Class 56 plays the organ donor card – here comes the American English Class 69
It is a huge credit to the rail freight business that is has survived the decimation of coal traffic and prospered to the extent of needing more locomotives. It is less of a credit to the country that these locomotives must be diesel rather than electric, but as an old boss of mine used to say: ‘we are where we are’. I’m not sure who thought they were somewhere else.
When EWS set about its reconfiguration of the freight business it looked at the inherited loco fleet to see what could be done to improve it, but with the Class 59 delivering much-needed reliability and the opportunity of placing a big order of bargain priced Class 66s, that was the sensible business decision at the time. Emissions regulation changes have put an end to Class 66 follow-on orders, but the good news is we can take the best bits of a ‘66’ to replace the worst bits of a ‘56’, and this is what GB Railfreight has done with its Class 69.