - E3193 Lancashire Witch 1981– InterCity AC Locomotive Group 09/1998 Initially preserved, but later sold for export to Bulgaria in February 2016. Operated by Bulmarket, renumbered to 85003.
86214 - E3106 Sans Pareil 1980–2002 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (03/2006)
86215 - E3165 Joseph Chamberlain 1981–1996 Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Exported to Hungary (05/2012). Operated by Floyd ZRt, no. 0450 005-8.
Norwich Cathedral 1996–1997
Norfolk and Norwich Festival 1998–1999
The Round Tabler 2003–2004
86216 - E3166 Meteor 1978–2002 InterCity Virgin West Coast 04/1998 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (03/2003)
86217 86504 E3177 Comet 1980–1985 Anglia Railways FM Rail 04/2004 Exported to Hungary (02/2013). Operated by Floyd ZRt, no. 450 006-6.
Halley's Comet 1985–1994
City University 1994–2004
86218 - E3175 Planet 1979–1993 Anglia Railways 'one' 09/2004 Exported to Hungary (02/2011). Operated by Floyd ZRt, no. 0450 004-1.
Harold Macmillan 1993–1997
Year of Opera and Musical Theatre 1997 1997–1998
NHS 50 1998-
86219 - E3196 Phoenix 1978–2002 InterCity Virgin West Coast 05/1996 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (05/2002)
86220 - E3156 Goliath 1979–1987 Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 05/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2003)
The Round Tabler 1987–2002
86221 - E3132 Vesta 1979–1987 Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 05/2003 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2003)
BBC Look East 1987–2003
86222 86502 E3131 Fury 1979–1987 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (12/2003)
Lloyd's List 1987–1989
Lloyd's List 250th Anniversary 1989–1994
Clothes Show Live 1994–2002
86223 - E3158 Hector 1979–1987 Anglia Railways FM Rail 04/2004 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury (04/2011)
Norwich Union 1987–2004
86224 - E3134 Caledonian 1979–1988 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (05/2006)
86225 - E3164 Hardwicke 1980–2003 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (04/2006)
86226 - E3162 Mail 1979–1984 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury 04/2011
Royal Mail Midlands 1984–1996
Charles Rennie Mackintosh 1996–2002
86227 - E3117 Sir Henry Johnson 1981–2002 Anglia Railways
(with Union Flag)
'one' 10/2004 Scrapped at Rotherham (07/2005)
Golden Jubilee 2002–2004
86228 - E3167 Vulcan Heritage 1980- InterCity Virgin West Coast 10/2003 Exported to Hungary (07/2013). Operated by Floyd ZRt, no. 0450 007-4
86229 - E3119 Sir John Betjeman[nb 13] 1983–1998 Virgin Red/Black FM Rail 10/2003 Scrapped at Sandbach Commercial Dismantlers (02/2020).
Lions Club International 1998–2003
86230 - E3168 The Duke of Wellington 1981–1997 Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury (05/2011)
86231 - E3126 Starlight Express 1984–2002 Virgin Red/Black FM Rail 07/2002 Exported to Bulgaria. Operated by Bulmarket, renumbered to 85005.
Lady of the Lake 2017–
86232 - E3113 Harold Macmillan 1979–1990 Anglia Railways 'one' 07/2005 Exported to Hungary (04/2010). Operated by Floyd ZRt, no. 0450 003-3
Norfolk and Norwich Festival 1990–1995
86233 86506 E3172 Laurence Olivier 1980–2002 BR Electric Blue Swift Rail Ltd 11/2007 Exported to Bulgaria as a source of spares. Scrapped in Bulgaria (2019)
Alstom Heritage 2002–2003
86234 - E3155 J B Priestley OM 1980–2002 Anglia Railways 'one' 04/2005 Exported to Bulgaria. Operated by Bulmarket, renumbered to 85006.
Suffolk - Relax Refresh Return 2002-
86235 - E3194 Novelty 1979–1990 Anglia Railways 'one' 09/2005 Exported to Bulgaria. Operated by Bulmarket, renumbered to 85004.
Harold Macmillan 1990–1992
Crown Point 1992-
86236 - E3133 Josiah Wedgwood
- Master Potter 1736–1795
1978–2002 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (12/2003)
86237 - E3197 Sir Charles Hallé 1983–1993 Anglia Railways 'one' 04/2004 Scrapped at Cardiff (10/2004)
University of East Anglia 1993–2004
86238 - E3116 European Community 1986–2004 Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Scrapped at Boreham, Essex (05/2005)
86239 86507 E3169 L. S. Lowry 1980–1996 Rail Express Systems EWS 04/1996 Written off in Stafford accident.
Scrapped at Crewe Electric TMD (04/1997)
86240 - E3127 Bishop Eric Treacy[nb 14] 1979–2002 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (04/2005)
86241 86508 E3121 Glenfiddich[nb 15] 1979–2003 Rail Express Systems EWS 01/2000 Scrapped at Crewe Electric TMD (02/2003)
86242 - E3138 James Kennedy GC 1981–2002 Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Involved in Nuneaton rail crash (1975). Exported to Hungary (07/2013). Operated by Floyd ZRt, no. 0450 008-2
Colchester Castle 2002–2004
86243 - E3181 The Boys' Brigade[nb 16] 1983–1993 Rail Express Systems EWS 11/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (09/2004)
86244 - E3178 The Royal British Legion 1981–2002 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2003)
86245 - E3182 Dudley Castle 1984–1998 Virgin Red/Black Virgin West Coast 10/2003 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury (06/2010)
Caledonian 1998–2003
86246 86505 E3149 Royal Anglian Regiment 1985– Anglia Railways 'one' 12/2004 Stripped of spare parts for 86101, 86401 and 87002 at Willesden. Some parts were transported to Barrow Hill for use on 81002, 82008, 83012 and 85101. Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (01/2017)
86247 - E3192 Abraham Darby 1981–2003 Europhoenix Europhoenix 10/2003 Scrapped at Crewe Basford Hall (12/2015).[32] Two cabs preserved by private owners.[26][25]
86248 - E3107 County of Clwyd / Sir Clwyd 1981–2003 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Exported to Hungary (2/2009). Operated by Floyd ZRt, number 0450 001-7
86249 - E3161 County of Merseyside 1981–2005 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 10/2003 Scrapped at MoD Caerwent (10/2005)
86250 - E3189 The Glasgow Herald 1980–1998 Anglia Railways FM Rail 04/2004 Exported to Hungary (5/2009). Operated by Floyd ZRt, no. 0450 002-5
Sheppard 100 2003–2004
86251 - E3183 The Birmingham Post 1984–2002 Virgin Red/Black FM Rail 10/2002 Stored at Crewe Basford Hall. Source of spares for Freightliner.
86252 - E3101 The Liverpool Daily Post 1980–2000 Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 05/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (08/2002)
Sheppard 100 2000–2002
86253 86044 E3136 The Manchester Guardian 1980–2004 Network Rail yellow Network Rail 10/2002 Scrapped. See 86901 below.
86254 86047 E3142 William Webb Ellis 1980–1996 Rail Express Systems EWS 10/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (08/2004)
86255 86042 E3154 Penrith Beacon 1981–1999 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 08/1998 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (09/2002)
86256 86040 E3135 Pebble Mill 1981–2003 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (03/2006)
86257 86043 E3139 Snowdon 1981–1999 Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 11/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2003)
86258 86046
E3140 Talyllyn - The First Preserved Railway 1984–2001 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Conversion to battery-electric locomotive cancelled. Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury (12/2009)
Talyllyn 50 Years of Railway Preservation 1951-2001 2001-2002
86259 86045 E3137 Peter Pan 1979–1995 BR Electric Blue Peter Pan Locomotive Ltd (Les Ross) 10/2003 Preserved by Les Ross and operational. Stabled at Rugby railway station
Greater Manchester
The Life & Soul Of Britain
Les Ross 2002–present
86260 86048 E3144 Driver Wallace Oakes GC 1981–2003 Anglia Railways 'one' 05/2004 Exported to Bulgaria. See 86702 below.
86261 86041 E3118 Driver John Axon GC 1981–1992 EWS Red/Gold EWS 11/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (12/2004)
The Rail Charter Partnership 1997–2004
86401 86001 E3199 Northampton Town 1989–1991 Caledonian Blue West Coast Railways, Carnforth [33] - Preserved operational
Hertfordshire Rail Tours 1998–2002
Northampton Town 2005–2015
Mons Meg 2015–present
86416 86316 E3109 Wigan Pier 1984–1992 Rail Express Systems EWS 02/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (07/2005)
86417 86317 E3146 The Kingsman 1985–1993 Rail Express Systems EWS 09/2001 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (11/2004)
86419 86319 E3120 Post Haste 150 Years of the Travelling Post Office 1990–1993 Rail Express Systems EWS 03/1999 Scrapped at Crewe Electric TMD (03/2003)
86424 86324 E3111 - - NR Yellow Network Rail 12/2002 Exported to Hungary (08/2013). Operated by Floyd ZRt, no. 0450 009-0. Returned to service in 2018.
86425 86325 E3186 Saint Mungo 1995–2003 Rail Express Systems EWS 02/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (01/2005)
86426 86326 E3195 Pride of the Nation 1998–2002 Freightliner Green EWS 06/2004 Derailed at Bushbury Junction (13/08/1979). Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (11/2005)
86429 86329 E3200 The Times 1982–1986 InterCity British Rail 11/1986 Written off in Colwich accident (1986).
Scrapped at Crewe Works (11/1986)
86430 86030 E3105 Scottish National Orchestra 1987–1991 Freightliner Green EWS 06/2004 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (12/2005)
Saint Edmund 1996–2002
86602 86402 E3170 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 03/2005 Scrapped by Sandbach Car & Commercial Dismantlers at Crewe LNWR (01/2010)
86603 86403 E3115 - - Revised Railfreight
Freightliner 09/1999 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (11/2005)
86604 86404 E3103 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86605 86405 E3185 Intercontainer 1992–1996 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86606 86406 E3112 - - Freightliner grey Freightliner 11/2003 Scrapped at Ron Hull Jr, Rotherham (06/2007)
86607 86407 E3176 The Institution of
Electrical Engineers
1987–2000 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86608 86408
E3180 St. John Ambulance 1987–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86609 86409 E3102 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86610 86410 E3104 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 02/2020 Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86611 86411 E3171 Airey Neave[nb 17] 1983–2003 Freightliner grey Freightliner 11/2003 Written off in Norton Bridge accident (2003).
Scrapped at Crewe Works by HNRC (02/2005)
86612 86412 E3122 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 1983–2004 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86613 86413 E3128 County of Lancashire 1985–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86614 86414 E3145 Frank Hornby 1986–2001 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86615 86415 E3123 Rotary International 1984–2005 Freightliner Green Freightliner 04/2005 Scrapped at Ron Hull Jr, Rotherham (07/2007)
86618 86418 E3163 - - Freightliner grey Freightliner 08/2001 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (03/2005)
86620 86420 E3114 Philip G Walton 1998– Freightliner Green Freightliner 09/2005 Scrapped at Ron Hull Jr, Rotherham (06/2007)
86621 86421 E3157 London School of Economics 1985–2004 Freightliner Green Freightliner 04/2011 Scrapped at Crewe LNWR (03/2013)
86622 86422 E3174 - - Freightliner Powerhaul Freightliner 11/2020 Stored. On loan to Crewe Heritage Centre.
86623 86423 E3152 - - Freightliner grey Freightliner 10/2003 Scrapped by Sandbach Car & Commercial Dismantlers at Crewe LNWR (01/2010)
86627 86427 E3110 The Industrial Society 1985–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86628 86428 E3159 Aldaniti 1984–2004 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86631 86431 E3188 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 11/2003 Written off in Norton Bridge accident (2003).
Scrapped at Crewe Works by HNRC (03/2005)
86632 86432 E3148 Brookside 1987–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86633 86433 E3198 Wulfruna 1985–2004 Freightliner grey Freightliner 02/2004 Scrapped at Crewe LNWR (03/2013)
86634 86434 E3187 University of London 1986–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner 05/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (03/2005)
86635 86435 E3124 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 02/2004 Scrapped at Crewe LNWR (03/2013)
86636 86436 E3160 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 03/2000 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (01/2005)
86637 86437 E3130 - - Freightliner Powerhaul Freightliner 12/2020 Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86638 86438 E3108 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86639 86439 E3153 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86701 86205 E3129 Orion 2009–2015 Colas Rail Yellow & Orange Europhoenix 12/2015 Exported to Bulgaria. Operated by Bulmarket, renumbered to 85001.
86702 86260 E3144 Cassiopeia 2009–2015 Electric Traction Limited Red and Grey Europhoenix 12/2015 Exported to Bulgaria. Operated by Bulmarket, renumbered to 85002.
86901 86253 E3136 Chief Engineer 2005–2011 NR Yellow Network Rail 03/2011 Scrapped at Sandbach Commercial Dismantlers Ltd (06/2018)
86902 86210 E3190 Rail Vehicle Engineering 2005–2011 NR Yellow Network Rail 03/2011 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (11/2016). One cab preserved by a private owner.

N.B. All locomotives numbered 86253–86261, 863xx, 864xx and 866xx were previously numbered in the 860xx series.


Over the years, several Class 86 locomotives have been involved in accidents. The most serious of these was the Watford Junction rail crash on 23 January 1975, between Bushey and Watford Junction, when no. 86209 collided head-on with Class 83 no. 83003.[35] The Class 86 was seriously damaged after falling down an embankment, coming to rest in a field (now the site of the Colne Valley Retail Park). It was eventually recovered, several weeks later, by road. Surprisingly, given the seriousness of the incident, it was authorised for repairs and later returned to service.

Also, on 6 June 1975, nos. 86006 and 86242 were involved in the Nuneaton rail crash. The accident happened when the 23:30 sleeper from London Euston to Glasgow derailed after entering a temporary speed restriction at too high a speed, resulting in the loss of six lives. Both locomotives were later repaired. [36]

Another serious accident was the Colwich rail crash on 19 September 1986, when nos. 86211 and 86429 were involved in a head-on collision. Both locomotives were written off and subsequently scrapped at Crewe Works over the following year.[37]

On 8 March 1996, a Travelling Post Office train hauled by no. 86239 collided with the rear of a freight train at Stafford, writing-off the locomotive and killing two of the Royal Mail employees on board the train, John Thomson and Tommy Poynts.[38]

On 16 October 2003, the Norton Bridge rail crash saw an intermodal train, hauled by nos. 86631 and 86611, collide with the rear of another stationary freight train. The force of the impact broke the leading locomotive in half, although the driver survived. 86631 was written off due to severe damage, while 86611 became a source of spares for Freightliner.[39]

Model railways[edit]

In 1981, Hornby Railways launched its first version of the Class 86 in OO gauge in BR Blue, as 86219 Phoenix. Further examples, in a variety of liveries, have since been released,[40] although the Hornby model has since been superseded by a model from Heljan; however, this latter model had its faults and a retooled version depicting Classes 86/4 and 86/6 was announced in 2019.[41] Further Class 86/2 models will then join the Heljan range in 2023.[42]

In N gauge, a model was made briefly by Lima as E3185 in Electric Blue livery; however, this model was too short and has not been available new for many years. A more accurate model is made by Dapol and is available in a variety of liveries.[43]


  1. ^ Numbers 86215, 86217–86218, 86220–86221, 86223, 86230, 86232, 86235, 86237–86238, 86246, 86250, 86252, and 86257.
  2. ^ Nos. 86208/210/239/241/243/254/261, 86401/416/417/419/424-426/430
  3. ^ Nos. 86604/605/607/608/609/610/612/613/614/622/627/628/632/637/638/639
  4. ^ Nos. 86206/207/214/222/224/225/226/231/234/236/240/242/244/248/249/251/253/256/258
  5. ^ Nos. 86207/214/224/234/249/253
  6. ^ Nos. 86101/102, 86205/209/212/213/228/229/233/245/247/259/260
  7. ^ 86215 (0450 005-8), 86217 (0450 006-6), 86218 (0450 004-1), 86228 (0450 007-4), 86232 (0450 003-3), 86242 (0450 008-2), 86248 (0450 001-7), 86250 (0450 002-5) and 86424 (0450 009-0)[19]
  8. ^ First named on 27 October 1978 at Liverpool Lime Street.[28][29]
  9. ^ Named at Euston on 19 May 1981.[29]
  10. ^ Named on 7 December 1978 at Carlisle.[28]
  11. ^ Named on 7 March 1979 at Chester.[28]
  12. ^ Named on 27 February 1979 at Edinburgh.[28]
  13. ^ 86229 was named Sir John Betjeman on 24 June 1983 by Sir John Betjeman, himself, at St Pancras.[30]
  14. ^ Named on 3 April 1979 at Penrith.[28]
  15. ^ Named on 28 March 1979 at Glasgow.[28]
  16. ^ Named by Sir David McNee on 9 April 1983 at Glasgow Central.[31]
  17. ^ 86311 was named Airey Neave on 14 May 1983 by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at Euston.[34]


  1. ^ a b Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 77
  2. ^ Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 69
  3. ^ a b c d e Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 68
  4. ^ "86101 / 86201 / E3191: Technical Details". The AC Locomotive Group. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 71
  6. ^ a b c Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 94
  7. ^ a b Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 67
  8. ^ "Class History - AL6 / 86 - the AC Locomotive Group".
  9. ^ "History - Early AC Locomotives". The AC Electric Group. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Class History AL6/86". The AC Locomotive Group. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  11. ^ a b Marsden, Colin J. (2007). The AC Electrics. pp. 52–62. ISBN 0 86093 614 7.
  12. ^ a b c Morrison, Gavin (2013). AC Electric Locomotives. Ian Allan Publishing. pp. 25–44. ISBN 9780711035058.
  13. ^ Longhurst 1979, Class AL6–86
  14. ^ "Class History 87". The AC Electric Group. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  15. ^ Kitson, Darren (7 April 2019). "Cambridge - its railways and station". Disused Stations. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  16. ^ "Chronology 1989". Network South East Railway Society. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  17. ^ Clinnick, Richard. "CAF Mk 5s finally used on all Caledonian Sleeper services". Rail Magazine. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Class 86s bow out of front line use after 55 years" (No.299 ed.). Rail Express/Mortons Media Group. April 2021. p. 27.
  19. ^ a b Class 86 Data Table & Renumbering Chart - AC Locomotive Group. Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
  20. ^ Locomotive Services Ltd purchases electric locomotives - RailAdvent. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  21. ^ West Coast Railways secure 86401 Railways Illustrated April 2020 page 17
  22. ^ "Preston Station gallery". Retrieved 11 December 2022.
  23. ^ Holden, Michael (11 November 2019). "Locomotive Services Ltd purchases electric locomotives". RailAdvent. Retrieved 11 December 2022.
  24. ^ "The Cumbrian Mountain Express". Retrieved 11 December 2022.
  25. ^ a b "Collection – the Cab Yard".
  26. ^ a b "Attractions".
  27. ^ - Disposal details for fleet
  28. ^ a b c d e f Webb & Duncan 1979, p. 72
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  • Longhurst, Roly (1979). Electric Locomotives of the West Coast Main Line. Truro: D. Bradford Barton Ltd. ISBN 0851533558. OCLC 16491712.
  • Webb, Brian; Duncan, John (1979). AC Electric Locomotives of British Rail. David & Charles. ISBN 9780715376638. OCLC 6916046.
  • Haresnape, Brian (July 1965). "The New Image Emerges on the LMR". Modern Railways. Vol. 21, no. 202. Ian Allan.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]