Perhaps because of the continuing ASLEF dispute 5022 & 5269 were unusual visitors at Featherstone, noted heading east on January 10th with a coal train. Crewe based 5033 spent almost a week in the Tees area on local workings from January 17th - 21st.
Laira based Class 25s continued to expand their working in the Exeter area. Separate locomotives working freights to Torrington & Barnstaple were combined on their return to Exeter to work the evening stone train to Westbury, refueling here, and then coming back in the early hours with the return working. The sugar beet workings into Exeter were frequently handled by LMR Class 25s. Elsewhere on the Western Region a new Class 25 working included the 01.15 Cardiff - Swansea parcels, the 05.50 Margam - Crewe and 3V09 20.22 Crewe - Cardiff.
The middle of January saw some unusual Class 25 passenger workings at Birmingham, on 17th 5292 arrived half an hour late with the 09.28 ex Southampton, the next day 5187 worked the 06.35 Birmingham - Leeds and 12.35 return. The industrial action and the ongoing motive power shortages on the Western Region frequently brought Peaks up to Paddington, 161 was noted on January 25th coming up with a Plymouth service and returning west with a Truro working. On 28th Toton’s 63 took out the 15.30 Paddington - Penzance.
Pioneer 24005 (D5000) was noted at Polmadie late in January with severe damage to one cab.
During February energisation of the overhead wires took place from Garstang to Carlisle. Diesel powered test trains operated between Preston & Carlisle, various test vehicles and vans were used, including 5285 (March 4th), 25026 (March 11th) & 25035 (March 21st). Industrial action continued to disrupt the rail network with selective regional stoppages making travelling difficult, fortunately on February 12th the work-to-rule ceased. Elsewhere a coal miners strike commenced on February 9th having an immediate effect on the volume of freight services. The oil crisis the previous year had revealed the need to stabilise the country's energy production through greater use of coal and North Sea gas. To assist in the increased movement of coal a tender for a new generation of diesel powered freight locomotives was issued and would be won by Brush Electrical Machines and BR Doncaster, although the first thirty would be built in Romania with initial deliveries commencing during August 1976.
Continued ASLEF action in February caused disruption of various sorts. Paddington continued to receive visits from Peaks on services from the West, Bristol & surprisingly Birmingham, on 13th 45013 arrived on a mid-afternoon service, returning on the 17.40 to Birmingham. Further north with the WCML electrification virtually complete, singling of parts of the GSWR route via Dumfries commenced. Failures would invariably cause significant delays as witnessed by the failure of 38 on the 21.30 St Pancras - Glasgow on February 6th near Lugton. The train had already been delayed by defective vehicles, the relief locomotive was itself delayed when track circuits failed near the single line section. Arrival at Glasgow was over three hours late.
On February 21st a Derby - West Thurrock limestone special was hauled throughout by 5282 & 5210, the more normal power being Classes 45/47. Peaks were also frequent visitors to the area on a Toton - Purfleet limestone working.
During February (date?) heavy storms affected many parts of the country. Worst hit was the South West with Dawlish station being seriously damaged, with many parts of the wooden down platform being wrenched from their foundations and tossed onto the track. A combination of very high tides, heavy rain and 100mph winds interrupted all forms of transport, sinking the Panamanian freighter 'Lutria' 100 miles off the Lizard, creating heavy flooding in Totnes and in south east Kent & east Sussex. Fallen trees were blown onto the railway lines at several points, with at least two trains running into debris on the tracks, including a Dorking - London service and another on the Isle of Wight.
The Hockey International at Wembley on March 9th brought five specials down the ECML, three were hauled by Class 46s: 46031/40/43 - Class 47s hauled the other two. A Tinsley Class 25 slightly off the beaten track on March 18th was 25035 working the 1E01 Whitehaven - Preston - Huddersfield (parcels), then followed by a Class 1 working to Carlisle.
A long time working ended on March 26th when the Tyne Dock - Consett iron ore trains ceased running, the last two workings being the 10.30am and 12noon.. With this action 24107/108/109/111 were transferred to Haymarket, their first move since arriving at Gateshead during October/November 1960, whilst the ore wagons went to store at Heaton. Consett was now served from the Redcar ore terminal using pairs of Class 37s and new 100ton wagons. Another lost working affected Toton’s Class 44s, when the Aston (Windsor Street) coke depot closed the daily working from Toton ceased. The Margam - Trostre/Velindre steel trains continued to be regularly hauled by the Class 25s, at least until mid March.
On March 21st the southbound ‘Night Aberdonian’ was noted leaving Aberdeen behind 25319 & 364. Further south on the same day the 11.20 Plymouth - Manchester failed at Wolverhampton behind E3064, 81012 was commandeered to take the train forward but couldn’t release the brakes. The train finally left with 5292, how far it worked is not recorded.
The ‘Drummer’ working over the Penistone branch was normally a local Healey Mills diesel, on April 5th Gateshead’s 46029 worked the turn.
Regional holidays in the Fife area on April 1st found two local services between Edinburgh & Cardenden strengthened using Mk1 stock and 26036 & 24069.
April 15th found 25074 & 25075 making a trip to the seaside, being in charge of a Leamington Spa - Paignton excursion. This day also found 45011 working the Plymouth - Paddington newspaper vans throughout coming back from the capital with the 15.30 to Penzance. On April 26th the Bescot breakdown crane became derailed whilst crossing Leamington Junction, the Saltley crane arrived later in the morning behind 25293, by afternoon the offending vehicles had been rerailed and taken away.
Passengers on a Marylebone -York excursion on April 25th enjoyed the delights of being routed via Penistone and Huddersfield, the locomotives for the day were 25072 & 25036. Two days later the 09.45 Glasgow - Inverness expired south of Perth, two locomotives, one being 25096 came to the rescue, further delays were incurred at Newtonmore whilst a coach with a hotbox was removed. And on the 29th 46041 expired on the 15.10 Liverpool - Newcastle at Thirsk. 40075 sent to assist managed to damage the Class 46 and three coaches. 40057 eventually went forward with the five undamaged coaches whilst 31142 took the damaged vehicles to Thirsk Yard.
By the end of April the Scottish portion of the WCML electrification scheme was complete. Electric haulage of the ‘Royal Scots’ began on April 22nd, with full electric service implemented on May 6th. With the arrival of the new timetable came a considerable number of locomotive re-allocations including almost fifty Class 25’s across all regions apart from the Southern. The WCML electrification cascaded many Class 47’s throughout the system, including to the North Wales mainline, bumping many Class 40’s onto lesser duties, and thereby taking certain passenger workings away from the Classes 24 & 25. Likewise there was a noticeable rise in the use of Class 47s on the Highland mainline, with eight services booked for them. Additionally the final Gateshead Class 24’s, no longer required for the Consett iron ore traffic moved to Scotland. On the GSW route services were reduced although the Thames-Clyde Express still remained in the timetable, Peak hauled of course.
The afternoon Bristol - Plymouth parcels gained a reputation for unusual combinations of motive power, perhaps as a dead head move, on May 2nd it was hauled by 7588 & 1064!
Class 24s formed part of the Grand Scottish Tour No 19 on May 4th handling the Edinburgh - Fort William leg of the tour. 27037/44 did the round trip to Mallaig with 27006/07 returning the excursionists to the lowlands. The Class 24s had returned south earlier in the day in charge of an overnight charter trip. Further south on May 5th the electric current between Bletchley & Watford was ‘off’ for engineering works, eleven Class 47s and 25242 & 25311 were used to haul the electric trains through this section of track. The next day 25068 & 25069 were used to take the Queen, on the Royal Train from Scunthorpe to Lowton.
From May 6th some changes occurred to the diagramming of the Trans-Pennine services, the Class 46’s remained the principal motive power alongside some Class 40’s. On the NE/SW route regular loadings of the Cornishman reached fifteen coaches on Saturdays, with many extras running during the peak summer days. Mk II coaches were now being added to some services. During 1974 reallocations of the Peaks was limited to about thirty machines, with transfers mostly between Toton, Cricklewood & Holbeck, with Cricklewood being the net loser. Laira and Bath Road also swapped a couple of machines.
Long distance work for 46040 occurred on May 10th handling a Folkestone - Arbroath special, presumably taking the train over in the London area.
On May 11th a Luton - Aberystwyth Merrymaker utilised 25070 & 25072 from Luton to Shrewsbury via the Nuneaton Flyover, Bescot and Wolverhampton. At Shrewsbury the Class 25's were replaced by 24074 & 24056, with the Merrymaker now doubling as the 11.40 all stations to Aberystwyth, with four coaches on the train reserved for the regular passengers. The return working is reported as 24056 hauling four coaches to Dovey Junction where a set back was made onto nine coaches, stock from a return Leamington - Barmouth special. 24082 & 24087 were added to the train, at least as far as Machynlleth where 24087 was removed, leaving the two Type 2s to carry one eastwards with thirteen coaches.
With the hydraulic fleet gradually disappearing, the WR Class 46s were now no strangers to the Westbury stone trains, on May 17th 46012 reached Eastleigh on one of these workings. Elsewhere on the SR Peaks were frequent visitors to Southfleet on the coal trains, although on May 16th 25311 & 25205 covered one of the workings.
Air-braked coaching stock arrived on the Midland on June 3rd when the first set was diagrammed for two daily roundtrip Sheffield - St Pancras workings. On the GN two Class 46 & Class 31/4 combinations were noted on the Up Yorkshire Pullman, 46036 & 31417 on June 1st and a similar pair on June 7th.
On June 7th 24047 came to the rescue of an ailing Llandudno - Blaenaeu Ffestiniog dmu which had failed near Llanrwst with insufficient power to climb the steep gradients here.
On the first Sunday of the summer season, June 9th, three excursions visited the Cambrian coast line, two hauled by Class 40’s, the other by a pair of Class 24’s. The Mexborough - Barmouth train with 40008 failed at Fairbourne, requiring the locomotive off the following excursion (40028 from Coventry) to push the failure to Barmouth. To get the excursionists home the pair of Class 24’s (at Aberystwyth) were split, one returned on its train to Manchester whilst 24083 was sent to Barmouth to take the Mexborough train home. With ten coaches in tow the climb to Talerdigg must have been quite a challenge. The next day Laira based 46023 was happily working the 07.15 York - Aberdeen, a train noted for its variety - any spare Type 4 available at York!
Another Peak in trouble was Laira based 46001 on June 14th in charge of the 10.40 Newcastle - Kings Cross. It came to a stop south of Newark having sustained a very serious oil leak, smothering the first three coaches in oil. The Newark pilot 08277 dragged the train back to the station, the passengers transferred to a following service, 31120 took the stock south and 47370 dragged 46001 to Doncaster!
25080 was called upon to rescue 50042 and its train at Taunton on June 15th after the Class 50 became a total failure. Departure was over an hour late, no doubt the climb up Wellington Bank taxed the Class 25, though Exeter had a substitute locomotive on arrival! Also on this day 60 set fire to itself at Dawlish on the 07.20 Derby - Paignton, the following train hauled by 47089 pushed this train onto Newton Abbot (a total of nineteen coaches and one failed locomotive). The following week a survey at Taunton found just over one third of the passenger trains were in the hands of Class 45/46s. Class 47s predominated of course, whilst there were ten Class 52s & eight Class 50s noted.
Plans to move some Class 45s to the Liverpool Street - Norwich passenger workings were foreshadowed by the arrival of 45006 from Holbeck. It was noted at Ipswich on June 23rd, remaining here until the 28th when it made two crew training trips to Norwich. It then ran to Stratford, on July 1st it worked the 08.30 Liverpool Street - Norwich and 11.46 return. Arrival was eighteen minutes late, and five minutes was lost on the Up working. Examination of the locomotive at Stratford revealed it was not in the best of health, certainly not the example to use for this type of testing. The locomotive was suffering from several mechanical faults including worn tyres and a flawed axle. The Peak would spend all of July in the repair shop at Stratford.
Tinsley’s 25016 handled a short passenger working between Marsden & Huddersfield on July 3rd, rescuing a failed 46039 on a Liverpool - Newcastle service.
July 10th found the southern end of the WCML blocked after a derailment near Bletchley. All lines were blocked just before noon when a coach became derailed, damaging a stanchion, bringing down the wires and finally hitting the flyover. Six down trains were trapped for two hours before being slowly worked past the accident scene. Two up trains were diverted into Marylebone, using 25182 & 25310 and 25309 & 25324, other services used St Pancras, including one hauled by 50036, whilst Paddington and Kings Cross dealt with the overflow.
A visit to Marylebone on July 16th saw refurbished diesel multiple unit vehicles SC51451, SC59545 & SC 51518 on display as the prototype refurbished vehicles. These were hoped to be the first of 1,800 multiple units put through the life extending refurbishment program. The three prototypes were easily recognisable with their white livery with rail-blue bodyside stripe. The changes varied across the three vehicles. Internally fluorescent lighting was added, wall coverings were renewed or replaced with new materials (formica or vinyl), seats were reupholstered and some were resprung. These changes applied to both 1st & 2nd Class accommodation. Some improvements were made to the toilet compartments. The engine & transmission also received some improvements, engine mounting was improved and new silencers were fitted. The heating system was modified, this included the resiting of the heater intakes. The costs of the changes were similar to that of a vehicle undergoing a standard major overhaul.
Problems somewhere on the ECML led to 25054 (just ex-works and now dual braked) taking over the 17.18 Kings Cross - Cleethorpes north of Peterborough! It was probably replaced at Lincoln as it was later noted on a Grimsby - Peterborough working.
Blea Moor proved a desolate place for 40094 to fail on July 24th with an afternoon Glasgow - Leeds working. Fortunately 25062 was nearby on a freight, being commandeered to work the service on to Leeds. The following day 25299 & 25305 were in charge of a Leamington Spa - Morpeth troop special. On July 31st a thirteen coach Huddersfield - Stratford on Avon special used 125 throughout, picking up at all stations on the Penistone branch.
The summer Saturday’s Manchester - Yarmouth again featured a locomotive change at Lincoln, a Class 31 replacing the Class 25’s here, with them returning on the Yarmouth - Manchester, 25050 & 25054 on August 10th, 25049 & 25056 (17th) and 25111 & 25081 (24th). This latter date also found the 9.00am Llandudno - York in charge of 25278. On July 28th the 1Z69 Alfreton - Yarmouth was in charge of 25012 & 25135.
When the GSW route was blocked at Barony Jct on August 1st the northbound ‘Thames-Clyde’ was diverted over Beattock, 45011 was in charge and reached Glasgow twenty minutes early. 45110 returned to part of its former stamping grounds on August 14th when it covered for a dmu on an afternoon roundtrip Derby - Matlock local. Another Peak off the beaten track on August 3rd occurred when the 09.15 (SO) Newcastle - Manchester was extended to Llandudno, an unidentified Class 46 being in charge. Bogie rotational tests were completed on 45018 & 45132 at Darlington on August 16th, both locomotives having been hauled dead from Allerton.
Unusual visitors to Exeter on September 5th were 25083 & 25002 on the morning freight from Bescot. Five days later sister machine 25052 failed at Uffculme whilst working the Hemyock milk tanks, 31193 came to the rescue from Exeter. The Class 25’s were frequently found on the Tiverton Jct - Acton milk tanks, often in pairs. A duty slightly removed from the regular diet of NE/SW services for 46009 occurred on August 24th when it worked a twelve coach afternoon Okehampton - Swindon military special, the ecs had been worked out from Newton Abbot involving a run round at Meldon Quarry because of the train length.
September 14th proved to be a challenge for the operating authorities north and south of Inverness. A Euston - Wick charter stopped north of Slochd with two seized traction motors on 26034, which had ironically replaced a failed 26043 at Perth. Inverness sent out 24129 & 26033 to remove the defective Class 26 into the siding at Tomatin, returning to the train (with 26035 still attached) to assist on the short hop to Inverness. This one hundred and fifty minute stand on the mainline well and truly bottled up traffic with seven trains stuck. Once clear of Inverness time was made up with only a two hour late arrival at Wick! Another special in the area, Grand Tour No 20 from Edinburgh to Kyle of Lochalsh with 40081 became embroiled in the delays, having reached Inverness where 24116 & 26035 substituted, was then subjected to a slow ride to Kyle, caught behind a heavily delayed stopping service hauled by 24130. The Grand Tour was turned quickly at Kyle, but at the expense of the most heavily delayed train of the day, a charter from Leicester to Kyle. This had been three and a half hours late at Inverness, and would leave Kyle ninety minutes late behind 24125 & 26042, much planning having to take place to allow all the extras to cross the service trains as expeditiously as possible. The Grand Tour would arrive back in Edinburgh almost three hours late.
Further south on the 14th, a Weston-super-Mare - Aberystwyth excursion utilised 25273 & 25040 west of Shrewsbury. The latter machine was already smoking badly and was later declared a failure after arrival at Aberystwyth. Fortunately on the return trip 25273 was up to the challenge and reached Shrewsbury without assistance, the excursionists reaching home ahead of schedule.
The up ‘Yorkshire Pullman’ received Peak haulage at the end of September, 45126 was noted on 30th whilst superpower occurred on 27th with 45011 & 55005! For the first three days of October Laira based 46005 worked the 07.15 York - Aberdeen.
On October 5th a Marylebone - Ruabon excursion set out with 25067 & 25066, however trouble befell 25067 en route with the machine becoming a total failure at Wolverhampton. 47195 came to the rescue with the two Cricklewood Class 25’s visiting the delightful environs of Bescot for the rest of the day.
The timetable changes in the first week of October led to a considerable number of reallocations including almost thirty Class 25’s, again transfers were widespread across four regions. In Scotland the conversion of the Glasgow - Dundee service to diesel multiple units led to the Glasgow Works ‘testing’ train becoming the 08.35 Glasgow - Oban service. 24112 was noted ‘on test’ on this train on October 22nd. Several boilered LMR 25’s were swapped with non boiler ScR machines. More ominous was the announcement of the ordering of fifty nine production HST sets (32 for the ER, 27 for the WR). The cascading effect caused by these new trains would impact the operations of the Class 24/25 fleet, in addition to much else.
The 1S59 09.35 ‘Clansman’ on October 16th failed at Newtonmore behind 40061 with an overheated engine. Assistance arrived in the shape of 20114 & 24119, arrival in Inverness was almost two hours late. The next day Bescot based 25257 arrived at Inverness on a freight, whilst further south 25232 rescued an ailing 37219 at Carlisle on the 4E75 Glasgow - Stockton freightliner taking the train onto its destination. On October 19th a motor show special from Euston to Barrow changed to diesel haulage at Lancaster with 25196 & 25234 taking over. The following day 25241 powered the 11.34 Newcastle - Edinburgh.
Bridgwater was the scene of a violent rear-end collision during the evening of October 23rd, when the 6V86 19.42 Derby - Plymouth freight hauled by 125 ran into the rear of the 6V35 Ince & Elton - Plymouth Friary Shellstar train. Due to the speed involved the collision blocked all lines for twenty four hours. The driver and second man on 125 were badly injured, regrettably the guard, traveling in the rear cab, died in the impact. 125 was eventually moved to Bristol and headed out towards Derby on November 7th with 46024 hauling 125 & 46018 - 46024 itself had a cracked bogie.
Also at this time the Western Region was challenged by the poor availability of its Class 50s. Figures revealed in early October showed an availability of 29%. On September 26th of 35 Class 50s on allocation 11 were available with 22 stopped. Two weeks later 13 out of 35 were available. Availability for the Class 52s was about 78%, however their availability was impacted by some stopped at Laira awaiting spares. On October 23rd Old Oak Common had fifteen Class 50s awaiting attention. Power for that day's 09.30 Paddington - Penzance was a Class 47 sent from Willesden depot. On the Region 50003 & 50033 were available, but both failed later in the day.
On November 5th the 06.43 Peterborough - Kings Cross arrived behind 31108 & 25085. The next day 25125 was diagrammed to handle a Low Yard - Glasgow (Bridgeton) out of gauge load, this after spending two days as the Middlesborough station pilot! The empty Royal Train was taken to Kings Lynn this day by 25069, the locomotive returned south whilst the Royal Train later headed out to Balmoral. The next day this train was noted at Dundee behind 27004 & 27107, both in immaculate condition. On November 9th the stock for a Hertford - Birmingham special arrived at Enfield Chase behind 25137 & 31216. In running round the train the Class 31 became derailed, leaving 25137 to take the special out. 31223 was added at Hitchin and both were replaced by a pair of Class 31’s at Peterborough.
The continuing shortage of power on the WR allowed many strangers to reach deep into WR territory, the 18.00 Riverside - East Usk frequently featuring pairs of Class 25’s, November 6th produced 25276 & 25089, 14th had 25193 & 25073 whilst on November 22nd the 20.40 Bradford - Plymouth parcels arrived behind 25134. The duties for one of Laira’s Class 25’s included assisting the two Class 08’s at Penzance in between its duties at Hayle Wharves and St Erth. On November 18th 46005 expired at Yeoford on an Exeter Riverside - Meldon Quarry working, the locomotive sustaining minor fire damage. Trouble was encountered in getting the token to Crediton Box, by the time the relief locomotive, 47020 reached the crippled train it was over five hours late.
Heavy rain in the south from November 21st brought considerable operating difficulties. On the GE flooding was severe between Gidea Park, Chelmsford and Rochford with a restricted service established. Matters were not helped by further flooding north of Colchester, nor by the wires being brought down in that area by the 16.00 ex Liverpool Street. On the Southern the Lewes area again suffered major disruption with the electric service being curtailed from 22nd - 24th. Hastings demu’s were brought in to provide an Eastbourne - Haywards Heath service. Other areas were disrupted by either flooding or landslips, Bletchingley Tunnel on the Redhill - Guildford line was closed for most of 22nd. Further west the Honeybourne line at Laverton was partially closed by a slide from 21st - 26th.
Cambridge was witness to 45007 heading north on November 23rd with a Temple Mills - Whitemoor special.
On December 2nd 25320 brought the Kingmoor breakdown crane to Daisyfield Crossing on the Hellifield - Blackburn line after 40134 had overran signals, ending up in a sand drag with its freight train piled up behind it. 40172 was also present with another crane. December 4th proved to be a miserable day for the WCML for a number of reasons. 25201 came to a stand at Symington with part of its load of strip coil bound for Ravenscraig fouling the up line, a delay of two hours ensued whilst the loads were secured. This delay came shortly after electric services had just been restored following problems from the previous evening. Overhead line equipment was damaged by a loose tarpaulin off a southbound freightliner, which was promptly run into by another southbound freightliner, damaging the pantograph on one locomotive and shutting down the power supply. 25298 dragged three car Wirral set M28376M to Horwich Works on 5th, the motor coach on this set being badly damaged. And in South Wales wagons of wood pulp in December 16th’s 05.25 Margam - Geli freight derailed between Cefn Junction and Tondu, the Margam breakdown train arrived behind 25096, a most unusual choice for this area.
The Midland mainline gained a large influx of airbraked stock late in November, allowing all but three services to be converted. Further improvements were planned for the May 1975 timetable. Slightly off its normally duties was 45138 on December 5th working the 14.10 Newcastle - Kings Cross, at least as far as Doncaster.
25038 was in charge of December 10th’s Tees - Leyburn freight.
During the latter half of 1977 a refurbished three-car Metro Cammell diesel multiple unit commenced a nationwide passenger evaluation. The unit would travel over 5,000 miles as part of this publicity.
Many reliefs were run on the ECML over the Christmas season, with Gateshead’s Class 46s being heavily involved, particularly on the empty stock movements.
December 27th found 24134 in trouble at Bagillt whilst running light to Chester. A bulldozer had been driven onto the line by vandals which derailed the locomotive, damaging the bogie. The Class 24 was removed to Derby Works for repair. The next day 25226 was selected by Haymarket to take the 23.15 ex Kings Cross on from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, a storm force wind and the heavy train led to a twenty minute late arrival despite the best efforts of the train crew.
As the year closed, according to official records 5225 became the last Class 25 to receive its TOPS number, 25075.