British Rail Class 90

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British Rail Class 90
90012 and train London Liverpool Street.jpg
Type and origin
Power typeElectric
BuilderBritish Rail Engineering Limited Crewe Works
Build date1987–1990
Total produced50[1]
Specifications
Configuration:
 • AARB-B
 • UICBo'Bo'
 • CommonwealthBo-Bo
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter3 ft 9 12 in (1.156 m)[2]
Minimum curve80 m (4 chains)[2]
Wheelbase43 ft 6 in (13.26 m)[2]
 • Bogie10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)[2]
Pivot centres32 ft 9 in (9.98 m)[2]
Length61 ft 6 in (18.75 m)[2]
Width9 ft (2.7 m)[2]
Height:
 • Pantograph13 ft 0 14 in (3.969 m)[2]
Loco weight84.5 tonnes (83.2 long tons; 93.1 short tons)[1]
Electric system/s25 kV AC Catenary
Current pickup(s)Brecknell Willis high speed pantograph[2]
Traction motors
  • 1,250 hp (930 kW)
  • 4 × GEC 412 BZ[2]
  • 4 × GEC G-412CY[1]
Gear ratio32:73[2]
MU workingTDM system
Train heatingElectric Train Heating index: 95[2]
Loco brakeAir, Rheostatic[2]
Train brakesAir
Performance figures
Maximum speed110 mph (177 km/h)[2]
Power output:
 • Continuous5,000 hp (3,730 kW)[2]
Tractive effort58,000 lbf (258 kN)
Brakeforce40 tons[2]
Career
Operators
Numbers90001–90050
NicknamesSkoda[3]
Axle load classRoute availability 7[2]
Withdrawn2004–present
Disposition36 in service, 14 stored

The British Rail Class 90 electric locomotives were built by British Rail Engineering Limited at Crewe Works in 1987-1990, weighing 84.5 tonnes and with a top speed of 110 mph (177 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.

Description[edit]

Fifty were built in the late 1980s, numbered 90001-050. They were developed from the Class 87, with many improvements and new features, and were initially classified as the Class 87/2 prior to introduction.[1] However, due to many visual and technical differences, they were reclassified.[1] The Class 90s were primarily built to replace the ageing Class 81s, Class 82s, Class 83s, Class 84s, Class 85s and the Class 86s, dating from the early 1960s, which were prone to having faults as well as a fire risk.

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.

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, Deutsche Bahn 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 InterCity West Coast 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.

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

The first Class 90, 90001, in brand-new condition at Crewe in 1987 in InterCity Swallow livery
90018 in DB Schenker livery on a south bound freight at Euxton in October 2016

Current operators[edit]

Upon the privatisation of British Rail in 1996, the Class 90 fleet was divided between several operators.

DB Cargo UK[edit]

English Welsh & Scottish acquired the largest fleet, 20 locomotives from Railfreight Distribution and five from Rail Express Systems. DB Schenker UK (now DB Cargo) were contracted to provide locomotives for the Caledonian Sleeper services between Scotland and London Euston, and the Class 90s were 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. In 2015, with Serco taking over the Caledonian Sleeper Franchise, the haulage contract went to GB Railfreight, who chose to use Class 92s on the electrified legs of the Sleeper services. However, due to problems with the overhauled 92s, Class 90s had a brief reprieve on the Sleeper, first from DB Schenker, and then Freightliner; 90s still sporadically appear when a 92 is unavailable.

Freightliner[edit]

Freightliner inherited 10 Class 90/1 locos, numbered 90040-50 all leased from Porterbrook. These have since been returned to their original Class 90/0 configuration. They additionally leased 90016 as a replacement for 90050 which was withdrawn in 2004 following fire damage. Freightliner now own this locomotive which is stored at Basford Hall and used as a source of spare parts for its other 10 locomotives.

Greater Anglia[edit]

In early 2004 Anglia, (later became "ONE") needed a replacement for their 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 - 90015 were delivered to Crown Point TMD to replace the Class 86s.

National Express passed their franchise onto Abellio Greater Anglia in February 2012, who now operate the locos which are leased from Porterbrook.

The Greater Anglia fleet is scheduled to be replaced. In August 2016 it was announced Stadler Rail to build 10 Class 745 Stadler FLIRT Electric multiple units, which will come into service between January 2019 and September 2020.[4]

Former operators[edit]

Virgin Trains[edit]

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.

90002 Mission: Impossible at Stockport in 2002

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, Class 390 Pendolino electric multiple units started to enter service to replace locomotive-hauled trains on the WCML. The first locomotives to be replaced were the elderly Class 86/2s and some of the less reliable Class 87 locomotives. However, since the Class 90 fleet was relatively small and subsequently non-standard, it was decided to retain the larger Class 87 fleet. Therefore, from March 2004, Virgin started to replace its Class 90 fleet, being transferred to the new 'one' (later National Express East Anglia) franchise.

The final service operated by a Virgin-liveried Class 90 was on 27 August 2004, 90015 London Euston-Glasgow Central and return.

Following the derailment of 390033 at Grayrigg in 2007, Virgin Trains had the need for an additional set. As a result, Virgin used 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.[5] 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 hired the train out as a charter train. It was sometimes used on London - Birmingham services in the event of a Pendolino shortage.

From the December 2013 timetable change, Virgin Trains used the Mark 3 set once again on London - Birmingham services on a Thursday and Friday only basis, Class 90s leased from Direct Rail Services (which were sub-leased from DB Schenker) were used once again. This set was retired from service on 25 October 2014 with a rail tour the following day. In November 2014 the "Pretendolino" was transferred to Crown Point TMD to enter service with Abellio Greater Anglia having come to the end of its agreed lease to Virgin Trains.

East Coast Main Line[edit]

In the late 1990s, GNER hired class 90s to stand in for Class 91s on London Kings Cross and Leeds services. One (90024) was repainted in GNER livery. In 2016, DB Cargo Class 90s were returned to the East Coast Main Line on Virgin Trains East Coast London to Newark North Gate, Leeds, and Newcastle services, whilst the Class 91 locomotives are overhauled.[6] These continued to be operated by London North Eastern Railway until 9 June 2019.[7]

Fleet[edit]

Summary[edit]

Subclass Number built (year) Operator Number TOPS number range
Class 90/0 50 (1987-90) Greater Anglia 15 90001 - 90015
Freightliner 11 90016, 90041-90050
DB Cargo UK 24 90017-90040

Fleet list[edit]

Key: In service Stored
Unit number Operator Livery Status Notes
90001 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90002 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90003 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90004 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90005 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90006 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90007 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service Applied with "Poppy Appeal" branding.
90008 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90009 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90010 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90011 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90012 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90013 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90014 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90015 Greater Anglia Greater Anglia White In service
90016 Freightliner Freightliner 'Racing Green' In service
90017 DB Cargo UK EWS Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90018 DB Cargo UK DB Schenker Red In service
90019 DB Cargo UK DB Cargo In service
90020 DB Cargo UK EWS In service
90021 DB Cargo UK First ScotRail Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90022 DB Cargo UK Railfreight Distribution Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90023 DB Cargo UK EWS Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90024 DB Cargo UK Malcolm Logistics Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90025 DB Cargo UK Old Railfreight Distribution Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90026 DB Cargo UK EWS In service
90027 DB Cargo UK Railfreight Distribution Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90028 DB Cargo UK DB Cargo In service
90029 DB Cargo UK DB without Schenker In service
90030 DB Cargo UK EWS Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90031 DB Cargo UK EWS Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90032 DB Cargo UK EWS Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90033 DB Cargo UK Railfreight Distribution Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD. Stripped for spares.
90034 DB Cargo UK DRS Blue with DB branding In service
90035 DB Cargo UK ? In service
90036 DB Cargo UK DB without Schenker Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90037 DB Cargo UK EWS In service
90038 DB Cargo UK Railfreight Distribution Stored Stored at Crewe Electric TMD.
90039 DB Cargo UK EWS In service
90040 DB Cargo UK DB without Schenker In service
90041 Freightliner Freightliner 'Racing Green' In service
90042 Freightliner Freightliner Powerhaul In service
90043 Freightliner Freightliner Powerhaul In service
90044 Freightliner Freightliner Two Tone Grey In service
90045 Freightliner Freightliner Powerhaul In service
90046 Freightliner Freightliner 'Racing Green' In service
90047 Freightliner Freightliner Two Tone Grey In service
90048 Freightliner Freightliner Two Tone Grey In service
90049 Freightliner Freightliner Powerhaul In service
90050 Freightliner Freightliner Two Tone Grey Stored Withdrawn after catching fire in 2004. Currently stored at Crewe Basford Hall as a source of spare parts.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Morrison 2013, p. 59
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Marsden & Fenn 2001, p. 117
  3. ^ "Glossary of Terms". Scot-Rail.co.uk. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  4. ^ Abellio wins East Anglian rail franchise for nine years in £1.4bn deal East Anglian Daily Times 10 August 2016
  5. ^ Charter train potential for Virgin Trains 'new-look' loco-hauled trainset Virgin Trains Press Release 1 July 2009
  6. ^ "DB Class 90 to operate on King's Cross-Newark Northgate route" Rail Magazine issue 807 17 August 2016 page 32
  7. ^ Horne, David. "As we bring more Azuma trains into services, we say farewell to the old stalwarts". Twitter. Retrieved 8 July 2019.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]