The Anonymous Widower

Europhoenix Earmarks ‘91s’ For European Freight Use

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

Class 91 locomotives are the locomotives at one end of an InterCity 225 train.

The picture shows three Class 91 locomotives lined up at Kings Cross station. Locomotives are normally at the Northern end of the train, with driving van trailers, which are dummy locomotives with a cab, at the other end of the train. The locomotives have a pantograph.

They are electric locomotives, with an unusual transmission, described like this in Wikipedia.

The locomotive body shells are of all-steel construction. Unusually, the motors are body mounted and drive bogie-mounted gearboxes via cardan shafts. This reduces the unsprung mass and hence track wear at high speeds. The locomotive also features an underslung transformer so that the body is relatively empty compared to contemporary electric locomotives. Much of the engineering specification for the locomotive was derived from the research and operational experience of the APT-P.

Wikipedia also says this about the locomotives.

  •  Have a power of 4.83 MW.
  • Have a weight of 81.5 tonnes.
  • Can work on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Have a service speed of 125 mph
  • Have a service speed of 110 mph going blunt end first.
  • Can operate as a  normal locomotive.

According to Wikipedia, there are a total of 31 locomotives.

They are powerful locomotives, that were designed to haul nine heavily-loaded coasches at 140 mph.

Europheonix’s Plan

Europhoenix, which is described as a railway locomotive hire company by Wikipedia, intend to do the following, according to the Rail Magazine article.

Up to twenty Class 91 locomotives will be acquired and they will be used for freight in Eastern Europe.

Two have already been purchased and these are being readied for tests.

This paragraph gives more details on the modifications and how they will be used.

EP owner Glenn Edwards told RAIL on October 4 that the locomotives would work in permanent pairs, with the blunt ends coupled together. Currently, ‘91s’ are not suitable for heavy freight haulage duty, so in partnership with Voith they will be re-geared to a lower rating to enable them to operate in this manner.

A few of my thoughts!

The Double Locomotive

British Rail gets a lot of criticism.

Some of this is justified, but on the other hand, some of their track,locomotive and carriage design has admirably stood the test of time.

In his quote, Glenn Edwards seems very confident that the engines can work in permanent pairs.

As the Class 91 locomotives were designed to work as normal locomotives, perhaps the ability to work as a pair, was part of the original specification.

But as no-one ever used them to haul heavy freight trains, the feature was never needed.

British Rail has form in using pairs of electric engines to haul freight.

 

The picture shows a pair of Class 86 locomotives, which were built in 1965-66, pulling a heavy freight train through Canonbury in 2019.

I also must show this picture of a British Rail-era Class 90 locomotive double-heading a heavy freight train with a Class 66 diesel locomotive.

Is this the ultimate bi-mode locomotive for the UK?

I’ve never seen the formation again or found any reference on the Internet.

I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that running two Class 91 locomotives, blunt end together, was part of the original design.

The pair would be a powerful beast.

  • Almost ten MW of power.
  • Eight driven axles.

But the pair would have a lowish axle loading of around twenty tonnes.

Modifications Planned

The only modification noted in the Rail Magazine article is to change the gearing from that needed for a 140 mph passenger train to that needed for a slower freight train.

Hopefully the manufacturer of the original gear-boxes are still in existence.

Other Information

There is a discussion about these locomotives on this topic on RailUK Forums.

One post says this.

I spoke to a colleague the other day who said ROG were getting 2X91’s for testing the new wires on the MML.

ROG is Rail Operations Group and they are should be well-qualified to do the testing.

According to Wikipedia, there is a lot of space inside the locomotive, so could this space be used to house instrumentation used to test the overhead wires?

Could Pairs Of Class 91 Locomotives Be Used For Freight In The UK?

I think it all depends on the routes, the amount of electrification and the economics.

On the other hand new Stadler Class 93 locomotives might be a better alternative.

Conclusion

It does look like Eirophoenix have organised an export deal, that is to the benefit of several parties.

October 10, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

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