by Phil Marsha

Class 68 gets Royal visitor while on display in Birmingham

Published: 30th April 2014

Chiltern railways to use Class 68s on their 100mph services

The Direct Rail Services (DRS) Class 68 was on display at the Multimodal exhibition in Birmingham allowing many visitors a first close look at the new engine. Locomotive No. 68005 was brought to the exhibition on a lorry and has yet to be used in service. Access to the locomotive, named Defiant ceased for an hour when The Princess Royal, Princess Anne was given a tour of inspection. Amongst others, Pete Waterman was presented to her representing Crewe, where DRS has a large depot.

The DRS fleet will initially be 25 strong and be delivered over the next 18 months. Its 100mph top speed and electric train supply capabilities will enable the locomotives to haul heavy express trains, passenger and freight.

Whether the new fleet, once bedded in will allow DRS to release other locomotives is not yet known but they do have expansion plans for freight and passenger services in the charter sector.

Chiltern Railways place order for Class 68 locomotive

Chiltern Railways (CR) is thought to have ordered a fleet of the Class 68 locomotives to power their 30 strong Mark 3 carriage fleet used on four trainsets on their 100mph ‘Mainline’ services between London Marylebone, Birmingham, Stourbridge Junction and Kidderminster.

The company placed an Invitation To Tender for up to 13 of these engines which could be built as a run-on from the DRS fleet. They will be fitted to enable the existing carriages and Driving Van Trailers to carry on being used.

Virgin challenge

These pose a challenge to Virgin on the adjacent West Coast Main Line and Chiltern currently use Class 67 locomotives on these trains which offer free wi-fi and many would argue, have more comfortable seating.

It is anticipated that the new locomotives will be used from December when the timetables change. The Class 67s are hired from DB Schenker which also owns Chiltern and Arriva Cross-Country as well as operating a huge European railfreight operation.

Chiltern have said that the diesels will be serviced at their Wembley and Stourbridge Depots and that parent company DBs will carry out heavy maintenance at their Crewe or Carlisle depots. For those that are technically minded, the Class 68 is powered by a Caterpillar 2.8MW CP175-16 engine delivering 3,800 horsepower and are built in Valencia in Spain at the Vossloh Works.

Class 68 technical details

Top speed – 100mph

Can haul a 1600Te size intermodal (container) train

Has greater fuel efficiency than other locomotives – claimed to be 7% better than similar horsepower engines

Fuel capacity – 5600 litres offering a huge operating range

Cleaner exhaust emissions

Extended periods in traffic reducing maintenance outages

Has built-in levels of redundancy enabling higher reliability

Has a light axle load so will be able to use many secondary lines

The engine is a 4 stroke 16 cylinder Caterpillar 175 diesel engine capable of running 7.5 million hours

Has four individual axle invertor drives offering great traction ability and extra levels of redundancy in case of partial failure

Provision of 500kw of electric train supply to heat the train etc

Remote telemetry which offers locomotive-to-DRS Control fleet real-time condition monitoring.

Regenerative braking

AC traction motors provided by ABB

First Class 68 Charter announced

The Class 68 is expected to enter revenue earning service by mid-May DRS told at the event. Pathfinder Railtours has announced the first charter using a Class 68 which has been booked for July 19.

‘The Caterpillar Cat’ as it is called will be operated by Direct Rail Services from Eastleigh and stations via Westbury to Bath via the Lickey Incline, to Crewe and Chester. The train also serves the DRS Crewe depot Charity Open Day, a 20 minute walk from Crewe station. would like to thank DRS for their assistance in allowing full unhindered access to their new locomotive.

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