86901 ice breaker loco by Phil Marsh

Preserved main line electric locomotives to be scrapped and exported

Published 18th March 2013

Electric Traction Limited announces end of their electric locomotive line

Electric Traction Limited is the company that owns several former West Coast Main Line electric locomotives including a 110mph class 87.

They have maintained several of their locomotives in main line operational condition basing them at Willesden Shed a few miles out of Euston station. But there is not a huge market for this type of electric traction and the only really regular performer is the privately owned Class 86 No. 86259 Les Ross. This is named after its owner, a well-known and highly entertaining West Midlands DJ and his engine is also often based at Willesden.

Electric Traction Limited (ETL) undertook a review of its operations and came to the conclusion that regrettably it is withdrawing its fleet from the main line. Two of their engines have remained in service on Network Rail on call for overhead line ice clearing duties as required but were as the winter draws to a close, their future operations are expected to end by Easter.

Cutting no ice…

Network Rail use several class 86 locomotives to keep overhead wires clear of ice but hired in two ETL engines, Nos. 86101 and 87002 on these duties. These were due to cease operations in February on these so-called ‘Ice Maiden’ duties. ETL say that the reality of having a sizeable operational and reserve fleet means that some disposals of locomotives are inevitable.

The group have said that it is impractical to fund and resource the maintenance of the fleet of Class 86s and 87 in addition to their fleet comprising of Class 82, 83 & 89 currently based at Barrow Hill. Therefore it seems that locomotive re-allocations and disposals are imminent.

Intercity liveried No. 86213 will stay at Wembley Depot and has been used in their reserve fleet of operational shunting/depot service locomotives. Options for disposal of other locomotive are being considered.


Locomotive Numbers 86401 and 86424 will be disposed of and were also used as part of the reserve fleet of operational shunting/depot service locomotives and despite being offered to the wider industry, the locomotives have not attracted any interest.

No. 86101 will be sent to Ilford Depot to complete a commercial contract and could be returned to mainline operation if required. But before then, the locomotive will have to have what is known as an ‘F’ Exam which will be expensive and time consuming with attendant labour availability issues. This is currently provided by AC Locomotive Group volunteers rendering any return to service a long term project.

Nos. 86701 and 86702 have gone back to their ultimate owners Europhoenix Ltd and No. 87002 will be withdrawn from operation and relocated to Wembley Depot. Potential use for this engine will be investigated and may be exported. ETL had looked at operating a last train railtour with Nos. 86101 and 87002 but planning timescales meant that the locomotives would not be available.

Shopping Trains to Euston in doubt

ETL had provided a locomotive for a test run to Euston pulling former motorail vehicles from Daventry, just south of Rugby where they were stabled in October 2012. Had this trial been commercially viable, the service would have run on a regular basis conveying goods to shops at Euston and nearby.

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