This week we move towards the present time with a look at the Class 67 diesels known to enthusiasts as “Skips”, so called because the body shell upside down would look like one!
There were 30 produced in Spain by Alstom during 1999 & 2000 for EWS whose primary use for them was to replace the aging Class 47’s on the GPO’s mail trains. The engine, traction motors and electrics in them are basically the same as in the Class 66 freight loco’s but with a higher gearing for greater speed. On test before delivery a speed of 143mph was achieved but they are limited to 125 mph in use in the UK.
Unfortunately the Post Office surprisingly withdrew the contract in 2003 for mail not to go by rail but to use road vehicles which can’t have done a lot for our green credentials. By March 2004 there was no more work for the fleet of 30 in the role intended for them. Since then they have been used amongst other things such on rail tours, thunderbird rescue duties on the East Coast Main Line, Caledonian sleeper services on the non electric part of the journey and until recently by Chiltern Trains who used 6 of them on their Birmingham to London Marylebone service. These have now been replaced by DRS’s new Class 68 locos.
In 2003 two loco’s 67005 Queens Messenger and 67006 Royal Sovereign received special liveries in Royal Claret for use on the Royal Train.
In 2012 67026 was given a silver finish, a Union flag and a Diamond Jubilee logo for use during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth and including use on the Royal Train.
These three loco’s are all used on other work when not required for royal duties.
In 2004 No.67029 was painted silver for use in a push and pull set for the EWS Company train.
The company train which consists of the loco and 3 maroon Mk3 coaches plus a silver DVT (Driving van trailer) has been along the sea wall a time or two but unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it.
In 2007 It gained the name Royal Diamond to commemorate the Queen & Prince Phillip’s 60th wedding anniversary.
The loco in my picture was in fact on the Cardiff-Paignton service of which there is more of below.
Another livery change is 67018 Keith Heller who at the time (2010) was the chairman of EWS & DB Schenker, as he is Canadian it is emblazoned with a large maple leaf.
On 28th August 2009 No.67017 Arrow is seen here powering the Northern Belle Pullman excursion to Dartmouth for the air display.
It had been looped into Dawlish Warren station whilst a normal express service passed and had to gently ease it’s heavy load back onto the main line before getting back up to speed.
In 2010 Arrow and 67022 were featuring regularly on the Cardiff to Paignton service. This should have been a 3 coach diesel multiple unit service but due to the shortage of such units First Great Western had to hire in a loco hauled train. This consisted of 4 Mk2 air conditioned coaches top and tailed by Class 67 locos. This proved to be very popular with passengers as Mk2’s are far more comfortable than a railcar. Enthusiasts especially appreciated the rapid acceleration achieved with such a light load linked to a powerful engine and the ability to video out of the vestibule open window, as seen in the following video. It takes barely 4 minutes start to stop from Dawlish station through the 5 tunnels and out onto the Teignmouth sea wall before the halt in Teignmouth station, and the video below is just such a run. Anyone wishing to see for themselves the real thing will be pleased to see it is a mere £3 return or £2 if you have a railcard.