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British Rail Class 86

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British Rail Class 86

British Rail Class 86
Class 86/6, nos. 86613 and 86610, painted in the Freightliner livery, at Ipswich. Freightliner are now the largest operator of Class 86 locomotives.
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Builder British Rail Doncaster Works (40)
English Electric at Vulcan Foundry (60)
Build date 1965–1966
Total produced 100
Configuration Bo-Bo
AAR wheel arr. B-B
UIC classification Bo'Bo'
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter 3 ft 9 in (1.143 m)
Length 58 ft 6 in (17.83 m)
Locomotive weight 81 long tons (82 t; 91 short tons)
Electric system(s) 25 kV AC Catenary
Current collection
Traction motors 900 hp (671 kW) AEI 282AZ, or
1,000 hp (746 kW) AEI 282BZ, or
1,250 hp (932 kW) GEC G412AZ
Performance figures
Maximum speed 100–110 mph (161–177 km/h)
Power output 3,600 hp (2,685 kW), 4,040 hp (3,013 kW), or 5,000 hp (3,728 kW)
Tractive effort 60,000 lbf (267 kN)
Train heating Electric Train Heating
66.5 long tons-force (663 kN)
Train brakes Dual vacuum & Air
Operator(s) British Rail
Floyd ZRt. Hungary
Number(s) E3101–E3200
later 86001–86048, 86201–86252
Axle load class Route availability 6

The British Rail Class 86 was the standard electric locomotive built during the 1960s. One hundred of these locomotives were built from 1965 to 1966 by either English Electric at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows, or British Rail (BR) at their Doncaster works. The class was built to haul trains on the then newly electrified West Coast Main Line, from London Euston, to Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool and later Preston and Glasgow. They helped to replace steam locomotives, which were finally withdrawn by BR in 1968.

Under the earlier BR classification system, the type was given the designation AL6 (meaning the 6th design of AC Locomotive), and locomotives were numbered E3101-E3200. In 1968, this was changed to Class 86, when BR introduced the TOPS classification system.


  • Development 1
  • British Rail service 2
  • Former operators 3
    • Anglia Railways / 'one' 3.1
    • Colas Rail 3.2
    • English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS) 3.3
    • FM Rail 3.4
    • Hull Trains 3.5
    • Virgin Trains 3.6
      • Cross-Country 3.6.1
      • West Coast 3.6.2
    • Network Rail 3.7
  • Current operators 4
    • Freightliner 4.1
    • Vintage Trains 4.2
    • Bulgaria export 4.3
    • Hungary export 4.4
    • Serco/GB Railfreight 4.5
  • Preservation 5
  • Fleet details 6
  • Accidents 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


The Class was developed as a result of experience with the earlier prototype Classes 81, 82, 83, 84 and 85, which had been produced by different manufacturers in the early days of the WCML electrification, as testbeds for locomotive development.[1][2]

The AL6 featured design elements pioneered on the earlier classes, such as the general construction of the bodies and bogies, and control systems. However some design features were unique, such as squared-off front ends, as opposed to the raked back noses of the earlier designs. Another difference was the lack of a second pantograph. The cooling fans on the AL6 were also specially designed to produce less noise than the earlier locos.[2]

British Rail service

Class 86/2, no. 86 252 at Birmingham New Street during the BR blue era. This locomotive was originally E3101, the class pioneer.

The Class was officially introduced into service in August 1965. The entire fleet was delivered into service within 24 months of that date.[2] In the early years the locomotives became notorious for track damage, being fitted with axle-hung traction motors, in place of the bogie-frame-mounted motors of the earlier designs. This additional unsprung mass was causing damage at high speeds. In 1969 number E3173, was fitted experimentally with the large helical 'flexicoil' springs which can be seen on present day versions, giving it the nickname "Zebedee" (after a character in The Magic Roundabout). Trials carried out under the direction of the British Rail Research Division proved successful and the modification was applied gradually to the whole fleet.[2]

As a result, a batch of locomotives was modified with improved suspension and modified wheels and from 1971 onwards, locomotives were progressively renumbered into the 86001-86048 (unmodified design, restricted to 80 mph or 129 km/h) and 86204-86252 series (improved suspension, 100 mph or 161 km/h). Within a short time a further batch was modified to the new specification: 86040-86048 were renumbered 86253-86261.[2]

At the same time three locomotives were converted into 5,000 brake horsepower (3,728 kW) test-bed locomotives for development of the Class 87, initially numbered nos. 86201-86203, and quickly renumbered 86101-86103. These locomotives are capable of 110 mph (177 km/h) running. The most obvious visual difference between the classes is that the Class 86 has a windscreen with three windows whereas the Class 87 only has two; likewise Class 86 was fitted with headcode boxes (later plated over) while Class 87 was built without them.[3]

Throughout the 1970s, the class saw use on both express passenger and freight services. Locomotives in the 860xx series (or Class 86/0) had their maximum speed reduced to 80 mph in 1979 due to the excessive rough riding and were then used mainly on freight, whilst the higher-speed 861xx (or Class 86/1) and 862xx series (or Class 86/2) tended to be used primarily for passenger trains. In 1980 a number of class 86/0s were modified to class 86/3s by the use of SAB resilient wheels - a new design of wheel in two sections separated by a rubber bearing, this enabled a return to 100 mph operations.

In 1974, demand for electric locomotives grew due to the extension of electrification north from Preston to Carlisle and Glasgow. From 1978 onwards, BR started to name some of their Class 86 fleet, many of them after cities or counties along the lines that they worked.

In the early 1980s, electrification from London Liverpool Street to Cambridge, Harwich, Ipswich and Norwich saw the class employed on passenger trains to these towns. In addition, many of the freightliner trains to Felixstowe were also hauled as far as Ipswich by Class 86 locomotives working in multiple. By the end of the 1980s, the need for a standard fleet saw all remaining Class 86/0 and Class 86/3 locomotives fitted with improved suspension and converted to Class 86/4. These locomotives were now inter-operable with Class 86/2, and thus gave greater operational flexibility.

A later development saw Class 86/2 and 86/4 locomotives fitted with TDM to enable them to operate push-pull passenger trains, to avoid having to run the locomotive round a train at a terminus (see DBSO, DVT). The 86/4s were already fitted with an older multiple-working system and this was gradually phased out after TDM was fitted across the fleet.

86 227 hauling an express to Euston in 1979.

In the late-1980s and early-1990s, the majority of the Class 86/4 subclass were dedicated to freight traffic. As a result, they had their electric train heating isolated, and their maximum speed reduced to 75 mph (121 km/h). These locomotives were reclassified as Class 86/6, and were renumbered by adding 200 to their number. Eight Class 86/2 locomotives were also dedicated to freight work, and were reclassified as Class 86/5, being renumbered into the range 86501-508. However, the InterCity sector of BR decided that it wanted these locomotives back, so they were soon renumbered back as Class 86/2 locomotives. For a period of 1 year starting on 10 May 1992, 6 Class 86/6's were returned to Parcels use. These were renumbered as follows: 86405, 86411, 86414, 86415, 86428 and 86431. All six remained in Railfreight Triple Grey.

The late-1980s also saw the introduction of many new liveries. The class had previously only worn electric blue when built, replaced by the standard BR Blue livery from 1967. The first new livery was introduced by the InterCity sector in 1984 with the unveiling of a new grey and white livery, with a red bodyside stripe. This was subsequently followed by several variations, culminating in the final InterCity Swallow livery in 1989. The Railfreight sector introduced its new two tone grey livery in 1986, followed by revised Railfreight Distribution livery in 1992. Finally the parcels sector introduced a new red livery in 1990, which was replaced with Rail Express Systems livery in 1993.

Former operators

In the mid-1990s, British Rail was privatised, and the Class 86 fleet was divided among several operators. These are dealt with separately below.

Anglia Railways / 'one'

Class 86/2, no. 86227 'Golden Jubilee', at Ipswich on 31 January 2004. This locomotive was repainted in a special livery by Anglia Railways and named to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. It was retained in service with Anglia Railway's successor, 'One', until withdrawal in October 2004. It has since been scrapped.

Anglia Railways was one of three passenger franchises to inherit the class. A fleet of 15 locomotives (nos. 86215/217/218/220/221/223/230, 86232/235/237/238/246/250/252/257) was inherited, which were used to exclusively haul London Liverpool Street-Norwich express services. The locomotives were used in push-pull mode with Mk.2E/Mk.2F coaching stock and a DBSO, which removed the need for the locomotive to swap ends at the termini. Generally, the locomotive was at the south end (or London end) of a formation, with the DBSO at the north (or country end) of the train.

In 1998, Anglia Railways introduced a new livery of turquoise, with a central white stripe. The first locomotive to be treated was no. 86223 "Norwich Union", followed quickly by no. 86218 "NHS 50". Over the next few years the whole fleet was treated as they received works overhauls at Springburn Works, Glasgow.

Over the years, several of the Anglia fleet were withdrawn following mishaps. For example, nos. 86220, 86221 and 86237 were withdrawn in 2002, 2003 and 2004 respectively, following transformer failures. Another machine, no. 86252 was written-off in 2002 after catching fire near Colchester on 1 December 2001 whilst no. 86257 was withdrawn in 2003 due to its general bad condition. These locomotives were replaced by locomotives made redundant from Virgin Trains Cross-Country (nos. 86234/242) or West Coast (nos. 86209/260) franchises. Another locomotive, no. 86227 was reinstated to traffic in 2002 after being stored for many years. It was repainted in a variation of Anglia's turquoise livery, with a large Union Flag painted on the side, and named "Golden Jubilee" to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's 50th anniversary of reign.

The first major changes to the fleet occurred in late 2002 when Anglia started to hire Class 90 locomotives from Freightliner. This was because at the time, the Class 86 fleet was suffering from reliability problems. In late 2003, Anglia swapped to using EWS-owned Class 90 locomotives, hiring up to five at any one time. Consequently, the use of the Class 86 fleet was decreased, which subsequently allowed reliability to improve.

In early-2004, two locomotives suffered from serious transformer failures. One locomotive, no. 86246, was subsequently repaired, but the other, no. 86237 was withdrawn, and later scrapped. This prompted the suggestion that the Anglia Class 86 fleet be replaced by the 15 Class 90 locomotives from Virgin Trains, which were soon to be made redundant by the introduction of new Class 390 "Pendolino" units.

On 1 April 2004, the Anglia Railways franchise ended, and was merged with the other operators in East Anglia to form the new 'one' franchise. With this came the news that the Class 86 fleet would progressively be replaced by Class 90 locomotives cascaded from Virgin Trains. The first day of the new franchise saw two Class 90 locomotives unveiled in the company's new livery. However, despite this announcement, one Class 86 locomotive, no. 86235, was authorised a complete overhaul, somewhat surprising considering its bleak future. As such, this locomotive became the last to receive classified repairs.

For the first few months of the new franchise, all the Class 86 fleet was retained, to insure against reliability issues with the new Class 90 locomotives. However, in October 2004, the fleet was reduced to just six examples, these being nos. 86218/232/234/235/246/260. The rest were withdrawn, but three (nos. 86217/223/250) were subsequently sold to Fragonset Railways. By December, the fleet stood at just two operational locomotives, these being nos. 86235 "Crown Point" and 86246 "Royal Anglian Regiment". These were the last two locomotives to receive classified repairs, and consequently were the most reliable (in theory, at least).

It was originally planned to withdraw these final two locomotives on 31 December 2004. However, all did not go to plan, as the replacement Class 90 locomotives did not prove to be as reliable as hoped. Therefore, two locomotives were reprieved until at least March 2005. A final twist saw no. 86232 repaired, replacing no. 86246, which had again suffered from a serious failure. A third locomotive, no. 86234, was also repaired and briefly returned to traffic in April 2005, but was later stored again after failing. The last two locomotives (nos. 86232/235) saw occasional use, when not enough Class 90 locomotives were available. By mid-2005, no. 86232 was out of use and no. 86235 was operational but not used. The final use of the class came on 17 September 2005, when no. 86235 was used on several Norwich-London return trips to mark its retirement from service. This has brought an end to 40 years of Class 86-hauled passenger trains.

Class 86/2, no. 86261 'The Rail Charter Partnership' at Doncaster Works open day on 27 July 2003. This locomotive was owned by EWS, whose livery it carries. It was primarily used on parcels trains, and was also hired to Virgin Trains. It was withdrawn from traffic in 2002, and was scrapped in 2004.

Colas Rail

86701 has joined the Colas Rail fleet and has also been painted into the Colas Rail Yellow & Orange livery in October 2012. This however was short lived as it was withdrawn from mainline use in January 2013. It still retains the Colas Livery but belongs to Electric Traction Limited. In 2015, it works contractual work at Ilford Yard Depot.

English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS)

EWS inherited a small fleet of 15 locomotives (nos. 86208/210/239/241/243/254/261, 86401/416/417/419/424-426/430) when it bought the Rail Express Systems parcels business. The locomotives were employed on mail trains from London to Newcastle, and Birmingham to Glasgow. One of the locomotives (no. 86239) was destroyed in an accident at Stafford in 1996.

EWS soon diversified the use of its fleet, hiring its locomotives to charter train operators, and also to Virgin Trains to supplement their unreliable fleet. Three locomotives (nos. 86261/401/426) were repainted in EWS's red and gold livery.

The rundown of the fleet started in 2001, when the locomotives were replaced on charter and mail trains by Class 67 or Class 90 locomotives. They saw continued use with Virgin Trains, however, but were gradually withdrawn as new Class 390 Pendolino units entered service, reducing the need for hired locomotives. By the end of their working careers, most of the EWS locomotives were in an appalling state and suffered from numerous failures. The final locomotives, nos. 86210/401/424 were withdrawn from traffic in late-2002.

Following withdrawal from traffic, two locomotives, nos. 86426/430, were subsequently reinstated and hired to Freightliner, on a long-term contract. This was due to a Class 90 locomotive, no. 90147, being badly fire-damaged, resulting in a shortage of electric traction. The two locomotives were repainted in Freightliner's racing green livery, and employed on intermodal traffic with the rest of Freightliner's Class 86 fleet. The contract ended in mid-2004, following deliveries of new Class 66 locomotives, meaning the two electric locomotives were withdrawn from traffic.

In late-2003, with the exception of the two locomotives on hire to Freightliner, EWS advertised all of its remaining locomotives for sale. Most were subsequently sold for scrap, but one locomotive (no. 86401) was preserved, and two others (nos. 86210/424) were sold for further use with Network Rail. The former Freightliner pair were sold for scrap in late-2005.

FM Rail

FM Rail (previously Fragonset Railways) briefly leased several locomotives from HSBC Rail. These locomotives were previously used by Anglia Railways (86 217/223/250), Virgin Cross-Country (86 231/251) and Virgin West Coast (229/233). One locomotive, ex-Virgin 86 212, was hauled to East Ham Depot in London to be used for carriage power duties for the new Blue Pullman train. However, it does not operate services on the mainline.

FM Rail entered administration in December 2006 without having returned any of their Class 86 locomotives to traffic, and they were returned to the lease company.

86101 at London King's Cross preparing to depart with a service to Doncaster

Hull Trains

The open-access passenger operator Hull Trains obtained the use of 86101 (one of the preserved Class 86 locomotives) between January and April 2008 to provide cover in the short term for its badly damaged Class 222 Pioneer DMU. The locomotive, together with a rake of Mark 3 coaches, was introduced to public services between London and Doncaster on 11 January 2008, following several months of tests and training, and ran until 20 April 2008 when Class 180 Adelante DMUs were introduced to the service.

Virgin Trains

The Virgin Trains group was formed of two franchises; Cross-Country and InterCity West Coast.


The Cross-Country franchise inherited a fleet of 19 locomotives (nos. 86206/207/214/222/224/225/226/231/234/236/240/242/244/ 86248/249/251/253/256/258). These were employed on various services, such as Birmingham New Street to Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool, Edinburgh or Glasgow Central. Other services continued south to Birmingham International, whilst others originated from Preston. At Birmingham New Street and Preston in particular, it was common for the Class 86 locomotive to be removed, and replaced with a Class 47 diesel locomotive, before the service continued south to destinations such as Bristol, Penzance, Reading, Brighton, Poole and Weymouth.

From 1998 onwards, locomotives began to be outshopped in the new Virgin Trains red and black livery. However, a few locomotives, namely nos. 86207/214/224/234/249/253 retained the old InterCity livery.

In mid-2001 Virgin Cross-Country started to introduce new Class 220 "Voyager" and Class 221 "Super-Voyager" units. These new trains enabled Virgin to start to retire its older traction. Several of the early withdrawals were transferred to other operators, such as nos. 86234 and 86242 to Anglia Railways. However, the majority of locomotives were retained in service until September 2002, when virtually the entire fleet was withdrawn en masse. Prior to this, Virgin had specially repainted no. 86253 in InterCity livery to commemorate its final few months in traffic. The final Cross-Country operated service was actually operated by no. 86233 from the West-Coast fleet, which had been repainted in original electric blue livery a few weeks earlier.

Since withdrawal from traffic, several locomotives have been scrapped at Immingham Railfreight Terminal. The majority, however, are still in store at various locations. A few locomotives have been sold to other operators for further use, such as no. 86253 to Network Rail and nos. 86231/251 to Fragonset Railways. One locomotive, no. 86249, was retained by Virgin until late-2004 as a driver-training locomotive at Polmadie depot in Glasgow.

Class 86/2, no. 86229 'Lions Club International', at Birmingham New Street on 5 June 2003, on a service to London Euston. This locomotive was one of the final three Class 86 locomotives operated by Virgin Trains, and was withdrawn from service in September 2003. It has since been bought for further use by Fragonset Railways.

West Coast

The West Coast franchise inherited a small fleet of thirteen locomotives (nos. 86101/102, 86205/209/212/213/228/229/233/245/247/259/260), which were employed on WCML express trains from London Euston to Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street, Carlisle and Glasgow Central. By 2001, the fleet had been cut to nine locomotives, with 86209 being transferred to Anglia Railways, and three more (nos. 86101/102/213) withdrawn from traffic.

In 1998, no. 86229 became the first of the class to be repainted in Virgin's red and black livery. By 2001, all except one locomotive had been repainted in this livery.

The West Coast fleet contained several 'celebrity' locomotives, including no. 86245 "Caledonian", which was repainted in Caledonian Railway blue to celebrate the company's 150th Anniversary. In 2002, no. 86233 was specially repainted into original electric blue to commemorate the last few months in traffic for the fleet. One locomotive, no. 86228, also retained in the old InterCity livery.

In mid-2003, the rundown of the fleet started, as new Class 390 "Pendolino" electrical multiple units entered service. The final three locomotives (nos. 86229/233/247) were removed from traffic in September 2003, the final service being operated by electric blue locomotive no. 86233. Several of the fleet were later transferred to other operators, including Anglia Railways (no. 86260) and Fragonset Railways (nos. 86212/229/233). Two former West Coast locomotives (nos. 86213/259) have been preserved.

Network Rail

In 2004, Network Rail acquired three locomotives (nos. 86210/253/424), of which the first two have since been converted to mobile load-bank testing locomotives, and the third used for spares. The two operational locomotives were reclassified as Class 86/9, and renumbered as 86901/902. They were formerly based at Rugby but were moved and stored at Derby, and carry the current Network Rail all-over yellow livery. Their primary use is to test the overhead line supply of electrified lines by simulating various loads. Both locomotives are capable of running under their own power for positioning purposes, but cannot haul any significant loads. Therefore, when being used to test the overhead supply, they will be hauled by a diesel locomotive. As of 8 January 2014, they were removed from Derby by low-loader and taken to Long Marston where it is believed they will become spares for the Floyd and Europhoenix fleets.

Current operators


Class 86/6, no. 86622, stabled at Ipswich on 31 January 2004. This locomotive is painted in the original Freightliner livery, which has now been superseded by the newer green livery.

Freightliner inherited a large fleet of 30 Class 86/6 freight-dedicated locomotives, most of which had previously been operated by Railfreight Distribution, but some came from Rail Express Systems. The fleet therefore consisted of locomotives in many different obsolete liveries, so from 1995, Freightliner started to apply its newly introduced livery. This was based on the previous Trainload two-tone grey livery, with the addition of Freightliner's red triangle logo.

The Freightliner fleet were originally employed on intermodal traffic along the northern half of the WCML from Crewe to Coatbridge (near Glasgow). The steep gradients along this route meant that trains were hauled by pairs of locomotives working in multiple. The class also worked services south from Crewe to Tilbury and Ipswich (for onwards movement to Felixstowe by diesel locomotive), and some services to Trafford Park in Manchester. The class have occasionally been used on the ECML, particularly when services are diverted due to engineering works.

In 1998, following the introduction of the rebuilt Class 57 diesel locomotives, Freightliner introduced a new livery of racing green with yellow cabsides. The first Class 86 to appear in this livery was no. 86631, which was hurriedly repainted for display at an open day at Toton. The majority of the fleet have slowly been treated over the years, such that by the end of 2004, only a handful remain in the original grey livery.

In 2000, locomotive no. 86608 was experimentally regeared to allow it to work trains single handedly. It was reclassified as Class 86/5 and renumbered to 86501. This was the second time this classification and number had been used, the first occasion being former Class 86/2 dedicated to freight work in the late 1980s. Despite the apparent success of 86501's conversion, no further locomotives have been similar regeared. In mid-2004 the locomotive suffered fire-damage, but was subsequently repaired and returned to service, thereby demonstrating Freightliner's faith in its ability. 86501 again suffered fire-damage in August 2008 near Bletchley. It was subsequently repaired in December 2008 and returned to service shortly after.

Due to a locomotive shortage in 2002, two further locomotives, nos. 86426/430, were hired from EWS, which has just withdrawn its last examples. Since the hire contract was long-term, both locomotives were repainted in Freightliner green livery. They were used in a common pool with the rest of the fleet. By 2004, the need for the extra locomotives was reduced, and so both were returned to EWS, and subsequently withdrawn.

Two other locomotives, nos. 86101/102, formerly used by Virgin Trains, were also briefly hired by Freightliner in 2001/2002. Neither of these locomotives were repainted, and they both retained obsolete InterCity livery. Due to their non-standard nature, both locomotives had been withdrawn by early 2002.

Following the withdrawal of the Anglia Railways, Virgin Trains and EWS fleets, Freightliner is now the main operator of the class. As of January 2005, it has an operational fleet of 19 locomotives, with several more in "warm-storage", which are capable of being returned to traffic. In the last few years, several locomotives have been withdrawn from service, mainly due to the influx of new Class 66 diesel locomotives, although two locomotives (nos. 86611/631) were written-off following the Norton Bridge rail crash, and another three (nos. 86615/620/621) have been withdrawn following fire damage and subsequently scrapped too. In addition, Freightliner's Class 90 fleet, which were previously hired to passenger operators Virgin Trains and Anglia Railways have now all returned to the company, thus reducing the requirement for the Class 86 fleet. However, the class does still remain in use with the company, with Freightliner retaining a core fleet of 14 locomotives in service as of 2014, ensuring the class has been in service well over 50 years after first being introduced.

86259 "Les Ross" in 2011 restored to operational condition and wearing the Electric Blue scheme at Preston en route from Carnforth to London Euston hauling a charter train

Vintage Trains

In 2008, privately owned and preserved 86259 was returned to service on the main line. It has been operated on occasional charters by Vintage Trains from their base at Tyseley, and from 2011 is based at Willesden and available for ad hoc charters. By August 2011 it had covered 5.7 million miles in service. It is currently cleared for operation at up to 100 miles per hour. 86259 is no longer connected to Vintage Trains and available for use by any West Coast Railways operated charter trains.

Bulgaria export

86233 was sent to Bulgaria in October 2012 for use by open access freight operator Bulmarket as a spares donor for 87009, 87017, 87023 and 87025.

Hungary export

Class 86 owned by the Hungarian Floyd ZRt. in Kecskemét, Hungary

In 2008 Europhoenix Ltd. completed a deal to purchase the remaining HSBC Class 86/2 fleet, numbering 23 locomotives, with the intention of overhauling some of them for use in Europe and the UK. 86248 and 86250 were sold to Hungarian private open access freight operator Floyd, and were delivered in February and May 2009, becoming Hungarian Class 450. In July 2013 Floyd Zrt owns 9 Class 86s: 86215, 86217, 86218, 86228, 86232, 86242, 86248, 86250.[4] 86424 was sent to Hungary in August 2013 as a spares donor.

Serco/GB Railfreight

On 31 March 2015, the new Caledonian Sleeper contract started since the takeover from DB Schenker. 86101 in February 2015 was repainted into the new Caledonian Blue livery. From 31 March 2015, 86101 shunts the empty sleeper coaching stock into London Euston alongside 87002.


Class 86/2, no. 86213 "Lancashire Witch" at Crewe Works open day on 11 September 2005. This locomotive was preserved by the AC Locomotive Group in mid-2005 after being on loan to the group for three years.

Currently, four locomotives have been preserved.

  • The first locomotive to be preserved was no. 86401 'Hertfordshire Rail Tours'. This locomotive was operated by EWS until 2002, when it was one of the final three EWS machines to be withdrawn from traffic. Prior to that, it was the only locomotive of its class to be painted in Network SouthEast livery, and was named 'Northampton Town'. In this guise it was used on London-Cambridge and London-Northampton passenger trains. In 2004, no. 86401 was preserved by the AC Locomotive Group, which also owns examples of Classes 81-85 (based at Barrow Hill Engine Shed). 86401 was initially deployed in the reserve fleet of operational shunting/depot service locomotives at Willesden TMD. In February 2015, 86401 moved from Willesden TMD to Leicester Depot where it underwent renovation work. Modifications that it had at Leicester Depot included the fitting of GSM-R and OTMR, the re-commissioning of the Time-division multiplexing system and various attention to the components and bodywork. On 12 May 2015, it left Leicester Depot bound for Brush Traction where it was re-painted into "Caledonian Blue" and newly named "Mons Meg".
  • 86101 was preserved by the AC Locomotive Group in August 2005. It was initially stored at MoD Ashchurch, but was restored to working condition at Barrow Hill. On 15 March 2007 it undertook its first test run, and made a return to the main line when it hauled the Carlisle-Crewe and return legs of "The Ynys Mon Express" railtour to Holyhead on 24 March 2007. In December 2014, 86101 after a few years in storage, made its initial main-line run to and from Willesden TMD. In 2015, 86101 was selected as one of the locomotives to help with the new Caledonian Sleeper Services. In February 2015, it was taken to Brush Traction where it was painted into Caledonian blue. As of 31 March 2015, it shunts empty coaching stock for the Caledonian sleepers into London Euston alongside 87002.
  • 86213 was also preserved by the AC Locomotive Group in August 2005. It had been on loan to the group for several years, based at Barrow Hill Engine Shed. This locomotive was deployed in the reserve fleet of operational shunting/depot service locomotives initially at Willesden TMD before being moved back to Barrow Hill for storage. In December 2014, it was moved from Barrow Hill Engine Shed to Willesden TMD with 86702 'Cassiopeia'.
  • 86259 has been preserved, initially at Tyseley Locomotive Works, and currently at Willesden. It is owned by Les Ross, after whom the locomotive is named. It is maintained in full operational condition wearing its initial Electric blue scheme.
Numbers (current in bold) Name Livery Location Status
E3137 86045 86259 Les Ross 1960s Electric Blue Willesden TMD Operational (mainline registered)
E3191 86201 86101 Sir William A Stanier FRS Caledonian Blue Willesden TMD Operational (mainline registered)
E3193 86213 - Lancashire Witch InterCity Swallow Willesden TMD Stored at Willesden TMD
E3199 86001 86401 Mons Meg Caledonian Blue Willesden TMD Operational (mainline registered)

Fleet details

Key: In Service Withdrawn Preserved Converted Scrapped Exported

Numbers Name(s) Dates Final Livery Operator Withdrawn Status [5][6]
86101 86201 E3191 Sir William A Stanier FRS 1978–2005
Caledonian Blue AC Locomotive Group - Preserved operational
86102 86202 E3150 Robert A Riddles 1981–2002 InterCity Freightliner 04/2002 Scrapped at MoD Caerwent (04/2005)
86103 86203 E3143 André Chapelon 1981–1995 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 05/1995 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2002)
86204 - E3173 City of Carlisle 1978–1998 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 08/1998 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (07/2003)
86205 86503 E3129 City of Lancaster 1979–2003 Virgin Red/Black Virgin West Coast 10/2003 Converted to 86701 (08/2009)
86206 - E3184 City of Stoke on Trent 1978–2002 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Cardiff (02/2004)
86207 - E3179 City of Lichfield 1981–2002 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (04/2006)
86208 - E3141 City of Chester 1979–2000 InterCity EWS 03/2002 Scrapped at Crewe Electric TMD (07/2003)
86209 - E3125 City of Coventry 1979–2004 Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Scrapped at Boreham, Essex (07/2005)
86210 - E3179 City of Edinburgh
C.I.T. 75th Anniversary
Rail Express Systems EWS 12/2002 Converted to 86902 (12/2004)
86211 - E3147 City of Milton Keynes 1982–1986 InterCity British Rail 11/1986 Written-off in Colwich accident
Scrapped at Crewe Works (09/1987)
86212 - E3151 Preston Guild
Preston Guild 1328-1992
Virgin Red/Black FM Rail 10/2003 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury 02/2011
86213 - E3193 Lancashire Witch 1981- InterCity AC Locomotive Group 09/1998 Stored at Willesden TMD
86214 - E3106 Sans Pareil 1980–2002 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (03/2006)
86215 - E3165 Joseph Chamberlain
Norwich Cathedral
Norfolk and Norwich Festival
The Round Tabler
Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Exported Hungary. (05/2012) Export Number 0450 005-8. Operated Floyd ZRt.
86216 - E3166 Meteor 1978–2002 InterCity Virgin West Coast 04/1998 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (03/2003)
86217 86504 E3177 Comet
Halley's Comet
City University
Anglia Railways FM Rail 04/2004 Exported Hungary. (02/2013) Export Number 0450 006. Operated Floyd ZRt.
86218 - E3175 Planet
Harold Macmillan
Year of Opera and
Musical Theatre 1997

NHS 50
Anglia Railways 'one' 09/2004 Exported Hungary. (02/2011) Export Number 0450 004-1. Operated Floyd ZRt.
86219 - E3196 Phoenix 1978–2002 InterCity Virgin West Coast 05/1996 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (05/2002)
86220 - E3156 Goliath
The Round Tabler
Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 05/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2003)
86221 - E3132 Vesta
BBC Look East
Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 05/2003 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2003)
86222 86502 E3131 Fury
Lloyd's List
Lloyd's List 250th Anniversary
Clothes Show Live
Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (12/2003)
86223 - E3158 Hector
Norwich Union
Anglia Railways FM Rail 04/2004 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury 04/2011
86224 - E3134 Caledonian 1979–1988 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (05/2006)
86225 - E3164 Hardwicke 1980–2003 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (04/2006)
86226 - E3162 Mail
Royal Mail Midlands
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury 04/2011
86227 - E3117 Sir Henry Johnson
Golden Jubilee
Anglia Railways
(with Union Flag)
'one' 10/2004 Scrapped at Rotherham (07/2005)
86228 - E3167 Vulcan Heritage 1980- InterCity Virgin West Coast 10/2003 Exported Hungary. (07/2013) Export number: 0450 007. Operating Floyd ZRt.
86229 - E3119 Sir John Betjeman
Lions Club International
Virgin Red/Black FM Rail 10/2003 Stored at Long Marston
86230 - E3168 The Duke of Wellington 1981–1997 Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury 05/2011
86231 - E3126 Starlight Express 1984–2002 Virgin Red/Black FM Rail 07/2002 Stored at Long Marston
86232 - E3113 Harold Macmillan
Norfolk and Norwich Festival
Norfolk and Norwich Festival
Anglia Railways 'one' 07/2005 Exported Hungary. (04/2010) Export Number 0450 003-3. Operated Floyd ZRt.
86233 86506 E3172 Laurence Olivier
Alstom Heritage
BR Electric Blue Swift Rail Ltd 11/2007 Exported Bulgaria. (11/2012) Bulmarket as a spares donor.
86234 - E3155 J B Priestley OM
Suffolk - Relax Refresh Return
Anglia Railways 'one' 04/2005 Stored at Long Marston
86235 - E3194 Novelty
Harold Macmillan
Crown Point
Anglia Railways 'one' 09/2005 Stored at Leicester
86236 - E3133 Josiah Wedgwood
Master Potter 1736-1795
1978–2002 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (12/2003)
86237 - E3197 Sir Charles Hallé
University of East Anglia
Anglia Railways 'one' 04/2004 Scrapped at Cardiff (10/2004)
86238 - E3116 European Community 1986–2004 Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Scrapped at Boreham, Essex (05/2005)
86239 86507 E3169 L. S. Lowry 1980–1996 Rail Express Systems EWS 04/1996 Written-off in Stafford accident
Scrapped at Crewe Electric TMD (04/1997)
86240 - E3127 Bishop Eric Treacy 1979–2002 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (04/2005)
86241 86508 E3121 Glenfiddich 1979–2003 Rail Express Systems EWS 01/2000 Scrapped at Crewe Electric TMD (02/2003)
86242 - E3138 James Kennedy GC
Colchester Castle
Anglia Railways 'one' 10/2004 Exported Hungary. (07/2013) Export Number 0450 008-2. Operating Floyd ZRt. Involved in Nuneaton rail crash
86243 - E3181 The Boys' Brigade 1983–1993 Rail Express Systems EWS 11/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (09/2004)
86244 - E3178 The Royal British Legion 1981–2002 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2003)
86245 - E3182 Dudley Castle
Virgin Red/Black Virgin West Coast 10/2003 Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury (06/2010)
86246 86505 E3149 Royal Anglian Regiment 1985- Anglia Railways 'one' 12/2004 Stored at Long Marston
86247 - E3192 Abraham Darby 1981–2003 Europhenix Europhenix 10/2003 Stored at Crewe Basford Hall.
86248 - E3107 County of Clwyd / Sir Clwyd 1981–2003 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Exported Hungary. (2/2009) Export Number 0450 001-7. Operated Floyd ZRt.
86249 - E3161 County of Merseyside 1981–2005 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 10/2003 Scrapped at MoD Caerwent (10/2005)
86250 - E3189 The Glasgow Herald
Sheppard 100
Anglia Railways FM Rail 04/2004 Exported Hungary. (5/2009) Export Number 0450 002-5. Operated Floyd ZRt.
86251 - E3183 The Birmingham Post 1984–2002 Virgin Red/Black FM Rail 10/2002 Stored at Long Marston
86252 - E3101 The Liverpool Daily Post
Sheppard 100
Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 05/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (08/2002)
86253 86044 E3136 The Manchester Guardian 1980–2004 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Converted to 86901 (11/2004)
86254 86047 E3142 William Webb Ellis 1980–1996 Rail Express Systems EWS 10/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (08/2004)
86255 86042 E3154 Penrith Beacon 1981–1999 InterCity Virgin Cross-Country 08/1998 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (09/2002)
86256 86040 E3135 Pebble Mill 1981–2003 Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 10/2002 Scrapped at Rotherham (03/2006)
86257 86043 E3139 Snowdon 1981–1999 Anglia Railways Anglia Railways 11/2002 Scrapped at Immingham RFT (11/2003)
86258 86046 E3192 Talyllyn - The First
Preserved Railway

Talyllyn 50 Years of Railway
Preservation 1951-2001


Virgin Red/Black Virgin Cross-Country 07/2002 Conversion to battery-electric locomotive cancelled. Scrapped at EMR Kingsbury (12/2009)
86259 86045 E3137 Peter Pan
Greater Manchester
The Life & Soul Of Britain

Les Ross


BR Electric Blue Peter Pan Locomotive Ltd (Les Ross) 10/2003 Preserved operational at Willesden TMD
86260 86048 E3144 Driver Wallace Oakes GC 1981–2003 Anglia Railways 'one' 05/2004 Converted to 86702 (08/2009)
86261 86041 E3118 Driver John Axon GC
The Rail Charter Partnership
EWS Red/Gold EWS 11/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (12/2004)
86401 86001 E3199 Northampton Town
Hertfordshire Rail Tours
Northampton Town
Mons Meg

Caledonian Blue AC Locomotive Group - Preserved Operational
86416 86316 E3109 Wigan Pier 1984–1992 Rail Express Systems EWS 02/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (07/2005)
86417 86317 E3146 The Kingsman 1985–1993 Rail Express Systems EWS 09/2001 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (11/2004)
86419 86319 E3120 Post Haste 150 Years of
the Travelling Post Office
1990–1993 Rail Express Systems EWS 03/1999 Scrapped at Crewe Electric TMD (03/2003)
86424 86324 E3111 - - NR Yellow Network Rail 12/2002 Exported Hungary. (08/2013) Export Number 0450 009. Floyd ZRt as a spares donor.
86425 86325 E3186 Saint Mungo 1995–2003 Rail Express Systems EWS 02/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (01/2005)
86426 86326 E3195 Pride of the Nation 1998–2002 Freightliner Green EWS 06/2004 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (11/2005)
86429 86329 E3200 The Times 1982–1986 InterCity British Rail 11/1986 Written-off in Colwich accident
Scrapped at Crewe Works (11/1986)
86430 86030 E3105 Scottish National Orchestra
Saint Edmund
Freightliner Green EWS 06/2004 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (12/2005)
86501 86608 E3180 Crewe Basford Hall 2000–2000 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86602 86402 E3170 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 03/2005 Scrapped at Sandbach Car & Commercial Dismantlers at Crewe LNWR (01/2010)
86603 86403 E3115 - - Revised Railfreight
Freightliner 09/1999 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (11/2005)
86604 86404 E3103 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86605 86405 E3185 Intercontainer 1992–1996 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86606 86406 E3112 - - Freightliner grey Freightliner 11/2003 Scrapped at Ron Hull Jr, Rotherham (06/2007)
86607 86407 E3176 The Institution of
Electrical Engineers
1987–2000 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86608 86408 E3180 St. John Ambulance 1987–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner 05/2000 Converted to 86501 (05/2000)
86609 86409 E3102 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86610 86410 E3104 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86611 86411 E3171 Airey Neave 1983–2003 Freightliner grey Freightliner 11/2003 Written-off in Norton Bridge accident
Scrapped at Crewe Works by HNRC (02/2005)
86612 86412 E3122 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 1983–2004 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86613 86413 E3128 County of Lancashire 1985–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86614 86414 E3145 Frank Hornby 1986–2001 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86615 86415 E3123 Rotary International 1984–2005 Freightliner Green Freightliner 04/2005 Scrapped at Ron Hull Jr, Rotherham (07/2007)
86618 86418 E3163 - - Freightliner grey Freightliner 08/2001 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (03/2005)
86620 86420 E3114 Philip G Walton 1998- Freightliner Green Freightliner 09/2005 Scrapped at Ron Hull Jr, Rotherham (06/2007)
86621 86421 E3157 London School of Economics 1985–2004 Freightliner Green Freightliner 04/2011 Scrapped at Crewe LNWR (03/2013)
86622 86422 E3174 - - Freightliner Powerhaul Freightliner - In service
86623 86423 E3152 - - Freightliner grey Freightliner 10/2003 Scrapped at Sandbach Car & Commercial Dismantlers at Crewe LNWR (01/2010)
86627 86427 E3110 The Industrial Society 1985–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86628 86428 E3159 Aldaniti 1984–2004 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86631 86431 E3188 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 11/2003 Written-off in Norton Bridge accident
Scrapped at Crewe Works by HNRC (03/2005)
86632 86432 E3148 Brookside 1987–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86633 86433 E3198 Wulfruna 1985–2004 Freightliner grey Freightliner 02/2004 Scrapped at Crewe LNWR (03/2013)
86634 86434 E3187 University of London 1986–1999 Freightliner Green Freightliner 05/2002 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (03/2005)
86635 86435 E3124 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 02/2004 Scrapped at Crewe LNWR (03/2013)
86636 86436 E3160 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner 03/2000 Scrapped at CF Booth, Rotherham (01/2005)
86637 86437 E3130 - - Freightliner Powerhaul Freightliner - In service
86638 86438 E3108 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86639 86439 E3153 - - Freightliner Green Freightliner - In service
86701 86205 E3129 Orion - Colas Rail Yellow & Orange Europhoenix - Contract work at Ilford Yard Depot
86702 86260 E3144 Cassiopeia 2009- Electric Traction Limited Red and Grey Europhoenix 01/2013 Stored at Willesden TMD
86901 86253 E3136 Chief Engineer 2005- NR Yellow Network Rail 03/2011 Stored at CF Booths, Rotherham
86902 86210 E3190 Rail Vehicle Engineering 2005- NR Yellow Network Rail 03/2011 Stored at CF Booths, Rotherham

N.B. All locomotives numbered in the 863xx and 864xx series were previously numbered in the 860xx series.


Over the years, several Class 86 locomotives have been involved in accidents. The most serious of these was the Watford Junction rail crash 23-Jan-1975 (between Bushey and Watford Junction), when no. 86209 collided head-on with Class 83 no. 83003.[7] The Class 86 was seriously damaged after falling down an embankment, coming to rest in a field (now the site of the Colne Valley Retail Park). It was eventually recovered several weeks later by road. Surprisingly, given the seriousness of the incident, it was authorised for repairs and later returned to service. Also in 1975, nos. 86006 and 86242 were involved in the Nuneaton rail crash. Both were later repaired. Another serious accident was the Colwich rail crash in 1986, when nos. 86211 and 86429 were involved in a head-on collision. Both locomotives were written-off and subsequently scrapped.

In 1996 a TPO train hauled by no. 86239 collided with the rear of a freight train at Stafford, writing-off the locomotive and killing two of the Royal Mail employees on board the train, John Thomson and Tommy Poynts.

The Norton Bridge rail crash in 2003, saw an intermodal train hauled by nos. 86631 and 86611, collide with the rear of another stationary freight train. The force of the impact broke the leading locomotive in half, although the driver was not killed. Both locomotives were written off as uneconomical to repair.


  1. ^ "History - Early AC Locomotives". The AC Electric Group. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Class History AL6/86". The AC Locomotive Group. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Class History 87". The AC Electric Group. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Class 86 Renumbering Chart : exported locos - AC Locomotive Group. Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
  5. ^ - Disposal details for fleet
  6. ^ Class 86 Renumbering Chart - AC Locomotive Group. Retrieved on 2011-02-12
  7. ^ Dept of the Environment (1975). Report on the Derailment and Consequent Collision that Occurred on 23rd January 1975 Near Watford Junction (PDF). Edinburgh: HMSO. p. 3. 

Further reading

  • McManus, Michael. Ultimate Allocations, British Railways Locomotives 1948–1968. Wirral. Michael McManus. 

External links

  • The AC Locomotive Group
  • BR Blue Livery Specification
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