Sounding somewhat like a broken record the St Pancras commuter services were again suffering various problems with their Rolls Royce engined diesel multiple units, resulting in occasional replacements using locomotive hauled stock, frequently with a Class 25. The multiple unit shortages had seen the 18.00 St Pancras - Bedford service during the past three months resort to locomotive haulage, again with Class 25s featuring prominently. During May this would revert to diesel multiple units, but the 07.46 Bedford - St Pancras continued to be locomotive hauled. On the WCML the fiery demise of E3046 working the 15.45 Euston - Manchester on January 7th naturally caused operating headaches with a number of Class 25's handling the various emergency workings including 7500 arriving at the scene of the calamity with a maintenance train. The seriously fire damaged electric was removed to Crewe Works and promptly condemned. Additionally Crewe had again commenced repairs to the Type 2's with 5234 and 7669 being new arrivals.
Rock salt workings from Winsford were a staple part of the area's freight workings, however most unusual was a Saturday working to Edinburgh on February 6th, behind 5190 & 5192, hauling forty five wagons.
March 17th found 60 in charge of the down 'Thames-Clyde', unfortunately somewhere south of Carlisle it required assistance from 406, on arrival at Carlisle 210 was waiting to take the train forward. By the end of the month Toton (D16) had transferred away all but three of its class 46's to Bristol (82A), the remaining three 161/162/163 would reach Bristol at the start of the summer timetable during May. Seven Class 24's (5002 - 5009) were moved from the Stoke Division (D05) to Eastfield (65A) - the first twenty Class 24s were not so popular with the operating authorities, hence they were always the first candidates offered when a suitable transfer was to occur.
On April 1st 5228 deputised for the regular Class 31 on the 1E92 09.10 Birmingham - Cambridge, returning with the 13.00 working. A little further east Ipswich depot presented the unfortunate sight of twenty one withdrawn Class 15's. These machines in conjunction with newly delivered ER Class 24 & 30's had dieselised much of East Anglia in the late 1950's. Another small ER class recently extinct was the Baby Deltics following the withdrawal of 5909 during March!
Easter 1971 had been marred by an ongoing ASLEF work to rule. Amongst other issues crews were refusing to operate locomotives which did not carry a supply of ear protectors. These uncertain conditions hampered the promotion of the many excursions over the long Easter weekend, whilst many did not run, those running tended to be lightly loaded. One that did run was on Easter Monday, April 12th, with 5150 hauling the 1G08 09.30 Castleford - Scarborough. And travelers on a Gloucester - Scarborough excursion on April 11th had the delights of the 'Cheltenham Spa Express' stock, hauled throughout by 149.
The seasonal Tuesdays only Newcastle - Eastbourne, and the Thursdays only Newcastle - Margate & Folkestone senior citizen specials started up at the beginning of May, this year however all the workings appeared to be in the hands of Class 47's or Class 33's. However the Class 45s were still visiting the SR, being frequent visitors on cement freight workings to the Northfleet APCM works. One of these workings came from Dunstable. Coal trains were also received at Northfleet, being doubleheaded south of Cricklewood, usually by Class 47s.
The new timetable of May 3rd brought forth a modified service, the 07.20 Paignton - Newcastle (& 12.05 southbound balancing working) ('The Torbay-Tyne') was now extended to/from Edinburgh, a journey of 521 miles, the longest passenger service not serving London. The first northbound service started out behind 58, the southbound service was noted behind 152 on time at Dawlish. Additionally the 07.20 Weston super Mare - Newcastle and 16.20 return ('The Severn-Tyne') was also extended to run to/from Edinburgh. Likewise the Devonian & Cornishman would now start from Leeds, apart from during the summer months when it would continue to operate to/from Bradford. Another timetable oddity involved the 10.05 1L09 Kings Cross - Leeds, one of the few remaining vacuum braked East Coast workings. This returned to the capital as the 1A35 18.20 York - Kings Cross, making the fill-in turn from Leeds to York as the 1L58 16.11 eleven coach local, Class 25 hauled with some pretty sharp point to point timings! A number of Midland Line passengers had adventures on May 17th when 138 hauling the 17.05 St Pancras - Sheffield became a failure near Bedford. 5227 was used to push the train into Bedford, 5214 then took over for the run to Kettering, here 6812 continued for the remainder of the run to Sheffield.
Whitemoor continued sending Class 25s into Eastern territory, 7501 & 7528 took out a train for Leyton Depot, being removed at Cambridge to work empties back to Whitemoor. And on 27th 5268 went out on the 8B40 12.18 Whitemoor - Hitchin, returning with the 7P04 17.11 Letchworth - Whitemoor. May 11th produced some unusual sightings north of Newcastle, 5324 worked the 18.32 Liverpool Street - Edinburgh parcels after the failure of 251 at Newcastle, the 6F20 Immingham - Millerhill had an unusual combination of 7590 & 5320 whilst the 1E83 14.15 Edinburgh - Newcastle was hauled by 58, the next day 6708 handled this working! A shortage of Deltics lead to numerous substitutions, this day saw 1E17 14.00 Edinburgh - Kings Cross in charge of 359, on following days it was hauled by 192 (12th), 176 (20th) & 170 (24th). Also affected were the local services receiving whatever was available, the 14.15 utilised 5090 on May 7th & 26th, the 22nd featured 5191 on the 11.45 ex York heading for Craigendoran.
From May 4th three Class 25s commenced duties from Coventry. The newest duty was the Gosford Green turn, after finishing its original duty at 6pm, it then headed out at 19.15 to Three Spires Jct to work coal trains as required to Leicester or Northampton. The locomotive returns at 4am before taking up the Hams Hall run at 05.40am which includes a mid afternoon Coventry - Bescot goods. At Bescot the Class 25 may be changed out, returning at 19.00 to Coventry.
On the Western Region diagrams through Exeter now included two Peak hauled freights, the 18.18 Plymouth Friary - Paddington (to Exeter) and the 19.50 Newton Abbot - Riverside. It was at this time that the Nottingham Division (D16) surrendered its remaining Class 46s to Bristol.
The new push-pull Edinburgh - Glasgow workings had produced much of interest due to the continuing shortage of properly equipped Class 27s, all substitutions requiring air braked locomotives, which were not widespread at this time. These were initially ScR Class 37s, either working with a Class 27 or with 37s at each end, so noted have been 6844 & 6936 (May 15th) and 6857 & 6844 (May 24th). Also held in reserve were several of the elderly Swindon Inter City sets, seeing occasional use with one set held at Waverley and another at Cowlairs. Further south an Open Day on May 22nd at Carlisle Kingmoor diesel depot featured thirty three locomotives including four Type 2's, 5192, 5283, 7544 & 7554.
Passengers on May 24th's Class 45 hauled 18.09 Manchester - St Pancras received quite a shock when their train derailed in Totley Tunnel whilst traveling about 65mph. A broken rail end derailed six coaches, the locomotive remained on the track and was detached and sent forward to Dore & Totley West Junction Box to raise the alarm and prevent the 19.04 Sheffield - Manchester diesel multiple unit from entering the tunnel. This multiple unit and a following service were later used to enter the tunnel and bring out the trapped passengers, taking them on to Chesterfield, some three hours after the derailment occurred. It took three days to remove the coaches and repair the track.
The Monday of the May Spring Bank holiday found 181 in charge of the Up 'Thames-Clyde Express', however fitters at Carlisle spent some time putting the locomotive in order. Thirty minutes was lost here before 181 took the train out only to expire completely at Long Marton. 1967 pushed the train to Appleby, here moving to the front to get the train to Leeds. By now the train was 105 minutes late, the Leeds - Nottingham section powered by 65, with 32 taking over at Nottingham, arrival in London was just after 9pm. Since October 1970 the 18.00 St Pancras - Bedford had been locomotive hauled with a rake of eight to ten coaches, usually diagrammed for a Class 25. From May 3rd, to the disappointment of commuters, this train reverted to a dmu. However the 07.46 Bedford - St Pancras continued to to be locomotive hauled.
May 1971 saw the first withdrawal of a Class 25, retired from the Manchester Division was green liveried 5278, having suffered considerable damage in an accident in the Great Rocks area. The locomotive had been shut down and parked still attched to its train. Apparently no handbrake had been applied, once the air had bled off the train rolled away into a rock face. After the driver reached the point of impact and reported the 'engine in trouble' to Buxton depot the supervisor suggested the dispatching of a fitter to rectify the problem! This had been one of the original batch of Class 25's (5274 - 5279) allocated since August 1964 to handle the ICI company limestone trains. The considerable damage sustained by 5278 made it unfit to travel, being broken up at Peak Forest by G Cohen's of Kettering during Oct 1971.
From the beginning of May the WR Lydney & Parkend branches were covered by Class 25's operating out of Severn Tunnel Jct. On May 29th 5179 & 5180 and 5181 & 5182 were working the Newport Docks - Ebbw Vale iron ore trains, instead of their more normal Llanwern duties.
Whilst making its way to Glasgow Works 7593 powered June 4th's 1S28 07.00 Newcastle - Edinburgh, but was sent back south on the 1E83 14.15 Edinburgh - Newcastle, only to return north light engine that evening! The next day's 1S28 had 5178 in charge having been taken off the early morning Edinburgh - Bradford parcels working. Later that night 5096 on the 2M72 23.18 SO Newcastle - Carlisle became a failure at How Mill, Kingmoor sending out 5191. This machine took the return working, the 02.50 ex Carlisle, and was promptly borrowed for Heaton's ecs work until June 8th. It was the good samaritan again on 12th coming to assist the failed dmu on the 16.25 Newcastle - Carlisle, however this time the return working was cancelled.
On June 16th 5233 & 5226 made a rare appearance working the 17.57 St Pancras - Nottingham. A more mundane working involved the Oxley carriage duties, normally a Class 25 duty. On summer Saturdays four locomotives handled sixteen duties between 05.30 and 9.00am, it was not therefore surprising that the electrification of this short piece of line between Wolverhampton station and Oxley carried a high priority. These sidings were also visited by the Peaks and Class 47's picking up stock for NE/SW services starting from New Street. Wolverhampton was the changeover point for the Euston - Aberystwyth services, generally a Class 47 taking the train onto Shrewsbury and thence pairs of Class 24's onward to the coast. During 1971 however the doubleheading was curtailed, with one Class 24 diagrammed for the 1J21 09.45 Euston - Aberystwyth and the 1A29 Aberystwyth - Euston, the demand placed on the one locomotive on these ten coach workings seriously affected timekeeping. The problems encountered using a single locomotive on these workings soon led to a re-evaluation of this practice. On the North Wales coast the Nottingham - Llandudno again saw double headed Class 25's.
Peaks on the SR in the middle of June included freights reaching Basingstoke on 18th behind 18 & 152 whilst the 19th's 10.35 Portsmouth Harbour - Sheffield was hauled by 47. Class 25's were also frequent visitors to Basingstoke at this time. The following weekend the Portsmouth Harbour service had 38.
An SRPS special on June 19th encountered difficulties whilst returning from Inverness. The train had been worked up from Glasgow by 5360 & 5372, and these were used for the return. Unfortunately 5372 failed leaving Dalwhinnie, stalwart 5360 soldiered on alone over Drumochter only to expire at Dalguise. Rescue came from 5117 & 5121, fresh off the "Royal Highlander', pushing the train to Dunkeld, where further assistance appeared in the unlikely shape of 415, a class only recently cleared over this route. Travelers on the special finally reached Glasgow 160 minutes late.
On June 29th 5242 & 7598 worked the 02.29 Toton - Eastleigh throughout, the normal exchange of power at Banbury did not occur as there were no replacements available. The Type 2's returned on the 14.30 Eastleigh - Washwood Heath. On the same date 7578 took a four coach Royal train from Edinburgh to Dumbarton. As the month closed out bad news was received concerning the Edinburgh - Glasgow service. The high speed running of these services, day in, day out was taking its toll on the Class 27's, now suffering from vibration affecting the motor windings. Repairs were being undertaken but Class 37's and more recently Class 25's were substituting, with 7579 so noted on June 26th. By mid July the Class 37's were temporarily removed from these services leaving the Class 25's as the regular stand in's. The Swindon InterCity sets continued to be rostered occasionally, making a creditable attempt at keeping time. However for most of these units the end was near, with over thirty in store at Millerhill. One set spent several days at Inverness for testing on the Wick & Thurso service, which they were thought to be scheduled for in September.
Between July and October Class 45 12 was loaned to Immingham (40B), following this it was transferred to Holbeck (55A). The Eastern Region sent a further nine Class 24's to Scotland during July.
The failure of the five car 17.15 Birmingham - Nottingham dmu on July 3rd at Nuneaton led to passing Peaks 81 & 121 being commandeered to take the service forward! Other assistance was provided on July 10th when 5242 aided the 09.34 Nottingham - Lincoln dmu.
Passengers on July 15th's 14.00 Kings Cross endured a variety of motive power after the rostered Class 55 developed problems at Hitchin and was replaced by 1101 at Peterborough. This worked to York where 181 took over, 136 was added at Darlington, with 181 removed at Newcastle - 136 eventually reached Edinburgh some seventy minutes late.
Toton's 95 was noted on July 28th bringing empty hopper wagons into Ripple Lane.
A shunting accident at Inverness between 5131 and 6855 late in July led to the Type 2 being put on decision. Retirement finally came in September being noted at Glasgow Works by early October, where it was quickly broken up.
The end of July saw the Class 25's make their first appearances in the West Country, to replace the NBL Class 22's similar in nature to their introduction to the South Wales area during December 1970. On July 30th 5180 was noted arriving at St Blazey, followed by 5179 on August 19th, bound for Laira. With these machines, and later 5181 and 7657 (September 3rd) crew training commenced. There still remained thirteen Class 22's 6308/19/22/26/30/33/34/36-39/43/56 with ten diagrams to cover. The St Blazey turns visited St Dennis Junction and the Retew branch, Tavistock Jcn and Boscarne, Goonbarrow Jcn, Drinnick Mill and Lostwithiel and the Truro area. Laira turns went to Keyham and Liskeard, Plymstock and lastly Devonport. The Newton Abbot locomotive visited Heathfield and Stoneycombe. Exeter turns went out to Barnstaple Junction and Torrington, Tiverton Junction, Hemyock and Chard Junction. The last turn ran out to Okehampton. A number of these turns were not daily.
Several West Country passenger diagrams were noted with double headed Peaks, possibly a way of returning locomotives eastwards without wasting valuable paths during the busy summer season.
The previous intention of using single Class 24's on the Cambrian Line services was shortlived, by August these heavy through services were starting to see the return of pairs of Class 24's west of Shrewsbury.
On August 4th 5206 went for quite a journey hauling saloon DM395707 on a roundabout route from Manchester to Birmingham, Derby and onto St Pancras. The special contained the Chairman of the BRB. As well as continued use on the 14:15 Edinburgh - Newcastle Type 2's also found use on the 1E29 18.35 Edinburgh - Newcastle, so noted was 7582 on August 10th. The abundance of new road construction in the Warwickshire area brought much stone traffic into the region. The normally quiet Redditch branch found 750 ton stone trains arriving from quarries at Cauldon Low (North Staffs), frequently powered by pairs of Class 24's. One of the first weekends of the new soccer season saw a football special from Leicester reach Ipswich behind 5231 & 7557 on September 11th. Also on this date the Scottish Grand Tour No. 13 ran from Waverley to Tyseley & Stratford via York and Rotherham - southbound the service was in charge of 36, going home it had 1531.
With the end of the summer timetable came one of the most radical changes ever witnessed to the diesel fleet. Withdrawals in October totalled over 120, coming from two distinct areas, the Western Region hydraulic fleet and the Scottish Region's NBL & Clayton fleets. These rationalizations saw the demise of the NBL built Warships, the Rolls Royce engined Claytons and the Beyer Peacock built Claytons. To cover the loss of this large number of machines an equally large number of transfers took place. The Eastern Region, that is Leeds & Gateshead, which had already sent nine Class 24's across the border in July now sent three more (5096 - 5098) to Polmadie (66A). This left only 5102 - 5111 on the ER, for continued use on the Consett iron ore trains. Gateshead also sent its entire fleet of three Class 25's to Leeds, whilst the majority of Thornaby's Class 25/0's transferred to either Eastfield or Leeds. Joining the Types 2's at Eastfield were thirty Class 20's mostly from the ER, with these losses being covered by the reallocation of many Class 31 & 37's. The Stoke Division sent another thirteen Class 24's to Polmadie (66A), this transfer included all the remaining locomotives from the 5000 - 5019 batch and 5073. Another eight London Midland Class 25's were transferred to Laira. Joining them at Laira were all of Landore's remaining Westerns, made possible by an influx of twenty Class 47's, these moves now left all the Westerns allocated to Laira, with the majority of the remaining Warships at Newton Abbott.
One of those ubiquitous but unpredictable Class 25 duties occurred on September 2nd when eleven wagons of the 02.18 Crewe - Watford freight derailed at Brinkley (between Nuneaton & Rugby). The train broke in two completely blocking all lines necessitating the use of the Saltley breakdown crane hauled by 7522, the lines not being reopened until after midnight.
Scottish Type 2s were frequent visitors to Carlisle & Newcastle, though forays further south were unusual. However on September 20th the 4E47 Aberdeen - Kings Cross fish train was noted at Doncaster behind Haymarket based 5066. Sister machine 5065 reached Bardon Mill colliery on September 7th on the regular turn from Carlisle. Front line duty came the way of 5013 on October 1st in rescuing the 1E91 07.45 Liverpool - Newcastle after the diagrammed locomotive failed. The WCML was blocked on October 6th after 1836 ran away with its train at Wamphray working a Motherwell - Margam freight and collided with the preceding Dalzell New Yard - Carlisle freight hauled by 5100 & 8568. The steel train hauled by 1836 had been improperly prepared at Motherwell, the effects of this oversight were not noticed until the descent of Beattock. This proved to be a very violent collision with much material damage. Regretably the guard on the train hauled by 5100 was killed. Surprisingly 1836 was removed to Glasgow Works, presumably for evaluation and to make it fit to travel to Crewe. When 1836 finally did move south for repair it was noted south of Warrington with two other Class 47's being hauled by a Class 24. Diversions saw the Carlisle - Millerhill freights run via Newcastle, amongst the local machines recorded were Inverness based 'foreigners' 5126 and 5119.
A long time tradition ended on October 4th when the 22.50SO Euston - Perth (the down North-West postal) made its last mail drop using lineside postal equipment. This occurred at Penrith, future mail drops would be made by the service stopping at the station.
During October the stored Class 15's at Ipswich were moved to Crewe Works, being quickly consigned to just so much scrap. A further four Class 46's were transferred to Bristol (82A), Holbeck made up the loss of these by receiving an equal number of Class 45s from the LMR.
On October 5th St Blazey received 7575 & 7676 for taking up further Class 22 duties, unfortunately 7575 was defective and returned to Laira for repair. Its replacement was 5180, these two handling the trips to Dennis Junction, Retew and Goonbarrow Junction.
7594 handled October 29th's 17.30 (FO) Manchester - York, the first Class 25 noted on this service for quite a while. The dismantling of the fast lines between Heaton Lodge & Hillhouse was completed towards the end of November. Noted on one of the dismantling trains on 11th was 5254. Although Class 40/46's dominated the Liverpool - Newcastle service, on November 1st 89 was noted ahead of time on the 17.05 Liverpool - Newcastle.
Although the Class 44's were occasional visitors to Gloucester it was most unusual to see 3 arriving here assisting 135 on a NE/SW service.
On November 20th an unusual visitor to the Redditch branch was 153 arriving with a football special from Peterborough, special approval was required for the Peak to work on the branch. Five days later 5270 was busy at Redditch assisting in the removal of the northbound line at the station. The daily coal train featured 5267, this day handling two loads in and three empties out, whilst the thrice weekly Oakamoor stone train was in charge of 5027 & 5092. The stone service ended during January 1972.
On November 27th two engineers trains collided on the Up fast line north of Sharnbrook station. The two locomotives, 1623 & 5250 received serious damage being surrounded by a large heap of debris from all the derailed ballast wagons. Cause of the accident was inadequate braking force on the Class 47 causing the overloaded spoil train to run away, both locomotives were removed to Bedford, and were still there at Christmas. Three cranes were in use to clear the wreckage, 78 having brought in the Toton crane. Three days later the perils of motorway driving were graphically highlighted in the loss of seven lives in a fog related chain reaction accident on the M1 near Luton.
Class 25s continued to be no strangers to March, whilst laying over here they were frequently borrowed for March turns, on November 23rd 7512 worked a return Whitemoor - Foxton (between Cambridge & Royston) trip. On 30th 5228 covered a Whitemoor - Hitchin special, then light to Cambridge to cover an extra coal train to Letchworth before returning light to March. They were occasionally run as far south as Stratford, December 4th found 7510 dragging 1502 from March to Stratford. In the same area the 11.35 Kings Cross - Cambridge and 13.30 return could produce any Type 4 available, on November 26th 168 was in charge. Somewhat away from its NE/SW duties on December 5th was Bristol based 149 covering a Hull - Kings Cross service.
Crewe based 5063 reached Tyne Yard with a freight from Scunthorpe on December 6th, returning southbound with a freight for Healey Mills. Unusual sightings on 7th included Toton based 5226 working a Skipton - Hartlepool freight, Holbeck's 5162 hauled a Millerhill - Tyne freight and Gateshead's 5110 was noted en route heading for Stratford, for maintenance? On 10th 7580 came to grief on the 1E83 Edinburgh - Newcastle, requiring assistance at Acklington from 6952. Two days later 5207 came to the rescue of 439 at Edge Hill after the latter failed on an afternoon Liverpool - Euston service.
In the West Country the few Class 25's present were working alongside the dwindling Class 22's. There were still not enough Class 25's available to retire the hydraulics, the Class 25's were still not cleared for the Drinnick Mill branch and crew training was still continuing. Part of the shortage was due to 7573 spending a month out of service before being moved to Laira for repair and the use of Laira based 7574 at Bristol for crew training. One of the Laira turns involved the 05.55 Keyham - Liskeard and related trips, it then assisted the 22.20 Presflos from Plymouth to Newton Abbott before returning west in the early morning hours with the Severn Tunnel Junction - Plymouth car train
The second Class 25 to be withdrawn was green liveried accident damaged 7605. At 06.15 on December 16 in a violent collision at Lenton South Junction (Nottingham) ladder crossover, the 01.30 Liverpool - Nottingham parcels train, hauled by 7605, collided head on with a southbound coal train led by 8115 & 8142. Regrettably both drivers and the guard of the parcels train were killed. The severely damaged 7605 was initially moved to Beeston Freightliner terminal, then onto Derby Works where it was withdrawn in March 1972 and broken up the following month. This was the shortest lived of any Class 24/25, with a working life of six years and three months. The inquiry established to investigate the incident failed to positively identify the cause, but believed the driver of the parcels train had cancelled a number of AWS warnings without heeding the signal aspects displayed.
A rare passenger working for one of the Class 44's occurred on December 23rd - the 10.15 York - Poole failed behind 43 south west of Derby, 9 came to the rescue taking the train on to Birmingham.
As the year ended withdrawals and transfers reflected the continuing rationalisation of the locomotive fleet. On the Scottish Region the last of the NBL & Clayton products were retired whilst on the Western Region major inroads continued into the Hymek and Warship fleets. For the NBL Class 22's the end had come, the invasion of Midland Class 25's and Eastern Class 31's making that possible. A number of the Class 25's required operable boilers for working the Exeter area local passenger services. In West Wales an infusion of Class 37's replaced all the Hymek duties, although a number still remained at Cardiff.