Tag Archives: Direct Rail Services

First class 88 electro-diesel arrives in Britain

The first of Direct Rail Services class 88 electro-diesels has been delivered to the operator’s depot in Carlisle. The class 88 is the first 25kV AC electro-diesel to run in Britain, and like the DC class 73s from the 1960s is intended to be used as a electric locomotive with “last mile” capability enabling it to reach freight terminals off the electrified network. It’s now set to undergo an eight-week testing program.

As a tester I’d love to know more about the test programme. What’s involved in testing a new design of locomotive?

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Nuclear Trains

Scottish CND and one or two SNP MPs have been getting themselves in a lather on Twitter over a short video clip of nuclear flask train passing through Paisley on route between Hunterston and Sellafield. The heavily-constructed steel flasks carry spent reactor fuel rods for reprocessing.

Never mind that these trains have been running for decades, or that they run in connection with the civilian nuclear power industry and have nothing to do with nuclear weapons.

Lines like “I marched against nuclear weapons in 1963” and “What if Faslane was hit by a meteorite” show their level of argument. They come over as thinking “nuclear” is such a big scary word that there’s no point discussing rational assessments of risks with these people.

The above video isn’t actually Paisley, but from Bridgewater in Somerset, with flask traffic from Hinkley Point. The veteran class 37 locomotives are 50 years old,  two of a handful of the type still earning their keep more than a decade after most of their classmates were retired.

Interestingly the rail operator, Direct Rail Services, is the only publically-owned train company in Britain. Although it’s run as a commercial business and has diversified its rail operations to include Anglo-Scottish intermodal traffic and even some passenger work, it’s still part of the state-owned nuclear industry.

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