The Fall and Rise of The Class 60

In 2017 the Class 60 locomotive had become the mainstay of haulage on the bitumen tankers in and out of Preston Dock.

The Class 60 arose from the arrival, and subsequent success, of the Class 59 locomotive. With a haulage capacity and reliability superior to the Class 31, 37 and 47 locomotives in sector service at the time, Trainload Petroleum, Metals, Construction and Coal were prompted to lobby for a new UK designed locomotive to match it. British Rail Board eventually secured the
necessary treasury funding and following a difficult procurement process, the contract was finally awarded to Brush Electrical Machines of Loughborough on May 17, 1988 for 100 locomotives.

Brush’s design incorporated many features from the Class 59’s specification, as well as their own Sepex traction control system, tested on the Class 58, to improve adhesion. The Class 60s were geared for a maximum speed of 62 mph, the power units being eight cylinder, 145 litre Blackstone 8MB275T diesel traction engines built by Mirrlees at their Stockport works, delivering a maximum power output of 3,100hp at 1000rpm.

The bodyshell, shared with the Class 92 locomotives, was of a monocoque, stressed skin construction with diagonal trusses, the external bodywork providing support for the internal components and all were built by Procor (UK) of Wakefield.
The first locomotive was handed over to Railfreight on time, in June 1989, but extensive teething problems (many involving computer software), meant that it took sixteen months before the first of the Class were accepted and nearly four years to introduce all 100 of the Class 60 locomotives to service. By the time the Class 60 fleet entered service, Trainload’s Sector businesses had given way to “shadow” privatisation and the formation, in 1994, of Loadhaul, Transrail and Mainline Freight with the Class 60 fleet split equally between them. English, Welsh and Scottish Railway bought the whole Class 60 fleet as part of British Railway’s privatisation, reallocating the entire Class 60 fleet to Toton as a cost cutting measure and to pool common parts. By 2003/4, a number of locomotives were stored as surplus to operational requirements.
In 2007 EWS became part of DB Schenker and at the end of October 2010, the entire Class 60 fleet was mothballed, with the exception of 60040 The Territorial Army Centenary and 60074 Teenage Cancer Trust. By the end of 2011, two more locomotives were returned to service, followed by an announcement that twenty one further Class 60s were to be overhauled in 2012, this being completed by the end of 2013. In June 2014, Colas Rail purchased ten locomotives and by February 2016 there were twenty four
operational locomotives.

Many of Colas Class 60’s have become regulars on the Preston Dock working of Bitumen Tankers from Lindsey Oil Refinery. One in particular is 60087.

The first Class 60 to appear in the Colas yellow and orange livery was 60087. Built at Brush Traction in December 2003 with the works no.989, locomotive 60087 was named as ‘Slioch’ to December 2003, before then being renamed ‘Barry Needham’ from May 2004, the only Class 60 to have its original name transferred to another class member (locomotive 60069). At a ceremony at Long Marston in June 2014, 60087 was renamed once more, as ‘CLIC Sargent’ – Colas celebrated their 10th Birthday in September in 2017.

Colas Class 60’s  (2017)

002, 021, 026, 047, 056, 076, 085, 087, 095, 096

 Colas Rail is a rail freight company, formerly known as Seco Rail. In January 2008, Colas merged its Seco Rail operations with its other rail subsidiary AMEC-Spie, under the new operating name of Colas Rail, and also acquired the Plant division of Carillion Rail which was included in the new group.

In 2007, it took charge of the Kronospan timber flow from Carlisle to Chirk. This was previously in the hands of AMEC-Spie and subsequently became Colas’ first regular freight contract, run by hired-in locomotives. Also in 2007, it purchased three Class 47 diesel locomotives from EWS. All three were overhauled at Eastleigh Works and in

September 2007, commenced operating railhead treatment trains in South West England for Network Rail.

In late 2008, it commenced operating steel trains from Immingham to Washwood Heath with Class 56s hired from Hanson Traction. In 2009, it commenced a further steel flow from Burton upon Trent to Dollands Moor using its own Class 47s.

In late 2009, Colas leased four Class 66s (66841–66844) that had last been used by Advenza Freight. These were joined by 66845 that had last been used by Direct Rail Services. Following their owners concluding a deal to lease all five to GB Railfreight, it purchased five (66846–66850) that had previously been used by Freightliner. This coincided with Colas entering the UK coal haulage market. In 2012, Colas purchased four Class 56s. By January 2014, it had purchased 11. In 2012, 86701 was briefly operated on a trial service on the West Coast Main Line hauling former First Great Western Motorail wagons. In May 2012, Colas purchased the

Pullman Rail rolling stock maintenance business in Cardiff.

In April 2013, Colas formed a joint venture with the Go-Ahead Group to bid for the concession to operate the Docklands Light Railway but later withdrew. In November 2013, it placed an order for 10 Class 70s. At the same time it purchased four Class 37s.

In 2014, Colas purchased 10 Class 60s from DB Schenker with an option to purchase a further 10. In 2015, it commenced operating infrastructure trains for Network Rail. To operate these a further four Class 37s were  purchased. It also owns and operates a mixed fleet of on-track plant for maintenance operations.