The AC Locomotive Group

86101's first passenger working for Hull Trains86101's first passenger working for Hull Trains

87002's main line test run87002's main line test run

86101 on a Royal Mail working86101 on a Royal Mail working

Driver training for the Hull Trains workings started in earnest on 8th January 2008 with 86101 top-n-tailing with DVT 82115, culminating in the first passenger working on the evening of Friday 11th January from Doncaster to London Kings Cross. Thus 86101 became the first preserved AC electric locomotive to work scheduled passenger services. The services required sustained running at 110 mph. For eleven weekends (there were some gaps due to engineering operations) the train worked three return runs each weekend - four single journeys in passenger service and two single journeys with the "empty stock" - between London Kings Cross and Doncaster. In all 86101 worked for 13300 miles with no reported lost time incidents. On completion of the contract 86101 returned to LNWR Crewe on 27th April.

83012, in the guise of E3035, had a new coat of Electric Blue applied at Barrow Hill during the first part of the year. The loco moved to the NRM at York on 19th May for exhibition there as part of their "1968 and all that" show, returning to Barrow Hill on 12th June.

Meanwhile negotiations to keep "our" 87 in the UK bore fruit, and a complicated deal was struck in April with the Bulgarian Railway Company, Romic ACE and Porterbrook for Electric Traction Ltd to purchase and retain 87002 for preservation. The loco underwent an E-exam, had OTMR fitted and was repainted and renamed "Royal Sovereign" complete with original nose-end jumpers. 87002 was moved to LNWR Crewe for live testing on 13th June, and performed well on a loaded test run to Carstairs and back on 16th July, with 86101 along for insurance and shunting.

A contract with GB Railfreight (GBRf) started in June, 86101 being based at Dallam Royal Mail Terminal near Warrington to act as standby locomotive for the Royal Mail Class 325 postal trains. The first working "in anger" was on 21st July, when 86101 hauled 2 Class 325 units from Dallam to the Shieldmuir mail terminal south of Glasgow, returning the next evening. In September 87002 joined in, swapping over with 86101 every month or so. During December, and through into Spring 2009, both locos were used on a number of occasions when the Class 325s were having problems in the heavy snow, often working throughout between Willesden (North London) and Shieldmuir.

On 15th October 87002 hauled the "Electric Scot Tribute" railtour for Spitfire Railtours, from Birmingham International to Glasgow Central. Unfortunately a battery charger fault caused the loco to fail for the return journey.

Over the weekend of 21st to 23rd November 86101 and 87002 worked a private charter for GBRf. This involved an empty coaching stock move from Carnforth via London to Doncaster on the Friday, the charter itself from Doncaster to Edinburgh and back on the Saturday, then completing the circuit of the country on the Sunday by working the empty coaching stock back via Edinburgh to Carnforth.

Elsewhere in the preservation scene Les Ross's loco 86259 was returned to working order and made its first main line test run on 8th February. It worked its first charter train on 1st March, from Birmingham New Street to Liverpool Lime Street and back, with a side trip via Preston and Crewe.