Class 68 diesel locomotive to be introduced in Cumbria next week

Class 68 diesel locomotives to take over the cumbrian coast line from monday
Credit: Martin Taylor

Northern has announced that a Class 68 locomotive will be introduced on the Cumbrian Coast line.

From Monday, March 12th, 2018, the diesel locomotive will replace one of the Class 37s which currently operates on the line.

The 37s currently run from Preston to Carlisle via Barrow-in-Furness.

The diesel locomotive is being provided by Direct Rail Services and will increase reliability on the Cumbrian Coast and Furness lines.

DRS provides a number of train operating companies in the UK with locomotives. First built in 2014, the class 68 diesel locomotives have improved reliability and performance, and will do the same for rail services in Cumbria.

What did the officials say?

Sharon Keith, Regional Director at Northern, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Direct Rail Services in providing this new train for our customers in north Lancashire and the Cumbrian Coast.

“This improvement to services in Cumbria feeds into our ongoing plan – and the wider Great North Rail Project – to improve the railway for all of our customers, with further improvements scheduled during the next two years.”

Sharon added: “I’d like to thank all of our customers in Cumbria for their patience and understanding and look forward to welcoming them on board this new service.”

Chris Connelly, Managing Director of Direct Rail Services, said: “We’ve worked closely with Northern to improve performance on the Cumbrian Coast. We are thrilled to provide further support for our new innovative Class 68 locomotive and assist Northern in providing vital services.”

Trudy Harrison, MP for Copeland, said: “The introduction of a more reliable and modern Class 68 engine is welcome, and I look forward to seeing it on the line.”

Councillor Keith Little, Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport at Cumbria County Council added: “Cumbria County Council and the Community Rail Partnership are delighted that Northern and DRS have been able to respond to performance issues along the Cumbrian Coast Line by providing a modern, reliable unit which will bring about much-needed resilience to service reliability and help restore passenger confidence.

“We continue to support Northern and DRS in seeking further improvements for this vital rail service.”


  1. Got this train down to Preston on Friday morning. It is the 2C32 5.15 Carlisle to Preston diagram which they have been introduced on. They are running top and tail, I have read that this is due to incompatibility with the Mk2 DBSO push pull equipment. I also heard some of the reliability issues on the class 37 hauled trains were attributed to the push pull equipment in the DBSO and not just the class 37 locos.

    The formation on Friday morning was Class 68 Loco + Mk2 DBSO + Mk2 TSO + Mk2 TSO + Class 68 Loco which is 1 Mk2 TSO less that the class 37 hauled service it replaced. While there were still plenty of seats after Ulverston (it’s a school train from Barrow to Ulverston), it appeared busier than the class 37 hauled services.

    For some reason they appear to have been restricted to 75 mph on the WCML Carnforth to Preston section, I thought both the MkIIs and 68s were good for 100 mph. The 37s used to regularly got up to 80 on the same stretch,

  2. This will be good news for hourly paid staff at Sellafield who suffered the insult of seeing the nuclear junk boxes hauled by 68’s but the workers having to put up with the 37’s, that caused them lateness and loss of earnings.
    A victory for common sense.


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