Network Rail returns two of four “GLV” coaches ahead of the predicted snow.
The carriages which Network Rail uses with partners GB Railfreight to clear ice from 3rd rail power sources in the South East are in maintenance. Consequences? They are not able to do their job at the precise time they are needed. Last year they were still being worked on when the first snows arrived.
The carriages have been maintained and overhauled inside Eastleigh Works by Arlington Fleet Services and delivered back on time. They moved to Tonbridge West Yard on November 1, along with the locomotive(s) needed to keep the south east clear of the terror that is snow.
The coaches have also received some level of modification to go with their repaint. The powerful halogen marker lights have been cleaned and altered to ensure that they work to the best of their abilities. Also, They have been fitted with four sets of LED lights; two white and two red. These fit in with new drives to use LED lighting.
The coaches themselves were “built” in 1982, for the new Gatwick Express services, although the “build” in 1982 was actually only a conversion from units which came into service in 1956. The Class 73 locomotives that work with them do so owing to their fitment of the Blue Star system, which allows the driver to use the controls in one part of the train, whilst drawing power from another.
Also at Tonbridge this year is a pair of Snow Plough wagons, which shall be used, as required, with Class 66 or Class 73 locomotives to move snow from running rails, thus keeping the network open.
Another asset available is the fleet of “MPV” trains, diesel powered, and with capability to de-ice. As the drivers of all trains are able to take them over vast swathes of route miles, and to all corners of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey, it seems impossible that this year will be the worst, but it may not be the best…..