The Class 40 Locomotive - Its Part in my Downfall

by Michael Wright

It's gone midnight and I can't sleep.

It is the early hours of Sunday, November 19th 2000 and I am lying on the bed in a single room on the third floor of the Old White Lion Hotel, Bury. Every time I close my eyes I am engulfed by waves of nostalgia, and a myriad of events that took place over fifteen years ago, jostle with each other to capture the attention of my conscious mind. But every time I try to mentally hold on to a discrete thought, it slips away, back into the cerebral melting-pot of half remembered railtours, rovers and day returns that made up my early 1980's life. The whole of the previous day had been a strange, almost dream-like affair; I had flown to Birmingham that Friday for a difficult meeting, driven about 100 miles to Bury through the end-of-week rush-hour traffic and hadn't slept a wink in that cheap hotel room. By 8am I had given up on sleep, and decided to attempt breakfast. Forty minutes later I was feeling much more refreshed, and was starting to look forward to the day ahead.

I left the hotel by the front door, and crossed Bolton Street to the East Lancashire Railway station. Although I was in the middle of the town, the street was quiet. I was halfway through crossing the roadway, when my ears caught something I hadn't heard for much too long; a hauntingly familiar whistling came drifting across the deserted street.

I stopped dead in my tracks, listening intently (it was just as well there wasn't any traffic around). The whistling slowly became clearer, and then, without warning, the pitch, which had been oscillating closely around middle C, suddenly shot up through the octaves until it was replaced by a deep throated rasping crescendo which echoed around the empty buildings. Almost as suddenly, the powerful blast of sound reverted to the gentle whistling, as sixteen wheels passed over a rail joint, broadcasting a syncopated four-beats-to-the-bar to the street above.


Immediately I was transported back in time, to June 1983, and the regular evening bike ride from my house, in the suburbs of Preston, to the railway station. As soon as I was in earshot of the railway, I would be listening out for any tell-tale sounds of a Class 40 in the vicinity. A gentle whistling emanating from Ladywell Sidings would probably mean that a haulage was to be had sooner or later. Preston had to turn out four diesel locos between 9pm and 10pm every night, so there was always a chance that one of them may "drop" a Class 40. The route I took to the station meant that I could easily hear any "goings-on" in the sidings, but a high wall prevented me from seeing anything. Sure enough, on that particular evening, my cycling efforts were rewarded with one of my most memorable Class 40 haulages, behind 40141. This particular trip was from Preston to Blackpool North; it was only seventeen miles in length, but the quality of the journey really made this one stand out.

I had made the customary bike ride to the station, and was most relieved to hear a Class 40 idling away in Ladywell. A purchase of a platform ticket was quickly made, and the bike was locked up in its usual place at the North end of Platform 3. As I finished this procedure, a Class 47 slowly rumbled up the goods loop, to take its place behind another "duff", which was waiting at the South end of the loop. A third member of the class could be heard sat on the stock for the 21:15 to Barrow, so only 1P79, the 21:17 to Blackpool North was still unaccounted for. Within seconds, however, this was rectified with the gen that 40141 had been allocated to work 1P79 forward from Preston. I quickly retraced my steps to the booking office, and duly purchased a day return to Blackpool North.

Once more back on the platform, the sound of three idling Class 47 locomotives was drowned out by the arrival of 40141 from Ladywell Sidings, and by an enormous clap of thunder. We sprinted round to the top of Platform 4 to view the beast, and managed to get to the end of the platform just as the heavens opened, and the signal changed to direct 40141 out to Fylde Junction, where she would sit and wait for the arrival of 1P79. The signalman wasn't in the habit of having his Up Slow line blocked for any length of time, so this had to mean that 1P79 was about to arrive. Sure enough, as we walked back towards Platform 3, 87005 glided into the station, with the 18:05 arrival from Euston, which would go forward to Blackpool behind 40141. It was now absolutely bucketing down, and a severe electrical storm was developing over the town. The conditions were ripe for a hellfire run and I wasn't going to be disappointed.

At this time (June 1983), there was still a sleeping car service from Preston to London. You could board the sleepers in the Bay at the South end of Platform 4 from 22:30 each night, and the coaches were shunted onto the front of an overnight Glasgow - Euston service, at 04:00 the next morning. There was no return working however, so the two sleeping cars were brought back from London on the front of 1P79. This turned 1P79 into a formidable thirteen coach train, with eleven going through to Blackpool, so 40141 was certainly going to have to earn her keep that night on the wet rails.

The clank of buckeyes conveyed the detaching of the sleepers, and 87005 gently hauled the two coaches out into the darkness. Two minutes later, around the bend from Fylde Junction, came the familiar marker lights of a "split-box" Class 40, and 40141 lumbered out of the rain, and under the station canopy. At once, this stridently whistling, monstrous locomotive commanded the attention of all, until the brake test was completed and it became apparent that departure was imminent. It was obvious to us all, however, that 1P79 would not be leaving on time, and so it was unlikely that we would make the last train out of Blackpool that night.

A couple more minutes waiting for the road and at last, 40141 is given her head. The driver makes every use of the dry rails under the station canopy, and throws back the power handle, to gain the maximum possible speed before adhesion is reduced on the wet steel ahead. The power is skilfully regulated as the heavy train is coaxed from the platform, up the incline and around the bend towards Fylde Junction. Once abreast of the hill, the driver reduces power to a canter, and 40141 leans into the bend, which takes us away from the West Coast Main Line, and away in a Northwesterly direction towards Blackpool. The unique beat of the 1Co-Co1's bogies on the jointed rails echoes back from the rooftops as 40141 gently brakes for the crossover at Maudland Viaduct Junction. We snake over the junction, and then the diver sights the green signal for the clear line ahead. He immediately applies full power, and the train starts to gain speed, past the rows of terraced houses, with the thundering hooves of 2000 horses echoing back to us at the front window of the leading coach. Under Blackpool Road, and a long straight lies ahead; past Haslam Park and the sighting of another green signal away at the end of the straight. A stunning display of forked lightening away to the North, but the thunder is inaudible against the throbbing, deafening roar of the locomotive next to us. The rain is battering against my face, but this is no time to seek shelter and warmth, as the white-knuckle experience of the headlong rush through the stormy night is just too exhilarating to miss.

The rain subsides as we continue our hectic journey through the dark countryside. A slight sway one way, then the next as we career through the deserted Salwick station; the lights from the British Nuclear Fuels plant casting perfect shadows of the locomotive and train against the grass banking on the opposite side of the line.

Kirkham approaches, and the driver shuts off power; continuous welded rail once more gives way to jointed track, and 40141's "galloping hooves" echo over the dark fields.

A hiss from the air pipe, and brakes start to bite as 40141's driver checks the headlong speed. We thump over the pointwork at Kirkham East Junction and come to a gentle stop in KirkhamÂ’s large island platform. A quick time check and timetable consultation revealed a "plus six" connection at Poulton-le-Fylde onto the last DMU back to Preston, so we were safe to stay on the train. Even so, some of the crowd decided to alight here, to make use of the pub.If they had stayed on the train, they would have been part of my most memorable Class 40 departure.

For those of you unfamiliar with the layout at Kirkham, there is a flight of steps leading down from the overbridge, on the opposite side of the road from the station entrance. Half way down this flight of steps is a platform, which is about six feet away from the railway, and about eight feet above ground. This "bellowing platform" gives an excellent close range view of any departing train, so the crowd which got off here, naturally decided to sprint across the road to the bellowing platform. Whilst waiting for the "right-away", the driver could see this platform through the overbridge, and decided to give the spectators a little treat.

As the "right-away" is given, the driver wrenches back the power handle on poor old 40141, knowing full well what was likely to happen. With a truly deafening roar, and an amazing pyrotechnic display from the exhaust ports, the locomotive jerks the train forward. Almost immediately, 40141's bogies turn into triplets of giant Catherine Wheels, as bouts of severe wheelslip take place. We crawl past the bellowing platform at walking pace, with sparks, noise and fumes in great abundance, until 40141 finds her feet and grips the rails. With the driver maintaining full power, we quickly accelerate towards Kirkham North Junction, and regain the main line once more. A truly storming run was had to Poulton-le-Fylde, and we were extremely sorry to have to alight from the train here. An overnight in Blackpool was felt to be too high a price to pay for the extra few miles of haulage, although as time started to run out for the Class 40's, such overnights were undertaken with increasing frequency .


Back to reality now, and I have just purchased my Day Rover for the East Lancashire Railway, and I'm descending the steps to the station platform. D345 is already idling at the head of the train, but there are still a few minutes before departure. I remember standing in exactly the same spot back on 12th May 1984 .


At that time, the East Lancashire Railway was in its infancy; it would be another three years before the first passenger train runs between Bury and Ramsbottom, and British Rail EMU's were still running between Bury Interchange and Manchester Victoria (using a flat crossing which cut across the link between Bury Bolton Street and Heywood). The occasion was the official handover of 40145 to the Class Forty Preservation Society. Although much work was still to be done to return the locomotive to running order, the power unit could be started, and controlled by somebody manually moving the linkage inside the engine room The locomotive was pushed through a ribbon stretched across the line, and over a set of detonators. The noise was deafening, as the person inside 40145's engine room was having difficulty in moving the linkage. Suddenly it moved, resulting instantly in a massive thrash from 40145. It was obviously some time since she had last been revved up as much as this and a huge plume of black smoke shot out of her exhaust ports. My ears were ringing for days afterwards.


Today, D345 is looking resplendent in her Brunswick green livery, and yellow warning panels. The brass horn grilles are brightly polished and the miserable weather is doing nothing to reduce the gleam from the bodysides of the locomotive. There is still time for a picture or two before climbing into the leading coach, and performing the usual ritual of opening the sliding windows to their fullest extent to allow the noise of the locomotive to drift back during the journey. Although D345's boiler is currently inoperative, heat was available in the form of 50015, which had been coupled to the rear of the four Mk 1 coaches. Smiling to myself, I wondered whether there had been a conversation something like:

Passenger:            This train is too cold. Please get the fire going or something.

ELR Staff:            Don't worry. We'll put a "log" on for you!

(For those of you who need an explanation, a "log" is a nickname for a Class 50 locomotive).

Whilst waiting for departure this morning, I catch sight of a poster advertising the "Nightrider II" event. There is a line drawing of a "split-box" Class 40 on this poster, and close inspection reveals it to be 40139. Hmmmmm that's unlikely as 40139 was cut up at Crewe in December 1988! Maybe 335 will deputise for her departed sister.

There are about a dozen people who have braved the miserable weather to travel behind D345 this morning, and we have spread ourselves around the front coach, with most of us taking a seating bay to ourselves. A piercing whistle from the Platform Supervisor alerts us to the imminent departure, and we look back down the outside of the train, trying to glimpse the Guards' flag. With a flourish of green, the Guard confirms the readiness for departure, and with a brief horn blast, D345 is gently coaxed into the short tunnel under Bolton Street. The driver gently trickles the power to D345's traction motors, and the sound of the idling locomotive echoes back to us from the tunnel walls, mingled with the rumbling and clattering of Mk 1 bogies on jointed rail.

We zig-zag gently over the crossover in the tunnel, and out past the small yard at Castlecroft. We brace ourselves in expectation of the application of full power, but there was none. Instead, the brakes come on, and the train gradually comes to a stop. I couldn't believe that D345 had failed after only a few hundred yards. Luckily, the Guard enters the front coach in time to stop a mass riot.

"Don't worry. We're just dropping off a signpost at the side of the track."

There is an audible collective sigh of relief from every occupant of the front coach. Once again, every open window has a head through it as D345 gives another horn blast. This time there are no more hitches, and we have an enjoyable run to Rawtenstall. The sound of the Class 40 up front, coupled with the lack of sleep and hypnotic sound of the train wheels on joined track sends me spinning back once more to the 1980's. As usual, my thoughts are not of one particular journey, but of many, all combined into a morass of vague memories of Class 40 haulages, growing ever dimmer with passing time. Sometimes these memories are of happy times; Summer Saturdays spent on the North Wales Coast, "Christmas Cracker" railtours and the three days we spent cleaning and painting 40012. (The leading fitter at Preston kept the loco out of traffic with spurious minor faults and "Not To Be Moved" signs, and emptied his paint store for us). Some of the memories were of the grim twilight of the 40's; expecting each increasingly rare haulage to be the last for that particular loco; hearing of examples being withdrawn due to trivial defects; endless TOPS enquiries on the last few locos in traffic, keeping an eye on their every move. In the middle of these terrible times, one haulage does stand out more than any other.


It was a bitterly cold night in early January 1985. Nobody expected the Class 40's to be in traffic for more than a few more days (with the possible exception of D200). I was still making daily trips to Preston Station, but it was now extremely rare to hear or see a Class 40 in the area. The remaining examples (approximately 14 survived into 1985 out of 200 originally built) were working out the last of their days on departmental trains and other lowly duties. A failure of any type on these last few locos would certainly mean instant withdrawal, and it was a tribute to the quality of the design and build that they lasted as long as they did, with years of neglect.

As usual, I chained my bike up behind the small booth, which had been erected to issue boarding passes for the APT. I was part-way through locking up the bike when I was almost overrun by members of the "Preston Roadshow"

"'Forty-four's doing 'M40!"

It was a short sentence, but I asked them to repeat it because I simply couldn't believe it. What these few words meant was that 40044, one of the last few Class 40's still in traffic, had been allocated to work the 1810 Glasgow Central - Manchester Victoria, forward from Preston. This really was a bolt from the blue, as I had not expected 40044 to be in the area, let alone working a top-link passenger train. Increasingly I had been making only the briefest of appearances at the station, simply to meet up with other bashers, and retire to a local pub for the evening, safe in the knowledge that somebody was going to monitor the movements of the 40's, and report any news back to us. Tonight, however, there was no way I was going to leave the station with a Class 40 haulage in the pipeline. I settled down in the station bar with a pint of Thwaites' Bitter, but the butterflies in my stomach were such that I couldn't finish the drink, and I walked out, leaving a half empty glass on the table. I decided to take a walk around the station, just to kill some time, and to try to find where 40044 was hiding. Ten minutes later I was back where I started, having seen no trace whatsoever of that elusive locomotive. I was becoming increasingly paranoid that somebody in the higher echelons of "control" had spotted the rogue motive power allocation and managed to conjure up a 47 from somewhere. I wouldn't put it past them to arrange a light engine from Carlisle to thwart 40044's last curtain call.

It had just gone 9pm, when a familiar set of marker lights appeared on the Ribble Bridge. Through the still night air, that increasingly rare whistling drifted across the station throat. Snaking over onto the Down Goods line, the loco eased its train of three parcels vans into the station.

'Forty-four had arrived.

Just as the elderly locomotive drew up to the signal, the road was given, and 40044 gently accelerated the vans away towards Fylde Junction. Two minutes later, the vans had been propelled onto the Parcels line, and the shunter had detached the locomotive from the leading van. With the briefest of bursts from the power handle, 40044 edged out of sight back towards Fylde Junction; the flanging of the wheels on the curve punctuating the still night air.

I walked across to the other side of the station and headed for the South end of Platform 4, just as 'forty four came back along the loop to wait for the arrival of 1M40. We didn't have long to wait, as the headlights of an electric locomotive appeared, closely followed by its mixed rake of MKII coaches. The rearmost four coaches were detached from the train (to go forward to Liverpool) and the electric scuttled off onto the Ribble Bridge. By now, 40044 had left the loop, and was slowly lumbering up to the stock. With a heavy metallic CLUNK, the locomotive buffered up to the coaches and was attached ready for the run to Manchester. A brake test was quickly performed and we waited for the road. Listening to this huge idling locomotive, waiting for the signal to clear, it suddenly dawned on me; this may well be my last ever departure from Preston behind a Class 40. I was transfixed; staring out of the leading window at the ground, trying to come to terms with the enormity of the situation, with that hypnotic whistling filling my head. Another whistle, this time a shrill peep from the Platform Supervisor, woke me from my thoughts. I leaned out of the window and faced forward, just as 40044 exploded in a surge of raw power, and lifted 1M40 on its journey towards Manchester. The night was bitterly cold, but I was not going to let that stop me from listening intently to every nuance from this venerable beast.

We stormed out of the station, straight onto the Up Fast, and an exhilarating sprint to Euxton Junction was had. Down to 30mph, we branched off left, and accelerated away down the hill, through the remains of Euxton station, with the powering diesel's song echoing back to us in the train. Under the arches and climbing once more, we roared through Chorley. Adlington and Blackrod were mere blurs, as the biting cold was making my eyes water.

Crash-bang over Lostock Junction, and the customary lurch as we hit the bend. Off with the power, and we coast past the tower blocks on the approach to Bolton. Down to a crawl now, and we edge around the curve, with squealing flanges, into Bolton Station.

Away once more, counting down the mileposts to the end. Accelerating past Burndon Junction; storming through Moses Gate, Farnworth Tunnel and past Kearsley Power Station, with its amazing internal railway system. Round the gentle curve through Clifton and on past Agecroft colliery towards Pendelton. In comes the direct line to Wigan on the right, and Windsor Bridge Signal Box, up on the left hand wall. Down to a canter now as we squeal round the curve; 40044 leaning into the bend. Gliding through Salford for the last time; how many times had we done this previously in happier circumstances? Slowing still further as we negotiate the junction at Deal Street; the coaches snaking back over the myriad of points, and there is Victoria West Box, guarding the entrance to the Station which for many years was the centre of the Class 40 empire. Into platform 13 we crawl, and slowly come to a stand. Without a word being spoken to each other, we alight from the train and congregate around the locomotive. Some have cameras, and record this sad moment with popping flashes. Some are lost in personal memories of times past, reliving their own personal Class 40 journeys. Again I have tears in my eyes; this time it's nothing to do with the cold. The platform signal changes to a single yellow aspect, bathing the locomotive in yellow light. Very apt, I thought. It was pretty near journey's end for 40044, and all of the rest of this dying breed.   As the locomotive eased the empty coaches away to the carriage sidings, I turned away and walked, alone with my thoughts, across to my DMU back to Preston.


Thinking back to that sad journey with 40044, I realise that I have never since visited Manchester Victoria. I have no desire whatsoever to see the changes that have taken place there, as I want to remember the station as it was in the early 1980's. It is also ironic, that just when you think a locomotive has worked its last passenger train, it springs up a total surprise; 40044 worked the 0825 Manchester Piccadilly - Birmingham New Street service the following day. I wasn't around for it though, and there was no way to get to the train from Preston. 40044 was withdrawn on January 21, 1985.


D345 arrives at Rawtenstall, and there is time for a few photos before the return working. Unfortunately, the Class 40 does not run round to work the return leg, as there is a requirement to train a driver on the Class 50. We travel back to Bury in the back coach, where we can listen to D345 idling away at the back of the train. We then have D345 on the 1100 service as far as Ramsbottom, where we get the steam-hauled service back to Bury in time for the Annual General Meeting of the Class Forty Preservation Society.

The meeting is well attended, and the beer is excellent. Much of the debate is centred around how we can get D345 back on the main line. This has taken a back seat because of the need to restore 335 back to traffic after a major failure. Now that this work has been completed, effort can now be directed towards the D345 Mainline project. The feeling is positive that this can be achieved in the medium term, and that the main obstacle is finance.

The meeting finishes in time to perform a brisk walk back to Bolton Street, and have more Class 40 mileage on the 1500 service. It is a joy to see that 335 is to work the train, as it has only recently been returned to traffic. This time the 40 runs round at Rawtenstall, so there is no loss of mileage.

Back at Bolton Street once more, and the 1700 service features more Class 40 haulage. This time 335 has been joined once more by D345, and both locomotives are to work the train.


Now, pairs of Class 40's on service trains were never a common occurrence, especially in later years. My only pair (where neither locomotive was a failure) was 40074 and 40155, on a Stranraer - Blackpool relief working. The previous week, the 0125 Stranraer - Blackpool had been worked from Carlisle by 40001 and 40058 in multiple, as they had no spare electric locos at Carlisle. Unfortunately, the timing of the train meant that it could not have been covered, as it was a last minute allocation. This day, however, the working was running late, an it was theoretically possible to get to Lancaster for a 22 mile sprint along the main line back to Preston. There was a choice of trains to get from Preston to Lancaster that day; 1P16, the 0610 Birmingham - Lancaster (0829 ex Preston) and 1S45, the 0750 Manchester Vic - Glasgow Central, due off Preston at 0846. 1P16 was running late, so that by 0845, both trains were in the station at the same time; 1P16 in Platform 3; 1S45 in Platform 4. It was going to be a tight connection at Lancaster, and we had no idea which train was going to be let out first. In a state of mild panic, I headed for Platform 4, and noticed that the signal had cleared, but only to a single yellow aspect. Some of the roadshow had already boarded the train but it was too late to warn them. 1S45 was going to be held at Fylde Junction on the Through line, to allow 1P16 to pass on the Fast. I sprinted back to Platform 3 and boarded the train just as the "right away" was given. Both trains headed out of the station at precisely the same time but we had the green light at Fylde Junction though, so the Class 86 up front kept the power on and we left 1S45 way behind at a red signal.

We arrived at Lancaster with no sign of the 40's, but we were just crossing to the southbound platform as "that" whistling sound was heard, and we all sprinted onto the platform. Now the gen about the train was 100% solid, as it had been quoted with the train having left Carlisle with a pair. There is nothing, however, which can prepare you for the sight of a pair of Class 40's creeping along a platform with a rake of MK 1's in tow. This train had obviously made up about ten minutes on its quoted delay, and we immediately headed for the first coach. There were a couple of Carlisle bashers on board, who had just been in the fortunate position of having had a pair of 40's on a service train over Shap! The train didn't wait long at Lancaster, and it started to pull out onto the main line just as 1S45 rolled in. The faces of the folk who had opted for the Class 87 were a picture!


With 4000 horses up front, the acceleration was stunning; it was like having an electric on the front, except of course that the sound told you nothing of the sort. Imagine the noise of two Class 40's climbing a 1 in 96 incline from a standing start, trying to maintain the schedule of an electric locomotive .


Actually, I don't have to imagine it today, as 335 and D345 are just leaving Summerseat, on the most hellfire stretch of the East Lancashire Railway. There is an incline of about 1 in 100 out of the station, and through the tunnel. ELR drivers were in the habit of starting gently out of the station, and really opening up once they entered the tunnel. This departure was no exception, and the noise, fumes and sparks engulfed the train. The sound is difficult to describe, but imagine a dozen people operating pneumatic drills in a wind tunnel, and you might have a decent impression.

There is time for some more photos at Rawtenstall, as 335 runs round the train in the gathering dusk. The return to Bolton Street will have 335 leading the train, with 50015 inside providing train heat, and D345 at the rear. With a possible 6,750hp to move four coaches down a hill, this must have been one of the most excessive power/weight ratios I have ever encountered. There was a railtour which featured something similar, and it took a pair of Class 40's from Preston to Paignton.


The tour had been given the rather boring title of "The Devonian", but I came up with a more catchy name; "The Paignton Decorator". As we had made a block booking for the tour ("Happy Harry" obliging with the task of booking an entire coach), a set of alternative coach stickers were produced and these were proudly attached to the windows of our coach.

We arrived at Exeter, where the train divided. Of the eleven-coach train, only seven could make the trip up the Meldon and Heathfield Branches (using a pair of Class 31's). The remaining four coaches would remain with the 40Â’s, and travel directly to Paignton. Now a pair of 40's on load four, along the sea wall, was one of the most unlikely combinations you could have thought of. It must have been very unnerving for somebody taking a stroll along the sea wall at Dawlish, to see this pair of enormous engines storming along the line, with four coaches wedged solid with bashers; arms flailing from every window.

Upon arrival at Paignton, a timetable check revealed that a DMU move was possible to Newton Abbot, to pick up the other portion of the tour and have the 31's "top-n-tail" up the Heathfield Branch, and back down to Paignton. This was duly undertaken, and some time later, the full eleven-coach rake was assembled in the platform at Paignton, with the pair of Class 40's ready to make the long journey home. Eventually the bell on the platform sounded, and the level crossing gates dropped, allowing the tour to start its climb out of Paignton. The line to Aller Junction is very steeply graded, and the locos strained and struggled to lift the train up to the Main Line. The thrash was excellent, and the sound could be heard echoing back from the suburbs of Paignton and Torquay as we stormed our way up the inclines.

We made it back as far as Bristol, where it was apparent that all was not well with 40057. There had been a worrying amount of blue smoke visible even prior to departure from Preston, which is normally a sign that there is something awry in the mechanical department. Up came the shunter with the big rubber gloves, and before long, the 40's sulked away to Bath Road, and 47199 appeared at the head of the train. An air of depression settled over the occupants, as we were going to be denied the chance of sampling the 40's up the Lickey Incline. We arrived at Birmingham, some frantic phone calls were made, and rumours started to spread about a replacement Class 40 being available at Crewe. Sure enough, we rolled into Crewe Station, and there was 40177 waiting to take us forward. There was an enormous cheer as 47199 was detached from the train, and the 40 backed on. The driver was well wound up, and we were treated to an excellent pyrotechnic display as the loco stormed its way back to Preston via Manchester Victoria and Wigan. This eleventh-hour display of Class 40 power was almost worth not having the pair up the Lickey. Even after all these years, I can still close my eyes and see the sparks shooting from the roof into the dark sky, as the loco tries to make up time lost by the failure of 40057


For the last time we coast under the tunnel and into Bolton Street. Little time is lost in getting 335 off the train and away to the yard at the South. Shortly afterwards, 50017 takes the stock away, leaving D345, whose power unit has now been shut down, alone in the nearly deserted station.

"Fancy a look inside?"

I was not going to turn down the opportunity to see the CFPS's restoration work at close hand, and climbed into engine room via the rear cab. In British Rail service, the average Class 40 engine room was filthy and swimming in oil. This one was spotless. The whole area had been restored to its authentic cream colour, with trunking and pipework picked out in orange and blue. I was shown the brand new set of batteries, the load regulator, and the power unit. It was lucky that the engine had been shut down, but I was a little apprehensive should someone decide to start up the locomotive. It reminded me of the incident in which somebody I knew (no names mentioned) actually rode in the engine room of 40025 from Bristol to Birmingham. How their hearing wasn't permanently damaged, I'll never know.

Out into the front cab now, and it is like stepping into an ex-works locomotive cab; the desk has been completely restored to its original mid grey colour, and the gauges all look to be brand new. Everything is gleaming and polished. My guide gives one short press on the "Start" button, and with the minimum of complaint, D345 bursts into life once more. I climb down from the cab, and gaze whistfully after the locomotive, as it slowly heads off to the shed, ready to be "put away" for the winter. I'm once more left alone with my thoughts as I slowly head back to the hotel.


On November 30th 2002, Class 40 locomotive 40145 returned to the main line and worked a railtour from Birmingham to Holyhead and return.  The route took in the new Manchester Victoria station, which I had vowed never to visit since the Class 40's were withdrawn.  As the train slowly made its way along the platform, I kept my eyes away from the windows, until the power handle was wrenched back.  Anybody who witnessed that departure from Manchester Victoria would understand why it wasn't to be missed.  I'm glad to say that I didn't keep my promise, and the thrash if anything, is even better nowadays than it was before the redevelopment!