GEC publicity shot IC225 and Class 91 commissioning - Part 1 of  9

In the beginning

During February 1988 the first of ten 'prototype' class 91 locomotives rolled out of Crewe Works on time. 91001 was the first of what was eventually to number 31 locomotives which were introduced onto the ECML. The first batch of ten locos were subjected to intensive mileage accumulation running with various rakes of ECS before service introduction.

The Class 91 locomotive is a 25 kV Bo-Bo locomotive with a rated power of 4.54 MW (6,000HP) and a design speed of 140 mile/h (225 km/h) . The locomotive will haul up to 11 Mk IV coaches and a driving trailer on the electrified East Coast Main Line from London to Edinburgh. In addition sleeper trains of up to 750 tonnes were planned to be hauled on the West Coast Main Line including the arduous ascents of Shap and Beattock. The contract was placed by British Rail in February 1986.

The first locomotive 91001, was the subject of a comprehensive acceptance and performance testing programme over the following months.

Here is a selection of photos of the class 91 and IC225 vehicles under test and in service.

Click on the picture for a bigger image - all pictures are the author's unless otherwise credited

91001 91001 outside the Engineering Development Unit, at the RTC after arrival from Crewe in early 1988 .............. Great! ............... and from the blunt end. The loco came to Derby for fitting with the necessary instrumentation - note the loom of cables on the RHS. Test Car 10 was marshalled with the loco for the duration.
GEC publicity shot

The first GEC Official picture had the company logo on the front of the loco. This was later replaced by the InterCity swallow


Photocall at RTC After arrival at RTC Derby 91001 is pictured in the yard together with 90001
Inside the weighbridge 91001 on the weighbridge to check weight distribution 91001 undergoing a sway test in the EDU

BR Official

Driver's seat Inside the cab


BN upper sidings Here's a shot of 91002 at Bounds Green (depot code BN) in April 1988

Treflyn Lloyd Roberts (Flickr)

91009 at Carstairs 91009 is pictured at Carstairs on April 27th 1988 with Test Car 10 and probably a representative test train during acceptance testing

Bob Avery

Old Dalby 91001 pictured passing the former Widmerpool station on the Old Dalby test track on 21st March 1988 whilst undergoing pantograph aerodynamic testing. Note Lab 6 in the formation.

The Pullman Inn is on the left in the former station buildings and the MR Down side waiting room virtually intact on the right. The goods shed still stood in the distance in this 1988 shot - but not anymore

Bob Osbourne

91001 91001 at BN on 29th May 1988 with what looks like R&DD's Lab 6 'Prometheus' behind it.

Treflyn Lloyd Roberts (Flickr)

By the spring of 1988, loco 91002  was delivered to Bounds Green depot (BN), situated at the south end of the ECML adjacent to Alexandra Palace station and the Hertford Loop line and the remaining 8 locos duly followed as 91001 was already there. During their mileage-gathering phase they ran in turn, initially with a rake of Mk2 coaches, to Peterborough West Yard and back each day. The return trip usually terminated in Kings Cross Goods yard where a run round loop had been especially installed and electrified for this purpose. Running the loco round here avoided being 'trapped' in Kings Cross station as the stock was not at the time equipped with a DVT.

We often used to wait in the shunters' cabin and have a brew, whilst a path was sorted out back to BN. Today the site has been buried under the High Speed 1 connections to and from St Pancras and to the North London line and the ECML.

During initial commissioning of the first ten locos we used to run to Peterborough West Yard with a train of Mk2 coaches.

91003 at Peterbrough 91003 is pictured about to unhook to run round in Peterborough West Yard sometime in late 1988

Just arrived

91003 with train of Mk2s in the West Yard

Harry Hudson via Phantasrail Galleries

outside the box 91003 arrives in the West Yard outside Eastfield box

Harry Hudson via Phantasrail Galleries

91003 91003 runs round its train outside Eastfield box

Harry Hudson via Phantasrail Galleries

91003 outside Eastfield box

Harry Hudson via Phantasrail Galleries

Off back to London Departing for BN blunt end first

Harry Hudson via Phantasrail Galleries

91005 passes Finsbury Park with a test train for Bounds Green sometime in June 1988

Ralph Ford

91003 pictured at Leeds with a test train in October 1988

Ralph Ford

91002 at BN Pictured at Bounds Green 91002 has arrived from Peterborough blunt end first with the Mk2 stock in 1988.

In May 1988 class 91 No:91003 was part of a special train which was taken to Hamburg, Germany for the International Transport Exhibition (IVA88)

Click on the picture for a bigger image - pictures are the author's

Technical data IVA88 The technical data for the class 91 was produced in German and English for the Hamburg IVA88 exhibition Hamburg IVA88 91003 pictured in Hamburg, Germany for the IVA88 exhibition in May 1988

In July 1988 a series of comparison tests were conducted overnight with a class 91 and a class 90. Not sure exactly what was being compared though.

90005 on the stops in KX at 05.40 in the morning following the tests on Stoke Bank. It would return to the WCML via the NLL before the rush hour started

After initial runs to Peterborough we moved further afield to Grantham where the trains ran into the freight loop on the west side of the station. Once we arrived the loco would run round and we would bale out and leg it onto the platform and across the footbridge to the excellent privately run buffet on the Up platform.

Later when the electrification was completed the running was extended to Leeds generally with Mk3 sleepers and DVT's but with the odd run with Mk2 coaches.

Reflections at Leeds Here's a very artistic shot of the reflection of the test train in the windows of a lineside factory near Leeds. Note the train is made up of a class 91 loco plus Mk2 coaches.
First into Leeds 91001 with Lab 6 'Prometheus' and 5 Mk 3 sleepers plus an HST DVT approaches Leeds on the 11th August 1988 - the first 91 to do so.

The Yorkshire Post

91 004 at Welwyn 91004 propels its train of five Mk3 sleepers and surrogate DVT 43014 past Welwyn Garden City on August 3rd 1988

David Percival

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