Back to the future

Paul Bickerdyke, Editor

FIFTY years ago saw the end of steam on British Railways, with the running of the famous 1T57 ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’ on August 11, 1968. Our small tribute to that day is on page 7, with a shot taken from the tour, of the crowds at Liverpool Lime Street and the new order in the form of a new Class 86.
Most readers of this magazine were not around then, myself included (just!). But both steam and diesel fans will probably agree the transition period happened too quickly, with steam locos being scrapped with plenty of life left in them, while the rush to diesels introduced more than a few less successful types.
We chart those transition years of the 1960s in our pictorial supplement this month (overseas readers will get their copy with the December issue). It was a time of good and bad for both sides – sometimes helping each other, sometimes uncomfortably sharing the same depot facilities.
Amazingly, some of the diesel types around then are still employed on the main line today. Classes 37 and 47 have stood the test of time well, and who would have thought that 50 years on they would still be handling main line freights and passenger workings? In fact, so useful are they that it is difficult to imagine what might eventually replace them, particularly for charter workings.
Another loco around in August 1968 was Class 40 No. D213 (40013). New in June 1959, it was part of the advance guard of new traction that would eventually lead to the elimination of steam. Happily, this ‘40’ was saved after withdrawal in 1985 and
now, thanks to a massive effort by its
current owners, the green-liveried machine
is set for a return to the main line with Saphos Trains (see page 72). Class 40s have the charisma to unite steam and diesel fans, so what a fitting tribute to the 1960s these trips are going to be.

The September issue of Rail Express is on sale now.

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