Brochure To Utrecht and back by Super Sprinter

In the summer of 1989, in connection with the NS150 celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Dutch Railways, BR was invited to send a representative example of their most modern train to be exhibited at Utrecht for two weeks in the summer.

A Class 158 unit was originally chosen as these were rolling off the production line but later this proved to be impossible to arrange so a Metro Cammell-built class 156 Super Sprinter unit No:156 502 from Glasgow was finally selected. This was unusual as it was in the Strathclyde Passenger Executive (SPE) livery of orange and black .

On 16th June 1989, the unit was driven under its own power from the Railway Technical Centre by a Derby train crew all the way to Holland & back. In those far off days the Channel Tunnel was just a dream so the SNCF train ferry was utilised to cross from Dover Western Docks to Dunkerque from where the unit was driven through France and Belgium to the Dutch border at Essen and on to Utrecht with help from SNCF, SNCB and NS train crews.

The unit was exhibited along with various items of rolling stock from across Europe for approx. two weeks after which it returned to the UK.

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

Ready to roll The author stands with the train crew at RTC prior to departure - note that someone left the front door open! linkspan A computer-controlled drawbridge known as a linkspan gave access to the ferry. Here it is in its raised position with the train ferry glimpsed through the gap.
Loading Due to the severe grade and reverse curves at Dover Western Docks the Sprinter was split to be driven on to the train ferry Train ferry The view from the passenger accommodation of the SNCF Nord Pas De Calais train ferry as it leaves Dover showing the trucks on the upper deck. The train deck was below.
Ready to embark 52502 sits in Western Docks Yard having been split from its sister vehicle. It was found difficult to chain the unit down to the deck for unlike freight vehicles it had no suitable anchoring points so special yokes were made to fit across the doorways as shown. Author's collection On board The 156 unit stands on the train deck inside the NPDC train ferry.

NPDC at sea

Author's collection

Docking at Dunkerque The captain's view of the Dunkerque dock as the NPDC approaches
Dunkerque NPDC docked in Dunkerque- see more of the ferry here Coming off the ferry The exit ramp at Dunkerque is fairly straightforward to negotiate. Here is the two car unit driving up the ramp back onto dry land
Dunkerque sidings The unit was stabled in the docks area awaiting confirmation of the journey details Dunkerque Maritime station Seven hours later things had still not been sorted - it was after midnight before we left.

Author's collection

Somewhere in France During the journey the various railway administrations required to check the unit over. Somewhere in France SNCF C & W engineers give it the once-over Somewhere in France We're all railwaymen at heart. British and French compatriots pose for a photo somewhere in France, probably Tourcoing.
Brussels Centraal A view out of the cab approaching Brussels central station

Author's collection

Passing Schaerbeek  depot 156502 pictured in Belgium en route to Utrecht on 17th June  1989


Electra E27000 'Electra' at Essen on 26th May en route to NS150 as part of a freight train

Richard de Leeuw

Essen Here's the unit at Essen on the Belgian/Dutch border

Author's collection

Essen - later that same day Due to some misunderstandings between the railway administrations the unit was still there 12 hours later! Utrecht After arrival in Utrecht the unit is pictured in the sidings next to the station. Note a TGV Atlantique behind the Sprinter.
On show in Utrecht The unit was much admired by visitors to the exhibition site Electra Other notable visitors included the ex-BR 1500v DC electric 27000  'Electra' which hauled several enthusiasts' special during the course of the event.
27000 together with sister loco 1501

27000 Electra (NS 1502) on “The Britannia Express” railtour on Saturday 24th June 1989, at Leiden Goods

Brian Addis

27000 “Electra” (NS 1502) on Nederland Spoorwegen double deck stock at Almere CS station. A new station built on land recovered from the sea to serve a city that had yet to be built! Saturday 29th July 1989.

Brian Addis


An old Dutch Railways Class MAT35 EMU

DB V200 bo-bo A splendid example of the German Railways diesel hydraulic V200 class - on which the British 'Warships' were based. Atlantique

The then new - and yet to enter service - TGV Atlantique was present

Encore Another view of this marvellous machine

The author climbing aboard

SBB loco Other railway's steam was present too - here's a Swiss 2-10-0 No:2978 Dutch favourite

............ and a Dutch 2-6-0 No:3737

Photo call The train crew in early uniforms City of Truro

A more familiar locomotive was 'City of Truro' from the UK - I don't think that this came over under its own power

BR stand Inside the exhibition hall was BR's stand with a mock up of the class 60 cab Ready for a trip upstairs

There was also time for a few cab rides on some of the local services thanks to NS

Dover Back home in England, the unit stands in Dover awaiting a path back to Derby. Industrial action on BR delayed its return by some six weeks Glasgow Central

Utrecht visitor 156502 at Glasgow Central on 19th June 2007 - note the NL sticker on the secondman's side sun visor.

Better quality pictures will be added as time permits.

I have now found a couple of pictures (above) of 156502 and Electra in Belgium which were published in the Belgian railway magazine Railphoto in 1989. My thanks to Peter Heppenstall for the information


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