The BRB Annual Report for 1974 did not present a very rosy picture for the railways in general. Though passenger-miles rose by about 4%, freight ton-miles fell by about 6%, the latter caused by a recession in the steel industry and industrial action by the coal miners. The deficit for 1974 was GBP157.8 million compared to 1973's GBP51.6 million. Options available to the BRB were bleak cost cutting measures; cuts in track renewal programmes, a reduction in freight train mileage, passenger service cuts, closure of little used lines, withdrawal of 600 - 700 passenger coaches, withdrawal of 30,000 freight wagons and the withdrawal of 60 locomotives. Fare increases were not ruled out and would happen during 1975. The withdrawal of 60 locomotives would certainly be accomplished during 1975 with big inroads to the Crewe based Class 24s, partly due to a freight traffic downturn and the completion of the WCML electrification.
25274 damaged in a collision at St Blazey was towed to Bristol on January 2nd behind 50018, later heading north attached to 46053 & 08668/937. Two ballast services to Ribblehead Quarry were reinstated on January 6th, one from Healey Mills, the other from Bamber Bridge (Preston). The latter was diagrammed for a Class 25, northbound at 9.05am & returning at 13.53 pm. An unusual working for 25077 was the 12.40 Cardiff - Weston Super Mare and 14.30 return on January 8th, normally a Type 4 working. Three days later 24034 & 24035 were noted heading north through Huddersfield with an aggregates train, whilst 31208 & 25210 were working the Tyneside CFD - Kings Norton service.
Peaks slightly off the beaten track included Bristol’s 46018 on a mid-morning Kings Cross - Edinburgh relief on January 3rd, Holbeck’s 45 on an evening Kings Cross - Newcastle on January 7th and Cricklewood’s 64 on January 13th’s 17.39 Edinburgh - Carstairs. The 07.15 York - Aberdeen continued to use Peaks from a variety of depots.
The Lickey bankers, normally a pair of Cardiff based Class 37’s was in the hands of 25159 & 37299 on January 15th. On February 1st they were called upon to assist ailing 46047 on the 10.06 Edinburgh - Plymouth, being noted at Cheltenham ninety minutes late, all three still heading west!
On January 18th 25037 worked a Spondon - Rosyth special including a sleeping car and officers saloon.
Heavy rains in the south west between January 18th and 20th caused flooding on the SR line east of Exeter, on the 18th the 19.55 Exeter - Basingstoke was worked as far as Yeovil by 25224, the locomotive then returning light. This January proved to be one of the mildest on record sparing the railways the grief of previous stormy, snowy times.
On the night of January 23rd the WCML between Watford and Bushey was the scene of a violent derailment and collision between two WCML passenger services. The delayed 19.10 Manchester - Euston had been stopped at Watford whilst 83003 was added to assist failed 86204. On leaving Watford the leading locomotive became derailed after hitting fallen objects from a passing freight train. The derailed locomotive was then violently hit by the northbound 22.15 Euston - Glasgow sleeper service, with its locomotive, 86209 and the leading parcels van careening down the embankment. Fortunately the coupling between the parcels coach and the next vehicle parted, preventing more of the train from tumbling down the embankment. The driver of 86204, occupying the 2nd man's seat in 83003 was killed in the collision, 83003 would be withdrawn, whilst the recovery of 86209 would be by road.
24148 worked the local Hexham pick up goods on January 30th. Local press reports indicated growing traffic on the Carlisle - Newcastle line especially freight, with a number of ECML workings transferred to the WCML due to the shortage of paths on the former. Likewise traffic levels were increasing on the Highland mainline, brought about in part by the North Sea Oil boom. Unfortunately the singling of the main line during leaner times was now causing a constriction to traffic, although the greater use of Type 4 locomotives over the Highland route mitigated this somewhat. And even the bigger power encountered difficulties such as 47427 on February 5th’s Up ‘Clansman’ (10.30 Inverness - Euston) noted arriving at Perth with 24113 assisting, both being replaced here by 47211.
25049 & 25141 worked the last leg of a St Pancras - Southport excursion on February 1st, taking the train forward from Wigan Wallgate. One wonders about the attractions at Southport on a cool February day?
The transfer of 25006/07/08/11 to Tinsley during February brought all twenty five members of Class 25/0 together again. In exchange Tinsley had sent north four boiler equipped early Class 25/1s. Interestingly 25006 was still in green livery as were twenty five other Class 25s and eleven Class 24s. Tinsley’s Class 25/0s were frequently used on a Tribometer train between Sheffield & Knottingley and over the Penistone branch, commencing February 10th and running every other day, 25021 handled the first working, with 25017 most frequently noted.
Sometime during February a Morley - Bournemouth special was worked throughout by 45016, a Gresley buffet was part of the stock, an equally unusual sight in Bournemouth. Another unusual special occurred on February 22nd, a Marylebone - Carlisle excursion was worked to Birmingham New Street by 45020, on the return 46005 was on hand to return it to Marylebone.
On February 21st 24044 & 24057, the latter still in green livery, arrived in Bristol with a freight from Holyhead.
Laira allocated 25063 made an historic trip on a gloriously sunny February 26th when it traversed the long closed Barnstaple - Ilfracombe line with an inspection saloon. This would be the last train to travel the route. The line had closed to regular passenger traffic from October 5th 1970. Dismantling of the route took place shortly afterwards.
The month end closed with an horrific accident on London Transport with the loss of forty one lives at Moorgate terminus station after a Northern Line rush hour service from Drayton Park failed to stop and impacted the end of the tunnel at considerable speed.
During March the Western Region's two remaining Class 35s, 7017 & 7018 were withdrawn.
March 12th saw the 06.43 Peterborough - Kings Cross arrive behind 31185 & 25037.
Barmouth Bridge was visited by 24056 and the viaduct inspection unit on March 16th, the same day saw 24078 at Llanaber with a train of large boulders and steam crane reinforcing the seaward side of the track. Two days later the Southern Region experienced a late winter snowfall with icing which created operating difficulties on the former LSWR lines west of Farnborough.
The earlier use of Crewe based Class 47s on the Liverpool - Newcastle route was discontinued sometime during March, these turns reverted back to Gateshead Class 46s, although Holbeck’s Class 45s frequently filled in. Over the Settle & Carlisle route weekend passenger diversions made the route very busy, generally Class 47s & 50s being the staple motive power. Class 45s still provided the regular power for the through daytime passenger services, including the soon to be de-named Thames-Clyde Express and the mid-morning Leeds - Glasgow. On March 9th engineering work north of Leeds sent the Thames-Clyde over to the ECML, the Up working behind 45030 and the Down with 46042.
The 12.11 Inverness - Glasgow of March 27th was powered by 26033 & 25233. Towards the end of March a strike by supervisory staff at depots and workshops quickly affected availability of stock. This took a severe toll on many of the extras planned for the Easter period, those and many regular services that did run featured misplaced stock & locomotives. A heavy snowfall on Maunday Thursday did not help either, with Birmingham receiving six inches of the white stuff. On March 29th a Bletchley - Lowestoft excursion arrived at Norwich behind 25065 & 25083. At month end 25095 & 25259 worked the 09.20 Birmingham - Poole as far as Reading and a Coventry - Paignton excursion ran behind 25038 & 25188. On April 1st 25076 was noted heading north through Cheshunt with a freight working. As the strike continued the WCML main line services were gradually reduced to the point where no more than a third of the regular workings were running. This also brought many foreign Class 25s into the London area, most remarkable being 25015 as the Euston pilot on April 9th. In the Manchester area the Oxford Road - Liverpool service was handled by Class 40s hauling four coaches, whilst some of the electric multiple unit turns from Birmingham were arriving behind three car Tyseley diesel multiple units. On 4th two northbound services from St Pancras were Class 25 hauled, 25314 took the 17.13 to Leicester and 25285 & 25037 the 17.26 to Derby. In the midst of all these difficulties the Sheffield - St Pancras ‘Master Cutler’ received air-conditioned stock from April 7th, though on following days it was diverted via Derby to cover a cancelled working! The stock situation created comfort issues such as 46053 working the air conditioned 14.10 Newcastle - Kings Cross as far as York on April 4th and April 7th’s 10.10 Liverpool - Newcastle behind 45135 and steam heated stock, neither locomotive able to heat the stock provided. On the Western Region the 08.52 Swansea - Paddington ran with an assortment of power, mixed in with the Class 37s was 25164 on April 2nd - presumably the Class 25 was replaced at Cardiff. Continued and prolonged snow during the first two weeks of April did not help matters, the strike finally coming to an end on April 14th. During this period Laira’s Class 46s were frequent visitors to Kings Cross on a variety of passenger services.
The move of vintage stock from the closed Clapham museum to the new locoation at York saw several moves by rail of locomotives and rolling stock from Stewarts Lane via the Midland mainline to York. On April 12th 45026 headed up a lengthy train which included LNER A4 4468 'Mallard', LSWR 4-4-0 No.563 and LBSCR 0-6-0 tank 'Boxhill' on a well wagon. The following week on April 19th another Class 45 took another selection of museum pieces to York.
April 28th found 47116 shutting down in Bradway tunnel with the 15.15 Manchester - Parkeston Quay, the locomotive was revived enough to reach Chesterfield where it was replaced by 25014 which worked through to Nottingham, where 45121 was waiting to go forward.
As a harbinger of things to come the prototype HST entered revenue earning service on May 5th on the Bristol - Paddington route. Major permanent way improvements commenced on the WR main line, leading to Cardiff and Bristol exchanging six Class 25s for six Class 46s, the Type 2s intended for five months of engineering trains on the line between Wootton Basset & Bristol Parkway. The Class 46s were used over the NE/SW route, on Cardiff - Crewe workings and on some local internal workings. During 1975 Cardiff would receive fifteen Peaks from Bath Road, whilst other re-allocations affected a dozen machines moving between Toton, Laira and Cricklewood. On May 6th a notable stranger at Kings Lynn was 24091 coupled to 25267, the pair having arrived from March to work a special freight to Bristol. The Spalding Flower Festival on May 10th featured twelve specials, none powered by Class 25’s, although 46052 arrived from Manchester & 45010 from Burton. A week later Glasgow Works featured its annual Open Day with fifty locomotives present, including twenty three withdrawn Claytons and Type 2s 24009/72/96/98, 24117/121 under various states of repair. As mentioned earlier a great many of the heavier long distance Scottish internal services were in the hands of Classes 40 & 47. But from time to time pairs of Type 2s were still utilised, on May 3rd the 15.35 Glasgow Queen Street - Aberdeen was powered by 25026 & 24127. Over on the Highland line the heavier workings often featured a Type 4/Type 2 combination, May 17th’s Royal Highlander, 20.50 London - Inverness was noted behind 24130 & 40173.
Dramatic changes in the timetable saw the end of the use of the name ‘Thames Clyde’ for the St Pancras - Glasgow service, its equivalent would now run over Beattock, whilst the GSW route would be covered by a local Glasgow - Dumfries - Carlisle.
The withdrawal of the Heysham - Belfast car/passenger service saw the last 'boat train' service from Manchester Victoria to Heysham, utilising 25082 on May 5th. The last 'Ulster Express' boat train from Euston arrived at Heysham behind 47517.
25054 & 25055 were on Royal Train duty on May 14th arriving at Kings Lynn with the stock for a late evening departure for the Duke of Edinburgh. The train ran to Salford via Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham, Chesterfield, stopping overnight at Bamford.
On May 18th passenger fares rose 15%.
May 24th found Cardiff allocated 25164 on weedkilling duty in the Ilkley area! 25104 handled a Birmingham - Brandon (Norfolk) troop special. A longer distance working regularly hauled by Class 25’s and featuring considerable mileage ‘under the wires’ was the round trip Gunnie - Penyffordd (Wrexham North???) freight, 25269 worked the southbound trip on May 24th, 25165 & 25170 taking the northbound leg on June 13th. Class 45’s continued to be frequent visitors to Kings Cross, on May 28th Holbeck’s 45036 took out an evening service to Aberdeen whilst on June 3rd 45134 arrived with a service from Newcastle, going back north with a passenger working to Leeds.
The new summer season began on Saturday May 24th with many regular features returning. The additional services along the North Wales coast were principally in the hands of Class 40’s, even the 07.35 Nottingham - Llandudno showed up behind 47199, though this service quickly reverted to Class 25 haulage as the summer continued. In an eastward direction the Walsall - Yarmouth featured 25083 & 25102, with the Derby - Yarmouth in charge of 25065 & 25073, on the 26th this same pair powered a Nuneaton - Whitley Bay excursion.
Declining iron ore traffic between Newport Docks, Ebbw Vale & Llanwern led to a reduction of duties for a number of Class 08’s and two Cardiff based Class 25’s. During June Willesden lost its entire fleet of Class 25’s, with most being transferred to Cricklewood.
The late season snow continued into early June accompanied by cold temperatures. Snow stopped the cricket match at Buxton and fell at Lord’s on June 2nd, the east and north being most affected. By the end of this first week of June the snow was gone, replaced by higher than normal temperatures over most of the country!
In the early hours of June 6th whilst waiting on the slow lines with a coal train at Nuneaton station 25286 witnessed the high speed derailment of the 5th’s 23.30 Euston - Glasgow sleeper service. The two locomotives, 86006 & 86242 became parted, with the latter causing considerable damage to itself and the station, bringing down several gantries that caused minor damage to the Class 25. All the coaches were derailed, with damage being heaviest at the front of the train, tragically six lives were lost. By the evening of 6th the Bescot, Crewe & Saltley cranes were present alongside other engineering trains, in the hands of 24074, 47034 and three Class 25s. Six coaches, (five sleepers and a BG) were broken up on site. By the 11th engineering/rewiring trains were still present including 24074 and 25193, the latter having been on-site since the day of the accident. Two days later only 24058 was on hand with an engineers train. During June 1976 the driver of the derailed express was sent to Birmingham Crown Court on charges of manslaughter of six people whilst operating the sleeper train at 80mph on track restricted to 20mph. A verdict of not guilty was found, with the lack of proper illumination of the warning signs for the speed restriction being critical to the defence's case.
25083 & 25253 visited Yarmouth twice over the weekend of June 7/8th arriving on Saturday with the regular service from Walsall, the next day bringing in a special from Burton on Trent. The local Whitemoor - Kings Lynn freights were frequently hauled by Class 25s, the trip on June 12th produced Laira based 25275. Another regular Type 2 working was the 7E77 Nottingham - Lincoln parcels, producing a variety of Class 25s, including Tinsley based 25005 on June 4th.
A pair of Type 2s worked a special Birmingham - Yarmouth on June 14th, 25081 & 25044 being in charge, just ahead of the scheduled service from Walsall, in the hands of 25040 & 25104.
A Leamington - Aberystwyth senior citizens special on June 16th ran throughout behind 25054 & 25120. The following day 25051 & 25053 brought the Royal Train empty stock back from Edinburgh to Wolverton, via the ECML. A threatened rail strike saw traffic cease from the NCL Huskisson depot after alternative arrangements worked so well! 25042 handled the last scheduled working to the depot on June 16th.
June 21st proved to be a banner day for Class 25 haulage on the North Wales main line, the 09.00 Llandudno - York had 25056, 09.23 Manchester - Llandudno with 25082, the following 10.33 service had 25278 whilst 25095 & 25090 hauled a Blythe Bridge - Llandudno relief. The 07.35 Nottingham - Llandudno arrived behind 25102, it had been double headed on June 7th with 25129 & 25131! Although all the Type 2s performed well this day problems with other locomotives and a suicide near Colwyn Bay, involving 40150 required quick thinking by operating authorities to keep the traffic flowing on this busy Saturday. The next day Rhyl was graced with 24032 & 24140 on a special from Tamworth.
June 23rd found 25137 in charge of the 16.15 Bristol - Newcastle, it was declared a failure at Darlington, being removed here, later repaired and put to use on local workings, at least until 28th. At the other end of the NE/SW route a late evening Newton Abbot - Cardiff empty stock working would frequently load to twenty plus vehicles, often double-headed by Peaks and Class 47s. Loads were soon limited on this train due to troublesome failures on the notorious Devon banks when single locomotives were hauling as many as twenty four coaches.
On June 27th the Manchester Victoria pilot came to the rescue of an ailing 46036 at Stalybridge working the 17.10 Liverpool - Newcastle. The train was pushed as far as Diggle where the Class 25 ran round and hauled everything on to Huddersfield, at which point 47372 was waiting to take over. The next day (28th) lucky excursionists on a Chester-Le-Street to Whitley charter completed the roundtrip in a twelve car diesel multiple unit combination provided by South Gosforth. On the last day of June 25118 & 31296 were in charge of a Tyne - Tinsley freight.
July (and August/September) brought bad news for the LMR & ScR Class 24’s with over half the remaining fleet either stored and then retired or just simply retired. Of the first thirty built, only two remained in service, 24009 & 24023, and these only because they were recently out-shopped following overhaul. A number of the ScR machines were placed in store at Cadder Yard & Haymarket (briefly). To cover the loss of the Scottish machines fourteen Class 25s were transferred to Eastfield from the ER, including 25001 - 004 from Tinsley. The ER reallocated a number of Classes 31/37/47 to Tinsley to cover the transferred Type 2’s. During 1975 260 freight trains would be withdrawn from the timetable, the BRB asked that a further 4% reduction be considered.
25221 & 25256 were unusual power for July 1st’s 19.40 Dagenham Dock - Halewood freight. From July 7th a Class 25 was used for the Bodmin Road - Wadebridge freight workings, previously a Class 08 task.
Leicester’s holiday weeks began on July 5th, two workings to Yarmouth produced 31420 & 31422 followed by 25105 & 25276. A relief to Skegness arrived behind 46002 and was taken over by 25212 & 25299. This day also saw the 08.01 Manchester - St Pancras being used to test 45150 between Derby & Leicester, it was still in undercoat with temporary numbers, 45108 was the train engine. Much further north a Glasgow - Scarborough extra, normally the province of a Class 40 was noted behind one of Eastfield’s newly arrived Type 2’s, 25092. Another recent arrival, 25001 (with 26017) was noted on the 14th’s Edinburgh portion of the 16.35 from Inverness.
Coventry commenced its holiday weeks on July 12th, few extras were run though 25122 & 25131 took one to Yarmouth. Norwich was to be visited by ten Class 25’s this day! A little further north the 06.52 Halifax - Weymouth arrived in Birmingham behind a Class 25 which returned north with the 09.00 Weymouth - Leeds, having reached Birmingham behind 33114.
Summer thunderstorms on July 14th caused serious problems, a lightning strike on the overhead equipment at Weaver Junction saw many diesels assisting the electric services, an embankment slip at Littleborough blocked a bridge on the ex-L&YR mainline, whilst there was flooding in the Derby area.
The 14.25 Birmingham - Paddington on July 16th was taken over by 25267 & 25269 following the failure of the rostered locomotive. These machines then returned with the 17.40 to Birmingham, not the normal way the diagram worked but necessary due to the lack of crews at Paddington familiar with the Class 25s. Earlier that week (12th) 25269 had been to Yarmouth with 25075 on a relief from Derby, it was later noted failed on Norwich depot! The Walsall - Yarmouth had arrived with 25136 & 25258, the former locomotive three days earlier had been seen at Basingstoke coming off the Reading line.
On July 19th green liveried 25043 worked the 09.00 Llandudno - York with eight well filled coaches. Despite a number of difficulties encountered enroute with slow freights, pathing problems and permanent way slacks arrival in York was only a few minutes late. Out of Birmingham the same day came 25120 & 25214 on the 12.40 Birmingham - Paignton relief. This summer saw serious problems in the South-West, heavy passenger loads, with a shortage of power and crews led to many delays.
On July 22nd the 20.55 Euston - Stranraer became a failure at Ayr behind 47040, rescue arrived in the shape of 24109, leading to a sixty minute late arrival.
On July 24th & 30th excursions ran from Coventry to Aberystwyth with 24055 & 24145 and 24056 & 24146 respectively.
Another green liveried machine, this time 47365, encountered trouble on July 26th working the 09.23 Manchester - Plymouth, becoming a partial failure at Exeter. 25305 was added to the train for assistance going west over the Devon banks. On this same day Ipswich was host to 25007 & 25021 passing through with the empty stock of a Glasgow - Brandon troop special.
47187 required the assistance of 24057 on August 1st whilst working the 09.05 Holyhead - Euston, the previous week 24091 had been seen assisting another Class 47 on the 13.20 Holyhead - Euston. A short lived summer diagram involved the 07.19 Bangor - Manchester, the 12.42 back to Llandudno and the 18.40 return to Manchester, then ecs to Bangor. Most frequently in the hands of a Class 40, 25327 worked the diagram on August 25th. An eastbound working out of Manchester that frequently saw pairs of Class 25’s was the Saturdays only 09.20 to Yarmouth, usually these were removed at Lincoln for an ER locomotive, on 9th 25247 & 25282 were exchanged for 37109.
August 6th found a Banbury/Leamington - Barmouth special in the hands of 24085 & 24143 working throughout. At the height of the Shrewsbury flower show (August 11th - 16th) a nine coach train with a single Class 24 substituted for the regular dmu on the 7.50 & 15.10 from Aberystwyth and returns. A special on August 8th from Stoke on Trent to Ipswich arrived behind 25202 & 25214. On August 13th a Class 25 was called out for special duty in conjunction with reports of the bad riding of freightliner vehicles. A test car and five freightliner vehicles were tested over the Derby - Crewe - Rugby - Stoke - Derby route, the Class 25 utilised over the non-electrified sections, a Class 86/0 for the remainder, maximum speed was 75mph. A Cricklewood Type 2 far from home was 25190 in charge of the 13.15 Euston - Stranraer parcels, from Carlisle on August 14th. The very hot August had seen some notable thunderstorms, the remarkable Hampstead (London) Storm on this day (14th) produced almost seven inches of rain in two - three hours with the resulting flooding, loss of life and destruction of property, including disruption to the Underground and surface lines in the area. 25094 removed seventeen milk tanks from the Hemyock branch on August 20th, the Unigate Factory having recently converted to road haulage, the only tanks remaining were for emergency use until the branch closed completely on October 31st.
The Shildon Rail 150 celebrations during August brought many exhibits from all parts of the country. On August 13th Metropolitan electric locomotive No. 12 Sarah Siddons and three cars of 1973 Tube stock arrived at Shildon from West Ruislip behind 25263. Also on August 13th the Post Office issued a set of four stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first public steam railway. The stamps featured Stephenson's 'Locomotion', an example of Drummond's 'Waverley' class, GWR 'Caerphilly Castle' and a High Speed Train.
Front line duty befell 25081 on August 19th following the failure of 47177 on the 13.30 Newcastle - Kings Cross relief near Peterborough. On arrival at Peterborough the Type 4 was removed, 25081 taking the train onto Kings Cross alone! On 29th 25129 & 25136 were also noted on the northern end of the ECML in charge of a Cardiff - Newcastle working.
Passengers on August 23rd’s 17.25 Crewe - Llandudno, normally a dmu working, enjoyed the delights of 46051 and hauled stock, possibly due to the proximity of the Bank Holiday weekend. Tragedy befell the 21.35 Manchester - Aberdeen parcels at Carstairs in the early hours of August 24th. Whilst 25231 was propelling vans off the Edinburgh line the vehicles were run into by 47207 running light southbound. The crew on the Class 47 were killed, with fire breaking out amongst the wreckage during the recovery of the bodies. Responsibility for the accident lay with the railman coordinating the reverse manouevre carried out by the parcels train, it was allowed to pass a ground signal showing no aspect due to a burned out bulb, leading to the train entering the route established for the light engine.
In the early hours of August 28th the Laira breakdown crane was brought to Exmouth by 25098 to assist in the rerailing of dmu 51090 which had run through the buffer stops on the previous afternoon. August 30th saw 25220 stationed at Par to provide assistance to the heavy summer trains working over the Newquay branch. Assistance was given to the 08.45 Newquay - Manchester behind 45010, returning with 1063 & twelve coaches prior to both working the 13.22 Newquay - Paddington.
With the increasing build up of stored and withdrawn Class 24’s it was fitting for the Scottish region to clear out its remaining Claytons with all being consigned to McWilliams Shettleston, King’s Norwich or Cashmore’s Great Bridge, with most dead engine movements taking place in early September. Reddish had gained six Class 24’s for storage, all the Longsight (??) allocated examples, including the pioneer, 24005. Derby Works was also almost through with the Class 24s, on September 7th only collision damaged (?) 24086 remained on the premises, whilst Crewe Works had only 25264 & 25304 awaiting release from repair. Crewe however were close to completing its first production HST power car, 43002.
More changes occurred in the South Wales area as traffic flows continued to shrink. With the cessation of iron ore traffic between Newport & Llanwern two pairs of Class 25 workings ceased, with four Class 08 duties at Newport Docks also cancelled. Steel traffic in the Newport area utilized two pairs of Class 25’s until October 4th when single Class 37’s took over. The seven Class 25 duties at Ebbw Junction were reduced to two from October 6th, specifically the Machen Quarry stone trains and other permanent way workings. Class 37’s took over all the other duties, made possible by a major decline in coal traffic in the Welsh Valleys. This reduction in local traffic led to the storage of Class 53, 1200, replaced by a Class 25 for its East Usk duties, until it too was replaced by a Class 37. A number of local passengers turns had been in the hands of Class 25’s, including the 14.35 Weston Super Mare - Cardiff and return 16.05 to Bristol and the 16.30 Taunton - Cardiff and return 19.05 to Bristol.
September 6th found the Bradford Forster Square - Red Bank empty vans in charge of 24134 & 40095.
On September 7th railway fares, including season tickets rose generally by 15%. This was the third fare increase during 1975.
Tragedy struck two Regions on September 11th, on the Southern Region the 09.02 Epsom Downs - London Bridge electric service with 4-SUB No. 4704 was hit head on at Bricklayers Arms Junction by an empty coaching stock movement led by 33041, with 33047 on the rear. 62 passengers were injured, with the significant damage to 33041 leading to its withdrawal. On the Eastern Region the driver of 31150 was killed when a train of coke dust ran away whilst shunting at Corby, striking another freight head-on on a single line track at Manton Junction. The damage to 31150 led to its withdrawal, the first of the Class to be retired.
The infamous 1E83 17.10 Edinburgh - Newcastle continued to run behind a variety of motive power during September with 55004 (8th), 24110 (15th) & 24147 (19th). A long distance LNER Society trip to Wick/Thurso over September 12 - 14th ran from Mossend to Inverness behind 26037 & 26043, Inverness to Wick behind 24117 & 24126 with the Thurso branch handled by 24112. On returning to Inverness 24125 & 24127 were waiting for the run to Perth, allowing 40164 the short hop to Mossend for an electric back to London. The regular use of the Class 24s out of Inverness came to an end in October with their transfer to Haymarket in exchange for Class 26s. For most of these Class 24s this was their first re-allocation since delivery, they also had the headlights removed at this time. Although Derby had ceased overhaul of the Class 24s in August 1975, Glasgow Works was still providing them with minor repairs, during October 24116 & 24118 were present, with the Claytons recently gone from the Works there were now a number of condemned Class 24s taking their place.
With the physical observance of trains by signaling staff becoming obsolete and with the increasing use of large power signaling boxes, the practice of using the alpha - numeric train identification codes on the trains was discontinued. The indicator blinds were usually set to four zeros prior to the replacement of the indicator screens with a customized blank panel.
On September 28th the Leeman Road facility of the National Railway Museum, York opened its doors to visitors, with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh having performed a formal ceremony the day before. The site was formerly Nos. 3 & 4 sheds at Clifton (York North). Exhibits were received from the closed museums at Clapham & York.
September 30th’s 07.54 Huntington - Kings Cross was hauled by 25307.
October 4th found 25093 & 25096 in charge of the 09.35 Penzance - Wolverhampton working throughout. Two days later 25099 assisted 55013 from Peterborough with the 06.45 up ‘Hull Pullman’. Hull was also regularly visited by pairs of Springs Branch allocated Class 25s on stone trains from Rylestone (near Skipton). These 1,350 ton trains (thirty air-braked forty five ton hoppers) ran daily, beside Hull they also covered trips to Marsh Lane, the diagramming requiring two sets of Class 25s.
The October timetable changes left Etches Park with a shortage of dmu’s, one substitution on the Derby - Matlock service featured 45054 with five corridor coaches.
Scotland was still host to Class 24s on a variety of passenger workings, on October 6th 24128 worked the 17.30 Edinburgh - Cardenden whilst during the late afternoon 25008 & 26029 worked six brakevans north over the Highland mainline. With the Class 24’s moving from Inverness, Eastfield’s recently transferred Class 25/0’s from Tinsley were filling in on their duties, October 7th found 25002 on the 10.10 Queen St - Aberdeen, possibly deputizing for a failure, later that afternoon 24147 worked the 17.52 Dundee - Glasgow Queen Street. With all Class 25/0’s lacking heating equipment they use on passenger services was to be avoided, especially in winter. A Manchester - Edinburgh excursion arrived behind 25155 & 25139 on October 18th, a chilly trip if they worked throughout. A week earlier on 11th a Carlisle - Newcastle four car dmu was failed before departure, Kingmoor providing 25210 to haul the dmu and its passengers to Newcastle.
October 17th found 24087 in charge of a Guide Bridge - Cardiff parcels, normally a Class 40 duty.
When the 07.20 Oban - Glasgow Queen Street failed at Bowling (south-east of Dumbarton) on October 31st behind an unidentified Class 27, the rescuing locomotive was no less than 45014, one wonders if this machine actually ran into Queen Street.
Four duties from St Blazey shed were handled by Class 25s. One covered duties to Bodmin Road/Wadebridge then clay trains between Liskeard and Moorswater, with an afternoon trip to Hayle Wharf. Two locomotives worked between St Blazey & Drinnick Mill, including trips to Parkandillac, Pontsmill & Goonbarrow and Carbis & Meledor Mill. The fourth covered control trains in the St Blazey area. Also included was a round trip night working to Exeter. On November 21st 25217 was noted between Aller Jct and Newton Abbot hauling/propelling a number of test vehicles. Peaks also turned up occasionally on the St Blazey/Lostwithiel & Fowey trip workings, once the trip was completed they would work the evening St Blazey - Stoke on Trent as far as Bescot. In the South Wales area further declines in coal traffic allowed two Class 25 duties to be taken over by Class 37’s, with the result that Class 25’s west of Cardiff were rare, although they occasionally worked an afternoon Gloucester - Margam freight. In addition an evening Gloucester - Wolverhampton parcels and its early morning return working became the duty of a Cardiff Class 37.
A shortage of multiple units led to a number of diesel substitutions in the Edinburgh area, principally using Type 2’s & hauled stock. One such was 25004 working the 17.15 Edinburgh - Dundee on November 11th. The next day 24127 was noted at Glasgow Queen St in charge of the 08.35 service to Oban, Class 27’s being the more normal power on this line. A week later (19th) 24129 rescued an ailing Dundee - Edinburgh dmu near Kirkaldy, running over one hour late. Both these Class 24s along with several others were recent transfers to Haymarket, with some of them replaced at Inverness by Class 25’s, the first of the Class to be allocated here. Also moving to Inverness were nine of Haymarket’s Class 26’s.
On November 18th the arrival of the President of Tanzania at Gatwick saw the Royal Train in use to Victoria, afterwards 25072 arrived at Stewarts Lane to return the stock to Wolverton. The Rail 150 exhibition train had spent the third week of November on display at Birmingham Moor Street, on the 22nd it left late in the afternoon for Cambridge behind 46008.
Derby Research Center whilst famous for its forward looking research often relied on ‘hand me downs’ for hauling its test trains. With so many Class 24’s being withdrawn in working order the opportunity was taken to replace their ageing ‘Baby Deltic’ 5901, which had been used by them since August 1969. Their search led to 24061, stored at Crewe during August 1975, withdrawn during September and moved to Derby Works during the middle of November. The end of November saw the ScR’s last Clayton, 8539 make the journey south to Norwich for scrapping. Elsewhere in Scotland the major use of Class 40’s on passenger workings prevented many of the remaining Class 24’s from seeing frontline passenger duties, but on November 29th 24120 & 24116 worked the 12.45 Aberdeen - Edinburgh. A week later on December 6th, Type 2’s were in charge of a number of football & rugby specials in the Edinburgh area including 25087 & 25235
A Robeston - Kingsbury oil working on December 10th was noted behind 25295 & 31422.
Many of the car trains working up the ECML through Edinburgh to Bathgate were hauled by Peaks from a variety of depots, on December 6th visitors were 45018 (HO), 45052 (TO) & 46023 (CF). After working its car train 45052 was then sent to Kirkaldy to collect the stock of the Edinburgh portion of the ‘Night Capitals’ - it had suffered brake trouble earlier in the day and had been detached from the main portion of the train.
The four Class 24s lying withdrawn at Derby Works (24042/45/48/50) finally made their way to Swindon for scrapping on December 18th, having spent time at Derby to allow for asbestos removal. This left only 24086 remaining at Derby, with collision damage, most unfortunate due to it being one of the last out shopped. Also during December several more Midland Class 24’s went to store whilst 24041/046 were reinstated for the second time. Likewise in Scotland several Class 24s were reinstated whilst others went into store. Also retired was the first of the Class 25/0s, 25015 after having sustained minor accident damage. At Derby Works during December the last locomotive in running stock (with the exception of the Class 52 Westerns) was renumbered when 125 became 45071.
As mentioned earlier the prototype HST had entered service on the Western Region during May. This was the harbinger of an order for 27 High Speed Train sets, British Rail's submission for which had been made in 1972, approved by the Minister of Transport in October 1973 and an order placed with BREL in 1974, with an anticipated introduction into service during October 1976. However by the end of 1975 much of the infrastructure work required for the 125mph running of the HSTs and their maintenance depots (at Old Oak Common & St Phillips Marsh) was almost complete. No doubt when all this had been completed and the HSTs usage expanded to the ECML, Midland Mainline and NE/SW services, the cascading of locomotives would no doubt impact the Class 25 fleet.
Workings of stone from the quarry at Rylestone now utilise trains of thirty air-braked fifty ton hopper wagons, with a total loaded train weight of 1,350 tonnes. The stone trains work to Marsh Lane (6E41, return empties 6M39), Hull (6E40 & 6E42, return empties 6M30 & 6M55) and Lackenby (6E57, return empties 6M36). Trains 6E40, 6E41, 6E42 and the return workings are diagrammed for pairs of Springs Branch Class 25s, whilst a pair of Thornaby Class 31s work the Lackenby (6E57 & 6M36) diagram. For one pair of Class 25s 6E41, 6E42 and the return workings were handled on day one, then 6E40 and the return working on day two, whilst the second pair worked 6E40 and its return working on day one, then 6E42 and its return working on day one, then 6E41, 6E42 and theire respective return workings on day two.