As the year opened there remained approximately 360 steam locomotives on allocation, all to be found in the Liverpool & Manchester area with the most northerly shed now being Carnforth, the steam allocations at Carlisle Kingmoor & Upperby had gone by the end of 1967. The closure of Normanton shed on New Year’s Day seriously curtailed steam workings across the Standedge route, those now arriving at Healey Mills usually beat a hasty retreat west, often as a light engine manouevre. The loss of these facilities found more Type 2s & EE Type 4s on the Trans Pennine freight workings. The re-allocation of the BR Sulzer Type 2s continued mostly to support the end of the steam fleet in the North West, Scotland releasing some of its Class 24s & Claytons to Carlisle.
Steam still served several passenger trains, though many of these were slowly transitioning to diesel haulage, one such was the 23.38(SO) Liverpool Lime St - York, noted on New Years Eve 1967 behind D5178. The 17.47 (FO) Manchester Victoria - York converted to diesel power from January 5th with D184 doing the honours, Peaks would also handle the following two Fridays, the last steam working for this service, on December 29th was by 70013 ‘Oliver Cromwell’. By this time the north-west’s parcels trains were diesel hauled, the afternoon Leeds City - Patricroft a regular Holbeck Type 2 working, noted in January were D5147 (10th), D5096 (12th) & D7573 (26th). A stranger to the Waverley route was D5204 (8F) working the 14.55 Edinburgh - Carlisle on January 8th. On the Midland route out of Manchester virtually all passenger services were now directed to Piccadilly as part of the rundown of Central. During January the 17.45 Manchester Victoria – Glasgow was frequently hauled by D5142 as far as Preston.
Tragedy again visited the electrified West Coast Main Line, January 6th saw one of the new automated road crossings become the center of controversy as a Manchester - London passenger express hit a road vehicle carrying an oversize load at Hixon. Quickly dispatched to the scene were a number of breakdown trains, believed from Crewe, Willesden & Speke, all in the hands of Sulzer Type 2s.
During January Crewe Works again started receiving Class 24/25s for repair.
Although this January was a remarkably mild one heavy snowstorms on January 9th & 10th brought considerable chaos to many parts of the country. Particularly hard hit were the London commuters with most of the termini suffering many cancellations due to frozen up equipment. Perhaps because of this it was no surprise to find Holbeck based D5112 at St Pancras on 9th, whilst on 13th D7573 was noted southbound through Newark with the 08.25 Leeds – Kings Cross, albeit with four coaches only! D153 handled the Up ‘Talisman’ on 12th returning to Leeds the following day on a mid-morning service. Back to the bad weather, passengers on rush hour services into Liverpool St were taking an hour to cover the final four miles into the terminus. Birmingham New Street came to a complete standstill between 6am & 9am with the heavy snowfall and freezing conditions causing many point failures. Numerous local services were cancelled, many used Moor St as did the Paddington services. Tyseley improvised quickly with the fitting of old steam lances to boiler equipped diesels for the purposes of clearing ice and snow from pointwork. Tyseley adapted these lances for at least three Type 2’s and later to some Brush Type 4’s. Additionally services out of Paddington were still trying to recover from a freight train derailment at Southall on the afternoon of the 8th, which had left only the up relief line open. In the West Country heavy flooding closed Exeter St David’s station, the Barnstaple - Exeter line was closed for several days, trapping the local freight. Also lost to floodwaters was the A39 Bideford Road bridge across the river Torridge. To alleviate this the Bideford - Torrington line was re-opened (previously closed October 1965), using a single car dmu working a shuttle service on the east side of the river to Torrington, from there a bus service shuttled passengers to Bideford.
On February 7th whilst returning from Gosford Green D7647 became completely derailed on the approach to the mainline at Coventry. The locomotive and the first wagon were the only vehicles involved, in addition to the fuel tank being punctured the locomotive required re-railing using jacks because of the proximity of the overhead equipment. A week later (13th) D5113 failed on the afternoon Leeds – Patricroft parcels somewhere in the Huddersfield area, D6863 assisted forward. Further north D6861 failed at Hawick with the 16.45 Millerhill – Carlisle freight, D7607 was commandeered from the following freight, which was sidelined at St Boswell’s with Millerhill sending out D1745 to take that over.
During February contractors moved in to begin lifting the closed Dumfries – Stranraer line. BR supplied the contractors with wagons for recovering the scrap materials, on February 23rd D7578 was noted on this train at Killywhon (Kirkcowan). At month end Crewe based D5287 spent some time at Ayr on freight duties, having come into the area from Carlisle, substituting for a defective D5056.
Peaks over the WR mainline were not too common, but during early February a number were noted from nearly all points of the compass, the 7th found D115 at Acton on a stone train from Stoke Gifford, D74 visited Didcot on 23rd with ballast from Lydney, D75 powered the same working two days later whilst D91 arrived at Oxford with an empty carflat special from Hull on 9th. Further west freights from Severn Tunnel Jct & Manvers Main were frequently bringing ER & LMR Peaks to the Exeter area.
Although Worcester was frequently visited by Peaks on the NE/SW services, they were scarcely seen on the line to Hereford, but during February D95 was noted on the morning freight.
An Arsenal - Leeds soccer match produced seven specials on March 2nd, two were handled by Peaks D148 & D183, Brush Type 4s handled three and two Class 40s made up the compliment, although D256 expired at Newark, D5676 took over keeping the delay to a commendable sixteen minutes.
From March 7th there remained nine official passenger diagrams for steam working, centered on Preston & Manchester. Such was the availability of the diesels that the 09:00 Liverpool Exchange - Glasgow was diagrammed for steam on Mondays & Saturdays and diesels for the rest of the weekdays! This was a Newton Heath turn, frequently using Type 2s. Six hours watching the activity on the mainline at Winwick Jcn produced over sixty trains, only three being steam hauled. Whilst working a Liverpool - Manchester service on March 7th D5134 was noted on fire near Allerton.
On March 30th the Fazakerley permanent way depot was host to D5194 and four MkII coaches, which provided a viewing area to watch the Grand National being run this day at Aintree. At that time it was the practice of the BR Liverpool Division to allow free access to the depot for railway staff. Red Alligator won the Grand National this day.
The Easter weekend proved to be a challenging time for staff in the Carlisle area. On April 11th the Settle & Carlisle route was blocked at Dent Head after the morning Long Meg – Widnes anhydrite train became seriously derailed. All traffic was then routed via Carnforth & the WCML. During the afternoon the southbound ‘Mid-Day Scot’ with D415 failed near Carstairs causing considerable delays, D5307 & 5070 were commandeered to work the train to Carlisle where D413 took over. Because of these troubles & the heavy Easter traffic a morning St Pancras - Leicester was extended to Glasgow with D190 making it to Carlisle about an hour down, surrendering here to D1626, no doubt Cricklewood were wondering where their rake of coaches had gone to! The arrival of the down ‘Thames Clyde’ behind D25 close to 6pm confused all concerned as the Glasgow/Edinburgh portions were the wrong way round due to the reversal at Carnforth, not helped by the Carlisle station announcer not being aware of the change. Marshalling of the Edinburgh portion by D25 & D35 did not go smoothly with an Edinburgh coach almost sent of to Glasgow, the error noted at the last moment, sustaining more delays to the service. On Good Friday (12th) things were truly interesting, the ScR operating a weekday service, the LMR a Sunday service! On the eastern side of the country the Easter holidays brought many extras, D5053 worked a round trip Manchester – Newcastle passenger on 11th, whilst D5061 + 5276 were noted later in the day on another Manchester – Newcastle express.
The NE/SW route through Ashchurch was closed on May 4th when D46 was involved in a serious derailment, major diversions were routed over the fortunately still open Cheltenham - Honeybourne route.
May 6th saw a diesel tradition end on the Midland lines when the suburban Moorgate services were taken over by Rolls Royce engined Cravens two car diesel multiple units working in pairs. These services had been worked by trip cock fitted Type 2s since January 1960. The Cravens units did not have a long spell on these duties, several succumbed to fires leading to the early demise of the class, with many being retired during November 1968, twenty five being stored at Cricklewood depot, some still carrying green livery. Those that did survive the purge were kept on the low priority Kentish Town - Barking service. Several days later on May 9th St Pancras was host to the Royal Train which ran to Nottingham via Manton, hauled by D5223 & D5226. The next day the train headed south being noted passing through Banbury. The Type 2s had so far travelled little on the WR, mostly in the London area and on the Birmingham - Banbury - Reading line. However an early morning Carlton Sidings - West Drayton freight saw haulage by a number of Type 2s, often returning to the LMR on the mid-afternoon West Drayton - Burton. So noted on May 9th was D7592. Peaks, using Saltley crews with a WR pilotman, and Tinsley based Class 47s were also frequently used on this freight.
On May 8th D73 worked a morning round trip Cheltenham - Paddington passenger. The next day found D97 returning the Flying Scotsman 40th Anniversary Special from Edinburgh to St Pancras. The route was via Carlisle, Leeds and the Midland mainline with the Peak performing well particularly over the last part of the trip, recovering ten minutes during the height of the evening rush hour. Other wandering Peaks on the SR included D78 on the evening of May 9th working a van train to Northam Yard whilst D86 was noted on May 20th in charge of a Narborough - Hamworthy special freight, the LMR crew working through to Basingstoke before the big Type 4 was replaced with something more suitable for the LSWR mainline.
On May 25th D136 off the Stirling car sleeper train was used by the SR for a morning freight up the Brighton mainline, being noted passing Haywards Heath. Another seaside location became available to the Peaks when clearance for the Type 4s was granted over the lines at Barry Dock, allowing them to be used on freights from Cardiff.
Timetable changes beginning in May brought Inverness based Class 24s to the Waverley route, made possible by the alterations to Inverness diagrams following closure of Moray coast lines. One of the diagrams involved the 07.06 ex-Edinburgh, 13.00 ex-Carlisle, 17.54 ex-Edinburgh and the next days 09.20 ex-Carlisle. Most times a single machine sufficed, noted were D5125 (8th), D5122 (9th) & D5115 (10th & 11th). However D5128 & D5071 (64B) double headed on May 24th. May also saw the final movement of many condemned NBL Type 2’s to the scrappers. Ferryhill, Thornton Jcn & Perth were cleared, with McWilliams at Shettleston quickly cutting up the machines.
On July 1st Newton Heath, Patricroft & Bolton sheds closed to steam, the last in the Manchester area. The same date also saw another route familiar to the BR Sulzer Type 2s lose its passenger service with the routing of the Manchester - Derby services away from the Peak Forest - Matlock line to the Hope Valley - Chesterfield route. This line had just reached its centenary, celebrated by a St Pancras - Manchester rail tour traversing the line, with steam haulage in the shape of 70013 north of Derby. The shed at Rowsley had been home to a number of Class 25’s, used for banking and local freight duties. A few miles further north the class was involved in a most unusual pairing on the 12.06 Heysham - Neville Hill and 06.40 Heysham - Ecclesfield oil tanks. Carnforth utilised the last two operating 9Fs, 92160/167, paired with a Class 24/25, with the diesel leading. The arrangement was short-lived due to the failure of both 9F’s. On June 12th 92167, already running with a boiler defect dropped its rods working back from Leeds. Repairs were denied as were those to 92160 several days later, both were quickly condemned. All was not lost however as the pairing continued using 8Fs, so noted were 48115 (12th) and 48167 (27th), the Type 2s not being identified!
70013 was again used on an RCTS organized ‘The Dalesman No 2 Railtour’ on June 16th. This tour departed Leeds with D7568 and nine coaches, 70013 taking over at Stansfield Hall for a run over Copy Pit and various lines between there and Carnforth. On the return D5113 replaced 70013 at Skipton for the run up the Grassington branch, the short loop there required skilful shunting to complete the run round maneuver.
Visitors to Southend during June were D5223 (3rd) on an excursion from Bedford and D7665 (16th) with an excursion from Northampton. Further north the Manchester - Filey Camp summer service provided Type 2s with a trip to the seaside, D5281 & D5195 made the trip on July 20th & D5211 on 27th. Going in the other direction the 20.22 FO Leeds - Holyhead had D5281 again in charge of nine coaches (19th).
On June 21st a work-to-rule by railwaymen with regard to pay led to no overtime working. This seriously disrupted many services, through alterations or cancellations. North of Carlisle on June 28th a diverted Euston - Glasgow express was hauled by Class 50 No.D416, three more (D400, D418, D419) would be seen over the Waverley route during this period of disruption.
On June 25th the unusual combination of D39 & D6505 were noted working light from Newton Abbott eastwards to Exeter. Elsewhere on the SR the afternoon Bristol - Salisbury parcels utilised D90 on June 5th, Salisbury sent it out on their late afternoon parcels to Northam, where it was then available to work the 18.42 Portsmouth & Southsea - Derby parcels.
The Stoke Division Type 2s were used on a new coal/coke service between Etruria & Shotton. The coal came up from Wolstanton Colliery, loaded at Etruria and taken to Shotton in trains of thirty three 21 ton wagons, there being converted into coke. Shotton steelworks used about fifty percent of this coke, the remainder returning to Etruria. Approximately 6,000 tons would be moved weekly, two trains a day, with one on Saturdays, requiring pairs of Type 2s.
D36 was a non-starter on July 26th’s Newhaven - Stirling, D6568 was fortunately on hand to take over with the minimum of delay. Also on the SR the 01.05 (SO) Nottingham - Margate continued to bring Peaks to the east Kent resort, a work to rule saw the first service operating on July 13th behind D40, the following week D104 was in charge and running about twenty minutes early. An unusual duty in an unusual place befell D151 on July 30th working the evening Salisbury - Northam vans. The preceding working, a Waterloo - Bournemouth passenger hauled by E6106 had failed at Southampton Airport, D151 was used to assist from the rear to Southampton.
On July 28th a Bedford - Southend Central excursion was hauled throughout by D18.
The last standard gauge regularly scheduled steam hauled passenger trains took place on August 3rd with 45212 working the 20.50 Blackpool - Preston & 45318 working the 21.25 Preston - Liverpool Exchange. A week later on August 11th standard gauge steam haulage ended on British Railways with the 'Fifteen Guinea Special' 314 mile roundtrip Liverpool Lime Street to Carlisle, utilising 45110, 70013, 44781 & 44871.
At the time of steam’s departure from British Railways a new classification system came into use for the diesel & electric fleet. The class number would now be dependent on the horsepower of the locomotive, the BR Sulzer Type 2s falling approximately into the middle of the table becoming Classes 24 & 25. Likewise the prefix ‘D’ was no longer to be used, effective October 1968. Additionally a National Traction Plan was published which attempted to correct some of the failings of the 1955 Modernisation Plan. For the diesel & electric fleet this envisaged a rationalisation of the existing 28 types, totaling 2,976 locos, to a total of 2,240 of 15 types, a reduction of 25%. This rationalisation led to continuing re-allocations, including the Sulzer Type 2s. Even after the final withdrawals of the steam fleet the Class 25s continued to migrate to the North West, permitting withdrawal of all the Class 28 Metro-Vick Co-Bo’s. Likewise the Clayton Type 1s had little time left as the first heavy withdrawals commenced during October. To the south two other classes were being obliterated, the last of the Class 16 84xx machines were withdrawn from Stratford, as were many of the Class 15 82xx machines. The ER had received a number of ScR Class 20s to cover these withdrawals, those machines sent south carried many different livery variations. Further north a decision was taken to allocate all the BRCW Type 2s, (the Classes 26 & 27) to the ScR. This was a logical step for maintenance and spares purposes. Consequently the Midland based Class 27s began their trek north, exchanged for ScR Classes 20 & 25 commencing July.
Passengers on August 10th using a midday Taunton - Leeds relief hauled by D173 hopefully had a trip to remember as the big Type 4 only had five coaches behind the drawbar. The only other Peak noted through Taunton this day was D14 on a Bradford - Paignton service. The long distance Newhaven - Stirling service was hauled by D37 on August 24th, being diverted via Edinburgh Waverley due to a derailment on its normal route.
Attending to a demolition train on the Caernarvon – Afonwen on August 20th was D5057 noted at Groeslon. On August 31st the Open Day at Derby Works had an interesting display of locomotives, including HS4000 and D5157 in sparkling blue paint, steam was represented by 44888.
The first steam locomotive to make a trip under its own power on BR since August 4th was A3 4472 making a trip from Huddersfield to Tyne Dock on September 6th. 4472 had arrived from Doncaster via Sheffield & Penistone, whilst the empty stock arrived at Huddersfield behind D5173. Freight traffic through Huddersfield had fallen dramatically over the past years, during 1966 a weekday would produce 120 trains, currently less than thirty would be seen. In October alone seven stations closed on the Manchester route, additionally nine services to Manchester & five to Leeds were eliminated.
Another change initiated by British Railways saw ticket prices no longer charged on a mileage basis, the quality of service and its useage would now determine price, this change becoming effective September 8th.
On September 9th events led to the second Class 24 being struck off BR's roster. That morning the Glasgow - Edinburgh mainline was incurring delays due to a track circuit fault at Castlecary viaduct. The 08.46 Glasgow - Edinburgh six car DMU had come to a stand under the protection of signals at the site of the closed Castlecary station. Closely following it was green liveried, headlight equipped Class 24 D5122 running light engine from Glasgow to Perth, it having just worked the 07.20 Perth - Glasgow passenger. A number of operating infractions occurred, principally between the train crew and the signalman at Greenhill Upper box, but it would be the failure to follow exactly Rule 55g that led to the rearend collision. Eye witnesses to the collision estimate the speed of the Class 24 to have been about 40mph. To quote the HMSO Accident Report:
"The diesel locomotive was extensively damaged by the collision and subsequent fire, the cab at the No2 end, which was leading, was completely demolished and together with the boiler compartment behind it forced back against the engine room bulkhead. The main frames were broken and distorted and the engine and boiler room bulkheads damaged. The whole of the driving controls, electrical wiring and fittings at the No2 end were completely destroyed. Both the leading wheels of the locomotive and one pair on the rear bogie of the power car were derailed towards the cess, but a small portion of the twisted panelling from the locomotive cab extended foul of the Down line".
The two crew on the locomotive were killed, several passengers in the rear power car were injured, actions by the guard may have helped to minimise the injuries here. Ten minutes after the impact fire broke out in the wreckage, the leading five cars were separated from the sixth and driven clear, it was about this time that the emegency services arrived. On the westbound (Down) line the 08.30 Edinburgh - Glasgow DMU appeared on the scene moments after the collision, sustaining minor scrape damage from the locomotive cab fouling the Down line. After drawing forward to Dullatur box to report the collision the DMU continued on its journey. The permanant way sustained only minor damage, once the wrecked vehicles had been towed away the lines was re-opened by early afternoon. Fire damaged blue & grey liveried SC79092 and the diesel locomotive were removed to Bonnybridge sidings, with the latter moving on to Eastfield on September 24th being withdrawn that same month. By early October the machine had reached Glasgow Works for stripping. This was the second of the Class 24's to be withdrawn, though it would linger in a heavily stripped state at Glasgow Works until finally broken up in March 1971.
A treat for D5149 on September 19th was to take charge of a two coach special conveying ER Board members on an official visit to Lynemouth Colliery. The special ran from Newcastle and involved the use of NCB rails between Woodhorn & Lynemouth.
A strange allocation for D46 (also reported as D54) was its use from September 27th for about two weeks at the CEGB Willington power station, filling in for a feeder generator which was out of service and would have led to supply disruption without the locomotive’s loan. D24 was turned out of Derby Works in blue livery with full yellow ends, as normal, but with the numbers under the cab windows and without any emblom - presumably a simple omission by the Works staff.
From October 5th the Sheffield - Kings Cross ‘Master Cutler’ was diverted to St Pancras as the 7.15am ex Sheffield & 17.50 ex St Pancras and would frequently be a Peak hauled working. In the Reading area Peaks continued to work in on the 09.15 Carlton Sidings - West Drayton (a Tinsley Class 47 job), noted were D22 on October 4th & D156 (11th). They were also frequent on passenger services from the north such as the 10.08 York - Poole with D48 on October 10th, returning with the 16.29 Poole - Birmingham. Occasional visitors from the Swindon direction were usually operated by Gloucester crews with local pilots. In the Bristol area notices were posted that the Midland route between Yate South Junction & Bristol East would be closed with NE/SW services diverted via Stoke Gifford. Additionally Peaks were noted working the Cardiff - Bristol local services, normally in the hands of Hymeks.
An attempt to economise on operating costs on the North Wales section of the Euston - Holyhead services found the big Type 4’s replaced by pairs of Crewe Type 2s between Holyhead and Crewe with the exception of the ‘Irish Mail’ & the ‘Emerald Isle Express’. This measure only lasted two weeks, the failure rate of the Type 2’s proved to be unacceptably excessive, the Type 4s soon returned but still suffered intermittent time loss.
The grim task of removing the final steam locomotives from the North West to South Wales and Hull for scrapping continued. Noted on one such working heading towards Hull on October 23rd was 7630 leading 48369, 48356, 48373 & 48368.
A Liverpool Division machine, D7560 wandered onto the SR on November 12th, working in on the 20.05 Ellesmere Port - Wareham, returning on the next morning’s 08.28 Fratton - Trafford Park.