The AC Locomotive Group

86101 on a driver training trip at Rugby86101 on a driver training trip at Rugby

87002 at Euston on an ECS working87002 at Euston on an ECS working

86101 at Wembley Inter City Depot86101 at Wembley Inter City Depot

87002 on an early morning diversion via Kidgsrove87002 on an early morning diversion via Kidgsrove

87002 at Euston about to leave for Edinburgh with the Highland Sleeper87002 at Euston about to leave for Edinburgh with the Highland Sleeper

87002 at Edinburgh between Highland Sleeper workings87002 at Edinburgh between Highland Sleeper workings

86401 at Euston on its first commercial working in preservation86401 at Euston on its first commercial working in preservation

Electric Traction Ltd announced on 17th February that it was to hire a number of AC electric locomotives to GB Railfreight. The selected locomotives were 86101, 87002 and 86401. The locomotives would be used to move trains to and from London's Euston station on behalf of Serco Caledonian Sleeper Limited. However preparatory work started before that date, with the need for drivers to train on the traction and also on the route between Euston station and Wembley Inter City Depot (ICD). 86101 was used for trips between Willesden and Euston on 23rd and 30th January.

86101 hauled 86401 from Willesden TMD to Peterborough on 5th February; 86101 was then dead hauled by 66736 to the Wabtec (Brush) works at Loughborough for repainting into the new Caledonian Sleeper colour scheme. Three days later 86401 was taken on to the UK Rail Leasing site at the former Leicester TMD for restoration to full main line working order. 86401 would receive the now mandatory Vacuum Circuit Breaker, Data Recorder and GSM-R radio, plus bodywork corrosion repairs and other work.

On completion of repainting, 86101 was moved on 19th February to Doncaster by 66736, then next day under its own power to Mossend Yard to take over the icebreaker duties from 87002. 86101 was used for a route learning special via diversionary routes around Glasgow and Motherwell on 24th February. 86101 returned south to Willesden TMD on 2nd March, then did more driver traction and route learning trips.

87002 worked the icebreaker duties until 18th February when the locomotive moved to Loughborough for repainting. This was complete by 5th March when 87002 was moved to Doncaster in the company of 92018 and 92033. Next day 87002 hauled 92018 and 92033 dead from Doncaster to Willesden TMD. Later in March 87002 was involved in further driver traction and route learning trips.

On completion of work at Leicester 86401 was moved by 66730 to Loughborough on 12th May for repainting. At this point it was clear that 86401 had new name plates to replace the "Northampton Town" plates fitted in 2005, but the new plates were covered up. During the move to Willesden TMD by 66748 on 29th May it was revealed that the new name was "Mons Meg" after the bombard (cannon) on display at Edinburgh Castle. 86401 then paid a visit to the wheel lathe at Wembley ICD.

The Caledonian Sleeper work started in earnest on the evening of 31st March: 87002 hauling the empty coaches for the Highland Sleeper into Euston, then 86101 doing the same for the Lowland Sleeper.

It is not practicable to list all the Sleeper workings, but a summary of the more interesting workings will be given here.

  • Easter Weekend 3rd - 6th April: These dates saw the Sleeper services diverted via the East Coast Main Line. This involves a reversal in Wembley Yard so two locomotives are generally needed: one from Euston to Wembley Yard and one from Wembley Yard to Scotland. 87002 hauled both the Highland and Lowland Sleepers from Euston to Wembley Yard on 3rd April, so working two consecutive Class 1 trains out of Euston (there were no main line trains running at Euston this weekend) and also being the first scheduled passenger train work for 87002 since 22nd December 2006.
  • 14th April: 87002 had hauled the empty stock for the Highland Sleeper into Euston in the evening as usual, but 92033, the locomotive intended for the main train to Edinburgh, had a defect and could not provide the Electric Train Supply. 92033 took the train the short distance to Willesden where it was removed and 87002 was attached to the front. 87002 then worked the train to Edinburgh, and returned the next night. 87002 continued on this duty for nearly four weeks.
  • 2nd - 3rd May: Engineering operations at Norton Bridge on this the early May Bank Holiday weekend saw the Highland Sleeper, with 87002 in charge, diverted on both these dates. On the Saturday morning the southbound train was diverted from Crewe via Kidsgrove and Stoke-on-Trent direct to Colwich. On the Sunday evening the northbound train was diverted from Colwich via Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Manchester Piccadilly and the recently electrified route via Chat Moss towards Wigan.
  • June and July: On Sunday evenings and Monday mornings during June and July the Sleepers were again diverted via the East Coast Main Line. This meant more instances of 86101 and 87002 working passenger services between Euston and Wembley Yard. The Highland Sleeper northbound working on 17th May was 86101's first scheduled passenger train working since the end of the Hull Trains contract in April 2008.
  • 7th - 13th June: This week 87002 worked the Lowland Sleeper on alternate nights between Euston and Glasgow Central, including on the Sunday evening 7th June via the East Coast Main Line.
  • 5th August: After a period based at Polmadie near Glasgow, for training purposes, 86101 worked the Up Lowland Caledonian Sleeper 1M11 throughout from Glasgow to London Euston.

After test runs to Watford Junction and to Bletchley in early August, 86401 entered commercial main line service on 8th August, working 5M16 from London Euston to Wembley ICD, the empty coaches from the Up Lowland Caledonian Sleeper.

Both 86101 and 87002 spent periods in Scotland later in 2015, working empty stock trains between Polmadie and Glasgow Central, and also the Edinburgh/Carstairs/Edinburgh portions of the Lowland Caledonian Sleeper.

Bad weather in north west England caused the diversion of the Caledonian Sleepers via the East Coast Main Line on the evening of 6th December 2015. 86401 worked the Lowland Sleeper from Euston as far Wembley Yard, this being its first passenger train in preservation and the first since withdrawal by English Welsh & Scottish Railway in 2002. This diversion lasted for two nights, 86401 working a total of four passenger service trains between Euston and Wembley Yard. The were similar diversions later in December 2015.

At Barrow Hill 82008's battery box has received some attention.