The Anonymous Widower

Direct Rail Services Disposes Of Heritage Locomotives

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

This is the first paragraph.

Direct Rail Services, the rail arm of Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS), has announced details of its much-anticipated plan to sell off some of its heritage fleet of locomotives and coaching stock.

The main job of Direct Rail Services is to move nuclear fuel and other cargoes around the country in support of the UK’s nuclear industry. For this purpose, they have a substantial fleet of over fifty modern Class 66, Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives, which seem to have taken over from the heritage fleet, which are now starting to be passed on to other operators.

Direct Rail Services also tend to be the odd-job men and innovators of the traction business.

  • They have provided modern motive power for both regular, charter and replacement passenger services.
  • They haul freight trains for supermarkets and others.
  • They sub-lease Class 68 locomotives to other operators.
  • Both the Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives are 100 mph-capable, which must widen their markets.
  • They have supplied locomotives for Thunderbird duties.
  • They are happy to specify a new locomotive and bring it into service, as they did with the Class 68 and Class 88.

According to Wikipedia, they have issued a tender for a further ten new-build diesel-electric locomotives.

Will these be an existing design or another new design?

This is a section of the Wikipedia entry for the Class 88 locomotive.

Akin to the Class 68, the Class 88 can achieve a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 km/h), sufficient for regular passenger operations, while operating under OHLE, it has a power output of 4,000 kW (5,400 hp). Under diesel power, provided by its 12-cylinder Caterpillar C27, it has a maximum power output of 708 kW (949 hp); however, the maximum tractive effort is available in either mode. The locomotive’s engine, which is compliant with the current EU Stage IIIB emission restrictions, has limited available power as a result of the customer’s choice to give the Class 88 comparable power to a traditional Class 20.

It almost looks like a design for all purposes.

  • It can pull a passenger train at 100 mph.
  • With the right rolling stock, it must be able to pull a freight train at 100 mph.
  • A 100 mph freight capability must be very useful on double-track electrified main lines like the East and West Coast Main Lines, where it would increase capacity.
  • It probably has enough power to drag a freight train out of the depot on to an electrified main line.
  • The locomotive would appear to be able to do anything that one of Direct Rail Services’s Class 20 locomotives can do, which would surely enable it to pick-up a nuclear flask from a remote power station.
  • But it would also be able to transport the flask back to Cumbria using electric power, where it is available.
  • In ’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut, I describe how a Class 88 locomotive moved a flask from Sizewell to Crewe.
  • It is compliant with the latest emission regulations.
  • It can use regenerative braking, where the electrification can handle it.

I wonder, if Direct Rail Services are going to add a locomotive to their fleet, that is capable of bringing the longest and heaviest freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • The Felixstowe Branch is a fairly flat track.
  • The only moderately severe gradients ae either side of the Spring Road Viaduct.
  • Some electrification could be added.
  • A 100 mph freight capability would help in increasing the capacity of the Great Eastern Main Line to and from London.

The right locomotive might be able to haul smaller freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough.


There has been no news about the extra ten locomotives that Direct Rail Services will order.

The company has form in designing the right locomotive for the job they will do.

I think, that when the order is placed, it could add another type of locomotive to Direct Rail Services’s fleet.

January 21, 2022 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Well I don’t know about DRS issuing tenders for new locos but it seems First Group are in the market.
    They’re seeking suppliers for new Bi-Mode locomotives for TransPennine Express and Great Western Railway for the market DRS have previously been servicing
    I’m a bit puzzled by First Group needing a webpage to invite expressions of interest, it’s not as though the rail equipment financing market will be expanded by casual players.

    Comment by fammorris | January 22, 2022 | Reply

  2. It looks to me that First Group is doing what many corporates are doing and dipping its feet in the zero-carbon market. Go-Ahead and National Express are both running or planning to run hydrogen buses and I think that there is an element of not getting caught out here on the move to zero-carbon transport.

    First Group certainly made a lot of their zero-carbon credentials with Lumo.

    Comment by AnonW | January 22, 2022 | Reply

  3. Whats not widely known yet is Chiltern have been forced to give up the class 68’s by Westminster City Council over noise and emissions. DRS will thus have quite a few of these returned so will have surplus traction. Also TPE seeking tenders for new bi mode locos seems odd as they are suppose to be using 15 cl68’s although the fiasco with their commissioning over the Mk5’s stock means only 3-4 are needed daily currently and with reduced timetables and TPEs ongoing staff disputes means they may never need all 15 now.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | January 22, 2022 | Reply

    • I didn’t know about Chiltern Railways and their noise an emmisions complaints, I did however know that TPE a number of complaints for example Scarborough and the last one I saw was York.
      Could it be that the Class 68 is finding itself without a market.
      I can’t see CAF being in the frame and it would be a great risk to consider anything exotic.
      In practice that leaves Alstom offering a TRAXX derivative or Siemens coming up with the Vectron Dual Mode. There are some attractions with the Multi Engined TRAXX.

      Comment by fammorris | January 22, 2022 | Reply

      • Being a fan of old diesels i was surprised when i first heard one how noisy they were for a modern diesel. I believe main problem with them is when they are powering ETH the engine needs rev up quite a bit and this was certainly an issue with Scarborough as they stabled several sets there overnight – why they didn’t install plug in supplies as we had that in BR 40 years ago!. The power plant is a decent CAT product but may UK loading gauge prevents the use of a bigger silencer.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | January 22, 2022

      • Talking of ETH and shore supplies 40 years ago, I was reminded of a trip through Connelly Station about 25 years ago when I was greeted by a sight like this.

        OK it’s a rather older BRB loco, but you’re reminded of the way they heated them before electricity.
        As for the noisy Class 68, I’ll bet some engineering consultants were well paid to say there isn’t a solution. What were the people in Valencia up to, don’t they do tests.

        Comment by fammorris | January 22, 2022

    • Marylebone station is a bit of an outlier in environmental terms compare to other London termini which are mostly electric.

      Increasing complaints locally about Marylebone, and use of diesel traction is at odds with the recent discouragement of diesel road vehicles under LEZ and ULEZ schemes (and Marylebone is now covered by ULEZ zone).

      Significant traction change needed on Chiltern Railway, transitional use of hybrid to eliminate diesel engine running in station until North of Finchley Road area approx (further if possible) and eventual electrification (battery plus 3rd rail or OHE). Or H2.

      Comment by MilesT | January 22, 2022 | Reply

  4. I wonder, if there’ll ever be a point, when Stadler can economically replace the diesel engine in a Class 68 locomotive with a battery, that is capable of doing all the work, that the diesel engine can?

    They’ll only be doing what Wabtec are doing in the States, but with a modern locomotive, that they built a few years ago.

    I estimate it would need about 3.5 MWh of electricity to go between Marylebone and Moor Street. Put up wires at Marylebone, Moor Street and Banbury so they can charge and top up and I think Stadler can crack it.

    Comment by AnonW | January 22, 2022 | Reply

  5. As I nsaid in another reply, it might be economic to convert a 68 to a battery-electric locomotive.

    Comment by AnonW | January 22, 2022 | Reply

  6. […] Direct Rail Services Disposes Of Heritage Locomotives […]

    Pingback by The Future Of The Class 68 Locomotives « The Anonymous Widower | January 22, 2022 | Reply

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