The AC Locomotive Group

89001 'pan up' at Soho depot in March 202189001 'pan up' at Soho depot in March 2021

Testing of 89001 at Soho depot continued in the New Year, culminating on 22/04/2021 with low speed movements around the depot. Several moves were made around the depot and in the sidings, at up to the depot 5 mph speed limit. Some of the moves used the depot's shunting locomotive 08805 as an extra load. A video of one of the test moves can be seen here; thanks to Tim Bralesford for this video. This completes the testing planned for the locomotive at Soho depot.

During its time at Soho, 89001 was subjected to a large number of static and 25 kV tests which confirmed the correct operation of:

  • all the control and auxiliary systems,
  • the main transformer (the first time the loco was energised at 25 kV since 2001),
  • the battery chargers, oil pumps, blower fans etc.,
  • the refurbished field convertors,
  • the refurbished rheostatic brake stacks,
  • the armature convertors,
  • correct rotation of all six traction motors,

culminating in low speed movements around the depot, at up to the depot 5 mph speed limit; the first movement of the locomotive under its own power since 2001.

Unfortunately during the testing of the armature convertors a fault occurred which applied some unusual stresses to the traction motors in Group 1. This has caused a fault on traction motors 1 and 3, which will need to be removed from the locomotive for further investigation. The armature convertor fault has been repaired and it was correctly driving traction motor 2 during the low speed movement testing. In due course the locomotive will be lifted and the three traction motors from Group 1 removed for analysis. Until the results of that analysis are known, and the practicality of repair is understood, further work on returning the locomotive to main line service has been put on hold.

89001 was moved from Soho depot to Barrow Hill on 06/05/2021 by 37884.

In May 2021, motors 1, 2 & 3 were removed for analysis of the faults found during power testing.

The analysis of the motors was completed in August 2021 and the faults diagnosed. A scope of work has been agreed, a price set and the work has been authorised. Assuming all goes well with the repairs, which are likely to take several months due to availability of materials, the motors will be refitted to the locomotive in due course; we have no fixed timescale for this. Likewise, no firm plans beyond this have yet been made.

In December 2021, a new partnership was announced between Locomotive Services Ltd and Electric Traction Ltd with the goal of returning 89001 ‘Avocet’ to full mainline operational condition. Whilst the locomotive will remain under the ownership of Electric Traction Ltd, Locomotive Services Ltd have agreed to fund the final works required to complete the rebuild of the locomotive. This will see this unique locomotive once again haul a full rake of Intercity coaches on the mainline, following fitment of mandatory safety systems and completion of other works. Once required certifications are in place, 89001 will operate with Locomotive Services Ltd for a period of five years.