Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Loco hauled on the Cumbrian Coast

37409 'Lord Hinton' leads 2C34 the 14:35 Carlisle - Barrow towards Nethertown on a beautiful stretch of the Cumbrian Coast. 9th July 2015
In an amazing turn of events loco hauled passenger trains have returned to one of the UK's most scenic railways. Four trains in each direction six days a week between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness are now in the hands of class 37's from DRS hauling the companies refurbished Mk2 coaches. 
37603 powers along the Cumbrian Coast with the 14:37Barrow-in-Furness to Carlisle on 9th June 2015. On a beautiful day it ishard to imagine how exposed this coastal railway, and the ramshackleseaside cottages can become during a stormy winter. 
In order to fill a shortage of DMU's following the transfer of class 170's from Transpennine to Chiltern the Department for Transport has funded these loco hauled trains, which in turn allow Northern to loan class 156's to Transpennine. This also tallies with a long standing ambition of DRS to run additional 'workers' trains to the nuclear complex at Sellafield- by far the largest single employer in the area.

These trains are ultimately going to be operated with a single class 37/4 in push/pull formation with three standard Mk2 coaches and a DBSO, however for the start of operations the DBSO's have not been available resulting in top and tailed trains. Because there are only a limited number of ETH fitted 37/4's (and only one is required per trainset) the second locomotive has often been from the DRS freight pools, giving a chance to experience regular passenger turns with freight 37's- who would have though it in 2015!?
66424 leads 37605 and flasks as they head southbound on a gorgeous summers evening at Ravenglass on the Cumbrian Coast line. Nuclear traffic makes up a large proportion of the freight workings over the Cumbrian Coast line with trains serving the large nuclear reprocessing facility at Sellafield. 9th July 2015.
The passenger trains are not the only attraction (not withstanding the scenery) of this line- the proximity of the nuclear facility at Sellafield also produces several flows of interesting freight trains along this line, usually in the hand of DRS's varied fleet and often with interesting wagons such as the nuclear flasks. Trains can run each day from Sellafield to a variety of locations on the network to serve Britains nuclear power stations and also docks such as Barrow where nuclear materials are imported and to the low level waste depository a few stops down the line at Drigg.

Usual traffic on the line is formed of a selection of Northern Rail's DMU's from classes 142, 150, 153 and 156- while adequate for the job the certainly do not provide the level of comfort of a loco-hauled Mk2. 10th July 2015.
2C42 the 17:37 Carlisle Barrow pulls into St Bees on 9th July 2015 with
37423 'Spirit of the Lakes' at the helm. Here it will cross the other loco hauled set before continuing on to Barrow-in-Furness.
The current loco's and stock are due to run for the foreseeable future but if you want to catch the top and tail operation, complete with freight 37's you will have to be quick- the first DBSO has already started training on the Cumbrian Coast route. If you like great scenery, and class 37's I can only say that you really must get yourself up to Cumbria- and hope to have the glorious weather I have enjoyed. I hope to be back before long to try a few more of the spectacular photographic locations this part of the world has to offer.
On 10th July 2015 'freight' 37218 is seen heading north from Seascale with 2C41 the 14:37 Barrow - Carlisle.


  1. "up to Cumbria"? What about all us folk who live NORTH of Cumbria? Or is it that old routine that the only people who matter all live in the south?

    1. If I were to be pedantic I would say that 'up' trains head towards London, so you could indeed head 'up' to Cumbria. In all honesty the writer lives in SE England so it's 'up' in his view!

  2. Well who would have thought we would still have 'proper' trains in 2016 !