Eastleigh Works was closed by Alstom in 2005, vacated a year later and set to become an industrial unit and housing estate until Knights Rail Services moved in five years ago.
This is the Schools Class 4-4-0 No. 925 Cheltenham whose boiler had just arrived at Eastleigh less than 48 hours before the visit. This has been overhauled at the MHR Ropley Works by staff and volunteers.
The engine will now be re-assembled at Eastleigh before returning to the MHR later this year and used over the steeply graded line there in the summer. The restoration project is being led by Chris Smith, a Director at the MHR and he directs a team of volunteers at Eastleigh.
The Mid Hants Railway will gladly accept donations towards the restoration of Cheltenham which was withdrawn 50 years ago this year. For details, click here.
Rail.co.UK would like to thank Knights Rail Services, Arlington Fleet Services and the Mid Hants Railway for facilitating this latest visit.
This now includes several Network Rail stoneblowers as well as a class 50 and former Southern Railway ‘Merchant Navy’ Pacific No. 35005 Canadian Pacific owned by the Mid Hants Railway. The steam railway and KRS have a very good close working relationship and are both helping the National Railway Museum restore the other Southern Railway Steam Locomotive on site.
London’s Underground trains now form a major workstream at Eastleigh with asbestos removal and subsequent scrapping of the 50 year old Circle Line stock carried out by KRS staff. The London Underground former Southern 4TC 3rd rail electric unit is also currently at Eastleigh for inspection and remedial work as required. This carries a pseudo Metropolitan Line livery and will be used next tear in the 150th anniversary celebrations of the first tube line opening.
Victoria Line stock is also being stored at Eastleigh and tested at regular intervals on newly electrified tube track sections within the works. More and more track is being laid in the Works areas to cater for the storage business which is booming.
KRS’ major partner at Eastleigh is Arlington Fleet Services who have also expanded their business alongside KRS. Arlington is run by Barry Stephens whose company can and does routinely lift 100 ton diesel locomotives such as the class 66 freight engines.
Arlington paint and relivery locomotives in their bespoke paintshop and the finished product can be seen across the UK rail network. They also do heavy repairs and bogie overhauls to heavy wagons used on Freightliner operated coal services.
To assist with more business expansion, Arlington is installing two new 30 ton cranes replacing those sold by Alstom six years ago. Now, most of the areas still closed at the 2009 open weekend where 20,000 people were on-site, are or soon will be open and working again.
Rail.co.uk visited Eastleigh Works on January 26 to see what was going on inside the massive sheds there and to report on the range of activities being undertaken were. The work being carried out ranged from steam locomotive overhaul to classified exams being carried out on the latest Siemens’ Desiro electric trains.
In addition, class 47 and 57 diesels were being overhauled, serviced or repainted alongside carriage and wagon renovation and repainting.
These are being carried out on behalf of Direct Rail Services, Transport For London and Network Rail respectively. The former Virgin leased class 57s have been bought by Network Rail and are being reliveried into all-over yellow, used for train rescue and de-icing trains as required.
DRS are increasing their diesel and carriage fleet with a mark two brake vehicle being renovated and repainted into a deep blue livery for use on their cruise liner services to and from nearby Southampton Docks.
Eastleigh Works was briefly closed in between late 2005 and early 2006 with hundreds of jobs lost, but has undergone a remarkable renaissance in the last five years. In fact, it is doing so well that the principle tenant, Knights Rail Services, (KRS), has announced a £3m investment marking their 5th anniversary of being based there confirming their tenancy for at least another five years.
The business started with four class 153 diesel units arriving for maintenance and storage in early 2006, just as much of the plant and machinery was being removed by Alstom. Bruce Knights, Managing Director KRS, and says that there has been no room for sentiment at Eastleigh, despite its history.
Readers are strongly advised to watch rail.co.uk for opportunities involving Eastleigh Works which will be linked to the National Railway Museum Railfest event in June.
Bruce Knights says that the Works is simply too busy to host another Open Day but some events are likely, so the message is:.
WATCH THIS SPACE!