THE FIRST dual-mode Class 88 locomotive built by Stadler for Direct Rail Services has arrived in the UK. No 88002 arrived in the North West by lorry from Southampton Docks on 24 January 2017. The loco was put on rails on the Brunthill branch, a remnant of the former Waverley route; this serves a rail freight terminal on the Kingstown Trading Estate north of Carlisle that has been operated for many years by Carlisle Warehousing (part of the Whittall Group). Delivery of specialist metals and cement to the terminal for Lafarge have all but dried up, but the location still sees occasional use as a road / rail transfer facility.
No 88002 Prometheus is the first of 10 Class 88s ordered by DRS and financed by Beacon Rail Leasing being built at Stadler’s Valencia factory in Spain. The locomotive will be commissioned by Stadler, followed by a UK testing programme that will last six to eight weeks. DRS says the remaining nine locomotives will arrive via the Port of Workington by mid-spring.
The ‘88’ is a variant on the Class 68 diesel design, also built by Stadler and delivered to DRS, but unlike the ‘68’, the ‘88’ can operate under both AC electric power from overhead wires and diesel through a 950hp Caterpillar C27 diesel power pack. Power output is 4,000kW in electric mode and 708kW in diesel. The loco can transition from electric to diesel power on the move, dropping the pantograph without losing speed.
DRS will use the locos on its intermodal services on the West Coast main line, especially the Daventry to Mossend flow that takes in steep gradients at Shap and Beattock. Electric traction will be better able to cope with the smart timings over the banks than DRS’s diesels.